Nigeria: Defiant Former Vice-President Declares Presidential Bid

Abuja and Matthew Onah in Yola — Former vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, yesterday re-launched his bid to become the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) despite the position of the party that he is yet to be formally accepted into its fold.

Former Vice-President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

Abubakar, who had defected to the Action Congress (AC) to contest the 2007 presidential election, said at his declaration in Abuja: “Governance at the highest level has been reduced to the announcement of the award of contracts and monthly sharing of oil revenues as if these, in themselves, constitute development. In a word, there is a profound and alarming failure of leadership in the country. To put it in some context, the 2010 Failed States Index ranked Nigeria among 20 failed states such as Chad, Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Niger and Zimbabwe. Sierra Leone and Liberia scored better than Nigeria.”

However, he added: “Nigeria has no excuse to fail. We are one of the most richly endowed nations on earth, especially in the area of human capital, which is the most important index of development. With a projected population of 250 million by 2025, about 70 per cent of which will be under the age of 35, we have an opportunity to build the future today. We must harness this enormous resource and direct its energy in a positive way.”

Folarin Lawal Sode

Former Vice-President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

The former vice-president, who pledged a focused leadership, released a five-point agenda on his mission to revitalise the comatose Nigerian economy. He said: “I have picked five key areas for immediate intervention because of their critical impact on all other areas of development. These are Employment Generation and Wealth Creation, Power Generation and Infrastructural Development, Security, Good Governance and War Against Corruption, Education, Health and Social Services, and the Niger Delta.

“After due consultations with my family, friends and political associates, I have come here to formally announce, with humility and a deep sense of responsibility, that I shall be offering myself as a candidate for election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the 2011 Presidential Election. I shall do so on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). I want to chart a new course for our beloved country and lead our people to their manifest destiny.”

He claimed PDP had granted him a waiver to allow him contest in the election following the controversy that he could not contest for an elective post having just rejoined the party.

The declaration was witnessed by some of his political associates such as former Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Chief Dubem Onyia; former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Lawal Kaita; Chief Titi Ajanaku; Alhaji Yahaya Kwande; former Minister of State for Health, Funke Adedoyin and Alhaji Tanko Yakassai.

But Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako insisted yesterday that the former vice-president is not yet a bona fide member of the PDP, saying Abubakar is without the blessings of the state chapter of the party on his current endeavours.Nyako, who was reacting to Atiku’s declaration, said the former vice-president, who hails from the state, did same in 2007 “without a platform”.

“I am not the one to reconcile the problem of Atiku’s membership. It is Atiku that will reconcile the issue of his membership status. I read on the pages of newspapers that even when he declared for the presidency in the year 2007, he was not a member of any political party. So, he is declaring today with no party, period. He is one his own,” Nyako said.

On the PDP’s NEC decision which upheld the zoning arrangement, Nyako said: “Zoning is in the best interest of Nigeria. It is in the best interest of the North and South; in the best interest of every state, every community and every individual. So, it is not controversial. And it ought not to be a subject of controversy.”

He said, however, the party also felt that the constitutional rights of individuals to contest positions should not be abridged, and that is why they took the decision that Jonathan should be allowed to exercise his rights to contest.

Chuks Okocha and Imam Imam|16 August 2010|This Day (Lagos)|

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