The media offices of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo and All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader Bola Tinubu issued separate statements, yesterday, warning the public to beware of plots by unscrupulous persons against their principals.
Osinbajo and Tinubu have both declared their intention to contest the presidency in next year’s general elections. The duo’s aspirations, however, have further stirred political waters, with some of their supporters hurling accusations and counteraccusations.
Titled, ‘Tinubu is the target of blasphemous campaign’, the aspirant’s media office said: “The orchestrated set-up of a poster campaign seeking to use a literary application of the Biblical story of Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus Christ to rope Asiwaju Tinubu into a storm of blasphemy is the most desperate antics of anti-Tinubu propagandists in recent times.”
It said: “Investigations have revealed that those who created the offensive poster were the same people who created the counter-campaign alleging blasphemy. Their design is used both to provoke anger against the person and aspiration of Asiwaju Tinubu.
“This campaign has failed. This is clearly irresponsible and insensitive political propaganda that seeks to exploit religious sentiments to manipulate public perception against Asiwaju Tinubu, who is ostensibly the most formidable presidential aspirant in this race.”
ON the other hand, the Osinbajo for President Media Council said it “uncovered yet another fraudulent plan to malign the reputation of Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of Nigeria and a presidential aspirant on the platform of the APC.
“The plot has been traced to a cell of smear campaigners, led by a U.S. based Nigerian, who was formerly a Students Union President at the University of Lagos. The same individual is currently a lecturer at the University of Ohio in the USA.
“The plan is to use fake audio of faceless individuals with fictitious names to cast the Vice President, who is a Christian, as a religious fanatic, who discriminated against the staff of other faith while he was Attorney General (AG) and Commissioner for Justice in Lagos State during the tenure of former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu.”
The statement continues: “In the fake video, a woman is seen crying and making frantic allegations that she was discriminated against by the then-Attorney General, because she was not allowed to wear the Muslim head cover for women, otherwise known as ‘hijab’, to work.
“As observed by someone who was in the same ministry at the time Osinbajo served as Attorney General, no such incident ever occurred and this is just a malicious and wicked attempt to sully the sterling qualities of Osinbajo because of his presidential aspirations.
“Indeed as Attorney General, Osinbajo’s Secretary, a Muslim, Alhaji Abdul Gafar Bakare, had testified before now that the then Lagos AG ‘did not only encourage me to further my education, even at my relatively old age, he personally sponsored my BSc Accounting Programme.’ He added that the Vice President also sponsored his foreign travel then.
“It would be recalled that a similar smear campaign was unleashed against President Muhammadu Buhari, especially during the 2014-15 presidential campaigns, when it was alleged that he was virulently anti-Christian. The attempt however met with failure.
“Even though a Christian pastor, Osinbajo has always demonstrated himself to be a tolerant Nigerian who believes in inter-faith harmony and freedom of worship, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution as amended.
“During his career as a university teacher, he taught Muslims and Christians alike in a convivial atmosphere. He also had excellent working and private relationships with Muslim bosses over the decades, including Judge Bola Ajibola, former Governor Tinubu and President Muhammadu Buhari. Osinbajo remains a firm believer in Nigeria’s diversity and an ardent proponent of Nigerian unity.
“For these reasons, the media council feels the need to alert the general public to the odious campaign strategy of Osinbajo’s detractors and urge everyone to ignore same when released to the public.”
PRESSING its argument further, Tinubu’s media office said: “It is widely known that Asiwaju Tinubu is married to not just a Christian but an ordained pastor, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, and has developed a very deep fraternal relationship with Christendom at all levels, a fact acknowledged by many bishops, pastors and parishioners over the years.
“A known Muslim, Asiwaju in words and actions has demonstrated religious tolerance and accommodation. He believes in the cardinal principle of the Nigerian Constitution that no one should suffer discrimination on the basis of creed or opinion.
“Besides, as a former governor of Lagos, a state that is a microcosm of Nigeria in terms of religious diversity, his matured management of religion as a way of life, ensured inter-religious harmony in Nigeria’s most industrialised state.
“It is, therefore, impudent to contemplate that a statesman of Asiwaju Tinubu’s standing will condone Biblical allusions that could denigrate his person or status.
These basic facts were ignored by those desperate to set Muslims against Christians through deliberate disinformation of the general public.
“While we shall continue to appeal to the Nigerian people to ignore such campaigns of calumny, we reiterate our commitment to prioritise our political communication on the exposition of the truth and dissemination of our point of view with decency and regard to the feelings of Nigerians.
“This is an irreducible minimum for us. We urge others to join us in this patriotic mission by shunning desperation and verbal violence in the campaign for the highest office in the land.”