Atiku Divides North, APC

Jacob Segun Olatunji, Leon Usigbe, Muhammed Sabiu, Kola Oyelere, Isaac Shobayo, Ishola Michael, Johnson Babajide

The resignation of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has caused a fresh division among the political forces in Northern Nigeria, with major political blocs in the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in region returning to the drawing board to plan fresh alliances.

Though Atiku, who in a letter made public on Friday, said he was resigning from the ruling APC, which he joined in 2013, is yet to declare for any other party, political forces in the North have begun a scamper to redraw strategies to either contain the ace politician or attract his interest.

It was gathered that already, no fewer than seven state governors, serving ministers, several lawmakers in both chambers of the National Assembly, as well as others holding key positions in the government and the APC have concluded plans to dump the party to follow the former vice-president, who is believed to believed to be heading to his former party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

A close source to the former vice-president told Sunday Tribune in Abuja, on Saturday, that barring last-minute change, Atiku has concluded plans to storm the National Secretariat of the PDP in the first week of December 2017 along with his supporters after he must have declared for the party in Yola, Adamawa State.

This was just as a barrage of reactions, on Saturday, trailed the resignation of the former vice-president from the APC, with prominent Northerners, including former Presidential Aide, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai; former member of the House of Representatives and critic, Alhaji Junaid Mohammed, among other individuals, groups and associations, giving divided opinions on the exit of the Adamawa-born politician from the APC and his reported 2019 presidential ambition.

Sunday Tribune gathered on Friday night that some power brokers in the various camps held a series of consultations at the weekend, with the sole aim of forging fresh alliances, while more consultations were said to have been planned for different locations in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja on Tuesday and Thursday this week by the arrowheads of a medley of politicians and professionals from varying backgrounds.

A source told one of our correspondents that Atiku had been chosen to speak at a public forum being put together by another coalition to set the tone for his presence at the national convention of the PDP on December 9, 2017 in Abuja.

Reports from Kaduna, the political headquarters of Northern Nigeria, indicated frenzied moves by some power brokers to review some plans on the ground before now following the likelihood of realignment of forces in the political circle, especially in the light of the PDP convention.

Findings also confirmed that Atiku indeed reached out to some key politicians of Northern extraction to apprise them of his decision to quit APC and seek another political platform to pursue his presidential bid.

A reliable source at the secretariat of PDP, Kaduna State, who spoke with Sunday Tribune on a condition of anonymity, said the former VP had met with some top stalwarts in the state over his presidential ambition.

Though the source could not say who and who the former number two man met with, he was said to have consulted held some of chieftains the party secretly before he made his resignation known.

This claim was also confirmed by the state’s chairman of the Atiku Care Foundation (ACF), Alhaji Ibrahim Dahiru Danfulani, who told Sunday Tribune that consultations with various interest groups and individuals “are currently ongoing.”

“I want to assure you that these groups and individuals have given us their words. We are waiting to see the party that our mentor (Atiku) will join and we will follow him there.”

Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the newly-registered All Progressives Democratic Alliance (APDA), Alhaji Muhammad Shittu, has said the party’s doors “are open to Atiku Abubakar if he wishes to join APDA.”

Atiku is an expired politician—Junaid Mohammed

However, renowned political critic, Dr. Junaid Muhammed, has said that the resignation of the former vice-president from the APC was not a big deal, saying as far as he [Junaid Mohammed] was concerned, “the former vice -president is an expired politician, who is in politics to make money and not to contribute positive quota to nation-building.”

According to Mohammed, “this is not the first time the former vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, will leave a party on the claims of being sidelined or for whatever reasons. If he could leave the PDP and go to contest on the platform of the Action Congress when he was the immediately past vice-president of the PDP; that shows you the kind of character we are dealing with.”

Speaking with Sunday Tribune in Kano, on Saturday, the former lawmaker added: “Secondly, in a normal democratic dispensation, there is no much deal about one person leaving or joining a political party. Thirdly, a lot of the noise being heard is being motivated by you media people; the media people are the ones making a lot of noise about Atiku’s resignations. There were instances when Alhaji Atiku failed to win Adamawa State during an election; he even failed to deliver his local government area and equally failed to win his ward. It happened twice as far as I can remember; so what is the big deal?

Atiku’s exit’ll be eye-opener to APC —Yakassai

Former Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters to former President Shehu Shagari, Yakassai, said he was not surprised that Atiku resigned his membership of the APC, saying it would be an eye-opener to the APC, “as many people who made it possible for the APC to become the ruling party in 2015 are not happy about not being carried along.”

He said the others would sooner or later leave the party.

Speaking with Sunday Tribune in Kano, on Saturday, the elder statesman noted that the body language the APC, its leaders and the former vice-president had been showing revealed that there had been unfavourable conditions among them.

His words: “There had been disagreement among the APC, its leaders and Atiku for a long time and anybody that is familiar with partisan politics, would realise that there was total disconnect between the APC and the former vice-president. So, I am not surprised that he left the party.”

Yakassai noted that the character of Nigerian politics today “is that people move to political parties that would be convenient for them or accommodate their aspirations,” berating all political parties in the country for being the same and without ideologies.

Atiku too desperate to be president of Nigeria—Middle Belt group

In another development, a Middle Belt group, the Association of Middle Belt Ethnic Nationalities (ASOBEN) has stated that the decision of the former vice-president to leave the APC was borne out of his desperation to be president of Nigeria.

The secretary of the association, Rev. James Pam, who stated this in an interview with Sunday Tribune in Jos, said Atiku’s resignation from the party was a big surprise considering his statement when he joined the party before the 2015 general elections, adding that from all indications, Atiku appeared to be too desperate.

Said he: “If he chooses to contest, the Middle Belt at the appropriate time will take decision, though he is from Adamawa State considered to be part of the Middle Belt and we are strongly agitating that the next president should come from this geopolitical zone. So when we get to the bridge we would cross”

The president of the Middle Belt Youth Forum Comrade Pius Attah said the way and manner the former vice-president jettisoned the APC portended a bad omen for democracy in Nigeria, adding that it clearly depicted that Nigerians were not playing the politics of ideology and were ready to jump ship when things no longer go in their favour politically.

Meanwhile, former deputy governor of Plateau State, Chief Jethro Akum, said the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar did not commit any sin by dumping APC, adding that it was all about freedom of association, exercising individual rights and that he had a right of choice.

Mixed feelings greet Atiku’s dumping of APC in Benue

In Benue, the resignation of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar was received with mixed feelings.

While the ruling APC claimed that his defection did not affect the party in the state, the opposition PDP expressed happiness at the Adamawa politicians’s “return to base.”

The state chairman of the APC, Comrade Abba Yaro, who spoke to our correspondent by phone, on Saturday, noted that the defection of Atiku had no effect on Benue State.

But the state chairman of PDP, Honourable John Ngbede, described the defection of the former vice-president as ‘a return home,’ noting that Atiku was a founding member of PDP.

Ngbede, who dismissed the notion that Atiku was a serial defector, explained that there was nothing bad for him to move to any party to actualise his ambition.

Also speaking, the zonal assistant secretary of the PDP, North-Central, Comrade Maurice Tsav, stated that the former vice-president remained a factor in Nigerian politics.

He described Atiku’s impending defection to PDP as ‘a home coming, stating that his return will alter the devilish plans of the ruling APC.”

‘PDP open to welcoming former VP’

One-time deputy governor of Bauchi State, Abdulmalik Mahmoud, has maintained that the resignation of Atiku Abubakar from the APC was a welcome development because, according to him, people are free to choose which political platform they want to belong to.

He said, “if he chooses to come to the PDP, there is no problem about that. It will just be a homecoming for him, having served as vice-president for eight years, contested the presidential ticket on a number of times under the umbrella before he jettisoned the party.”

Mahmoud, however, declared that, “if he decides to join us in the PDP, he is not going to be a threat to the aspirations of others neither, will it threaten the political scene of the North, because politically, the North is not a block no matter the personality involved.”

As for Professor Abubakar Sani Malami, Atiku Abubakar’s resignation from the APC could best be described as “the worst kept secret of the year.”

In his own reaction to the development, a politician who has served on various political platforms in Bauchi State, Babayo Ahmed, simply said, “let us wait and see what happens next. He has resigned from the APC but has not made his destination public. His destination will determine what happens to him politically.”

As for Senator Haruna Garba, “the time is coming when things will work out for the political scene of the country particularly for us in the North-East region where Atiku belongs to considering that there are some others who have same presidential aspirations as him.”.


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