Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis and Dirisu Yakubu
A group of protesters under the aegis of The Natives, on Wednesday, appealed to the presidential candidate of Labour Party, Peter Obi, and his counterpart in the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, not to abandon the country following their loss in the February 25 poll.
But in swift response, Atiku, through his Special Assistant on Communications, Phrank Shaibu, slammed the protesters, saying he did not owe the group an explanation of travel itinerary.
The call by the group came barely one week after Obi came under attack over a leaked audio where he allegedly described the 2023 elections as a religious war.
While denying the allegation, Obi had tweeted via his official Twitter handle that he was under pressure to leave the country
Reacting to Obi, the Director of New Media of the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, Fani-Kayode, had on his Twitter handle, said Obi was free to leave the country.
“Please do us all a big favour and go! Sooner the better and never come back!” Fani-Kayode wrote.
But addressing newsmen during their peaceful protest in Abuja on Wednesday, Convener of The Natives, Smart Edward, urged Obi, Atiku and other dejected candidates not to embark on exile out of frustration.
While urging them to accept the outcome of the presidential election as declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission, Smart disclosed that there was nowhere in the world where perfect elections are conducted.
He said, “We are hearing rumours that some presidential candidates of various party have started leaving the country. This is a trademark of any politician who is just an opportunist.
@We, therefore, call on our respected Labour Party candidate, His Excellency Peter Obi, to please stay in the country because his talents, ability and contributions are needed in this country. As a patriot, he doesn’t need to go on exile.
“We are also hearing that the PDP candidate, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, will soon be on his way back to Dubai. Whether he has gone or about to leave, we appeal to him to stay back because his valuable contributions are needed in the country. We encourage all of them to stay back like President Muhammadu Buhari stayed back because this is the process of contributing to development of our democracy and Nigeria.
“For Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, his party has lost elections twice. But he won this one through proper collaboration and we are asking all to work together for growth our beloved Nigeria and its democracy.”
But when contacted, Shaibu lashed out at the group, saying, “Atiku does not owe the group his travel details. He decides when or not to travel. Rather than waste their energy on frivolities, they should call on the man they claimed they elected to return to the country.
“The man that they said has been elected is nowhere to be found. He is the man whose whereabouts should worry them. They should look for him and encourage him to return to the country.”