Former Vice President and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for 2023 election, Atiku Abubakar on Friday expressed optimism that the crisis plaguing the party would be resolved long before the general election.
Earlier same day, Atiku, who spoke at an Abuja Businessmen Breakfast meeting, said his plan to restructure the country did not necessarily imply resource control, but adding responsibilities that would motivate development in the country.
On the same day, former President Goodluck Jonathan openly declared that the five PDP governors currently involved in the crisis in the party were not working for his cause.
Atiku, who spoke on the crisis rocking his party after paying a courtesy call on former military president, Ibrahim Babangida at his Minna hill-top residence in Minna, Niger State, said all parties in the dispute were open to a quick resolution of the crisis.
Members of the PDP G5 Governors, led by Nyesom Wike have been at loggerheads with Atiku, after Wike failed to win the party’s presidential ticket. They are also unhappy that Atiku rejected Wike as running mate and are demanding for the resignation of Iyorchia Ayu as party Chairman, allegedly to reduce dominance of the PDP by the North.
Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State are the other members of the PDP G5.
The former vice president said he would continue to engage the G5 Governors in dialogue that will lead to the resolution of the crisis, describing the dispute as “a family affair”.
“We are going to resolve it (the crisis) before the election and you will see a very very united and strong PDP before the election,” declared Atiku.
Commenting on the attack on his convoy after a visit on the Shehu of Borno earlier in the week, Atiku described the incident as “unfortunate” despite the signing of a peace accord by the political parties taking part in next year’s election.
He alleged that the attack “may have been sponsored by the political leadership in that state.”
Atiku said his visit to Babangida was to pay their respect to the former Nigerian leader for his sacrifices to the country.
“We consider him as the father of the country; he nursed the current democracy in Nigeria, so we are here to commend him for his efforts. We will continue to come and pay our respect to them and remind them of their contributions to the nation.”
Atiku and his entourage arrived at the uphill residence of General Babangida at about 12.35pm and went into a closed-door meeting which lasted about one hour.
Among those on Atiku’s entourage were the Vice-Presidential candidate, Dr. Ifeayin Okowa; the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal; National Vice Chairman (North) Alhaji Ilya Umar Damagun; former minister of defence, Lt General Aliyu Gusau; former Niger State governor, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu; former deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha.
Atiku: Restructuring Does Not Mean Resource Control
Early Friday morning, Atiku said his plan to restructure the country does not necessarily imply resource control.
Atiku, who spoke at an Abuja Businessmen Breakfast meeting, said restructuring should be seen as adding responsibilities that would motivate development among Niger Deltans.
The PDP presidential candidate said, “restructuring does not mean resource control, it goes more than that. It means responsibility and responsiveness.
“I will give you an example of the Niger Delta Ministry. In my proposal. I said the ministry should be situated in the Niger Delta. Whether it is Port Harcourt or any other place, the responsibility is to develop the infrastructure and human capital and so on of the Niger Delta.
“What has happened, the ministry of the Niger Delta has been created, billions of Naira allocated to it, where is the money going to, into pockets. If I am elected, the Ministry of Niger Delta will be in the Niger Delta.
“I will make sure the ministry develops all the infrastructure, education, and that institutions are fully equipped and well-funded. It is not only resource control that is the meaning of restructuring.”
He told the gathering further, “You have tasted PDP, you said you wanted change, you voted for change and you have seen what the change brought for you.
“It brought poverty, insecurity, it is clear there is a record for you to look at. So, if your choice is based on patriotism and performance of a given government, you know that you cannot compare PDP with APC.
“Our road records are there, our economic records are there, but what is there in the APC, they are now saying they want to recover, recover from what, from poverty, from insecurity?
“I have visited some West African countries in the last few months, what I told them is that Nigeria will be back. Nigeria has been retreating in the past seven years, did you hear about Nigeria again in ECOWAS? I told those presidents that I will bring back ECOMOG, I will restore the multi-national forces to ensure regional security, peace and stability. So that we all can deal with this insecurity decisively.
“Once we secure the country, our businesses will be safe. Everybody will be safe to operate where he wants to operate.”
Unveiling of ‘Recovery Nigeria’
Atiku was also at the unveiling of the strategic communications brand of his presidential campaign in Abuja on Friday.
There, he reaffirmed that his administration would increase empowerment for women if elected president.
Atiku, while responding to questions from the audience remarked that, “if we are serious about increased prosperity, then we must increase empowerment of women.”
He said further that the Recovery Nigeria message must be taken to the women and youths.
“If we are to recover Nigeria from its current mess that the APC has put us through, then we must begin that recovery from the demography that is most hit by the failure of the APC, which are the women and youth.
“The records are there to compare the performance of the PDP and the APC and the upcoming election should be a referendum on the performance of the APC.
“Nigerians have had a taste of the two parties, and I am not saying this for myself, but we should be proud of the records that the PDP offered,” Atiku said.
The Director of Strategic Communications for the PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Bashorun Dele Momodu, in his remarks, said that the recovery Nigeria messaging is a reflection of the current pains that the country is passing through.
“Nigeria, currently is going through hard times. We have taken time to evaluate the challenges facing the country and the plan to rescue and restore Nigeria by the PDP. That evaluation gave birth to our Recovery Nigeria messaging, because it includes not just the diagnostics of where we are, but the prescriptions of the antidotes to the challenges,” Momodu said.
Jonathan Denies Working for Aggrieved PDP Govs
Former President Goodluck Jonathan says the five Peoples PDP governors currently involved in the crisis in the party are not working for his cause.
Jonathan made the declaration in a statement by his Media Adviser, Ikechukwu Eze.
The former president said such claims were false and targeted at misleading the public.
“We believe that such duplicitous statements could not have emanated from the camps of those who truly wish the party well. It simply shows that the so-called ‘sources’ of the story are not disposed to the peace and unity they pretend to be seeking in the PDP,” the statement reads.
It adds: “How could anybody turn around in 2022 to accuse Jonathan of bearing a grudge against the PDP when the former President had campaigned vigorously for the party and its Presidential candidate during the 2019 elections?
“Those who insinuate that Dr. Jonathan is not happy with the PDP’s Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, because of whatever roles he played ahead of the 2015 elections forget that the former President actively campaigned for Atiku in 2019, attending the flag-off of his campaigns in Sokoto and subsequently participating in the campaigns in some states like Rivers and Bayelsa.
“The fact that Dr. Jonathan stood out as an exemplary politician who, throughout his political career, abhorred treachery and mean-mindedness, and played politics without bitterness, needs no gainsay. Unlike many of his detractors, the former President has, out of office, progressed to a higher level of statesmanship, faithfully applying himself to causes that promote peace, love, unity and progress, across the entire West African sub-region.
“It is Dr. Jonathan’s wish that the PDP is able to resolve its internal crisis, unite all members and have a good showing in the forthcoming 2023 elections. We wish to however point out that it will be difficult to achieve this aspiration if some forces in the party continue to engage in mudslinging, disinformation and manifest tendencies that negate the values that are dear to loyal party members.
“Former President Jonathan had served this country meritoriously at both the state and federal levels. He has now been out of office for almost eight years and Nigerians have come to trust and love him for who he is.
“While in office, he had no enemies to fight. He still has no enemies to fight, now that he has become a private citizen.”
Charles Ajunwa in Lagos, Chuks Okocha in Abuja and Laleye Dipo in Minna