….Asks former VP to support southern candidate
By Levinus Nwabughiogu & Dirisu Yakubu
Former Commissioner of Information in Edo State and a member of opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Mr. Kassim Afegbua, has said former Vice President Atiku was not qualified to contest the 2023 presidential election on account of old age.
He said PDP could not keep giving its ticket to Atiku, saying it would be immoral to do so, and urged the former Vice President to jettison his ambition and throw his weight behind the clamour for a Southern candidate.
Afegbua, in a statement yesterday in Abuja, said it was time to give a younger person from the South an opportunity to lead the country on the platform of PDP.
The statement read: “Having concluded the convention of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, with a new leadership that looks promising, the party will have to rise above board to produce a presidential candidate from the Southern part of the country to complete the narrative.
“With the abysmal performance of President Muhammadu Buhari on account of age, incompetence and lack of capacity and political will to take deliberate and sustained action to bail out the country from all manner of challenges, it will be immoral for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to continue to express interest in seeking election in the 2023 presidential election having attained the retirement age.
“He cannot assume the role of a perpetual candidate or professional aspirant year in, year out, as though the party was established for him alone. It defeats all sense of logic for such an old man to attempt another round of political contest at a time the general feeling and mood in the country supports a younger Nigerian from the Southern part of the country.
“For me, furthermore, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should drop his quest for presidency and support a southern Nigerian candidate in the spirit of fairness, equity and justice, that will assuage the feelings of stakeholders from the Southern part of Nigeria. It will be against the run of play and natural justice for any aspirant of Northern extraction to show interest in the 2023 presidential election within the Peoples’ Democratic Party.
“It will offend national sentiments, emotions and logic for anyone from the North to show such interest given our diversities and hetereogenous political configurations.
“Given PDP’s doctrine of political power balancing and fairness, it will be against its own unwritten rule to cede the ticket to any Northern aspirant least of all Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“After the 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar abandoned all of us in Nigeria and sought refuge in far away Dubai, thus exposing us to the intimidation, harassment and threats from the desperate APC’s power oligarchs.
“It was a case of a General abandoning his troops in the battle field. Rather than draw strength from his presence, his absence exposed us to all manner of challenges.
“He was in Dubai and left us to our fate. When it mattered most for us to reach out to our candidate for motivation and necessary encouragement, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar vanished into thin air. Knowing full well that political activities were to take off, he suddenly resurfaced and becomes a frontliner in his quest to fly the party’s flag once again.
“That, to me, amounts to gross political selfishness and greed, which must not be allowed to flourish in our contemporary engagements. Even those who are promoters-in-chief of Alhaji Atiku’s aspiration, know in their heart of hearts that it is a project that is dead on arrival.’’
“The Southern geopolitical zones of Nigeria have eminently qualified Nigerians and parade great minds, who are competent and ready to take a shot at the number one job.
‘’Those who are advancing very nebulous theory of seeing the northern population as a stimulant to win the sympathy of the North against the South are either ignorant of the real demographics or at best, just playing the ostrich. No one in the North should take away what belongs to the South.
“That will be hurting the conscience and feelings of the average southerner. If the argument is to suffice for example, for an Atiku presidency, he will be concluding his first term of four years at age 81. And were he to become a candidate in 2023 again, and per adventure he loses the election, are we, as PDP, going to reserve the position for him or any other Northerner in 2027?
“These are very curious scenarios, which cannot be overlooked. For 2023, an Atiku candidacy will be like promoting an expired product in the face of very compelling reason to look towards the South in our quest to wrestle power from the fractured APC.
“Earlier last year, I was conscripted into the Technical Committee for Atiku presidency. Having attended three meetings of the group, I found my spirit and conscience permanently in conflict with the ethos of justice, fairness and equity, which the south deserves.