Presidency: Atiku Vows to Fight On, Says Buhari Is Afraid to Contest Primary
Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, has said he will not give up on his ambition to become the president of the country.
Addressing newsmen at his residence in Abuja yesterday, Atiku submitted that to abandon the presidential race in the country would amount to a loss of hope in the redemption of the nation.
His words:”How can I be discouraged? You are just asking me to give up on Nigeria. I don’t have any other place to go.”
“So, why should I give up on Nigeria? That is what you are asking me to do. I won’t give up until I can no longer have the capacity, the strength. I cannot give up on Nigeria.”
Reacting to speculations that certain stalwarts of his party were scheming to give the party presidential ticket to his main rival, General Buhari in the name of consensus candidate, the former vice president dismissed it as mere rumour, saying the party’s constitution had no provision for automatic ticket.
In a veiled reference to Gen. Buhari, Alhaji Abubakar said the call for an automatic ticket within the APC was coming from those who hitherto had a political background where primary election contest was alien to them.
“Those people who are canvassing for automatic ticket are scared of contesting. There is nothing to be scared of in a contest carried out in a democratic setting. How can you canvass for an automatic ticket in a democratic process? There is nothing like that. So I mean these are people who are afraid of contest.
“An automatic ticket is not going to be possible. Those people asking for automatic ticket are definitely scared of contesting. They might have been coming from a political background that did not know contest before and you know that APC is an amalgamation of political parties that came together and relinquished their identities. But APC as is currently constituted, cannot escape an elective primary, because there is no zoning, so on what basis are you canvassing for an automatic ticket?” he queried.
There has been growing call by supporters of General Buhari that the All Progressives Congress should automatically give the party’s ticket to the former Head of State to contest the 2015 election.
But in a response to Atiku’s statement, a former spokesperson of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, the party on which platform General Buhari contested the 2011 election, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin, said though the party may not be looking at automatic ticket for General Buhari, but that Atiku is not in a better position to criticise consensus candidature or automatic ticket.
Fashakin, who is Buhari’s diehard supporter, said Atiku was a beneficiary of consensus in 2011 election when he was chosen by the Adamu Ciroma committee as the consensus candidate of the North amongst Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Aliyu Gusau. Mr. Fashakin said General Buhari cannot be afraid in any electoral contest as Atiku tactically alluded to because, “he (General Buhari) has gone through three different ‘huge’ elections. He has been tried, tested and found to be true. He is a veteran of electoral contest and therefore cannot be said to be a man afraid of electoral contest.”
Mr. Fashakin said that the groups canvassing for automatic ticket in the party are mindful of the fact that the main challenge still lies ahead with the PDP and therefore would want to avoid an intra-party acrimonious contest.
“Let us prevent going into an acrimonious contest. Let’s also see ourselves as one family. There are some imponderables that make it imperative for party stakeholders to seek ways and means of minimizing the after effect of a rancorous primary election. Sometimes, when you come out of a contest, some people are bruised and this explains why the party has to be very cautious. If it becomes imperative, consensus or automatic ticket should be encouraged as is captured in article 20 of our party’s constitution,” Fashakin said.
Though the party has come out to disown those calling for automatic ticket for General Buhari, there are growing calls for the party to give the General an automatic ticket ahead of the 2015 election.
“We won’t give automatic ticket to anyone, including Buhari. It is not in our constitution. All the candidates will undergo primary,” Lai Mohammed said recently.
However, some Buhari loyalists in the party are said to be mounting pressures. For instance, Osita Okechukwu, the Buhari Organisation’s spokesman was recently quoted as saying that Article 20 of the party’s constitution gives for the party to “first explore consensus option”, while nominating a candidate either for party offices or presidential election
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