Following the public endorsement of the presidential aspiration of Atiku Abubakar by former president Olusegun Obasanjo, the presidency has stated that no amount of gang-up can stop President Muhammadu Buhari from winning next year’s presidential election.
The former president yesterday described Atiku as president-to-be after a closed-door meeting with his former vice president, both of whom were joined by PDP National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus; PDP chieftain, Chief Bode George; founder of Living Faith Church, Bishop David Oyedepo; Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Matthew Kukah and popular Islamic preacher, Sheikh Abubakar Gumi.
Atiku, who arrived the Abeokuta home of Obasanjo at about 1:05pm, was joined by former governor of Osun State, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola; former governor of Ogun State and DG, Atiku Campaign Organisation, Otunba Gbenga Daniel; former governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke.
Others in the former vice president’s entourage were: Senator Ben Murray-Bruce; Otunba Oyewole Fasawe and leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo.
Abubakar only last weekend clinched the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, setting him as the main challenger to Buhari in next year’s election.
Although he served as vice president to Obasanjo for eight years, Abubakar had been repeatedly castigated by the former president, who had some two months ago vowed not to support Atiku’s presidential ambition, stressing that God would not forgive him, if he did so.
“How can I be on the same side with Atiku? To do what? If I support Atiku for anything, God will not forgive me. If I do not know, yes. But once I know, Atiku can never enjoy my support,’’ Obasanjo had said.
However, after a closed-door meeting mediated by religious and political leaders on Thursday, Obasanjo endorsed Abubakar, expressing belief that Atiku had “re-discovered and re-positioned himself’ and is now good enough to enjoy support in the next election.”
Obasanjo had in 2015 supported Buhari for president, but later fell out with him saying the incumbent was running a nepotistic government and was managing Nigeria and its economy poorly.
Reacting to Obasanjo’s declaration of support for Atiku yesterday, the Presidency said no amount of gang-up against President Buhari would stop him from winning the presidential election next year.
Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, on his Twitter handle, said despite the re-grouping of politicians against President Buhari, his victory was assured in next year’s election.
Adesina posted on his Twitter handle, @FemAdesina, thus: “The harder they come, the harder they fall. 2019 presidential election on my mind.”
The presidency would later on Thursday react through a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, which stated that Obasanjo’s volte-face in endorsing Atiku for presidency was predictable. The statement reads in full:
The Presidency has received the news of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s predictable U-turn and somersault on the endorsement of the PDP candidate, Atiku Abubakar, at a meeting Thursday, and to say that we are the least surprised by the well-rehearsed theatre.
They will lose together. Listening to the prepared statement of the former President after the meeting showed the usual ego trip and “I know it all” character of Chief Obasanjo.
In the first place, we dare to say that a pompous statement from the former President advising Nigerians on a vote against President Buhari is the best recommendation that can come at this time.
It also betrayed a lack of understanding of today’s politics which is about good governance.
The country voted for change in 2015 and a leader that ensures good governance which only President Buhari and the APC can provide.
Bent on these laudable goals, we will not allow ourselves to be distracted.
We are busy on various national issues including the restructuring and the diversification of the economy, fighting corruption, terrorism and other threats to national security; increasing the availability of electric power, improving education, health, and providing long-delayed infrastructure – roads, rail, airports and so forth.
Many governments have come and gone, but they did not care about some of these projects.
We were talking about these things for sixteen years under the PDP and nothing was done.
President Buhari is proud of his record because his achievements are verifiable, while that of the PDP is manifested by the devastating social and economic impact of large scale corruption during their governance.
The President will not relent in the war against corruption because the ordinary people are the ultimate victims if we surrender to corruption and let its perpetrators go unpunished.
Abandoning the war against corruption is not an option. President Buhari is in this battle against graft because he cannot allow a few, rapacious, and selfish class of the elite to divert the resources meant for the well-being of the ordinary people to their private pockets.
Nigerians trust President Buhari in this effort because they are convinced he is not in government for personal financial benefits, or for an ego trip. It is just eleven years ago that the former President and Vice President in their ugly fight for power accused each other of corruption. Nigerians are yet to forget all that.”