There are indications that former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and a former Governor of Jigawa State, Alhaji Sule Lamido, are making moves towards clinching the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party for the 2019 election.
Investigations by our correspondent showed that both politicians had been discussing with the leaders of the party with the hope of gaining their support for the ticket.
It was gathered that Atiku, though a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, was already tinkering with the idea of returning to his former party if he would not be allowed to contest the ticket in his current party.
He is said to be considering other options on the premise that President Muhammadu Buhari might want to run for a second term.
In the event that he would not, the President would also be expected to “anoint” his successor in the party.
Though Atiku had denied plans to leave the APC, sources in the PDP, however, said Atiku’s hand could be felt in the current moves to reposition the former ruling party.
A member of the Board of Trustees of the PDP, who spoke with our correspondent on condition of anonymity, said Atiku was neck-deep in the activities of the party.
He explained that it was wrong to assume that the current travails of members of the party were rubbing off on its acceptability across the country, adding that Nigerians would be surprised with the calibre of people currently speaking with the leadership of the PDP.
The source added, “Atiku knows that he may not have the chance to contest the APC ticket, and that’s why we have been talking.
“He wants to be President and as it is, nothing is sure for him in his new party. He still believes that his former party, which is the PDP, is a formidable party on which platform he can realise his age-long ambition.”
Atiku recently visited a former dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.), in Minna, who recently returned to the country from his medical trip to Switzerland.
It was believed that the former Vice-President used the occasion to discuss his 2019 presidential ambition, but the former presidential aspirant denied such insinuation.
Media aide to Atiku, Mr. Paul Ibe, said Atiku was not the first person to visit Babangida, who annulled the June 12, 1993 presidential election, believed to have been won by the late businessman, Bashorun Moshood Abiola, since his return to the country.
Apart from the former military dictator, he said the former Vice-President could not be said to have visited any other person of recent.
Babangiga, who reluctantly “stepped aside” from office after eight years in the saddle as military President, is believed to still be a member of the PDP.
“He just came back from a medical trip abroad. Atiku isn’t the only person that has visited him,” Ibe said.
Ibe declined comments on whether the former Vice-President would run for the Presidency in 2019 or on which platform.
He said Atiku had yet to make up his mind on whether to run for the nation’s number one seat, stressing that until such a decision was taken, it would be too early to talk about which platform.
Ibe added, “I can’t say whether he would contest now. The desire to contest has to be there first before we can talk about the platform.
“Until when the decision to run is taken, the issue of which platform remains secondary.
“I’m aware that there is pressure on him to run in 2019, but no decision has been taken yet.”
He added that the Turaki Adamawa like other Nigerians, is disappointed with a lot of things going on in the country.
It was also gathered that the national leadership of the PDP, headed by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, was planning to visit Atiku with a view to wooing him back to the party.
A member of the Strategic Review and Inter-Party Committee of the party, Prof. Tunde Adeniran, said the party would visit all those who had left the party.
Adeniran, a former Minister of Education and an aspirant to the office of the national chairman of the party, would, however, not disclose if and when his committee would visit Atiku.
He told The PUNCH on the telephone on Wednesday that the PDP was desirous of returning to power in 2019, adding that those who could be instrumental in its success at the polls, would be visited.
The former minister stated, “We are meeting everybody. We are going to have meetings with all those who are ready to open up and return to the PDP.
“Everybody is important; so, and we will not mention the names of those we are going to visit, but let me say that those who share in the vision of the party’s founding fathers will be visited.
“We know that the PDP remains a popular party across the country. Therefore, we will also do our own homework in order to make sure that we return to power in 2019.”
It was gathered that the party’s hierarchy was divided over the likely return of Atiku to the party as some leaders were said to be of the opinion that only those, who had stood by the party from inception, be trusted with its presidential ticket.
The former vice-president had left the PDP twice. Lamido, who is also said to be eyeing the party’s ticket, was believed to be engineering subtle moves against Atiku.
The former governor had stated publicly that he would run for the Presidency in 2019. Meanwhile, the national leadership of the party has said it will not react to the gale of defection in the party. It also said it would not comment on the defection of Senator Andy Uba from the party to the APC.
Spokesperson for the National Caretaker Committee of the party, Dayo Adeyeye, stated this in an interview with our correspondent on the telephone on Wednesday.
Adeyeye also refused to comment on the rumours making the rounds that some governors in the party from the South-East were also planning to ditch the former ruling party for the APC.
“No, it is not an issue I would like to comment on,” the former Minister of State for Works told our correspondent on Wednesday.
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