Says he has no problem with S-East
By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA—Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has called on the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to do everything possible to win the 2023 Presidential election, saying anything short of victory will not be good for the party.
Atiku, who commended the party for its opposition role since 2015, noted that the next general elections offered the PDP opportunity to return to the heart of political governance of the country.
He stated this during an interactive session with members of party’s Board of Trustees, BoT, at the Yar’ Adua Centre, Abuja, to crave their support for his aspiration.
“I am worried and you should be worried too that if we do not win, it means we will be in opposition again for the next eight years. By the next eight years, I don’t know how many will be left in politics and it may even ultimately lead to the death of the party because people gravitate, particularly in developing countries, towards governments. Ordinary people naturally gravitate towards government. So this is a very, very crucial and historical moment in history, for our survival. I want you to think about it.
“We are now at a crucial moment in this country. Many of you here, it is either we retire together or we move on together”, he told the BoT members.
The aspirant said that PDP administration which he served as Vice President, did a lot to build the country when it was in office, adding that the incumbent government has done nothing close to the legacies left behind by the PDP administration.
“Very many of you were part of our political successes in 1998 -1999 and also, many of you were part of the success story of PDP government from 1999 to 2007. Today, no administration since then, had made as much achievements as our administration.
“Therefore, you are not only the fathers of our great party, you are also the bedrock of those achievements.
“What I’m saying is based on facts. Take any aspect of our growth whether it is economy, whether it is healthcare, whether it is agriculture, whether it is education, the landmark achievements we made in 1999 to 2007 have not been matched by any subsequent administration.”
He said that the PDP had always had a locked down 12 million votes at every election adding that the party will garner more votes if members of the BoT support his 2023 Presidential ambition.
“Somebody said that we recorded 12 million votes during the last election. Those are not only my votes, those were our votes. In achieving or recording those 11 million votes, it was all of us and I believe if we work together again, we can surpass those votes,” he added.
Meanwhile, the former Vice President has dismissed insinuations that he is working against the possible zoning of the PDP Presidential ticket to the South-East, saying, “yes, people have not stopped talking about power rotation and zoning, or whatever it is. In the party, we invented and formulated this zoning policy simply because we wanted every part of this country to have a sense of belonging and I personally have paid my dues on the issue of zoning.“
“Many of you were members of our government when all the PDP governors came in 2003 and said I should run and I
said no. We have agreed that power should remain in the South-West, Why should I? Some of those governors that supported me, some of them went to jail, some of them were kicked out of their offices, we made sure that we kept the policy.
“Therefore, you cannot come and try to imply that the PDP has not been following the zoning policy. The many years of PDP government eight years and six years all of them were from the South. So we should not be stampeded by the opposition party. They have a moral obligation which is inescapable.
“Some say the South-East have not been given the chance. When I joined the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN which my friend Bola (Tinubu) set up, he gave me a set of condition for giving me the ticket, one of which was that I should make him the Vice President. I said no, ‘I’m not going to make you Vice President,’ instead, I took Senator Ben Obi.“”When I got the ticket again (2019) to run, I took another Obi (Peter) coincidentally. So there is absolutely no reason they should say that there is a deliberate attempts to exclude the South-East in political participation or power sharing.
“So I thought I should disabused your mind and of course, as an enlightened political class, I don’t think there’s any deliberate policy to exclude anybody in this country,” he said.
On his blueprint to turn the fortune of the country if elected, Atiku stated:
“My vision is building bridges across the country. Please join me in building bridges across this country so that every part of this country will have a sense of belonging.“”I now wish to call on you to please give me another opportunity to advance all these ideas of our party, well beautiful ideas, so that we will come further to consolidate democracy, unity and development for our country. I cannot thank you enough for coming”.“On his part, Raymond Dokpesi who is the Director General of Atiku Abubakar Campaign Council raised alarm over plans to exclude Atiku as a result of his decision to dump PDP in the past.“He called on BoT members to disregards all the ethnic and religious sentiments being woven around, stressing that only the former Vice President has what it takes to reposition the country.
“We have seen the list of aspirants that have shown interest across the various parts of the country but there’s none that has his credentials, his experience, his capacity and acceptance internationally and nationally.“”But the information reaching me now is not very palatable. The attempt to divide this party is not good. Information available include that any person who left the party in the past including founding members of the party, will not be allowed (to run),” he lamented.
Also speaking, chairman of the BoT, Senator Walid Jubrin assured that the BoT will provide a level playing field for all aspirants regardless of what is said about them in the public.