AMID subtle moves by power brokers ahead of the 2019 general elections, facts have emerged that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar may have lost some of his age-long political allies in his quest to contest the next presidential election.
Prominent among them is the former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu who has not only been Atiku’s political ally but a long time business partner. During the 2007 general elections when Atiku was denied the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it was Tinubu who provided the former vice president the platform of the Action Congress(AC) and both of them remained together until 2014 when the Waziri Adamawa contested for the presidential ticket of the All Progressives Congress(APC), which he lost to the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari.
A very close associate of the former Lagos governor and who is also a leader of the APC told Saturday Sun on condition of anonymity that Tinubu opted to support Buhari as against Atiku because he believes strongly that Atiku would not honour a single term agreement if allowed to take a shot at the presidency.
He said Buhari would be finishing his second term in 2023, thus putting the South West and possibly Tinubu in a good stead to vie for the presidency. The source said that Tinubu believes that if he is not going to contest in 2023, rallying the South West to sup- port Buhari now would put the zone in a van- tage position to get the support of the North at the expiration of the Buhari presidency.
He observed that beyond politics, there had been a cold relationship in recent time between Tinubu and Atiku because their stakes in the oil giant, Oando have really been battered by the dwindling economic fortunes of the company.
Beside, Tinubu, it was gathered that most PDP governors are not particularly comfortable with Atiku because they believe that he belongs to Buhari’s age bracket, which they intend to make a campaign issue in 2019.
As a result, the various caucuses especially the most dominant one controlled by the South South governors led by the Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike have been shopping for a younger candidate.
Saturday Sun learnt that the move had led the caucus to look in the direction of the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal.
Besides all these, Atiku is also having issues with his close friends in APC who are angry that he never consulted well before leaving for the PDP. Saturday Sun learnt that one of such friends is a former governor in Benue State and an influential member of the current Sen- ate who recently met Atiku and protested the former Vice President’s hasty exit from the APC. A close friend to Atiku who disclosed the protest to Saturday Sun said the aggrieved Benue lawmaker was angry that Atiku would be left stranded in the PDP because the opposition party’s governors might have made up their minds to give their presidential ticket to a younger candidate.
A member of the PDP National Working Committee (NWC) told Saturday Sun that notwithstanding the alignment going on among stakeholders, the party has decided to throw its door open to any aspirant interested in the presidential race.
But reacting to the development, Tinubu who spoke through his media adviser, Tunde Rahman, said the issue of supporting Atiku Abubakar or not is a ‘moot point.’
He said: “Asiwaju Tinubu and former Vice President Atiku belong to two different political parties. Asiwaju will support his party and the party’s candidate any day. Moreso, Asiwaju’s position on the presidency is very clear. He has said time and again that for as long as that patriotic leader, President Mu- hammadu Buhari, is on the saddle or seeks to run, he would not contest against him.
“He played a yeoman’s role in bringing this government to power and he believes President Buhari is confronting the nation’s problems head on. He is not saying there are no challenges but he has always said he has implicit confidence in President Buhari to tackle these problems.
“Those who are busy fishing for other reasons for this undiluted support for PMB are free to do so. It’s their opinion and they are entitled to it.”
But in his response, Atiku who also spoke through his media adviser, Paul Ibe, said he has become the issue in Nigerian politics because Nigerians have seen him as the best option in the face of the monumental challenges they are facing and for which the current administration has no solutions except blame gaming.
He said: “As such, he will be the subject of falsehoods and accusations. It comes with the territory. These conjectures are baseless and without foundation whatsoever and I will not dignify them with a further response. Nigerians are jobless; poverty and hopelessness is rife.
“Our own Nigerian Bureau of Statistics revealed that over 10 million Nigerians have lost their jobs under this administration even as unemployment currently stands at 18.8 percent. Meanwhile, the cost of everything from food, to petrol, to electricity has gone up.
“Waziri Atiku Abubakar knows how to create jobs and opportunities and his focus is to alleviate the pains of the long suffering Nigerian people who spent their Christmas at fuel stations and from all indications may spend the early part of the New Year also at fuel stations rather than with loved ones.”