The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has come under fire following his advice to Northerners that they should vote for him in the 2023 election because he hails from the northern region.
Atiku, who stated this during an interactive session with the Arewa Joint Committee in Kaduna on Saturday, told his audience not to support a Yoruba or Igbo candidate in reference to the presidential candidates of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu and his Labour Party counterpart, Peter Obi.
The PDP flag bearer, a Fulani from Adamawa State, declared that “what the average Northerner needs is somebody who’s from the North and also understands that part of the country and has been able to build bridges across the country.
“This is what the Northerner needs. It doesn’t need a Yoruba or Igbo candidate. I stand before you as a pan-Nigerian of northern origin,’’ the ex-vice-president stated in a viral video.
However, his comment has attracted widespread condemnation from the APC, the LP, the New Nigeria People’s Party, the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, the apex Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and civil society organisations.
Reacting to this statement, the ruling APC said Atiku’s statement inciting northern electorates to shun Igbo and Yoruba candidates was unbecoming of an elder statesman.
The National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Felix Morka, in a statement on Sunday described Atiku’s utterance as an attack on the country’s long-preserved national unity.
He attributed the statement to the PDP candidate’s desperation to rule the country.
The Chief Spokesman of the Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council, Yunusa Tanko, called on Atiku to tender an unreserved apology to Nigerians over his ethnocentric sentiments.
Tanko stated that it is wrong for anybody whether in a position of authority or not to use the ethnic card as a yardstick or campaign tool in Nigeria at the moment.
He said, “What we observed is that it is unfair for somebody who had been in the saddle of leadership of this country to play the ethnic card as a way of generating support.
Our principal has made it clear long before now that even when people are trying to play ethnic agenda, nobody should look at him as an Igbo candidate. Our movement is a Nigerian project for the Nigerian people.
“So, in the interest of our democracy and unity of this country, which of course we represent, I think the former vice-president should apologise to Nigerians in such a way that it would show him as a true leader of a free country.
“Our principal has made it clear too that if there are issues that have to do with his co-candidate, he would be able to answer them personally. I know he actually prefers to speak on issues like this personally.”