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Presidential Ticket: Atiku Won’t Disregard Jonathan’s Advice On Obasanjo,..aide

• Ex-VP resigned from APC since Oct. 18 –Findings

Olusola Fabiyi, John Alechenu, John Ameh, Friday Olokor, Leke Baiyewu and John Charles

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says he has not ruled out the possibility of holding talks with his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, in pursuit of his political ambition.

Atiku’s Media Adviser, Mazi Paul Ibe, stated this on behalf of his principal during a telephone interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja on Sunday.

Ibe explained that Atiku, a master of consensus building, would not discountenance the importance of carrying everyone along.

He spoke in reaction to the advice given by former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Jonathan had, in an interview, described ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo as “the boss of bosses.” He had advised the former vice-president to reconcile with Obasanjo in order realize his political ambition.

Ibe said, “His Excellency, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, is a savvy politician and he will not discountenance the importance of carrying everybody along in order to build a consensus.”

Atiku meets PDP leaders

It was gathered on Sunday that Atiku had been meeting with leaders of the PDP.

The News Agency of Nigeria reported on Sunday that the former number two citizen had met with members Adamawa PDP executive at all levels, as well as state chairmen from the six states that made up the North-East.

He was also said to have met with the PDP national vice-chairman in the North-East.

The Adamawa State PDP Secretary, Abdullahi Prambe, said, “The meetings have been fruitful.

“Our meetings with him (Atiku) have been fruitful and from his body language, he will soon return to the PDP.”

“With Atiku, the party will carry more weight and more people will come back.”

NAN reported that Ibe, Atiku’s spokesman, declined to comment.

Reps’ APC caucus disagree with Atiku’s reasons

The caucus of the All Progressives Congress in the House of Representatives on Sunday faulted the former vice-president’s reasons for resigning from the ruling party.

The caucus disagreed with Atiku’s position that “factionalisation and lack of democratic principles” forced him out of the APC.

Part of Atiku’s statement had read, “While other parties have purged themselves of the arbitrariness and unconstitutionality that led to fractionalisation, the All Progressives Congress has adopted those same practices and even gone beyond them to institute a regime of a draconian clampdown on all forms of democracy within the party and the government it produced.”

But, the leader of the APC caucus in the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, told The PUNCH that Atiku was hasty in drawing his conclusion about the party.

He said, “Anytime any member of your family, in this case, political family leaves, you feel saddened. Also, we haven’t had an election as such since 2015 to determine whether or not there is democracy in the party. 2019 will determine that and I wish he had tarried a little while.”

The Chief Whip of the House and leader of the majority North-West caucus, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, said Atiku misrepresented facts.

He said, “It is a clear misrepresentation of facts to accuse the APC and the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration of being undemocratic. I vehemently disagree with the former VP in this respect, especially when he is widely speculated to have defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, a party that was widely adjudged to be the most despotic and undemocratic party we have ever had in the history of Nigeria’s democracy.’’

Senators fault el-Rufai’s criticism

Some members of the Senate, including some APC senators, have faulted Governor Nasir e-Rufai of Kaduna State and other politicians who criticised Atiku’s resignation from the ruling party.

Senator Rafiu Ibrahim, (APC, Kwara-South), in a telephone interview with The PUNCH, said the former vice-president should not be underrated.

Ibrahim said, “Let us be strategic in the APC. We should not take it from the angle of the Governor of Kaduna State who said he (Atiku) is a serial defector. This is the kind of words that make you lose what you have.”

The lawmaker noted that while many critics of Atiku’s resignation thought it was for his presidential ambition, the former vice president could choose to back a candidate against Buhari.

Also, Senator Shehu Sani (APC, Kaduna-Central) said el-Rufai’s condemnation of Atiku was inspired by their long-standing rivalry since the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He urged the APC to consider grievances expressed by the former vice-president, and not criticise him like the Kaduna State governor.

He said, “The attacks on Atiku for changing political party are uncalled for. The APC should carefully study the issues he raised and make the necessary corrections that would convince other party loyalists to remain in the party.”

But Senator Adesoji Akanbi (APC, Oyo-South) said as much as Atiku’s exit from the APC would be painful to the party faithful, the former vice-president had the right to join any association or party of his choice.

Akanbi said, “Everybody has a right to exercise his or her freedom of association. Whatever the reason given by Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, it is a matter of choice.”

However, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce (PDP, Bayelsa-East) urged Atiku “on behalf of my colleagues” to return to the PDP.

He said, “First, he has not moved to the PDP. He has only resigned from the APC. We are appealing to him to please come back to the PDP which he founded.”

Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo-East) described Atiku’s exit from the APC as a bonus for the PDP. He added that the ruling party was on the verge of witnessing a mass exodus of its members to the opposition party.

He said, “It is an indication that the PDP is set to take back power in 2019. Those who left the PDP are now coming back. In days to come, you will see members of the National Assembly and serving governors who left the PDP returning to the party.”

Former VP resigned since Oct. 18

– Findings

The PUNCH has discovered that Atiku had actually resigned from the APC since October 18, 2017.

One of our correspondents’ findings showed that the resignation was kept secret until the former vice-president issued his exit statement last Thursday.

In the letter exclusively obtained by The PUNCH, Atiku said he left the APC because he could not “reconcile” himself with the ruling party’s dismal performance.

The resignation letter was addressed to the card chairman of the APC in Jada 1, Jada Local Government Area of Adamawa State.

The letter, which was titled ‘resignation,’ was received by Usman Muazu.

The letter dated October 18, 2017, read in part, “I wish to inform you of my decision to resign my membership of the All Progressives Congress in this ward with effect from the date of this letter.

“I’m resigning from a part we formed and worked so hard, with fellow compatriots across the country, to place in government.

“I had hope that the APC government would make improvements to the lives of our people and the continued existence and development of Nigeria as one indivisible nation. This hope has now been dashed.

“I’m unable to reconcile myself with the dismal performance of the party in government, especially in relation to the continued polarisation of our people along the ethnic and religious lines, which is threatening our unity more than any other time in the recent past, and the unbearable hardship that our people are currently undergoing.

“Let me emphasise again that this is not about me. We have to have a country before people can aspire to lead it.

“While wishing you well, let me express the hope that in the near future, a substantial number of you will join forces with us to, once again, defeat impunity, and restore vision and purpose to the politics of our great country.”

Former gov hails Atiku’s exit

A former governor of Plateau State, Fidelis Tapgun, on Sunday expressed satisfaction with the exit of Atiku from the APC.

He, however, warned the PDP not to give him automatic presidential ticket in 2019.”

Tapgun in an interview with The PUNCH in Jos, said, “If Atiku is leaving the APC and coming back to the PDP, he is coming with a lot of supporters.

“We all know that Atiku leaving the APC is 99.5 per cent minus for the APC.

“The PDP is now back on its feet, a lot of the wrong things done in the past are being corrected. So, all of us are happy to see Atiku back in the PDP.”

Tapgun said he did not expect the PDP to give Atiku automatic ticket for 2019 presidency, describing such practice as undemocratic.

He said, “I don’t expect the PDP to give him an automatic ticket. We want a political party which practises democracy. Anybody who wants to contest the 2019 presidency should indicate interest. There should be a level playing field for anybody who wants to contest.