By Gbade Ogunwale, Abuja
There is heightened anxiety in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over a viral video that featured the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Prof Ibrahim Gambari.
In the said video, Oshiomhole was heard telling Gambari “arrest, deal with…and the whole thing will change,” a comment the PDP construed to mean plots to clampdown on its chieftains ahead of the September 19 Edo Governorship election.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu confirmed the meeting between Oshiomhole and Gambari.
But the Presidency described the said conversation between Oshiomhole and Gambari as an innocent that centered on emerging incidents of violence in the run- up to the election as well as law enforcement to stem the tide.
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But in a media briefing in Abuja on Wednesday, the spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said the admission by the Presidency of the said meeting confirmed the party’s worst fears.
Ologbondiyan said: “By describing the discussion by Oshiomhole and Prof. Gambari, in which Oshiomhole was heard finalizing a plot to clampdown political rivals, as ‘an innocent conversation’, the Buhari Presidency has further exposed its complicity.
“This convoluted admission by the Presidency speaks more of the conversation that must have held behind closed doors with President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Nigerians were further alarmed by the admission that Oshiomhole, the face of the APC campaign, was at the Presidential Villa for discussions on ’emerging incidents of violence in the run up to the election’, as well as the ‘use of law enforcement’, in an election in which he and the APC have displayed a desperation to grab power at all costs.
“The question is: when did Oshiomhole become the National Security Adviser (NSA). When did Oshiomhole become a Service Chief?
“Is Oshiomhole holding any statutory position in the government or even in the APC, as a party, to warrant a security meeting with the President, if the meeting was not for ulterior partisan purposes on the Edo election?”
Continuing, Ologbondiyan said: “If the meeting was indeed focused on genuinely curbing violence, as being claimed by the Presidency, why were leaders of other political parties and other stakeholders in the Edo governorship election not invited? Why was this meeting centered on the arrest and clampdown of political rivals?
“Our National Campaign on Edo State Governorship Election is worried by the discussion between Oshiomhole and Prof. Gambari because of the history of electoral violence that has characterized elections under this administration.
“Furthermore, it is ludicrous for the Presidency to conjure ‘facts’ on parties leveling accusations of violence against one another, while pretending towards the attack on the PDP leaders at the Oba’s Palace in Benin, which has been in the public domain.
“Till date, the Presidency has said nothing over the meeting held between the APC candidate, Ize-Iyamu and some thugs, where he was seen on a viral video, giving instructions to them to break electoral laws and use violence to rig elections for him.
“As at the moment, nobody has been arrested or questioned by the security agencies and nothing has been heard from the Presidency on that callous invitation to public violence.”