The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) have countered the views of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, following his endorsement of the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, in the forthcoming election.
This comes hours after Obasanjo, on New Year’s Day, in a six-page open letter addressed to the Nigerian youth in particular, described Obi as his mentee, saying the former Anambra State governor has an edge in the February 25 election.
“One other important point to make about Peter is that he is a needle with thread attached to it from North and South and he may not get lost,” the former president wrote.
“In other words, he has people who can pull his ears, if and when necessary. He has a young and able running mate with a clean track record of achievement both in public and private life.”
However, a member of the Strategic Communications Directorate of the PDP Presidential Campaign Council (PCC), Anthony Ehilebo; and a spokesman for the Tinubu/Shettima PCC, Kehinde Bamigbetan criticised the endorsement in a television discourse on Monday.
“I have a very strong opposition to anybody who would seem to want to control the president of Nigeria either by a thread or a needle or by pulling his ears,” Ehilebo said. “We want an independent president. We want a president that can take decisions and own his time in government.
“It reminds us of what happened prior to 2015 when Obasanjo also wrote a letter to instigate Nigerians to change Jonathan because he felt he was no longer in control of Jonathan.”
The PDP chieftain likened Obasanjo’s message to the 18-page letter he wrote in 2013 and addressed to then President Goodluck Jonathan, in which he told his successor to “forget about 2015.”
“We remember that he wrote these letters against then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and he’s now complaining seven and a half years later that we are going from frying pan to fire.
“I would suggest that somebody that put us in a frying pan will sit this one out and allow the Nigerians to make a choice, instead of foisting a subjective opinion on Nigerians,” he said.
In a similar vein, Bamigbetan argued that any “self-respecting” presidential candidate in Obi’s shoes would not be proud to continue campaigning after Obasanjo’s comments.
“For somebody to tell you that you are a needle who must have a thread, you are somebody who he will be pulling your ears, those are very deprecating (words) for somebody to put a president in place.
“Much of what he said on that occasion, if you look at it very well, they don’t even give Mr Peter Obi any modicum of respect. The manner in which he described Mr Peter Obi, if we were in his shoes, would not be something we would take to the bank. We don’t even think that was fair to the man,” he said.
Responding to the criticisms, the Chief Spokesperson, LP PCC, Yunusa Tanko stated that as a former president, Obasanjo is equipped to know and assess “virtually everybody” he has had dealings with.
“Even at a distance, he can easily measure you with your capacity and your strength and what you have done over the years. He looked at the track record of Obi in Anambra State in a micro situation.
“In terms of security, he scored. In terms of infrastructure, he scored high. In terms of accountability, he scored high. In terms of compassion to the people, he scored high – from his own assessment as a former leader which he used as a yardstick,” he said.