Nigeria's former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has been lambasted over his comment telling northerners not to vote for Igbo or Yoruba presidential candidates.
Atiku who is the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate was accused of fanning the embers of disunity.
His comment was described as highly divisive, ethnocentric and provocative.
At a parley in Abuja organized by Arewa Joint Committee, Atiku, who is from Adamawa State in the Northeast, urged Northerners not to vote for Yoruba and Igbo presidential candidates in next year’s polls.
He said the North does not need an Igbo on Yoruba president, but “someone from the North.”
Atiku stressed: “I have traversed the whole of the country… This is what the Northerner needs. He (Northerner) doesn’t need a Yoruba candidate, or an Igbo. This is what the Northerner needs. I stand before you as a pan-Nigerian of Northern origin.”
Apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, said Atiku should apologize to the Igbo and the entire Southern Nigeria for bringing divisive politics into his campaigns.
The group also urged the former vice president to withdraw the remark, describing it as divisive and provocative.
Ohanaeze spokesman Alex Ogbonnia said the remark only exposed Atiku’s mindset about the country.
He added that the statement contradicted Atiku’s claims to being a cosmopolitanism and a detribalised Nigerian.
Ogbonnia said: “That was a very provocative remark coming from a former vice president of Nigeria. His remark, perhaps, brings out his mindset about the country.
“It’s a Freudian slip. Something that slips from somebody’s mouth unintentionally, which reveals the persons deep feeling about something.
“It is provocative as a matter of fact and contradicts his claims to cosmopolitanism and detribalised Nigerian.
“From the remark that he has made, Atiku hasn’t really shown that he is a detribalised Nigerian.”
He added: “It is on record that the Igbo and the South voted for Shagari, Yar’ adua and Buhari. So, why can’t there be reciprocity?
“He should have gone ahead with his campaigns without creating unnecessary ethnic tensions.
“That remark is abysmally low. It’s an ill-advised remark. It’s not good for the former vice president. He should find a way to withdraw that remark.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide is disappointed by that remark by Atiku. This is because Ndigbo had voted for Shagari, Yar’adua, Buhari and even supported all the military rulers from the North.
“So, Ohanaeze is calling on the former vice president to apologize to Nigerians and southerners in particular on that unfortunate remark. It is a divisive one”.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo in a statement by factional Secretary-General Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro said Atiku’s utterances has destroyed the PDP.
He said: “We find it very weird and disappointing that an elder statesman and a presidential candidate, in the person of a one-time vice presidential candidate of Nigeria, could mount the podium at a public function and play such an ethnic card.
“We are worried that at such a time Nigeria is seeking for a unifier, Atiku is further pushing the country into disintegration; he has shown that he lacks the capacity to lead and unite this country.
“His ambition has already destroyed the PDP and pushed it from number one to third if not fourth force. Now, he wants to bring the same division into the affairs of the country. We ask Nigerians to say no by rejecting him stoutly at the polls.”
Isiguzoro  said the G-5 Governors, led by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike, have been proved to be the true lover of the country.
He added: “We can see that the party has even suspended the presidential campaign after the flag-off in Uyo recently. All is not well with the team PDP.
“Nobody can trust a man who said he is a stepping stone for the actualization of the Southeast presidency in the future, but within 48 hours, he offered the same Presidency to Gov. Wike. It’s absurd to see how the PDP’s presidential team now hawks counterfeit promises.
“For the sake of equity and one Nigeria, Governor Wike’s group should sustain the Ayu-Must-Go campaign. We are solidly behind the G-5 Governors. Drafting David Mark, Ibori and others to pacify Wike is medicine after death. PDP is out of the 2023 contest. The battle is between Peter Obi and Bola Tinubu.”
The ruling APC Campaign Council said Atiku’s statement was a decisive attack on national unity, adding that he is an ethnic and regional champion.
Also, former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode said the former vice president’s statement was provocative and self-serving.
APC National Publicity Secretary of APC Felix Morka, in a statement in Abuja, said the weekend outburst of the PDP flag bearer was a repulsive act of desperation that is capable of instigating strife and disunity in the country.
Morka said: “Atiku’s statement is a decisive attack on our national unity. It is beyond the pale for a senior citizen and a former vice president of the Federal Republic to so brazenly instigate strife and disunity in our country in pursuit of his befuddled political self-interest.”
The APC spokesman said he was surprised that such a statement emanated from “a desperate and serial failed candidate for the office of President”.
He added: “If, as Atiku believes, the average Northerner needs a Northern President now, after a Northern President, when will they ever not need a Northern President? What does Atiku think the average Southerner needs? Why is it about what the average Northerner needs, or even what the average Southerner may need? Why is it not about what Nigeria and Nigerians need? Nigerians need bold and visionary leadership anchored on a firm commitment to transcendental national unity, over and above ethnic or sectional obsessions.
“Atiku’s words ring loud of extreme and mindless desperation, and such an extremely desperate man cannot and must not be entrusted with the most important job of President – a job whose core duty is that of leading, uniting and working in the best interest of all in an ethno-religious, pluralistic society as Nigeria. Our country does not need this kind of highly inflammable rhetoric now or ever.
“What is even more confounding is that this presidential candidate of the PDP has touted himself to be on a mission to unify Nigeria. The cat has finally been let out of the bag of him that pays lip service to unity while working hard to undermine our national unity. Our Northern citizens and patriots know far better than what Atiku thinks, and will not walk down that slippery slope with him.”



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