By Augustine Okezie, Katsina and Gbade Ogunwale, Abuja
The Presidency and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) exchanged words yesterday over the 2023 electoral battle.
Firing the first salvo, the All Progressives Congress (APC)-controlled Presidency told the leading opposition party to perish its thought of returning to power.
Malam Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, said it is illusory for the PDP to nurse the ambition of retaking power.
But the PDP accused the Presidency of flying a kite on an alleged self-succession plan by President Mohammed Buhari.
Speaking after the Eid prayers yesterday in Daura, Katsina State, Malam Shehu said the President’s popularity and acceptance among Nigerians speak volume.
He said: “The President enjoys unshakable support not only in his hometown but also across the country. And it is enough for the opposition to admit that the President matters a lot for the ruling party and Nigerians in general, again he constitutes a political obstacle they cannot dismantle come 2023.
“We believe the PDP and other opposition parties are nursing false hopes of taking power comes 2023. The masses will never abandon President Buhari’s leadership and the APC.
“I assure you that in 2023, the masses will be waiting for the President to show the way in courtesy of what he has been building for the country in terms of infrastructure and wellbeing of young people in the country.
“Nobody will take the risk by inviting another party to come and take over in 2023.”
The Presidency appealed to Nigerians, mostly at the ward, village and district heads as well as community leaders to fish out the enemies of peace and other evil-doers.
The PDP said Shehu’s assertion that Nigerians will await the President “to show the way in 2023” has further heightened public apprehension of self-succession plot by what the party described as “the cabal” in the Presidency.
According to its spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan, Nigerians were jolted when the President’s spokesman announced in Daura what Nigeria should expect at the expiration of President Buhari tenure in less than two years.
That assertion, Ologbodiyan said, “constitutes a political obstacle” which those who seek to succeed him, come 2023 “cannot dismantle”.
“Perhaps, the comment by the Buhari Presidency explains why there have been heavy onslaught against our institutions of democracy as well as the Electoral Act.
“Our party, and indeed the majority of Nigerian across board, and even across party lines, caution President Buhari’s handlers to note that such plots cannot stand as it will be firmly resisted by the people.
“Shehu Garba should be bold enough to announce that President Buhari will be on the ballot for another term in 2023 and watch how Nigerians will respond.”
The party insisted that the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is clear on the tenure of office of the President and that such cannot be extended under any guise or conditions whatsoever.
The statement reads: “It is imperative for Shehu Garba to note that Nigerians have been subjected to the worst forms of hardship under the Buhari-led APC administration and will never allow anything that will keep this administration in office a day beyond May 29, 2023.”