‘We won’t lose sleep over Atiku in Sokoto’

Former vice-President Atiku Abubakar speaks during the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s national convention in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on October 6, 2018. – Nigeria’s main opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has picked Abubakar to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari who is seeking a second term in presidential polls scheduled for February 2019. (Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP)

A former sports minister, Yusuf Suleiman, has said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is not perturbed by the rising followership being enjoyed by the presidential standard bearer of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as well as the defection of Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State to the PDP.

Suleiman, a former governorship aspirant in Sokoto State added that APC would not lose any seat to its rivals, particularly the PDP, in the 2019 general elections.

He was appointed minister of sports in July 2011 by former President Goodluck Jonathan during a cabinet reshuffle, but resigned in December 2011 to contest unsuccessfully for the governorship of Sokoto under PDP.

Suleiman told The Guardian that the structures already put in place by APC in Sokoto would give the party an edge in the coming election more than it contributed to Buhari’s victory in 2015.

He added that the presence of Governor Tambuwal, who switched his allegiance from APC to the PDP would not stop the party from ‘sweeping’ all available seats in the 2019 elections.

He said: “We won’t lose sleep over Atiku. Personally, I have respect for him (Atiku) as former vice president of this country, but we don’t see him as a threat to President Muhammadu Buhari in the coming election because majority of Nigerians are wiser now.

“APC controls over 90 per cent of the votes in Sokoto, and that is what we are going to replicate during the 2019 general election,” Suleiman said. “I don’t see the party losing any seat, from the state assembly to the National Assembly, senate, governorship and the presidential election. That won’t happen.”

The decision by Suleiman to resign from Jonathan’s cabinet in 2011 to run for governorship was said to have angered some top politicians, especially those at the seat of power.

On whether Sokoto APC foresees stiff challenge from the incumbent governor, Tambuwal, and his PDP supporters in the coming elections, Suleiman said: “It won’t be a big challenge for the APC.

Our major concern is that PDP is trying to bring in thuggery into our politics. Those political mercenaries are everywhere trying to lure the people with falsehood.

“We are for Buhari, and there is nothing anybody can do to deceive our people. I believe the security agencies will do their job by stopping those desperate politicians from carrying out their evil plans.”

The former minister said he did not vie for any elective position in the 2019 election, because “I did not join APC because of personal gains. I joined to strengthen the party and help my people achieve their political dream.”

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