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2007: Atiku not favoured by Obasanjo, PDP •VP’s loyalist cries out

Posted by Olusola Fabiyi,Musikilu Mojeed (Abuja), Olayinka Oyebodeand Taiwo Rasak on 2005/08/06 | Views: 964 |

2007: Atiku not favoured by Obasanjo, PDP •VP’s loyalist cries out


A key loyalist of Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has accused President Olusegun Obasanjo and the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party of planning to wreck the vice president’s chances of leading the nation in 2007.

A key loyalist of Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has accused President Olusegun Obasanjo and the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party of planning to wreck the vice president’s chances of leading the nation in 2007.

Former Special Adviser to the President on Food Security and a PDP chieftain, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, made the allegation in an interview in Abuja penultimate week. He said there was every indication that Atiku’s ambition was not well received by both the president and the party because every effort was being made to annihilate the vice president’s political bloc, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), from the power equation in PDP.

Abdullahi, who is a leading PDM member, said as a prelude to the 2007 presidential race, Obasanjo had been busy positioning his loyalists in strategic positions within the party while PDM elements suspected to be loyal to Atiku were being thrown out.

He said that Atiku’s followers were alarmed when they noticed two years ago that Obasanjo was trying hard to assert control over the party and root out his deputy’s group. He stated that they became fully convinced when some months ago, Obasanjo practically forced out some key PDM members in the National Working Committee such as PDP’s former Deputy National Chairmen, Alhaji Shuaibu Oyedokun (South) and Alhaji Iro Safana (North) and installed his loyalists in all the positions in the party.

According to him, although the party had not openly declared its opposition to the vice president’s ambition, there were signs that Atiku was not PDP’s favourite for the 2007 race.

He said, “If you look at it critically, you will see that PDM has lost out. If you look at the National Working Committee of the party, those who have PDM antecedents have been sidelined in the party. Alhaji Oyedokun is one of us; Safana is also PDM. From the election of the chairman to other officers of the party, they manipulated their people into positions.

“We have always known that they were bent on capturing the party so they would be in a position to determine who gets what in 2007. We saw that coming two years ago. Now, the act has almost been completed as PDM elements within PDP have been completely sidelined, in terms of being effective party operatives. What that means remains to be seen in the months ahead of us.”

Ango said he could not understand why Obasanjo was not comfortable about Atiku succeeding him, in spite of the fact that the vice president had served him loyally for the past six years.

“This is a question I cannot answer. The president himself should answer that. If the president does not want his deputy to succeed him, then something must be wrong either between him and the deputy on a purely personal basis or on official basis.

“From the outside, we cannot see the reason why the president will not want his deputy to succeed him; someone who has stood by his policies for six years; who to our knowledge has not said he was not going to continue with the policies of the current administration.”

Speaking about the leadership of the party, the former special adviser said he was not suggesting that “PDP was against the aspirations of Atiku but there is circumstantial evidence to suggest that Atiku is not favoured by the party; or he may not be one of the favoured candidates because there could be quite a number of people who might want to be president but would not be favoured by the powers that be.

“This is assuming that there is somebody who has the ultimate power to determine who becomes the president rather than Nigerians.”

But Abdullahi gave the hint that a full-blown conflict over who actually controls the party was in the offing, warning that PDM members would not sit idly by and allow the president to dictate events in PDP.

Insisting that PDP had degenerated to an assembly of members of a cabal where Obasanjo was the only one calling the shots, he warned, “We are not going to surrender the party to anyone. This is a party we helped greatly to build and we will insist that it democratises. Failure to do this, no one can predict what will happen. Eventually, PDP may have to lose its members either to existing parties or new parties. As you know, there are already a lot of crises within the party.

“We won’t just keep quiet and allow the president to pocket the party. Well, it all depends on what he is hijacking the party for. To me, a party is supposed to be a vehicle for winning elections.

“It is possible for PDP to degenerate into a one-man party or to a party of a cabal but that makes it a weaker one to win elections. In 1998 and 1999, PDP was very much on ground and the votes were genuine. People were interested. But from then on, the party, rather than open itself to the real process of democracy, it became an instrument of manipulation at federal, state and local government levels. That was why by 2003, the party had effectively lost touch with the grassroots.”

camp has risen strongly in the president’s defence, saying that Atiku’s associates were merely crying wolf where there was none.

The president’s Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, told Saturday Punch on telephone, “Nothing could be farther from the truth than that allegation.”

Speaking on Wednesday, Fani-Kayode said Atiku was “part and parcel of this cabinet and there is no iota of truth in that allegation that the president and PDP are working against him. Why should that be? I think that idea runs in the minds of those spreading the rumour.”

But, the presidential aide indirectly lent credence to the allegation when he said, “The president is the leader of government and the party and he makes all decisions for government and the party. Nobody should question his right to do so. Nobody should impute ill motives into his decisions. As far as fairness is concerned, the president has done his best for the country and he is above such a plot. If the vice president is not complaining, who is Ango Abdullahi or any other person for that matter to complain? Nobody should divide us, the Presidency is one.”

Also speaking, PDP’s Deputy National Chairman (North), Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, denied that there was such a plot against the vice president.

He said, “The position of the party on this is still open. There is no position yet on candidature. All I can tell you is that PDP is guided by principles of democracy and the rule of law. All PDP members have a right to ask and partake or be interested in the affairs of the party. When the time comes, there will be a level playing ground as usual. But some people will not believe that.”

Even as the brickbats continue to fly, Atiku’s associates are said to be making alternative plans to secure a solid foothold in the 2007 equation.

An Atiku associate, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from the president, said that the vice president’s camp, which includes governors cutting across the six geopolitical zones, was thinking of resuscitating the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).

The new party, which will include PDM and Atiku’s associates in other political parties, is to be known as either the Social Democratic Front (SDF) or Peoples Front (PF).

A major plank on which they are foisting their game plan of this group is that when Obasanjo meets with leaders of political parties next week, they will insist that the Independent National Electoral Commission should commence the registration of new parties.

The Atiku associate, who disclosed the plan for the new party to our correspondent in Lagos, said the vice president would remain in PDP for the time being to fight from within and would not leave unless “there is a major factionalisation of the party (PDP).”

Another associate, who declined to be named, said the people of Nigeria would ultimately decide if Atiku emerges as the next president, noting that the vice president’s camp was not bothered about Obasanjo’s alleged plan to truncate the bid.

A source close to the vice president said the situation had degenerated to the extent that Obasanjo’s loyalists were watching every step made by Atiku and his followers.

The source traced the friction to the intrigues that attended PDP’s presidential primaries in 2003, where some governors and top politicians persuaded Atiku to face Obasanjo in the contest because there were rumours that Obasanjo was not considering Atiku as his running mate in the 2003 election.

A source told Saturday Punch that what made the president believe that Atiku was bent on running against him was an interview the vice president granted the British Broadcasting Corporation where he stated that he had three options, including running with the president; contesting the primary on a joint ticket with Dr. Alex Ekwueme; or running alone.

To strengthen the bid, Atiku and his followers were said to have held a number of meetings in the private residence of the former PDP National Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh, but this was later to turn out against the former party boss as Obasanjo chose the right moment to shove him out of office some months ago.

The vice president later gave in when his boss promised that they would run for re-election on the same ticket but Obasanjo never forgave his deputy as he was said to have complained to some close friends that he was disappointed about Atiku’s action.However, Obasanjo’s camp has risen strongly in the president’s defence, saying that Atiku’s associates were merely crying wolf where there was none.

The president’s Special Assistant on Public Affairs, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, told Saturday Punch on telephone, “Nothing could be farther from the truth than that allegation.”

Speaking on Wednesday, Fani-Kayode said Atiku was “part and parcel of this cabinet and there is no iota of truth in that allegation that the president and PDP are working against him. Why should that be? I think that idea runs in the minds of those spreading the rumour.”

But, the presidential aide indirectly lent credence to the allegation when he said, “The president is the leader of government and the party and he makes all decisions for government and the party. Nobody should question his right to do so. Nobody should impute ill motives into his decisions. As far as fairness is concerned, the president has done his best for the country and he is above such a plot. If the vice president is not complaining, who is Ango Abdullahi or any other person for that matter to complain? Nobody should divide us, the Presidency is one.”

Also speaking, PDP’s Deputy National Chairman (North), Alhaji Ibrahim Shema, denied that there was such a plot against the vice president.

He said, “The position of the party on this is still open. There is no position yet on candidature. All I can tell you is that PDP is guided by principles of democracy and the rule of law. All PDP members have a right to ask and partake or be interested in the affairs of the party. When the time comes, there will be a level playing ground as usual. But some people will not believe that.”

Even as the brickbats continue to fly, Atiku’s associates are said to be making alternative plans to secure a solid foothold in the 2007 equation.

An Atiku associate, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals from the president, said that the vice president’s camp, which includes governors cutting across the six geopolitical zones, was thinking of resuscitating the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP).

The new party, which will include PDM and Atiku’s associates in other political parties, is to be known as either the Social Democratic Front (SDF) or Peoples Front (PF).

A major plank on which they are foisting their game plan of this group is that when Obasanjo meets with leaders of political parties next week, they will insist that the Independent National Electoral Commission should commence the registration of new parties.

The Atiku associate, who disclosed the plan for the new party to our correspondent in Lagos, said the vice president would remain in PDP for the time being to fight from within and would not leave unless “there is a major factionalisation of the party (PDP).”

Another associate, who declined to be named, said the people of Nigeria would ultimately decide if Atiku emerges as the next president, noting that the vice president’s camp was not bothered about Obasanjo’s alleged plan to truncate the bid.

A source close to the vice president said the situation had degenerated to the extent that Obasanjo’s loyalists were watching every step made by Atiku and his followers.

The source traced the friction to the intrigues that attended PDP’s presidential primaries in 2003, where some governors and top politicians persuaded Atiku to face Obasanjo in the contest because there were rumours that Obasanjo was not considering Atiku as his running mate in the 2003 election.

A source told Saturday Punch that what made the president believe that Atiku was bent on running against him was an interview the vice president granted the British Broadcasting Corporation where he stated that he had three options, including running with the president; contesting the primary on a joint ticket with Dr. Alex Ekwueme; or running alone.

To strengthen the bid, Atiku and his followers were said to have held a number of meetings in the private residence of the former PDP National Chairman, Chief Audu Ogbeh, but this was later to turn out against the former party boss as Obasanjo chose the right moment to shove him out of office some months ago.

The vice president later gave in when his boss promised that they would run for re-election on the same ticket but Obasanjo never forgave his deputy as he was said to have complained to some close friends that he was disappointed about Atiku’s action.

SATURDAY PUNCH, August 06, 2005

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Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

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Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

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Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown