A former Governor of Anambra State and vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Peter Obi has expressed surprise at the statement credited to Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna State, who, on his Twitter account, referred to him as “a tribal bigot.”
El-Rufai alleged that Obi stopped him from moving around Anambra State during the gubernatorial election in the State in 2010.
Obi said he was shocked to read such an outburst of hate from El-Rufai, especially when, according to him, “the statement came unprovoked, suggesting that it was what he sat down to think of rather than thinking about how to solve the many problems plaguing the country.”
Obi was speaking in answer to journalists that sought his reply to El-Rufai’s tweet during a Youth Programme in Nnewi, Anambra State on Saturday.
In Obi’s words: “What His Excellency, Governor Nasir Ahmad El Rufai, said about me has been brought to my attention.
“I believe that as we grow older and are saddled with more responsibilities, we are expected to become circumspect in our thinking and avoid recklessness in our speeches and utterances.
“How does the circumstance he referred to related to bigotry to warrant such a label?
“All I do for people like El-Rufai is to pray for them and encourage them to concentrate on doing those things that will better the lots of Nigerians rather than engage in hate speeches that will divide and destroy the country.”
Insisting that Nigeria does not need violence of speech to solve her numerous problems, Obi added: “At this difficult time in our country, when thousands of our brothers and sisters across ethnic divide are killed all over the country, including innocent citizens in Kaduna State, millions of our children from all the parts of the country are out of school, millions of Nigerian youths from all the parts of the country are without jobs, our pre-occupation, especially among those that are in government, should not be making reckless speeches.
“What our leaders should be doing today is seeking solution to numerous problems of our dear country.”
Concerning the claim that El-Rufai was arrested on the election day in Anambra State, Obi said: “I am aware that during the said election he referred to, security agents merely restricted his movement because he has no business being in Anambra as I would not have any being in Kaduna on an election day.”
Obi cautioned Nigerians, especially those in positions of authority, to avoid the dominance of the vice of hate over the virtues of love in whatever they do.