*Says joining APC was a mistake
Party rallies for unity
APC Senators to join him soon in PDP
He is a serial contestant, will return to APC after 2019 – El-Rufai
We will not miss him – APC
The All Progressives Congress, APC was yesterday moving to fortify unity in its ranks after one of its leading members and Nigeria’s former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar left the party in response to what he described as the clampdown of democracy in the party.
Hours after Atiku issued his exit statement, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, himself at one time a very close confidant of Atiku, made a high profile visit to the APC national secretariat where the issue of unity was stressed. Also following the Atiku move, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State who Atiku cited in his resignation statement as having previously outlined the fault lines in the APC, made a conspicuous visit to the Presidential Villa. His visit was interpreted in some quarters as a form of solidarity to the party leader, President Muhammadu Buhari who was perceived as the object of Atiku’s rebellion.
The moves for cohesion Saturday Vanguard learnt yesterday were in response to mutterings about significant departures from the party by already vexed senior chieftains of the party. Sources have noted that as many as 20 APC senators were bidding to depart the party. One of those repeatedly mentioned yesterday was Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso. Saturday Vanguard could not reach him as at press time yesterday.
The national leadership of the party, however, said yesterday that it would not be bothered by Atiku’s exit unless a significant number of party members went with him.
The presidency which was partly the butt of Atiku’s reason for leaving was not in a position to respond to the development yesterday. Mallam Garba Shehu a long time associate of the former vice-president who was donated to help the Muhammadu Buhari campaign and subsequently became the president’s spokesman was not available for comments on the development.
Governor El-Rufai was nevertheless dismissive of the move by Atiku who he described as a serial presidential contestant affirming that the former vice-president would return to the APC after the 2019 presidential election after failing to get the presidential ticket of his new party.
Meanwhile, Atiku was yesterday pondering his next move. Aides were dismissive of claims that Atiku may contemplate the nuclear option of exiting politics as some were speculating yesterday. Atiku who arrived Yola, Adamawa State yesterday, it was learned, could register for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in his Kojoli Ward in Jada Local Government Area this weekend.
Announcing his decision to leave the APC which he helped to build and win the 2015 presidential election, Atiku in a statement issued by his media office yesterday morning said the party had derailed from its objectives.
While alleging a draconian clampdown of democracy in the APC, a derailment of its set objectives in governance and the abandonment of the Nigerian youth, the former vice-president in the early morning statement said he was as such resigning his membership of the party forthwith, saying that joining APC was a mistake.
He referred to the leaked memo from Governor El-Rufai in September 2016 in which the governor alleged that the principal founders of the party like Atiku, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso had been marginalized in the running of the party and government. Atiku further noted that more than a year after the memo no action was taken to repair the breach, and that the breach had been worsened, and left him with no option than to leave the party.
He said: “On the 19th of December, 2013, I received members of the All Progressives Congress at my house in Abuja. They had come to appeal to me to join their party after my party, the Peoples Democratic Party, had become factionalized as a result of the special convention of August 31, 2013.
“The fractionalization of the Peoples Democratic Party on August 31, 2013, had left me in a situation where I was, with several other loyal party members, in limbo, not knowing which of the parallel executives of the party was the legitimate leadership. “It was under this cloud that members of the APC made the appeal to me to join their party, with the promise that the injustices and failure to abide by its own constitution which had dogged the then PDP, would not be replicated in the APC and with the assurance that the vision other founding fathers and I had for the PDP could be actualized through the All Progressives Congress.
It was on the basis of this invitation and the assurances made to me that I, being party-less at that time, due to the fractionalization of my party, accepted on February 2, 2014, the hand of fellowship given to me by the All Progressives Congress. On that day, I said “it is the struggle for democracy and constitutionalism and service to my country and my people that are driving my choice and my decision” to accept the invitation to join the All Progressives Congress. Like you, I said that because I believed that we had finally seen the beginnings of the rebirth of the new Nigeria of our dreams which would work for all of us, old and young. However, events of the intervening years have shown that like any other human and like many other Nigerians, I was fallible.
“While other parties have purged themselves of the arbitrariness and unconstitutionality that led to fractionalization, 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.
Only last year, a governor produced by the party wrote a secret memorandum to the president which ended up being leaked. In that memo, he admitted that the All Progressives Congress had “not only failed to manage expectations of a populace that expected overnight ‘change’ but has failed to deliver even mundane matters of governance”. Of the party itself, that same governor said “Mr. President, Sir Your relationship with the national leadership of the party, both the formal (NWC) and informal (Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso), and former Governors of ANPP, PDP (that joined us) and ACN, is perceived by most observers to be at best frosty. Many of them are aggrieved due to what they consider total absence of consultations with them on your part and those you have assigned such duties.”
Since that memorandum was written up until today, nothing has been done to reverse the treatment meted out to those of us invited to join the All Progressives Congress on the strength of a promise that has proven to be false. If anything, those behaviours have actually worsened. But more importantly, the party we put in place has failed and continues to fail our people, especially our young people. How can we have a federal cabinet without even one single youth? A party that does not take the youth into account is a dying party. The future belongs to young people. I admit that I and others who accepted the invitation to join the APC were eager to make positive changes for our country that we fell for a mirage. Can you blame us for wanting to put a speedy end to the sufferings of the masses of our people? Be that as it may be, after due consultation with my God, my family, my supporters and the Nigerian people whom I meet in all walks of life, I, Atiku Abubakar, Waziri Adamawa, hereby tender my resignation from the All Progressives Congress while I take time to ponder my future.
APC to Atiku: Good Luck, We won’t miss you
The APC has however wished the former vice president “goodluck” in his future political endeavours, saying, for now, it would not miss him except if in the coming days, it is able to ascertain that a substantial number of its members left with the former chieftain.
Spokesman of the party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi who addressed journalists in Abuja also added that the party had not been informed of the defection of the former vice president.
He noted that “Politics is about interest. We have not seen any formal notification to that effect but based on what we have seen in the social media we can say all together it is surprising but for us, politics is all about interest. So, if the former Vice President feels that his interest is better served elsewhere, we can always wish him goodluck”.
On the several reasons listed by Mr. Atiku for deserting the APC, Abdullahi said the party was still in the process of building itself, saying that for the APC, “the task of building a political party is not a day’s job.”
According to him, “it is a marathon, and it takes many years, and we will continue to improve on our system until we are able to get the kind of party that we want to really, really build. It takes many years to build a strong political party. In a new party, you find some people are happy, some people are not so happy, and everybody would have to take their decisions at some point. So, we don’t have anything to say rather than to wish the former Vice President Goodluck”.
On how Atiku’s exit would affect the fortunes of the party, the APC spokesman said; “A loss of fortune is in numbers. So, if we are able to see the number of people that followed the Vice President to his new party, that is when we will begin to worry, but we have not seen. So, when we see, we will know whether we need to worry or not. It is about numbers”.
Shira, Atiku’s Associate Leaves APC, Moves To PDP
Alhaji Hamisu Shira, who served the Shira Federal Constituency in Bauchi State for two terms and a long time associate of the former vice-president while welcoming Atiku’s move said he had himself left the APC and was set to register with the PDP in line with other associates of Atiku. He hinted that a significant number of unhappy members of the party in the legislature would soon be leaving.
“From the National Assembly I can tell you that a significant number of persons would be joining us very soon,” he told Saturday Vanguard yesterday evening.
SGF in unity visit to Party Secretariat
Meanwhile, barely three hours after Atiku announced his decision to quit the party, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation SGF, Boss Mustapha was at the national secretariat of the party to meet with the executives.
Though, the details of his visit were not public; Mallam Abdullahi said the SGF’s visit to the APC National Secretariat was a most welcome development.
“Commendably, the Party notes that the SGF had earlier visited the National Assembly. The visit has had a positive impact as seen in the way the National Assembly has been treating some outstanding issues”, he said.
Abdullahi said this signifies a new era in the relationship between the government and the Party, and with the other arms of government, especially the National Assembly.
“The Party urges the SGF to continue and extend the interface to other relevant bodies. Indeed, President Muhammadu Buhari has chosen a right man for the job. The era of acrimony that has slowed us down in the past is gone”, Abdullahi added.
The SGF is from Atiku’s home state and had until not too long ago been on the same political wavelength with the former vice-president.
El-Rufai denounces Atiku
Governor El-Rufai during a visit to the Presidential Villa yesterday described Atiku as a serial presidential contestant who jumps from one party to another, saying that Abubakar was nowhere a threat to Buhari’s re-election.
Mallam El-Rufai who spoke to State House correspondents shortly after joining President Buhari for the Friday Juma’at service at the State House, Abuja, also said it was likely the former Vice President could come back to the APC, by 2019 if he failed to get the ticket for the election.
Besides, the Kaduna State Governor said that Atiku was alone in his exit from the APC, claiming that no governor elected on the platform of the party will follow the Waziri Adamawa to any new party he would decide to settle with.
Fielding question from State House correspondents on how he felt in the departure of the former vice-president from the APC, he said,
“Well, I won’t even say we were in the APC together. Some of us formed the APC, some of them joined because they thought that the APC was a platform for which they will contest election, but when they didn’t get the opportunity they started looking around.
“I have heard about what the former Vice President said about leaving the APC. We knew he was going to leave in December, but he has left in November which is good because the earlier he leaves for where he belongs, the better.
“He has changed political parties a few times; there is nothing surprising. Before the 2019 elections if situation changes and he thinks he can get the ticket in 2019 (in APC) he will come back. That is what he has done a few times.”
On the allegation in some quarters that the former Vice President was driven out of the APC, he said, “No one has driven him out of the party, the APC is an equal opportunity platform for everyone.
“He has in his statement of leaving the party made reference to the memo I wrote to Mr. President in September 2016, where I was calling on the President to reach out to party leaders that feel aggrieved, and I mentioned him, the Asiwaju and many others.
“The others are still in the APC because they believe in the direction of the party, they believe we have come to save the country from a very bad situation. But the former Vice President is always looking for an opportunity to contest. He is a serial contestant, and we wish him luck.”
On whether some members of APC loyal to Abubakar might go with him to his new party, the former Federal Capital Territory, Minister said, “I don’t know about the loyalists in the APC that will go with him, but I want to assure you that there is no one governor in the APC that is going to go with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
“The only governor that he would think will go with him, the governor of Adamawa State (Jubrila Bindo) has already endorsed President Buhari for the 2019 elections. And there are many governors I will not mention the number, but a majority of the APC governors have already taken the position that the president should run for a second term in office.
“And we are grateful to the Almighty God that the question marks about his health have been put to rest, he is getting better every day, and we are confident that the way to preserve our party and advance the interest of Nigeria is for Mr. President to run for a second term.
Also on whether the resignation of Abubakar from the APC, was not a threat in the event the PDP gives him the ticket, and he runs against the President, he said, “He has never been and will never be a threat to President Buhari.
“Let me say this very clearly, and I had said this to the former Vice President in 2014 Dubai when we met because before joining the APC he sent for me. He told me of his intention, and I welcomed it because politics is a game of addition, not subtraction. So the more you have, the merrier.
“However, I told him not to run for the presidency because I believe very strongly this is Buhari’s era. As long as President Muhammadu Buhari is in politics, I do not see any Nigerian from the northern part of the country that will be able to match him in popularity.
“The people of the 19 northern states and Nigeria have decided because of the President’s history of integrity and good governance they are committed to him.
“Anyone standing up to challenge him is wasting his time. God has decreed that this is Buhari’s time, and we are waiting for the PDP to give Atiku Abubakar the ticket, and we will face him on the field, but I have no doubt that I will not lose any sleep about it.”
APC Senators Lament
Senator Abdullahi Adamu, APC, Nasarawa West, however, lamented the situation saying yesterday: “his exit is sad, he is a father, a founding father of the party. If he thinks that his leaving the party is the best way for him in his political career, I cannot question him; this is democracy, it is part of democracy.”
Senator Sabi Abdullahi, APC, Niger North on his part said Atiku’s exit was a sad moment for him and the party especially against the backdrop of the role the former Vice President played in bringing the party to life and subsequently becoming a ruling party.
Senator Abdullahi said that it is hoped that the APC would look inward to find out what exactly led to Atiku leaving the party he formed and to avert a situation where a similar situation will not happen again in the party.
He said, “It is for us as a party a sad moment, party is about membership, even if it is one. It is really a big loss to the party, especially when you look at the personality that is involved, a former Vice President of the country and one who was one of those that formed the APC. It is my sad moment; it is hoped that the party will look inward and learn lessons from his exit.”
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South on his part described the exit of the former vice-president from the APC as “a welcome development.”
Members of the House of Representatives also shared divergent views on the resignation of the former vice-president from the APC.
APC Rep, Faleke says something is wrong
Rep. Abiodun Faleke, APC, Ikeja, Lagos on his part also lamented Atiku’s exit saying that it pointed to the fact that something was not right with the party.
Faleke in his reaction said “in my opinion, Atiku’s defection is a pointer to the fact that all is not well within the party.
“How else can we all work for the party and efforts are rewarded with rejection and complete abandonment.
“Imagine the Kogi situation where we worked, spent our resources and energy only for the party to handover the fruit to someone else.
“His defection is indirectly saying the party must take action before it is too late.
Rep. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, PDP, Abia in his reaction described it as a welcome development that will positively impact on PDP.
He said “Atiku has the political clout to make the difference as he has what is required to move the party (PDP) forward.
“Today nobody in Nigeria can say that Atiku is not a factor in our political space as he contributed meaningfully to our country as the Vice president to Olusegun Obasanjo.
“His case is like a woman who married two husbands and has suddenly realised that one is better than the other which is the PDP. I join others in welcoming him back to the proper place which he belonged.
Rep Ehiozuwa Johnson Agbonayinma, PDP, Edo on his part felt that Atiku’s home coming to PDP will have no positive effect on the Nigerian political space.
Group Prints 4 Million Red Cards To Issue APC
Meanwhile, a PDP support group, named Why It Must Be PDP in 2019 (WIMBPDP2019) yesterday commended Atiku for giving the APC what it called a red card.
National Coordinator of the group, Chinedu Eya at a press conference in Abuja yesterday said that Atiku was not satisfied, like other Nigerians, hence the decision to resign his membership of the party.
He described WIMBPDP as a grass root campaign mobilization for the PDP in 2019, even as he appealed to Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora to come together to oust the ruling party.
According to him, “more than 4 million red cards will be distributed to Nigerians and to have it close by if you come across any APC member.”
He said: “The former Vice President of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, did not resign but gave the APC a red card because he is not satisfied and felt the party is not running a worthy government.
“PDP is the home of Atiku, and he will be warmly welcome back to the party.”