‘Parkinson’s disease’, ‘stingy’, ‘corrupt’: Nigeria’s two leading presidential candidates bring a bitter end to the campaign, each calling for the other’s arrest by resurrecting old corruption scandals.
Nigerian politics is plagued with accusations of all kinds, especially in relation to dark money matters. And frontrunners for the February 25 presidential election, Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, both extremely wealthy septuagenarians, are no exception: They have been repeatedly accused of corruption, which they strongly deny.
More than 93 million Nigerians will go to the polls to choose a successor to President Muhammadu Buhari, who has not run for two terms.
Africa’s most populous nation faces myriad challenges, including near-widespread insecurity, a severe economic crisis and spiraling inequality. In recent weeks, as the campaign has intensified, insults and accusations have broken out between the candidates.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu, candidate of the ruling party (APC), thus accuses Atiku Abubakar, of the opposition (PDP), of having “led a criminal enterprise and built an empire through fraud” by “stealing public funds” between 1999 and 2007. when the latter was vice president.
Nicknamed “the Godfather” or even “the Boss” for his considerable influence and wealth, Mr. Tinubu calls on his opponent to “withdraw from the presidential race immediately” and “surrender to law enforcement.” He calls Abubakar “Mr. I sell everything”, describing him as “ready to get his way” and calling him “corrupt”.
A US Senate investigation cites Abubakar’s name in a money laundering case.
Between 2000 and 2008, one of his then-wives, who is a US national, allegedly “assisted her husband in repatriating more than $40 million in suspicious funds to the United States through offshore accounts.” according to the report.
The couple is also accused of having received more than 2 million dollars in commission for a contract with the multinational Siemens, which pleaded guilty in this case.
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Mr Tinubu is accused of laundering money in his youth, when he was an accountant in the United States, on behalf of a vast heroin trafficking network, which he denies.
At 70, the APC candidate, a former governor of Lagos, has frequently been accused of corruption, without ever having been convicted. The “Atiku” team also calls for the arrest of Mr. Tinubu, accused of preparing an “army of bandits” to “undermine” the February 25 elections.
Before we continue: “APC candidate must have overt Parkinson’s disease accompanied by incontinence.” Bola Tinubu “cannot stand upright or climb (steps) without help, suffers a visible tremor in the hands and throbs with the slightest physical effort,” they say.
The health of presidential candidates is a sensitive issue in Nigeria, where President Buhari caused a stir by missing months during his first term to seek treatment in the UK for an unknown illness.
Therefore, many wonder if Mr. Tinubu, once elected, will not also be absent due to his alleged state of health and leave it to his vice president to lead. The affected assures that he is in good health, as evidenced by the viral videos of him in the gym or dancing.
With six weeks to go before the presidential election, all shots are allowed between candidates seeking to “discredit” their opponent, explains Udo Jude Ilo, an analyst at Thoughts and Mace Advisory. “The candidates, mainly from the APC and the PDP, seek to pit public opinion against each other,” added Mr. Jude Ilo.
Peter Obi, the presidential loser and Labor Party candidate, is not spared either. Mr. Tinubu nicknames him “Mr. the tightwad”, accusing him of not spending enough on the town when he was governor of Anambra state (southeast). Nigeria “now needs stingy people to keep the money for the development of the country,” Mr. Obi replied.
These invectives leave little room for debate despite the fact that the country faces immense challenges: inflation exceeding 20%, some 133 million people suffering from “multidimensional poverty” and daily violence from criminal groups. , jihadists and separatists.