My Grouse Against PDP — Atiku Abubakar
Former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, recently defected from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, of which he is one of the founders, to the opposition, All Progressives Congress. In this online interview with LEKE BAIYEWU, he says the resignation of Bamanga Tukur and appointment of Adamu Mu’Azu as the National Chairman of the PDP will not end the problems with the ruling party
Why did you leave the PDP, despite the resignation of the former National Chairman, Bamanga Tukur, who you were aggrieved with?
Bamanga Tukur is my kinsman. I have no grievances against him. The problem of the PDP was not caused by Tukur. Lack of internal democracy is at the centre of the crisis bedeviling the PDP. It is a cancer that is spreading rapidly and destroying the fabric of the party. Despite all efforts and political chemotherapy, the party has continued to show debilitating signs.
Don’t you think Adamu Mu’azu’s emergence as Tukur’s successor will solve the problems in the PDP?
I have said this in an earlier interview: PDP’s wahala (trouble) is not a problem of one man nominated or elected chairman can solve, when anti-democratic forces masquerading as leaders and godfathers continue to loom large over and above the powers and authority of the chairman of the party. The party has in its leadership structure a value defect, which pulls it down despite efforts made by few democratic characters within its fold to lift the party. Impunity has become a way of life in the party and some of us don’t fit in anymore. If our country must make progress, then we need to chart a new way forward. And as things stand, I do not see the PDP being able to provide the leadership in this direction.
Is your grievance really about the PDP or the leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan?
My grievance is about the leadership values predominant in the PDP, which promotes anti-democratic forces in the affairs of the ruling party and these negative influences rub off on the conduct of national affairs. This is why our country is lagging behind in the comity of nations in democratic development, eradication of poverty and job creation for our teeming, unemployed youths. This impunity now rears its ugly head in every facet of our national life. It is manifest in how we resolve political problems, how we run our universities and how we recruit people for leadership positions. The leadership of our country is not fair to the Nigerian people.
As a founding father of the PDP, one would have expected you to stay behind and face the challenges of your brainchild. Why did you run from the problems in the PDP?
Sadly, it does appear that the PDP has left Nigerians, I inclusive. I did not leave the PDP but the party left me a long time ago. When I was pushed out of the party in 2006 and went back in 2009, the reason behind my action was to square up to the challenges of preserving the vision of the party. But, the reality is that the PDP has lost its soul. Those who call the shots now are not development-oriented and are, therefore, uncomfortable with any progressive element and people-oriented ideas.
As an individual, I thank God for fashioning me out of adversity. I was not born with a silver spoon. If I could face the challenges of my childhood and emerge as a successful businessman and politician of note in Nigeria and the African continent today, it speaks of my capacity to face the challenges that come my way. I don’t run away from troubles and challenges of life. But, the problems of the PDP are now national problems beyond the capacity of one man. I have tried as an individual to tackle it from within the fold, it did not work. I am not ashamed to tell you that. My APC idea is to remove the PDP from continuing to be Nigeria’s problem.
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who was widely seen as a threat to your political career in the PDP, is having similar complaints with you. Who are those disrupting the peace in the party, as you’ve said the crisis is leadership-induced?
I don’t want to continue discussing PDP’s crisis at this point of my political career and Nigeria’s socio-economic challenges. I have ported! I want to concern myself with and channel my creative energies to solving problems and challenges facing our country as a whole. I have many children and grandchildren, who are looking forward to a greater and prosperous Nigeria. I want to dedicate the rest of my life and resources to pursuing the greater good of my country and its people, by ensuring that a new political leadership emerges in Nigeria to revive the economy, give jobs to the youth and provide security to every citizen.
What can you say about Governors Abubakar Aliyu and Sule Lamido, who went with you to form the New PDP but have returned to the mainstream of the party?
We are in a democracy. My brand of politics is not about conscriptions and giving orders. We are not in the highly regimented military, where you are expected to obey the last order. These governors are masters of their political fate and every decision they take is right, as far as it concerns them and their political future.
What are the differences between the PDP that you left and the APC you have joined, are there no injustices in your new party?
I have also addressed this matter at an earlier encounter with the media. The PDP is, today, a party of the establishment — the status quo! The APC is more people-oriented — a party of social democrats — and that is where I belonged right from my Social Democratic Party days. I am pro-people.
It appears that your decision to defect from the PDP to the APC is based on your personal aspirations. You are one of the most prominent politicians who have defected many times. Can you deny this?
It is based on constitutional aspirations. The constitution provides for it and, as a citizen, I am under obligation to express myself politically, socially and economically within the context of my personal liberties, as guaranteed by the ground norm of the land.
Why did you make consultations with politicians across the country before your defection, was it to sample your level of popularity before you finally declare your presidential ambition?
I am a people’s person and, beyond politics and presidential ambitions, as you said, I am a man of diverse ambitions. I have a wide family network across the country. I am not clannish. I am not provincial. I am very cosmopolitan in my world view. I am a global player in business, a huge employer of labour and a continental politician. I can no longer take decisions on the basis of self. Also, I don’t believe I know everything. I am not a show-business politician, so I don’t get involved in popularity contests. I am focused, with enough confidence to see me through life. What I did with the consultations was democracy at work. I needed to get feedback from my associates regarding our political direction in the light of the prevailing realities in our country. What was interesting about my consultations was that at the end of all the meetings, the outcome was derived via a snap vote.
You contested the presidential election in every party you have joined, are you an APC presidential aspirant?
I am in the APC to work with progressives and social democrats like me to rescue our country from the drifting ship of state.
Will you remain in the APC if you do not realise your presidential ambition?
It is more important to have a prosperous country than to be the President. So, I am in the APC for the good of the country. And APC is here to stay. My primary purpose of moving to the APC is not to pursue my personal ambition but to work with like-minded persons to provide Nigeria with the change they desire. Whatever ambitions we may pursue as individuals must be done against the backdrop of a stable, peaceful and harmonious environment. What we seek is to return sanity to our democracy and body politics. At this point, it does not matter to me who emerges as APC’s flag-bearer. What is important is for us to build a strong and united party, with zero tolerance for the impunity that has come to define the PDP.
Some observers have said if you contest against President Jonathan on the platform of the APC, you’ll enjoy the backing of the North.
That idea belongs to the past. In my Nigeria of today and the future, there is no northern or southern agenda. There can only be a Nigerian agenda and that is what I wish to champion.
Are you moving to the APC with the Peoples Democratic Movement?
I am not a member of the PDM. I have friends in almost all the political parties in Nigeria. Politics for me is not a do-or-die affair. It should be without bitterness.
What is the fate of the New PDP at this point?
It has coalesced into the APC.
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