The Kaduna State governor, Nasir El-Rufai says former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, because the Turakin Adawama knows he cannot get the party’s 2019 presidential ticket even where President Muhammadu Buhari refuses to seek second term.
Speaking in a Voice of America, VOA, Hausa Service Programme, “Democracy Today”, he stated that the former VP left the APC because he was looking for a party whose flag he would fly in the 2019 election, having seen that APC governors have endorsed Buhari for second term.
El-Rufai said, “We in the APC were aware from the outset that Atiku was going to leave the APC back to the PDP in December and we thank God that he left in November.
“Atiku had seen that we in the APC, especially the APC governors, had resolved 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.”
The governor went on to challenge Atiku to prove that he funded President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2015 campaign as he claimed some time ago. Newsworth recalls that the former vice president had lamented three months ago that he had been side-lined by the Buhari government despite his efforts in making sure that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was defeated in 2015.
Atiku had at the time told VOA while the last Eid-el- Kabir festival was being celebrated that, “Honestly speaking, I’m still a member of the APC; I was part of all the processes, including campaigns until success was achieved.
“But sadly, soon after the formation of government; I was side-lined, I have no any relationship with the government, I’ve not been contacted even once to comment on anything and in turn, I maintained my distance. They used our money and influence to get to where they are but three years down the lane, this is where we are.”
Reacting to this, El-Rufai said the APC had been uncomfortable with the kind of remarks made by Atiku before he jumped ship.
He said, “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?
“Asked about a large number of APC members who are likely to follow Atiku to PDP, El-Rufai said: “Sure, we know that, we cannot rule out the possibility of some greedy people following him; those that are following material things. But, if people will consider how we can work for the progress of our country, everybody knows that you cannot compare Atiku with President Muhammadu Buhari,” the governor said.