A public policy think tank, the NEO AFRICANA CENTRE, has expressed dismay over the false information making the rounds that some presidential candidates in the February 25 polls are in merger talks with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) with a view to withdrawing from the race in favour of the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The Centre in a statement issued Friday in Lagos said while it has always sneered at such insinuations, it was deeply alarmed when Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), was touted as one of those considering withdrawing from the race for Atiku.
The Centre said it views “such an unholy rumour with utmost disgust”, and called on Nigerians “to shun desperate politicians who want to ride on the back of falsehood to score a cheap political point”.
The Centre said that it is convinced that “nation-wreckers are trying to hide under the veneer of politics to unleash anarchy and confusion on the system”. To this end, the body wants the electorate “to be vigilant and shun desperate campaigners and their antics”.
In the statement signed by its Director of Public Affairs, Jenkins Udu, the Centre wondered why anybody who wants genuine change in the country will sidestep issues of national importance and dwell instead on rumors and falsehood.
It therefore advised PDP to disclaim the rumour and “apologize to Peter Obi over the embarrassing insinuation”.
The statement reads in part: “As a body interested in issues of democracy, public policy and good governance, we find such an unfounded rumour distracting and mischievous.
It aims at diverting attention from the germane issues that should form the fulcrum of the campaigns and dwells instead on inanities and rumour-mongering. This is an act of desperation which should be shunned by well meaning Nigerians.
“We would have indulged the fancies and fantasies of the desperate campaigners if they had chosen to use in vain the names of the presidential candidates that cannot be taken too seriously in the race. But to insinuate that a frontline presidential candidate like Peter Obi is considering withdrawing from the race is the height of absurdity. It is an assault on the psyche of Obi’s teeming supporters. Such cheap rumours can only appeal to the shallow imagination of its purveyors.
“May we alert Nigerians to the fact that the campaigns have entered a crucial endgame. At a time like this, desperadoes and buccaneers are bound to foul the atmosphere. This is already being seen in the dirty, drag-out fight between the presidential campaign councils of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party. The unfounded rumours bordering on mergers and withdrawals could be another layer of this act of desperation. Nigerians should be vigilant lest unpatriotic elements drag them into the pit of hell.“In the light of the foregoing, we call on the leadership of the PDP to, as a matter of honour, disclaim the toxic rumour and set the records straight. It should, particularly, apologize to Peter Obi over the embarrassing insinuation”.
“This is the least that we expect from a political party that wants the people to entrust it with the leadership and destiny of the country”, the group restated.