Nigerians won’t vote ghost president, Atiku’s aide tells Tinubu


Phrank Shaibu, the special assistant to the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday played down the chances of the All Progressives Congress’ presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, declaring that Nigerians won’t vote for a candidate who shies away from public scrutiny.

In a news release issued in the United States capital, Washington, DC, Shaibu also accused Tinubu of using proxies to answer questions reserved exclusively for presidential candidates.

Shaibu, who was reacting Tuesday’s town hall meeting in Lagos with the organised private sector (OPS), said the APC presidential candidate had on two occasions dodged the invitation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce Industry (LCCI) but decided to organise his own town hall meeting with the OPS at the Eko Hotels and Suites, the same venue where last August’s annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association took place; an event at which Tinubu was represented by his running mate Kashim Shettima.

Shaibu said rather than be bold enough to subject his ideas for scrutiny before a non-partisan panel of professionals as done by Atiku and other candidates, including that of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, before the LCCI, Tinubu decided to organise his own event in Lagos where he dictated the pace of events and filled up the room with most of his supporters and fans who applauded, in Shaibu’s word, “his flavourless ideas”.


“After reading out his uninspiring speech, Tinubu sat on the high table and systematically dodged questions directed at him by the audience. Rather, he delegated his team members to answer all the questions on his behalf, an indication that he lacks a clear understanding of the issues plaguing the country and is hiding his ignorance,” Shaibu said.

Shaibu noted that town hall meetings were supposed to be events where candidates put on display their understanding of issues and, in the process, inspire hope in the electorate, emphasising that such important events were no mere gatherings where aides speak on behalf of their principals.

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“From indication, his aides spoke more than he did at the event, an indication that he didn’t even need to be there in the first place,” said Shaibu. “Clearly Tinubu plans to run a proxy government in the unfortunate event that he wins the presidential election.”

According to Shaibu, the conduct of Tinubu and his decision to “cleverly dodge dialectic public conversations” may not be unconnected with what he described as the APC presidential candidate’s “lack of mental coordination” and understanding of Nigeria’s core problems.

“At the KADInvest programme in Kaduna last month, he spoke about how Governor Nasir El-Rufai turned a ‘rotten situation to a bad one’. In Kano last year he revealed his plan to recruit 50 million youths into the military in order to tackle unemployment while he went off tangent at a book launch back in July, talking about ‘cassava, garri, agbado, eba and ewa’.

“Earlier this year, he advised Nigerians to go and renew their expired permanent voters’ cards, thereby causing confusion in the polity until the Independent National Electoral Commission issued a rebuttal,” Shaibu recalled.

Shaibu said he expects Nigerians of voting age not to overlook “these ominous signs” and the reason Tinubu’s handlers “have continued to shield him from open public engagements and scrutiny”.

“He continually argues that he doesn’t need physical strength to lead Nigeria but only the mental capacity. However, his refusal to publicly display this intelligence and articulate his thoughts should worry every well-meaning Nigerians who are still suffering from the seven-year misrule of the All Progressives Congress that has brought poverty, inflation and unemployment to an unprecedented height,” Shaibu said.

He added that of all the 18 presidential candidates, Tinubu is the only one that has refused to subject himself to an open media interview.

He also said Atiku has shown that he is willing to be accountable to the Nigerian people and is not too proud to engage the electorate.

“We hope that Tinubu will be bold enough to attend the presidential debate when the time comes as there are already early indications that he will claim that presidential debates are not mandated by Nigerian law,” the statement concluded.