The All Progressives Congress (APC) and its allied groups have said that the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, would trounce his Peoples Democratic Party’s counterpart, former vice president Atiku Abubakar, in any debate.
Telescope.ng reports that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), however, restated its challenge to Tinubu that he should subject himself to an hour media interview to test if he would be mentally present to do so.
APC chieftains including the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka; Director-General of Asiwaju Tinubu Presidential Campaign Organisation, Bayo Shittu: the Coordinator, Tinubu Mandate Group, Pastor Olufemi Bakare; and the Director-General of Bola Ahmed Tinubu Sanwo-Olu Projects, Emmanuel Amuwo, however, faulted the PDP, saying Tinubu would defeat Atiku in any debate.
The contention between the two leading candidates started when Atiku, in an interview with Arise TV on Friday, said he turned down Tinubu’s request to be his running mate in the 2007 presidential election because he was opposed a Muslim-Muslim ticket.
In his response, Tinubu said he never lobbied to be Atiku’s running mate but was instead offered the ticket by the former Vice-President when they were members of the Action Congress which Atiku had joined after leaving the PDP.
Atiku’s spokesman, Paul Ibe, had in a statement on Saturday night challenged Tinubu to subject himself to an hour interview as Atiku did if he was mentally present and articulate to do so.
Atiku incapable of defeating anybody, he has nothing to offer – APC spokesman
Commenting on the challenge, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, in an interview with The PUNCH, said Atiku could not defeat anybody in any debate, adding that he had nothing to offer.
Morka disclosed that the APC presidential candidate was a very busy man who would prefer to rather attend to important matters associated with his campaign than listen to ‘’the rant of the opposition who has little or nothing to contribute positively.’’
This is even as Morka stated that Atiku was incapable of beating anybody.
He said: “Atiku is simply bluffing and incapable of defeating anybody. He has nothing to discuss or offer Nigerians. I don’t think anybody is taking Atiku seriously. But beyond just the debate, I expect more of deliberations on policy engagements and conversations.”
Also, the Tinubu Mandate Group, Ondo and Ekiti States chapter, said Atiku could not match his APC counterpart in any debate.
Shittu berates Atiku
A former minister of communication and director-general of Asiwaju Tinubu Presidential Campaign Organisation, Adebayo Shittu also boasted that his principal would trounce Atiku, who he believed was merely seeking for attention.
He stated: “When I heard Atiku challenging Tinubu to a one-hour public debate, I laughed. One thing he seems to be forgetting is that the individual capacity during a debate differs. He may probably have assumed that Asiwaju can’t beat him in an open contest because he is a taciturn fellow.
“Honestly, I think Atiku is frustrated. He knows this is his last card after several attempts to become the president. As I earlier mentioned, the people in his constituency have been lamenting that he has not contributed anything to the development of their community. Even the road to his hometown is not in the best shape.”
Another support group, Tinubu Campaign Organisation, says the APC standard-bearer only would accept to engage his counterpart when the electoral campaign kicks off in September.
The clarification was made on Sunday by TCO Director of Media and Communication, Bayo Onanuga.
In a phone interview with one of our correspondents, Onanuga urged opposition candidate to read up the Electoral Act before throwing such a challenge.