Vice President Atiku Abubakar of Nigeria has denied that his refusal to step down as the presidential candidate in the alliance talks between his Action Congress party and All Nigerian people’s Party (ANPP) is responsible for the break up of the alliance. Abubakar insists the alliance still exists. But an ANPP spokesman contradicted the vice president, saying the alliance is a thing of the past.
Shehu Garuba is the spokesman for Vice President Atiku Abubakar. He said the vice president would not step down for anybody.
“There is no junior partner in this alliance, all of the parties are equal. And there is nothing to say that the vice president and not Buhari should be the one to step down. In fact, looking at the way it is, the vice president has the most experience…this is the first time anybody would bring such experience in the formation and the management of democratic structures of Nigeria into the presidential race,” he said.
Garuba said the most important thing about the alliance is for the parties to unite and bring about democratic change in the country.
“The most important part is that this alliance is only about who should step down for whom. The big issue is how do you come together to join forces to make the president leave on May 29th because he has shown an inclination for his wish to go on for life. He wanted an extended stay and the point is that all the forces must come together, unite, and ensure that there is a credible, free and fair election and that there is a hand over to a democratically elected government,” Garuba noted.
He said the vice president should not be blamed for what seems to be happening to him.
“It is not the vice president that should be blamed, you don’t blame the victim blame the bully. And whoever is following the issues in Nigeria can see the visible obstacles that are daily being thrown in the path of the vice president, and not less than six cases in court, four of which he had already cleared. So the point is that these are there for people to see,” Garuba said.
He said the vice president would want to put all the obstacles behind him and focus on his campaign in next moth’s elections.
“In fact, left to the vice president, he would like to put all of his attention in presenting his credible program to the Nigerian public. He doesn’t want to be distracted by an angry president, mean spirited individuals who are there everyday trying to black paint him over one thing or another,” he said.
Garuba said it is only the court that can disqualify a presidential candidate and not the independent electoral commission.
“If you are familiar with the electoral laws and the constitution of this country, the electoral commission has been dispossessed of whatever power to disqualify any candidate. They absolutely have no power to do that. Only the courts of law upon a petition by a concerned party can disqualify a candidate from running,” he said.
Garuba cited instances where he said the electoral commission acted unlawfully.
“Look at what the electoral commission is doing, they are engaged in the screening of candidates, they have been interrogating people over their papers. Some unnamed electoral commissioner was talking about going out to seek legal opinion on whether they should clear the vice president to run in the elections or not. So there is a clear indication that left alone, the electoral commission can go outside the laws of this country,” he said.