An independent think tank body, the NEO AFRICANA CENTRE (NAC) said it has noted with grave concern and trepidation the incipient culture of character assassination and blackmail that has crept into the presidential campaigns as the February 25 presidential election approaches.
NAC said this trend and tendency portend a grave danger to a sane and civilized democratic culture that we are aspiring to enthrone in Nigeria.
The Centre said that it is even much more regrettable that these putrid campaigns are particularly directed at the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi.
In a statement by its Director of Public Affairs, Jenkins Udu, the public policy think tank regretted that the campaigns that are supposed to be issue-based are veering off into mudslinging and cheap propaganda. It said that the concentration and frequency of the pieces of blackmail woven around Peter Obi create a clear impression that is he is a thorn in the flesh of some persons involved in the campaigns.
Regardless of the calculated but needless antagonism directed at Peter Obi, NAC said it is delighted that the Labour Party presidential candidate is taking it in his stride and has continued, instead, to preach and propagate the ethos of politics without bitterness.
To stem this dangerous tide, the Centre has called on those concerned to retrace their steps and embrace Obi’s politics of accommodation and tolerance.
Part of the statement reads: “We note with concern and trepidation that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, has in the last few days, been buffeted with stories that border on blackmail. A few days ago, he was alleged to have given a whopping N2 billion to members of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to procure their endorsement. CAN has since debunked the falsehood. And nobody has come out to join issues with CAN as a way of lending credence to the claim.
“Before then, Mr Peter Obi was rumoured to be considering withdrawing from the race in order to pave way for an Atiku Abubakar presidency. We found this improbable but decided to hold our breath until the records were set straight, which was that Peter Obi never imagined or contemplated such a line of action.
Again, the tale turned out to be a figment of someone’s troubled imagination.
“And now, the rumour mill has pushed out another falsehood. This time we were told that the entire structure of the Labour Party in the six states of the south west geopolitical zone has collapsed under the All Progressives Congress (APC). Like others before it, this story has since been discovered to be untrue.
“One common thread runs through the entire gamut of these tales. That is that all the stories seem improbable. You do not need any logical scrutiny to see through the lies.
“We deplore this reckless frenzy of blackmail and propaganda directed at Mr Peter Obi. Going by the concentration and intensity of the fake stories, we are beginning to wonder whether Peter Obi is the only candidate in the race. This preoccupation smacks of desperation. We call on those fouling the political atmosphere with these baseless tales to retrace their steps as they are not doing our democracy any good. Rather than this distraction, we urge all those involved to embrace Peter Obi’s gospel of tolerance and politics without bitterness. Ultimately, what makes sense is to face issues that are germane to the campaigns, rather than engage in campaign of calumny and discrimination. “