2019: Hurdles Atiku might face in PDP
• He Will Meet Us In The Field, Says Lamido
Following his recent resignation from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and possibility that his next platform of choice would be the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), signs have begun to emerge that Atiku Abubakar might encounter a number of hurdles if he contests the party’s presidential ticket.
Already, the former Vice President’s speculated interest in PDP is said to be causing great ripples among members, particularly presidential aspirants, even as some politicians he abandoned in APC, like Prince Tony Momoh, say his exit would have no significant effect on the fortunes of the party.
Also Second Republic stormy petrel, Alhaji Junaid Mohammed, expressed the view that Atiku left APC based on his business interests, which he said conflict with the laws of the land. Mohammed added that it would be near impossible for the former Vice President to become president.
However, The Guardian’s checks on the possibility that Atiku might end up in the major opposition PDP to seek the party’s presidential ticket in 2019 revealed that some members are apprehensive. They are worried that Atiku’s presidential ambition might renew old challenges by exacerbating what the party has been trying to resolve in the last couple on months after its defeat in 2015. A source said: “The PDP appears to be more divided now over Atiku’s planned defection to it, ahead of the December 9 national convention.”
Although the PDP has said there was no automatic ticket for Atiku, a member of the party said that was a mere statement.
“If Atiku’s preferred candidate emerged as the party’s national chairman, as he is alleged to be financing the campaign and aspiration of a particular southwest national chairman aspirant, nothing would stop him from getting the PDP presidential ticket if that candidate wins.”
Immediate past governor of Jigawa State, Sule Lamido, told The Guardian on phone that although the former Vice President is entitled to PDP’s waiver to contest the party’s presidential ticket, any attempt to extend such privilege to an automatic ticket will meet a brick wall.
While stressing that Atiku is welcome to join PDP, being one of the foundation members, he should be sufficiently aware that he is coming to fight for the party’s ticket with other aspirants like Governor Ayo Fayose, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, and others still holding consultations.
“So, there would be no preferential treatment on that score. There is no automation in the nomination of candidates in PDP. It is not provided for in the constitution,” he said, adding that other members of PDP that defected because of a complaint or another should be encouraged to rejoin the party.
Analysts have been examining the likely implications of Atiku’s return to PDP, especially as it is becoming obvious that President Buhari would seek another term.
While some notable PDP stalwarts said Atiku might encounter fresh challenges from remnants of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s loyalists in the party, others argued that the former Vice President’s decision to dump the party shortly before the 2015 poll would haunt him if he seeks the ticket.
A governor from one of the northern states said: “The question some of us would like Atiku to answer is why he joined others to destroy a party that gave him so much. He should convince us that we are no fools for remaining in the party.”
Momoh, who is a founding member of APC, said it was expected of him (Atiku) to leave, judging by his dispositions towards the party and its internal affairs since he lost the presidential ticket to President Buhari at the national convention held at the Onikan Stadium, Lagos.
Describing Atiku as a hunter in search of political platform to realise his presidential ambition, Momoh said: “The former vice president has just exercised his freedom of movement and association, as entrenched in the 1999 Constitution, moreover he has not done anything out of the ordinary due to the fact he has created that name for himself of moving from one party to another in search of presidential ambition. He is not the only one that will eventually move. Political party is not a permanent residential home of any politician.”
Momoh recalled that it was only Atiku, of all the APC presidential aspirants, that came with his presidential flag to the convention, which was brought by the Minister of Women Affairs, Alhaja Aisha Al-Hassan in anticipation he would win the ticket.
Also, a top member of APC who craved anonymity said Atiku’s exit was a big relief, remarking: “We can now take him on as opposition on whatever he says. Before now, the former vice president has been one of the most vicious critics of the APC within. His actions and activities right from the time he lost at the national convention were antithetical to the party.”
But Second Republic lawmaker, Dr. Mohammed, told The Guardian that the former Vice President was making huge amount of money from “shady businesses” and avoiding payment of taxes, emphasising that his decision to leave APC was because there was no chance of him becoming the president under the party in 2019.
Former governor of old Kaduna State, Balarabe Musa, however said he was not surprised to see the former Vice President dumping APC, adding that “nothing is certain in Nigeria, because what we call cross-carpeting or change of party happens regularly.”
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