The Presidency has responded to allegations made by Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 elections, regarding President Bola Tinubu’s intentions to establish a one-party state in Nigeria. Atiku accused Tinubu of appointing loyalists as Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) for the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), suggesting this was part of a plan to impose a one-party system.
Bayo Onanuga, Special Adviser to the President on Information and Strategy, issued a statement refuting these claims. Onanuga emphasized Tinubu’s democratic credentials and denied any interference with the judiciary or attempts to silence opposition parties. He cited instances in Osun and Bauchi where PDP governors won legal battles against the APC under Tinubu’s presidency, arguing these cases demonstrate Tinubu’s respect for democratic processes and judicial independence.
Onanuga described Atiku’s allegations as malicious and aimed at creating unrest and disenchantment in Nigeria. He pointed to Tinubu’s track record as a democrat and his commitment to the rule of law, contrasting this with Atiku’s approach, which Onanuga suggested was less democratic.
The statement also addressed Atiku and PDP’s reactions to various court rulings, questioning their stance during earlier instances when courts ruled against the All Progressives Congress (APC) in favor of the PDP. Onanuga highlighted the 2019 legal decisions in Zamfara, Rivers, and Bayelsa states as examples where the PDP had benefited from court rulings, suggesting a double standard in their current criticism of the judiciary and President Tinubu.
Onanuga concluded by urging Atiku and the PDP to cease their alleged “campaign of calumny and blackmail” against the judiciary and to respect that judicial judgments are based on law and evidence, not on sentiments and emotions. This response from the Presidency underscores the heightened political tensions and the importance of maintaining democratic norms and judicial independence in Nigeria’s political landscape.