Atiku Abubakar: Olusegun Obasanjo didn’t beg me for my support to contest the 2003 presidential elections ’

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar spoke with journalists in Abuja on why he returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), what transpired while former President Olusegun Obasanjo was seeking a second term of office and what chance he has to clinch the PDP presidential ticket in 2011. Group Political Editor BOLADE OMONIJO and Abuja Bureau Chief YOMI ODUNUGA were there.

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar
It is believed that disloyalty caused you the presidency in 2007?
Talking of loyalty and disloyalty, when did my disloyalty start in our first term? I think I want to make one thing very clear here. My loyalty has always being to the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria because if you look at the oath of office in the oath of allegiance it is not directed to the president or to the governor, the oath of allegiance is to the constitution in the Federal Republic of Nigeria but when you are working with a military man who in military tradition as far as they are concerned, they said they believe in one hundred percent loyalty to them and I made very ,very clear to my boss then that my loyalty and allegiance is to the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Now, what is the real story behind the story, over and over again, there was never a time the president actually begged me to support him but of course I reflected together with the group of governors who were then supporting me, I had to support the second bid of the president, is firstly, it was the decision of the party to zone the presidency to the south for eight years, secondly, I believe disrupting the zoning is going to disrupt our delicate political balance, that is in terms of our unity, peace and stability and I therefore urged the governors to bear with me so that we could all move together and support the president then. Till we went to the convention ground, there were still some governors who were calling me, "sir, can we vote for this man?" I said ‘yes go ahead. You can vote for him.’ That is the real story behind the story.

But people say there is no internal democracy in PDP...
I have every belief that it is not going to be business as usual in PDP anymore because leaders are prepared for a reform, party members are prepared for a reform and we are all reform minded in PDP today. What we want to see is the PDP we created, the one we established, the one we co-founded in 1998 when there was internal democracy even if you were already an ex-official, you had to go round and campaign and be voted for, this is the kind of PDP we are going to bring back. Make no mistake about it, we will bring it back.

What is your agenda in PDP?
To be a strong loyal member and to make sure that there is reform in PDP, there is internal democracy and due process that is my agenda.

Do you have a chance in PDP if you decide to run?
Only God knows.

Would there be free election in Adamawa with Nyako and Jubril still looming large?
I am not aware whether they are looming large but I can tell you we will have free and fair election in the state. Why? Judge by the by-elections we have held when we stood our ground and this time our votes must count.

Is PDP still an attractive party for you?
Why not? How can you say the house I helped to build is not attractive to me?

What will happen to AC now that you have left the party?
I don’t know, for all that I know is that two weeks ago I was in Taraba and, unknown the entire executive that there is no more AC in Taraba. So maybe places like that may have no AC again.

Why PDP announced?
Why should I not go back to my house, you want me to be on the street? For your information, the court has vacated the order on the National Executive Committee about ten minutes ago, so the NEC is going to meet today.

Are you sure you are back to PDP?
Do you think all of us will waste our time from Adamawa, from our various places all over the country to gather here if we are not sure we are back to PDP?

In your speech you spoke about stumbling blocks in AC, what were those stumbling blocks?
I really did not face any stumbling blocks in AC as such but right from the word go, I said it in AC meetings that AC alone cannot be a viable opposition to PDP, we need a bigger party and that was why I championed the coming together of other opposition groups to be able to form a viable opposition party. Now, I realise that most of them are not prepared or don’t have the spirit of give and take so that viable opposition party can emerge and I said it in my address that if there is any disappointment and frustration in the opposition camp, then it was that none of then was genuinely and sincerely interested in forming a viable opposition party. If I have my way and my pen can make a law, I will create two or three parties in the country but my pen cannot do it, people of Nigeria must decide to do it themselves. But I am so scared of a dominant one party. So scared to my marrow because if you happen to get one person in that party to be the president and that person does not believe in vacating office, one, he will use the PDP that has the highest majority in the National Assembly to amend the constitution and remain in power forever. Two, he will get all the PDP state legislators to carry out the same amendment and then we will end up with a president for life and one party for life and only God will know what will happen to us. Many of us who will never tolerate it will either go into exile or will be in jailed or will be killed. I am so scared of a one party rule. It is not like the ANC that has one hundred years history and strong institution to checkmate these kind of things. Ours is a party which is about ten years old and no strong institutions, so this is my frustration in the opposition camp.

Don’t you think you will face challenges in PDP with Obasanjo still looming large in the party?
What challenges will I face in PDP with Obasanjo still looming large in PDP? As far as I concerned not aware whether he is looming light or not. You also asked if I would support the Masari group. If there objective is to have reforms within the PDP internal democracy and even the independence of the party structures at the various levels I support it but whatever we want to do must be done through due process, I mean if you want to effect changes in the partys constitution, you must come through the congresses and the convention and do your reform. You cannot do your reform by having a pressure group and sacking for national executive that is elected in a convention. That is why democracy is good, if you are dissatisfied, just wait for the time to come and then effect the change through elections. So, definitely, I am for a reform PDP, for a new PDP, for more independened party structures at all the levels so that the party can be independent of whomever whether you are the chairman of local government, whether you are the governor or the president. Definitely I will like to see such party structures.

What do you think of the suspension handed out to the Reform Group?
I don’t have facts about the suspension, so I don’t know really what transpired.

Will you attend the NEC meeting?
Why not, if invited.

Source: http://www.thenationonlineng.net/

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