Just one week after his announcement as the PDP vice presidential nominee, Peter Obi has had a baptism of fire.
The three main attacks against him, which may have big implications for his presidency, involve an alleged history of bigotry, ownership of a foreign property contrary to his claims and a fake report from a Twitter handle not linked to him.
Speaking through his media aide, Valentine Obienyem, the PDP VP candidate alleged that the allegations have come from APC “attack dogs”.
One – Record of ethnic bigotry: Obi’s accusers have branded him as an ethnocentric candidate, highlighting an issue which occurred when he was Anambra governor. While attempting to cleanup the Onitsha bridge, Obi’s attackers alleged that he targeted non-Igbos for ejection.
His defense: “The latest of such revisionism is the failed attempt to twist the facts regarding the Onitsha Bridge Head clean-up. Those peddling the falsehood that it was targeted at traders from other parts of the country have conveniently chosen to forget that many of the affected traders were from Anambra State and some other parts of Igbo land. We vehemently reject any suggestion that Mr. Obi is an ethnic or religious bigot. He is a detribalisied and liberal Nigerian with friends all over the country and whose charity works are spread across the country.”
Two – Evidence of property ownership contrary to his claims: Obi had previously claimed at a civic engagement event, The Platform, that he had only one private property to his name – and that it was in Anambra. “The only place I own a house as Peter Obi is in Onitsha,” Obi had said. However, that claim has been proven to be false as records show that he owns a property in London.
His defense: While not denying the fact that he lied, Obi is now saying he had owned his London “houses” even before he became governor. “In an attempt to discredit him, some people are posting his London houses as the much-awaited evidence that he lied. First, let it be noted that the issue of having a personal house only in Onitsha is a matter of choice. If his lifestyle supports love for houses, Obi can afford to have houses in the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). As for his London houses, it might interest the public to note that he bought his first house in London in 1987. All the houses he owned in London were purchased before he became governor of Anambra State and were all duly declared.”
Three – Policy statement on public officials travel: A tweet from an Obi parody account went viral. That account has no links with the PDP VP candidate. The post suggested that if elected, the PDP administration would ban first class travel and medical travel for public officials.
His defense: “At no time did Mr. Obi make any of these statements being ascribed to him. Nigerians should ignore these rumours and wait patiently for the manifesto of the Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and PDP,” the statement read.