- Category: Politics
- Published on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 05:43
- Written by Admin
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TENSION, the seven-letter word, refused to leave the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday, days after it endorsed zoning for the 2011 elections and declared that President Goodluck Jonathan would use the Yar’Adua/Jonathan ticket for the polls.
Former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, who on Sunday in Abuja declared his intention to vie for the presidential ticket on the platform of the party, said yesterday that his membership of the PDP was still valid and, as such, he did not require any waiver.
And if the party “wants to play games with me, I will go to court,” he vowed.
Atiku equally spoke of how high level “power play” caused the deep-seated feud between him and former President Olusegun Obasanjo when they were in office.
The former Vice-President stated these at a parley with media executives in Abuja.
Venue was the Transcorp Hilton Hotel.
He insisted that constitutionally and legally, “I remain a bonafide member of the PDP”.
The presidential candidate of the Action Congress (AC) in the 2007 elections said: “I don’t need a waiver. All the same, I have requested for a waiver. This morning (yesterday), my application was filed.
“What I filed today (yesterday) are in two folds. One, that I don’t need a waiver. Two, that in the event that I need it (waiver), I request for it”.
He, however, hinted that should the PDP national leadership try to a play funny game over the issue of his membership of the party, he would not hesitate to approach the court for a judicial interpretation of the party’s constitution.
In his words: “I don’t know how PDP will get out of it. If it gets out of it, the court is there to interprete”.
The presidential aspirant pointed out that he did not require any waiver to re-join the party.
Atiku wondered why the National Chairman, Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, who also left the PDP about the time he (Atiku) too defected in 2006, was re-admitted into the party and even became its National Chairman without anybody raising questions about his membership or asking for a waiver.
The former Vice-President pointed out that when he and others formed the PDP in 1998, provisions relating to waiver, among others, were not there.
“But, Obasanjo inserted the various retrogressive provisions in the party’s constitution to stop me from running in 2007. Now, this is affecting the PDP”.
The Turaki Adamawa, who offered detailed insight into how power play caused the protracted feud between him and Obasanjo, pointed out that what his former boss actually wanted, towards the end of his eight-year tenure, was not a third term, but “a life presidency”.
Atiku recalled how Obasanjo, shortly on assumption of office in 1999, called him and asked him how come that some Presidents who were in power when he (Obasanjo) left in office in 1979 (as Head of State) were still in power 20 years after.
Obasanjo, Atiku said, cited the examples of Presidents Gnassingbe Eyadema (now late) of Togo, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Oman Bongo (now late) of Gabon and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
The former Vice-President similarly recalled how tenure extension clause was controversially inserted into the agenda of the National Political Reforms Conference convoked by the administration of Obasanjo in 1995, which eventually led to the failure of the whole exercise in 2006.
He identified the third and the last effort of Obasanjo to perpetuate himself in power as the tenure elongation plan which he, and other democrats, killed on May 16, 2006.
The former Vice-President explained, however, that the concerted efforts of some common friends to the two of them led to his decision to visit Obasanjo in his Abeokuta abode after they had left office in January 2008.
He identified those who broker the truce as Alhaji Ahmed Joda and the Governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola.
But, despite the truce, he said: “You can expect that Obasanjo will continue to fight me forever. You can expect that Atiku will continue to defend himself for ever”.
The former Vice-President further declared that he has no problem whatsoever with Governor Murtala Nyako of Adamawa, his home state, adding, “He (Nyako) is the one that has a problem with me”.
He similarly dismissed allegations of corruption that have been levelled against him in some quarters and challenged anybody with a contrary view to come forward to prove same.
Meanwhile, indications have emerged that former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida (rtd), may have concluded plans to dump the PDP, as the only way to realise his presidential ambition next year.
This followed last Thursday’s declaration of the PDP National Executive Committee (NEC) that Jonathan was free to run for the 2011 presidential election on the platform of the party, in continuation of the Yar’Adua/Jonathan ticket.
But, Babangida, who had earlier declared his intention to run on the platform of the PDP, it was learnt, has reportedly perfected plans to realise his ambition on the platform of the National Democratic Party (NDP), no thanks to the PDP NEC position.
Sources said the former military president, at a meeting held at his private home in Abuja, told his team of political strategists and loyalists that it was time he dumped the PDP and moved ahead with his political ambition.
Besides, fears are beginning to heighten in Babangida’s camp that he may find it almost impossible to muscle sufficient support from delegates at the forthcoming PDP primaries.
Babangida, who was said to have hitherto thought of Atiku as the only stumbling block he would face from the North, if zoning arrangement was strictly obeyed, was said to have been rudely shocked by last week’s decision of the PDP.
It was learnt that he has started putting finishing touches into his decision to announce his membership of the NDP at a grand reception being planned for him in the next two weeks.
One of the conclusions reached at the meeting, according to sources, was that Babangida should no longer waste time in the PDP and should also be specific on which political platform he wants to realise his presidential ambition.
All his campaign coordinators across the 36 states and other loyalists in the PDP have also been told to, henceforth, change their campaign approach from the line of the party.
Sources said that Babangida’s loyalists had considered various options, including the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA).
But, he was said to be more disposed to the NDP, a party he is widely believed to have personally funded since 2002 and where he has strong links.
The retired General, it was further gathered, could not be persuaded to begin negotiations with any of the other parties due to what he reportedly called the “time factor” and the peculiar disdain of some of their members to his aspiration.
Because of this, all the state and zonal coordinators of his campaign have been told to further propagate the programmes of the NDP in their domains.
Contacted, the National Chairman of the NDP, Prince Chidi Chukwuani, did not foreclose the possibility of Babangida dumping the PDP for his party.
Said Chukwuani: “The PDP is not the only party in Nigeria. Even though IBB is a card-carrying member of the party, he has made it equally clear that the PDP is not the only party; that the most important thing is that Nigerians should know that he is the only man that can provide for them all they have been agitating for”.
On whether he would welcome Babangida into the NDP, he said: “Why not? The party is open to him. We are not fielding any presidential candidate. Even, if he is contesting on the platform of any party, we have pledged our total loyalty and support to him. If he is coming, our party is open for him, just the way other parties are open for him to run. Since he has assured Nigerians that he must contest, it must not be on the platform of the PDP”.
Efforts to speak with Babangida’s spokesman, Kazim Afegbua, yesterday failed, as his mobile phone was switched off.
In Enugu, some prominent Igbo leaders yesterday endorsed Jonathan for the election.
Although many of the heavy-weight politicians in the zone expected to grace the summit were conspicuously absent, those who attended the event also called for states in Southern Nigeria to form a common front like their counterparts in the North as the political situation in the country gets murkier.
Among the notable leaders who were at the summit were former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, representative of Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, politicians, religious leaders and human rights activists.
Part of the low turnout of the notable leaders could be traced to a statement issued at the weekend by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, who called off the summit, citing the resolution of the zoning controversy by the ruling PDP as his reason.
Ekweremadu had been in the fore front of promoting the summit and he had last week spoken eloquently of the desirability of the event.
Convened by a frontline nationalist, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, at the Hotel Presidential, Enugu, the summit, in a communiqué, stated that it has “decided to endorse the aspiration of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. This will, however, depend on the successful negotiation of terms and conditions and agreement over the details”.
Making the decision appear open-ended, the communiqué, read by Amaechi himself, further added that the endorsement of Jonathan “does not, by any means, shut the door to dialogue with any other candidate, region or zone which we seek to find the best way to ensure peace and orderly development in the South-East and Nigeria in general”.
Stating that the North and the West have ruled the country for the greater number of years since independence, especially the North, the Igbo leaders said it clearly smacked of grave injustice for the South-East and South-South, which they classified as the old Eastern Region of the country, to produce over 90 per cent of the wealth of the nation and not be given the opportunity to produce the President.
“Ndigbo shall no longer accept to play the second fiddle or being considered irrelevant in a country where they played leadership roles during the struggle for independence”.
The convener is the only surviving member of the Zikist Movement that fought for the independence of the country.
None of the governors of the five South-East states attended the summit.
The governor Ebonyi State, Chief Martin Elechi, was represented. Again, none of the serving National Assembly members was sighted at the summit.