The New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) has dissociated itself from any alliance with the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
The party also called on the PDP presidential candidate to henceforth stop the name dropping, and urged Atiku to step down for NNPP’s presidential candidate, Dr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso who they described as younger brother to the ex-vice president.
NNPP National Chairman Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkal, sternly issued this warning at a press briefing in Abuja Wednesday.
He noted that for some time now, Atiku has been making this claim, especially, when he got some Northern Elders to make the claim that Kwankwaso had collapsed his structures into the PDP.
He stated that there was nothing like alliance with Atiku as the presidential candidate of NNPP had been busy doing door-to-door as well as local government to local government campaigns.
According to him, Kwankwaso had covered 500 out of the 774 local governments and would soon embark on similar campaigns in the South South and South East.
While noting that there was no ground for Kwankwaso to step down for Atiku, Alkali said the PDP of today is not the same formed by principled persons like Abubakar Rimi, Sule Lamido, Adamu Ciroma and Sunday Awoniyi, among others, adding that “the party has lost its colour.”
He noted that five governors had already opted out of the Atiku contest while three others were ready to leave the party.
“Five governors are not with Atiku. These governors are coming from powerful states. Three others have been sending messages that they will not support Atiku.
“We thought that anyone contesting an election should put his house together. We left the PDP because we knew it would implode. It is not the same party as yesterday. In the next one week, some will leave the PDP.
“What Kwankwanso is doing is unprecedented and that is why they are afraid. This election is for the people. Today, no presidential candidate has done what Kwankwaso has done in this election.
“To set the record straight, we have no engagement with Atiku Abubakar at whatever level. Kwankwaso has served in this country at every level. NNPP dissociates itself fully from the antics of Atiku Abubakar,” Alkali said.
Similarly, Head of Media Obi-Datti Presidential Campaign Council Diran Onifade denied talks with the PDP flag bearer.
Speaking in a statement Wednesday, Onifade said: “We have been inundated with enquiries about the claim of an on-going discussion between our presidential ticket and the camp of PDP’s Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
“For emphasis, we wish to repeat, as we have said all day, that the claim is totally false and baseless. We are not in any talks with Atiku or anyone else with a view to stepping down from a race in which we are the frontrunner.
“Peter Obi is in the contest to win in consonance with the aspiration of majority of Nigerians who desire a New Nigeria devoid of lies, corruption and selfish scheming.”
No preferred candidate – U.S.
Meanwhile, the United States government has said it does not have a preferred candidate in the 2023 upcoming presidential elections.
The United States Ambassador to Nigeria Mary Beth Leonard stated this Wednesday at a one-day multi- stakeholders dialogue on the theme:” Nigeria’s 2023 Elections: Fostering Youth Action for Peace and Stability” in Àbuja, organised by the National Orientation Agency in partnership with the Building Blocks for Peace Foundation.
“We favour no candidate, we only favour open, transparent and peaceful process,” she said.
She also reiterated the United States government decision to impose visa ban on individuals who undermines the 2023 general elections in Nigeria.
“The United States stands firm with Nigerian voters demand for a transparency and electoral integrity. Individuals who undermine the electoral process in anyway including through intimidations and violence may be found ineligible for Visas to travel to the United States. We would cancel and deny visa for those who undermine the upcoming elections.
“Our Visa records are confidential, so we would not be able to reveal the identities of those subject to visa sanctions. But I can tell you that I am personally aware of people whose Visas to travel to the United States have been or will be blocked,” she said.
Speaking further, she said the United States has full confidence in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)’s ability to conduct a credible and transparent elections.
“First, let me start by sharing with you as I shared with other Nigerian groups and government view on the upcoming elections. The United States supports transparent and credible elections that reflect the will of the people in a process that is conducted peacefully.
“The 2023 elections are pivotal for Nigeria, Africa’s biggest nation and the largest economy in Africa to solidify its position as a democratic leader in Africa.
“Elections are the foundation of democracy and the basis for legitimate transfer of power. It is valuable for us to reflect on the fact that since 1999 Nigerian voters have exercised their democratic power six times to determine their next leader. For more than two decades, Nigeria has demonstrated to Africa and the entire world its strong commitment to credible and transparent elections.
“And at a time when many nations in Africa are challenges with its democracy, for Nigeria, these rules are internalized and accepted.
“President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are committed to deepening democracy in the United States of America and around the world. It may interest the Nigerian government to know that the Biden’s administration is strengthening partnership with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Civil Society Organisations.
“The United States has full confidence in INEC’s ability to conduct a credible and transparent elections. We saw INEC’s capabilities on display during the off-cycle elections in Ondo and Ekiti and we hope to see those successes extended nationwide in the February and March general elections.
“The signing of the Electoral Act 2022 by President Muhammadu Buhari and other elective leaders strengthens Nigeria’s electoral process with the use of BVAS for voter accreditation and electronic transmission of results. These are proven methods to improve transparency and drastically reduce the potential for vote tampering,” the envoy said.