By CLIFFORD NDUJIHE& HENRY UMORU
ABUJA—TWENTY-TWO days after former Vice President Atiku Abubakar lost the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to President Goodluck Jonathan, he is now ready for negotiation.
Atiku, who enroute the presidential primaries was adopted as the consensus candidate of the North by the Mallam Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Leaders Political Forum (NPLF) ahead of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Aliyu Gusau and Governor Bukola Saraki of Kwara State, has refused to congratulate Jonathan since the January 13 election.
Babangida and Saraki have since congratulated the President and Saraki was among governors of the South-South, South-East and North-Central geo-political zones, who have endorsed President Jonathan for the April polls.
In a statement by his campaign office, yesterday, Atiku said that his group was amenable to dialogue – a statement that confirms Vanguard reports recently that both camps were discussing. Sources had said that top politicians such as Chief Anthony Anenih had been leading the dialogue and horse-trading at which the camp of the former Vice President was said to be asking for six ministries in the post-May 29 cabinet while the President’s camp offered four.
Speaking against the background of what he termed “relentless pressure and blackmail in the media by busy bodies” over his alleged reluctance to congratulate President Jonathan on the outcome of the PDP presidential primaries, Atiku said in the statement issued on his behalf by his Media Office in Abuja that the group that put him forward for the PDP presidential primaries was prepared for discussion but would not succumb to baseless propaganda against his person and group.
“Instead of this rigmarole by busy bodies, I believe that an appropriate response should be to open a window for negotiation on how to strengthen our party for the challenges ahead,” Atiku said.
He recalled that he had informed the nation and his associates that he was consulting on the outcome of the primaries and that whatever his position on the January 13, 2011 primaries was clearly made available to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He wondered why it had become a full time job of some people to force his hand on the decision to concede victory to President Jonathan.
The former Vice President noted that with his campaign organisation having forwarded its misgivings about the irregularities that attended the primaries, the media and those hiding under their cover should be patient enough to await the outcome of its resolution.
According to him, it amounts to blackmail to force a man to take any action without evaluating its effects on his group, loyalists, associates and supporters.
However, the former Vice President urged those who feel strongly about the situation to open discussion with his group on the issues instead of the now familiar harassment against him by political jobbers.
“If those who have won the so_called victory are confident of the genuineness of their victory, they should go on,” he said.
The former Vice President, however, restated his commitment to democracy, rule of law, credible elections, national unity, political stability, progress and development of Nigeria.
He reaffirmed his entire campaign team’s unwavering commitment and loyalty to the PDP and its noble objectives.