By Anthony Ogbonna
The former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and the Kaduna state Governor, Mallam Nasiru El-Rufai have clashed during a radio programme over claims on the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and the All Progressives Congress, APC, party.
Particularly, the duo who featured on a Voice of America (VOA) Hausa service programme titled “Democracy Today” disagreed on the reasons why Atiku left APC for PDP as well as on the claim that the former VP supported President Buhari’s campaigns financially in 2015.
According to El-Rufai, Atiku only left APC because it became clear to him that the party and the governors had endorsed Buhari for a second term come 2019.
Recall that Atiku Abubakar had given reasons for his defection from APC to include that he was abandoned by the Buhari administration despite supporting Buhari’s campaign financially in 2015.
But El-Rufai, however, challenged Atiku to provide proof of financial support to Buhari’s campaign in 2015.
According to him, Atiku left APC not because of the reasons he gave but because of his(Atiku’s) personal ambition.
El-Rufai added that APC would not have given Atiku the ticket in 2019 even if the Buhari factor had not surfaced.
He said this were so because Atiku was even defeated by the former Kano state governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso, to a third position in the 2015 APC primary and hence, could not have been pushed by the party to fly its 2019 ticket.
“We in the APC were aware of it long ago that Atiku was going to leave the APC back to the PDP in December; but we even thank God that he left in November,” said Mr. El- Rufai.
“Atiku had seen that we in the APC, especially the APC governors, had made up our mind to support President Muhammadu Buhari to run again in 2019. That is why he left APC since he was only looking for where to contest for president.”
“Even in the 2015 APC primary election, Atiku didn’t come second; he was floored by Kwankwaso. So, even if President Buhari decides not to contest, Atiku knows that the APC ticket is not sure for him. Majority of the APC governors have endorsed President Buhari as our candidate for 2019.
“And God has continued to improve the health condition of the President. Each time I see him, I thank God and I still pray that God continues to give him sound health.
“So, by 2019, we are waiting to see Atiku contest; we are waiting to contest against him and see what happens. I cannot lose sleep because Atiku wants to contest because, by God’s grace, this is the reign of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is agreed that in politics if you lose even only one person, it should worry you, but the utterances of the former Vice President that APC used his money; who did he give the money to? For me, I know those that supported us with their money and property that we used during election, and I never heard the name of Atiku that he brought a dime. If Atiku said he brought money, who did he give it to? Let him come and say it and how much did he give and what was it used for?
“And, in fact, if Atiku brought money, I ought to know, because I was part of the leadership of the party and during campaign, along with former Governor Rotimi Amaechi. We were at the centre of the presidential campaign. Therefore, we are supposed to know. So, let him mention who he gave the money and how much?”
Also speaking, the former governor of Jigawa state, Mr. Lamido, who was equally at the programme however said PDP welcomes and celebrates Atiku’s return back to the family.
“Obviously we are happy that our former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has come back to PDP. It was PDP that made him; so his coming back to his party is our collective joy. We are not talking about him only; as a matter of fact, we want others who left the party like the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, as well as former governors to come back home.
“If our interest is to see the progress and development of our dear country, Nigeria, then we should also pray that everyone who left PDP should return home.”