•Says APC has failed on promise to positively change Nigeria
•Laments 3 million jobs lost under APC
•Jonathan not in 2019 race — Aide
Atiku back in PDP; seizes party organs
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor; Dapo Akinrefon, Gbenga Oke, Omeiza Ajayi & Dirusu Yakubu
Atiku’s return immediately raised apprehension among some PDP chieftains following indications that he was taking over the structures of the party with his support for the party’s leading national chairmanship candidate, Prince Uche Secondus.
Meanwhile, rumours suggesting that former President Goodluck Jonathan was himself set to compete with Atiku for the 2019 presidential ticket were yesterday, dismissed by his spokesman, who affirmed that Jonathan was a principal figure in the permutations that led to the zoning of the Presidency to the North and national chairman to the South.
Atiku in a live declaration on facebook, particularly chided the APC for failing in its campaign promise to create three million jobs annually, saying the ruling APC has rather supervised the loss of three million jobs under three years.
Atiku’s return to the PDP was immediately welcomed by the deputy president of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Chief Bode George, the party’s erstwhile deputy national chairman and national chairmanship aspirant.
In the speech, Atiku harped on the problem of unemployment, noting how he had through his personal businesses and during his stewardship as vice-president, promoted the creation of jobs.
In the address, Atiku said his businesses would not in any way interfere with his determination to serve the nation.
Following the facebook presentation, the former vice-president drew questions from his facebook audience.
He said: “I have found in my travels across the country that whenever I get into conversations with young people, their number one concern is whether they will be able to get a job, for without a job they have no means of sustaining themselves or begin a family.
“Without the security of a job, we cannot have security in our country. So, without jobs, there is no future for you or for Nigeria. I also know as a parent that the older generation is also concerned about jobs for their children and, too often today, for themselves as well.
“Creating jobs is something I know about as I have created over 50,000 direct jobs and 250,000 indirect jobs in my own state of Adamawa. And I also know how the government can help create the right environment for businesses to create jobs.
“When I was Vice President in 1999, I was responsible for liberalising the telecomms sector which enabled us to increase the number of people who could access a phone from less than 1 million then to over 100 million today.
“This transformation resulted in the creation of hundreds of thousands of new jobs from the top-up card vendors you see on every street corner to the many new businesses that feed off the mobile phone revolution.
Why I left PDP — Atiku
“Some of you may know that I was elected Vice President under the banner of the PDP, which is the political party I had helped to found some 10 years before.
“Some of you may also know that I left the PDP four years ago when I believed it was no longer aligned to the principles of equity, democracy and social justice upon which we had founded it.
“I joined the APC as I had hoped it would be the new force that would help improve life for our people and I was excited about the party’s manifesto to create 3 million new jobs a year.
“The result has not been the change people had been promised or voted for, as in the last two years, almost 3 million Nigerians have lost their jobs. And today, with a record 25% of people aged 18-25 unemployed, I can see how difficult it is for our youths to find a job.
The key to creating jobs is a strong economy and that is what we are currently lacking.
“So, today, I want to let you know that I am returning home to the PDP as the issues that led me to leave it have now been resolved and it is clear that the APC has let the Nigerian people, and especially our young people, down.”
What the youths want
Asked how he could identify with the thoughts of the youth when he was not a youth, he said: “I meet young people every day. I have children and grandchildren and most of my employees are youths.
“The key to knowing what young people want is to listen to them. I’m good at that. Sometimes when I am on the phone with my kids they ask me are you still there, because I just listen to them without interrupting.
“Young people are on social media and so I go there. They tell me that their number one challenge is job. Terrorism, militancy, kidnapping, and other forms of exuberance that may lead to criminality are symptoms of the disease of joblessness.
“Once you can get Nigeria working again and get Nigerians working again, youth restiveness will ease and gradually disappear.”
Politics and business
Asked how he would manage political leadership with the management of his businesses, he said: “I lead my businesses. I do not manage them. I have qualified managers managing them including some in their early 20s.
“As a leader, you provide direction and then you bring in skilled people and inspire them to implement your roadmap to getting to the destination of your direction.
“So, in answer to your question, I am more into leadership and this gives me the clarity I need to take in the larger picture.”
On assertions that the PDP can never return to power, he said: “Nobody knows the future other than God and to dictate what the future will be is not within man’s purview.
“But it is about Nigeria not about power. Power for power’s sake breeds arrogance and arrogance makes men say things like that.
“All I am saying is that we need a party that speaks to national sentiments not regional ones. We need a party that can make all Nigerians one till we can boldly say that we are all brothers and sisters with only one mother, Nigeria.”
Commenting on the social media campaign to stop alleged atrocities by the police, Special Anti Robbery Squad, SARS, he said: “We cannot be outraged that Nigerians and other African migrants are being mistreated in Libya and then we go ahead and mistreat our people back home.
“I am very abreast with the #EndSARS issue because my young followers on Social Media keep me very much in the loop.
“Whether it is how SARS treats Nigerians or how we treat each other, we are sending a message to the outside world. We can’t expect foreigners to treat our people better than we treat them.
“We must set the minimum standard required for the treatment of Nigerians worldwide by the way we treat our people domestically. Our charity must begin at home.
“On this issue, I call on the Inspector General of Police as a concerned Nigerian to intervene, and I know that the Nigerian Police as a disciplined and well organized force will take action to address this issue.
“It will go a long way to improve Nigeria’s rating in the global ranking of Police Forces next year because this year, they were wrongfully ranked as the worst.”
Ekweremadu Bode George welcome Atiku
Welcoming Atiku back to the PDP, Ekweremadu said: “The dumping of the APC by Alhaji Atiku is a welcome development for the PDP, but more importantly, Nigeria’s democracy.
“Nigeria is in dire need of a rescue mission to rekindle hope in our democracy, restore her on the path of prosperity, and halt the worsening divisiveness that threatens our corporate existence.
“I, therefore, enjoin all former PDP faithful who left for various reasons as well as other progressive-minded Nigerians to emulate Alhaji Atiku, to reunite under the umbrella to salvage the nation because I see a new and better Nigeria coming in 2019.
“I see a country where corruption will be eradicated, a nation that will be a pride to Africa and admiration of the international community, and a nation where no man will be oppressed, intimidated, persecuted or sidelined on account of ethnicity, religion or political persuasion.
“No amount of desperation will stop the will of God for Nigeria in 2019.”
Atiku’s declaration for the PDP was also immediately welcomed by Bode George who said: He said: “The beauty of it is that when you are a landlord in a house, you now say because of the cockroaches and rats in the house, you want to go and become a tenant. The house Atiku built is PDP, this is his home, and he was part and parcel of those who built the PDP.
“Some people annoyed him and he left, he went to be a tenant and he was treated like every tenant would be treated. This is his home. He is not the only one. They were angry because of the impunity perpetuated in the party by the managers. So, Atiku coming back is like him returning to his home. The APC is a contraption, a congregation of very strange bed fellows. I welcome him back home and there are still so many we are in contact with. He is most welcome, I have no qualms about it, I have nothing objectionable about his return to the PDP because this is his home.”
Atiku takes over PDP
Atiku it was gathered started plotting his return to the PDP as far back as 2016 when Prince Secondus was acting national chairman of the opposition party.
The imminent dominance of the Secondus campaign and perceptions that it would also be a boost for Atiku’s presidential aspirations has left some PDP veterans in bad taste while others have resigned to fate.
“His people are everywhere promoting Secondus and also laying down structures for Atiku,” a Wadata Plaza source said.
“Atiku is a pragmatic politician who likes to sow anywhere he can reap. Yes it is true that he is supportive of Adeniran, but his people are everywhere in support of Secondus and using him to get a grip on the party leaving people like Makarfi helpless,” a source said.
It was further gathered that with many of the governors struggling with finances to run their states that the emergence of someone like Atiku with money to run the party came like a lifesaver.
A source familiar with the development disclosed that Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who has carried a significant proportion of the party’s obligations, was one of the first people Atiku was able to win over into the project. Governor Wike is also known to be a primary promoter of the Secondus project through whom many of the governors bought into the project.
Atiku, it was learned, has also successfully penetrated the National Assembly caucus of the party through the facilitation of his former aide and former deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Chief Emeka Ihedioha. The former vice-president met with the National Assembly members about two weeks ago during which he reportedly told them of his plan to return to the party.
A move by the old hands in the party to resist Atiku and the Secondus project was on Friday manifested when party grandees from the North led by a presidential aspirant, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau addressed a press conference where they called for the micro-zoning of the office of national chairman to the South- West.
Meanwhile insinuations that former President Jonathan was plotting to make a bid for the 2019 presidential contest were, yesterday, dismissed by his spokesman, Mr. Ikechukwu Eze.
“The party has taken a decision that the president would come from the North and the national chairman from the South. Dr Jonathan as the father of the party was privy to the decisions and there is no way that he can compromise the interests of the party,” Eze said, yesterday.
Atiku’s coming to PDP does not exclude me from running – Makarfi
Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, has said he could still contest the party’s presidential ticket, in spite of the defection of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, to the party.
In an interview in the current edition of The Interview magazine, Makarfi said: “Atiku left before, he’s on his way back before the (party’s) Convention.
“I have heard the rumour, it has been there since 2007…I have thought of it. By the time I leave as caretaker committee chairman on 9th or 10th, there’ll still be 10 months to the party primaries. By any law or the party’s guidelines, I’m not excluded.”
Makarfi also said that Fayose’s declaration of interest in the party’s presidential ticket, was uncalled for and unhealthy, since the party already zoned the Presidency to the North.
He said the PDP was expecting a harvest of defections, after Atiku’s move from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
“For some strategic reasons, don’t expect a lot of people to move to the PDP now. People are in APC for different reasons. Wait for the time when people will be on their own, you will see the influx of people into the PDP,’’ he said.
Makarfi, who came close to being the PDP’s presidential nominee in 2006, revealed that for the first time, how former President Olusegun Obasanjo schemed him out, even though an internal party assessment had returned him as the most favourable candidate.