The government issued the warning in Abuja at a press conference addressed by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Garba Shehu.
The minister was reacting to the posters bearing the picture of Atiku with the inscription: ”THE PUKKA, H.E. ATIKU ABUBAKAR, THE REAL AND THE RIGHT”, pasted across major streets in Abuja.
He said the appearance of the posters coincided with the media report that Atiku had hired a US lobbying firm to convince the US not to recognise the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari until the Supreme Court has ruled on the suit by the PDP presidential candidate.
Mohammed said that the purported actions by the former Vice President was an attempt to win by subterfuge or through the back door the election he lost.
The minister said the government was not unaware that Atiku had denied the allegations, and dissociated himself from the posters, however, the response was imperative because of the weighty implications of the actions.
Specifically, the minister said the purported actions meant that, Atiku, “out of desperation, is thinking of replicating the Venezuelan model right here in Nigeria.
“But he should realize that Nigeria is not Venezuela, and that the situations in both countries are not the same”.
The minister said: “The posters and the hiring of US lobbyists, the latest of such by the PDP candidate, have triggered questions about what Alhaji Abubakar is up to.
“Is Atiku starting a fresh campaign after the elections have been won and lost?
“Has he rescinded his decision to challenge the results of the presidential election in court, perhaps after realising that the results he claimed to have obtained from the INEC-back server are cooked?
“As a self-avowed democrat, he should realise that the only lawful channel for challenging the result of an election is through the courts.
“Resorting to self-help, as he seems to be doing now, is an act of desperation and the consequences are dire,” Mohammed said.
The minister reaffirmed that Buhari won the Feb. 23 presidential elections fair and square, with a margin of 3,928,869 million votes and that the election’s credibility was attested to by local and foreign observers.
He said the President’s victory was well deserved and represented the triumph of the ordinary Nigerians over the elite.
“The election is a direct contest between ordinary Nigerians and the elite, most of whom are rent seekers. Of course, the ordinary Nigerians have won.
“This is not a surprise, considering the pro-poor policy of the administration.
“Despite the antics of the naysayers, Nigerians demonstrated that they appreciate the giant strides that have been made by the administration, whether in the areas of economy, fight against corruption or in tackling insecurity.
“This is a government that has done so much with less in restoring decency and integrity to governance,” he said.
Also quoting the New York Times, the minister said the “re-election of President Buhari is a referendum on honesty”.
He added that the policies of the Administration endeared Buhari to the ordinary Nigerians.
The minister noted that, though, Atiku had the right to do whatever is lawful to challenge the outcome of the election, but he must not go through the back door.
”If he believes hiring a foreign lobbying firm will advance his quest, we wish him the best of luck.
“But seeking US recognition as the winner of an election that he lost by almost 4 million votes is unconscionable.”
The minister recalled that after the result of the presidential election was announced, the U.S. joined other countries to congratulate President Buhari.
He said that in a statement by its Secretary of State, Michael Pompeo, the US reiterated it’s commitment to “working together with Nigeria to achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations.”
The minister therefore advised Atiku to realise that losing an election is not the end of the world.
He added that having challenged the result of the election in court, he should not give the impression that he does not have confidence in the judicial process.
Mohammed stressed that Atiku should stop overheating the polity and quit trying to instigate a political crisis in the country.