Former Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Timi Frank, on Monday, urged presidential aspirants seeking elective office on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to refrain from utterances capable of tarnishing the image of their fellow contestants.
Frank, in a statement in Abuja, said the call has become imperative to preserve cohesion and unity in the party in its drive to reclaim power at the centre during the 2023 general elections.
He enjoined presidential aspirants to engage in issue-based campaigns rather than seeking undue advantage by mudsling and calumny.
Frank, who is the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP), Ambassador to East Africa and Middle East, reminded presidential aspirants of the PDP that the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigerian can only accommodate one individual at a time, therefore the need to be temperate in their quest to attain it.
He called on the National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, to set the ground rules by producing a template to guide the conduct of aspirants jostling for office of President in line with the party’s Constitution and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said: “The PDP must put its house in order. The gladiators seeking to vie for the office of President must not remove their eyes from the larger goal which is for the party to win the presidential election in 2023.
“Therefore, aspirants must of necessity not attempt to pull down their co-contestants through spurious allegations in order to gain undue advantage.
“The PDP, by law, can only field one presidential candidate. Any aspirant that emerges candidate during the primaries will surely require the support and cooperation of other contestants to succeed during the general elections.”
He lambasted those referring to ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s age as a factor why he should not contest the office of President in 2023.
He described the naysayers as saboteurs and agents of destabilisation who are far removed from happenings in Nigeria and elsewhere.
Frank said: “What was President Muhammadu Buhari’s age when he contested the Office of President in 2015? What was Joe Biden’s age when he won the American presidential election?
“Age is not our problem in Nigeria. Our problem is leadership. What Nigerians should be after is leadership which can come from a young man or an elderly man.
“There is no where in the Nigerian Constitution where old age is used as a criterion to disqualify those who want to vie for political offices.
“We have seen in Nigeria during both military and democratic dispensations some political office holders either as Head of State, President or Governor were in their 50’s or less but failed to perform.
“So age should not be the yardstick for choosing the next President of the country. Let those who think they have capability to lead declare their interests irrespective of their age. The decision lies with Nigerians to vote for who they want at the appropriate time.
“When the time for presidential primaries comes, let party delegates make their choice among the array of aspirants. Let Nigerians also decide who to vote for during the general elections.
“All aspirants should tell their party delegates and Nigerians what they have to offer and not name calling and campaign of calumny against Atiku or any other aspirant. Let them not destroy one of their finest.
“Americans voted for Joe Biden at age 78 because they needed experience and leadership. If there is a young person who has more capacity and leadership acumen than Atiku let delegates and Nigerians decide.
“We advise the National Working Committee of the PDP to learn from 2019 primaries which held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and conduct free and fair primaries to elect its presidential candidate.
“Otherwise, if they impose any candidate, they will lose the 2023 presidential election because Nigerians will not accept imposition.
“We advise the PDP to throw open it presidential ticket and let both northern and southern aspirants participate. They should allow as many that are interested to run.”