Labour Party and the New Nigeria Peoples Party on Wednesday said their presidential candidates would not step down for their counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar.
The two opposition parties said this as the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council advised the LP standard bearer, Peter Obi and his NNPP counterpart, Rabiu Kwankwaso, not to trust Atiku.
The PCC warning was a sequel to claims by the PDP presidential candidate that he was in talks with Obi and Kwankwaso ahead of the February 25 poll.
Atiku in an interview with the BBC Hausa disclosed that talks were ongoing between him and the LP and NNPP candidates.
But the ex-vice president did not disclose the nature of the talks or the terms of the agreement if any.
However, commenting on the reported talks, the Spokesman of the APC Campaign Council, Festus Keyamo, urged Nigerians to ignore the former vice-president, describing him as a man that cannot be trusted even by the leaders of his own party.
Speaking in a telephone conversation with our correspondent on Wednesday, Keyamo said, “Atiku is lying; he is not in talks with anyone. Atiku cannot be trusted and that is why he can’t keep his party together.
‘’He has not been able to reach an agreement with the aggrieved governors of his party because those governors know that he does not keep his word.’’
“Kwankwaso left PDP because he was humiliated in the North-West. The PDP treated Peter Obi badly and the man left. These are the men Atiku is giving the impression that they are ready to work with him. It is all lies,” he insisted.
The Director-General of the LP Presidential Campaign Council, Akin Oshuntokun, in an interview with The PUNCH in Abuja on Wednesday, said Obi had no intention of striking a deal with Atiku except the latter agreed to step down for the former Anambra State governor.
Asked to speak on the said talks, the DG simply asked, “How can that be? To what purpose? For Obi to come and support a ticket, that is a fundamental threat to the national unity of Nigeria?
“Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar is welcome to renounce his ticket and throw his considerable political weight behind us. No individual ambition should override the North/ South rotation convention, especially against the backdrop of the damage that the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) has wreaked on the unity of Nigeria with his apartheid-style nepotism.’’
Dismissing Atiku’s overtures to Obi, the Spokesman for the LP PCC, Kenneth Okonkwo, tweeted, “It is gratifying to hear that Atiku is considering stepping down for Peter Obi in the presidential race.
‘’Coming on the heels of Atiku’s confession of using Special Purpose Vehicles to siphon Nigeria’s money, according to Michael Achimugu, this is the wisest thing to do him. That is the only way they talk he is initiating that can make sense.
“Please disregard any other assertion from the lying PDP because the only honourable thing left for Atiku to do is an unconditional stepping down for Peter Obi to usher in a new Nigeria.’’
Similarly, the National Publicity Secretary of the NNPP, Major Agbor, urged Atiku to join the Kwankwaso train, saying, “he is not on the ground. He is the one to step down for our candidate, not the other way around. There are talks and there would be no talks in this direction except the former vice-president is throwing his weight of support for Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso.”
But the Special Adviser on Media to Atiku, Mazi Paul Ibe, told The PUNCH that the PDP standard bearer had repeatedly reiterated his commitment to form a government of national unity, stressing that that may have informed his decision to open a broad-based conversation with the other contestants.
He argued that both Obi and Kwankwaso would not make an impact as they would only get marginal votes in the February 25 presidential election.
Asked if the PDP candidate is seeking the support of the two former governors should a run-off becomes inevitable; Ibe stated confidently that Atiku ‘’will coast home to victory on the first ballot.’’