PDP, Ekweremadu welcome his return
He sounds like a broken record, declares APC
PDP chairmanship post not for sale, warns Babangida
Iyobosa Uwugiaren and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has finally ended the waiting game and rejoined the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), after quitting the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) more than a week ago.
The former vice-president made the announcement on Facebook where he also fielded questions from Nigerians.
He said the complaints he had with the PDP before he left the party under which he was vice-president from 1999-2007, had been resolved, thus laying the groundwork for his return.
But even as the former vice-president announced his return to the PDP, the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the party, Senator Ahmed Makarfi, said there will be no automatic presidential ticket for any member of the party.
Makarfi, in his reply to THISDAY’s enquiries, said: “The presidential ticket will be open to all those who may wish to seek for it. No promise of a ticket was made to anybody and no such promise will be made.
“As a matter of fact, even Waziri Atiku Abubakar never asked for an automatic ticket.”
Makarfi, however, did not respond to enquiries on if he will throw his hat into the ring for the presidential ticket of the PDP.
Also reacting to Atiku’s return, the PDP and the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu described it as a welcome development not only for the party but the nation’s democracy.
However, the APC dismissed the news on Atiku’s return to the PDP, saying yesterday that the reasons given by the former vice-president for his defecting to the opposition party sounded too familiar to be taken seriously.
With the move by Abubakar, the stage is now set for his push to consolidate his base in PDP, where he is expected to contest for the presidential ticket ahead of the 2019 election.
While writing on his Facebook page yesterday, which signified the former vice-president’s intention to use the social media to reach out to Nigerians, especially the youths, Atiku said his decision to go back to the PDP followed consultations he had with party leaders and stakeholders from across the country.
He opened up by saying: “Hello, my name is Atiku Abubakar. I am speaking to you today on Facebook Live as I want to reach as many of our young people as possible, as I have an important announcement to make about the future of Nigeria.”
In justifying his decision to dump the APC, Atiku lamented the inability of the ruling party to attend to one of the cardinal needs of the youths which is the creation of more jobs to cater to the teaming unemployed persons roaming the streets of the country.
“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,” he said.
The former vice-president also criticised the APC-led administration for failing to fulfil the yearnings of the people to improve their living conditions.
“As it is you, our youths, who represent the future of our nation. 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 three 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 three million Nigerians have lost their jobs. And today, with a record 25 per cent of people aged 18-25 unemployed I can see how difficult it is for our youths to find jobs.
“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. And 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. And 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 telecoms 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 fed off the mobile phone revolution,” he said.
Atiku delved further into his decision to rejoin the PDP, reminding Nigerians that he was elected vice-president on the platform of the PDP, the political party he had helped to form some ten years before.
“And 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,” he recalled.
Atiku said that while it was apparent that the APC had let the Nigerian people and especially our young people down, the issue that led to his defection from the PDP has now been resolved.
He lamented that terrorism, militancy, kidnapping, and other forms of exuberance were symptoms of the disease of joblessness.
When asked about how he was going to fix the country, Atiku said that as a leader he would provide direction and bring in skilled people and inspire them to implement a roadmap to get to the destination he wants.
On the position expressed by the APC faithful that PDP will not be voted into power again, the former vice-president said what Nigerians need now is a political party that is not just national in outlook, but one which represents the national interest rather than regional sentiments.
“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,” he said.
Beyond his concerns about the high unemployment rate, Atiku during his interactive session with youths on Facebook also shared his feelings about alleged cases of inhuman treatment meted out to some Nigerians by the Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
“We must set the minimum standards 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-organised force will take action to address this issue.
“It will go a long way to improving Nigeria’s rating in the global ranking of police forces next year because this year, they were wrongfully ranked as the worst,” he said.
However, the APC, in its reaction to Atiku’s reasons for moving to PDP said it sounded too familiar to be taken seriously.
The National Publicity Secretary of APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi said the party wished the former vice-president luck in his new place.
Speaking to THISDAY Sunday evening on the phone, Abdullahi said in the process of trying to justify his frequent movement in and out of parties, Atiku was beginning to contradict himself.
“Let me ask what reasons did he give for leaving the PDP when he left the party. Is he joining PDP now because they created jobs when they were in power?
“The former vice-president does not need to give anybody any reason for leaving our party and joining the PDP. The more he tries to justify his movement, the more he makes statements or gives reasons that sound outrightly contradictory if not absurd.
“So, it is within his democratic right to leave a party and to join any party that he wishes, he doesn’t need to justify it but by coming up with this long list of reasons and justifications, some people may just want to look back a bit and they would realise that these excuses and reasons sound very familiar,” he said.
Ekweremadu, on the other hand, described Atiku’s return to the PDP as a welcome development, not only for the party but the nation’s democracy.
Ekweremadu said the move represented a massive vote of no confidence in the leadership capacity of the APC, first, by the masses and now by the cream of its hierarchy and founding members.
He 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.”
Also welcoming him back, the PDP said it welcomed the return of the Former vice-president to the party.
In a statement issued last night by its spokesman, Dayo Adeyeye, the party expressed the hope that other former members of PDP who defected to APC would soon follow suit and join forces with the opposition party to deliver good governance to the people
“We are indeed glad that he has realised the unbridled lies/deceit of his former party, the All Progressive Congress (APC). The PDP remains his home; a house he was part of the building and which he helped to nurture. We believe his return will add value in the process of rebuilding our party to greater heights.
“This is another milestone recorded by the current leadership of our party in its quest to reconcile, rebuild and restructure the PDP ahead of the 2019 general election and beyond. We will continue to remain transparent and dedicated to the service of this party.
“Again, we want to use this opportunity to call on all our members that are still in the APC or other parties to return home. We are equally extending our invitation to all those in the APC who are frustrated by the party’s failure to deliver the goods.
“Anyone who is desirous of a return to the era of abundance and freedom under the PDP administration is welcome. The umbrella is big enough to accommodate all.
“We enjoin our members nationwide to come together as one family, as we march to Eagle Square, Abuja on Saturday 9 – Sunday 10, December 2017 to elect our new leaders who will manage the affairs of our party at the National Level,” he said.