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Presidential Aspirants Interview (1): My PDP membership not in doubt – Atiku Abubakar

Atiku Abubakar

*’How Obasanjo wasted $650m on power’
*Says Obasanjo wanted life presidency not Third Term

Since Friday, January 3, 2003, Atiku Abubakar has not stopped moving against the tide.In some instances, he survived and came out victorious; at other times, he came off worse – but coming out worse might also be comparative and relative, depending on where you stand.  For instance, it was his dogged fight against former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s jackboot approach to party leadership that frustrated and led to the expulsion of the former Vice President from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and also made the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to disqualify him, but for which he got a Supreme Court landmark pronouncement that INEC lacked the powers to disqualify a candidate.
But it was the same move against the tide which left Atiku losing the presidential contest of April 2007 with the Appeal and Supreme Courts upholding his defeat at the polls.
Today, Atiku is ‘back’ in PDP and wants to contest the presidential election on the platform of the party. The tide this time, at least according to the resolution of the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the PDP, is that President Goodluck Jonathan should complete the other four-year tenure of his joint presidential ticket with the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.  But the party, not wanting to get entangled by judicial altercation, says the party’s zoning arrangement remains in place.
Last Sunday, August 15, Atiku announced that “after due consultations with my family, friends and political associates, I have come here to formally announce, with humility and a deep sense of responsibility, that I shall be offering myself as a candidate for election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 2011 Presidential Election. I shall do so on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)”.
In this interactive session, Atiku speaks on some of the issues he had never really talked about. But the most interesting part of his revelation is the deal he said he has perfected with former military President, Ibrahim Babangida, who is also in the race.  Following are excerpts of his answers to questions posed by reporters at his Abuja declaration.

By Jide Ajani,  Deputy Editor & Dapo Akinrefon

YOU still have an issue with the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The governor of your home state, Adamawa (Murtala Nyako), said you’re yet to be a PDP member. How do you intend to sort the issue of your registration as a member of the party?
The constitution of PDP provides how you can become a member and your ward is where your membership registration resides. You do not even register neither with your local government nor the state chapter and the constitution of the PDP provides that you can register where you reside or where you have a home. All of these are provided in the constitution.

Before I returned to the PDP in Adamawa State, there was a crisis and the crisis divided the party into two camps: the governor on one side and the rest of the stakeholders on the other. This came about during the primaries of the governorship election.  There were nine gubernatorial aspirants and at that point in time, Nyako was in ANPP. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo took him from ANPP and included him to join the nine other aspirants. That was how they went into election.

Since they came out of the election, the party has remained like that.

By the time I returned to the party, I registered at my ward but the governor said I had registered in the camp that was not recognized. I went back to my ward and went to the same camp which he said he recognized, held a meeting with both the ward and local government executives, applied to be re-admitted; they re-admitted me, gave me a slip in view of a membership card and when the membership card arrived, they gave me a membership card which I forwarded to the national headquarters of the party’s secretariat.

Governor Nyako called the ward and local government executives and threatened them.  They refused to be threatened or blackmailed, and they said Atiku brought this party to us, he is our son and we cannot reject him. He threatened them that he was going to relieve them and I dared him to remove them because under the constitution of the PDP, he has no power to remove them. This is where we are today.

Legally and constitutionally, Governor Nyako just has nothing to do with me and my membership is valid, it’s legal and it’s lawful. Whether Nyako likes it or not, that is his own business.

The crisis in Adamawa has been going on for over two years; nobody could bring the two parties together, not until I came in. I asked the national headquarters to call the two factions to order and the national headquarters is still in the process of reconciling and resolving the crisis in Adamawa PDP. So, I’m not the cause of the crisis in Adamawa PDP and as far as my membership is concerned, it’s a settled issue.  Constitutionally, legally and lawfully, I am a member of the PDP.

President Jonathan has not declared his intention to run for the presidency in 2011 but I know that it is going to be a formidable race because General Babangida is also in the race and now you have joined. How do you see yourself in the context of this race?

Everybody will tell you he is going to win. Babangida is going to tell you he’s going to win, Jonathan will tell you he’s going to win and I will tell you I’m extremely confident but the electorate will decide. But what we should insist on is internal democracy. Democratic processes should guide elections in this country, whether at the party level or in the general elections.

See  tomorrow’s edition of Sunday Vanguard for the full interview, Story of  The Week, our ace columnists and other juicy stories.


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