THE presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar; and his running mate, Peter Obi, on Wednesday evening took their turn at the town hall meeting tagged The Candidates.
Since his emergence as the presidential candidate of his party, Atiku’s opponents, especially those in the All Progressives Congress, have been feasting on the allegation that he is corrupt, even when, as he rightly noted, he has never been convicted of the offence.
As such, corruption became the main issue during the town hall meeting hosted by Kadaria Ahmed on Wednesday evening.
Atiku was taken to the task to explain variously how he established his companies while he was still a civil servant, how one of his wives was indicted on issues relating to corruption in the US, and how he hopes to tackle corruption if elected when he himself is perceived to be corrupt.
The presidential candidate, obviously used to the matter, answered the questions as straight-faced as anyone in his circumstances would.
Indeed, those who thought Atiku would be the only candidate at the receiving end of tough questions were proved wrong as Kadaria also served Obi enough dose of the questions. The former Anambra State governor was grilled on his private business in relation to the state’s investments when he was in charge.
Despite what appeared to be a political death knell to both Atiku and Obi, the duo appeared well prepared for the event, as they were composed and fluent in their presentations which bordered on the defence of their past actions.
And though the Atiku-Obi case wasn’t exactly like what obtained when Vice President Yemi Osinbajo virtually spoke for President Muhammadu Buhari when they appeared on the same programme, Obi regularly added to Atiku’s explanations of events that had led Nigerians to believe that he is a corrupt person.
While Osinbajo was desperate to protect Buhari from obvious lapses to the point that Kadaria had to warn him to let Buhari answer for himself, Obi performed yeoman service for Atiku by literally selling his (Atiku’s) candidature without making his principal look deficient as was the case with Buhari-Osinbajo — a commendable effort on Obi’s part.
Again, as Buhari and Osinbajo regularly took the audience back to the events that led to the administration’s emergence in 2015, the Atiku-Obi pair also delved into the past, reminding the audience that though the incumbent administration rode to power on the wing of PDP’s failures to boost the economy, All Progressives Congress (APC)has actually plunged the Gross Domestic Product to two percent, down four steps from the six percent it was when Buhari became president.
Generally, it appeared the moderator was harder on Atiku and Obi than she was with Buhari and Osinbajo, and this elicited angry comments from the audience while the programme lasted.
Kadaria appeared rather pushy and confrontational with some of her questions, which some commentators interpreted as direct, even if unwarranted, attack, on her guests. When the audience rumbled on account of the questions, Kadaria turned matronly and told them that she would ask her questions despite their protests.
At some point, however, Kadaria realised the implications and confessed that she did not want to be seen as speaking for the APC.
When weighed against the Buhari-Osinbajo outing on The Candidates, the Atiku-Obi performance seems a lot more dramatic, more forthcoming and they appeared better prepared, even if their explanations were not entirely acceptable to some sections of the audience. – Punch
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