GARBA Shehu, spokesman for Atiku Abubakar, former vice-president, explains why his boss led the walkout of seven aggrieved PDP governors and other aggrieved members at the Abuja mini-convention of the party on August 31. Shehu made the explanation in response to questions Olu Ojewale, general editor, sent to him online. Excerpts:
Realnews: Your boss, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar led the walkout at the party’s mini-convention venue. Why did he do that?
Answer: Why they walked out: This is what the former VP said at the press conference at Yar’Adua Centre: “Today is a very historic day in the life of our party. It is also a day of mixed feelings. It could also be a day of happiness. It could also be a sad day. Sad because the party we conceived in 1998 to be a rallying point for all Nigerians to be a source of unity, to be a party that will fulfill the aspirations of Nigerians, has today been dragged down by people who don’t even understand what party politics is all about.
“So, or sometimes, I have always been trying to draw attention of leaders of our party, and the leaders of government that this democratic dispensation is supposed to make things better for the people of this country.
“Let us not deceive ourselves, the country is full of frustration, the country is full of anger, is full of disappointment, therefore we have a responsibility, to see how we can reform our great party so that those lofty ideals, lofty goals, can be achieved. They cannot be achieved by the present leadership of the party. It cannot be achieved even by the presidency.
“I have said it before and I am saying it again, that we are going in a wrong direction, now we have seen the result.
“We are losing the party, we are losing the government, and for this very courageous people seated here, this idea was mooted to see whether we still have men with courage and determination to get up and stand up.
“I will therefore want to appeal to the rest of our party members who are still sitting on the fence to join this new PDP.
“I want to assure you that we will restore the values of the founding fathers of this party. Let me thank all of you for the courage and support to stand up because some people will be hiding somewhere. By the grace of God and with your support, with your loyalty, the change will be achieved.”
This is my response to your questions paragraph by paragraph:
Realnews: It is being speculated that the disgruntled members of the PDP, including Turaki, want to kill the PDP so that they can use the PDM to prosecute their political ambitions?
Shehu: They want to save the PDP; PDP will only be relevant if it is run as an open, democratic institution.
Realnews: Another charge against Atiku is that he has never worked for peace in the PDP since the crisis in the party started but only to lead the disgruntled members out of the party’s mini convention held last Saturday! How do you react to this allegation?
Shehu: He is a PDP member, he has not joined the PDM.
Realnews: It is believed that the Turaki led the opposition because he has seen that he cannot actualise his ambition to be president in the present dispensation on the platform of the party. Is his ambition more important than the unity and peace in the party?
Shehu: Atiku is a party builder and they all know him as such. They built the PDP into a formidable platform and led it to win elections. He has the best wishes for the PDP.
Realnews: If not because of his ambition to be president at all costs as some people have alleged, in whose interest is the former vice president working then?
Shehu: You make it look like it is a sin to aspire to a political office in the land. But this is guaranteed by the constitution. Atiku is qualified under the constitution to aspire to any office in the land.
Realnews: Is it true that the purpose of this crisis is to ensure that President Goodluck Jonathan does not contest the 2015 presidential election?
Shehu: The reasons why they rebelled have been stated by the group. From Atiku’s point of view, Dr. Jonathan is free to run for the Presidency in 2015. Zoning is dead in the party and in the country because it has been killed by this government. A free citizen of Nigeria from anywhere is free to run for the Presidency so long as the constitutional requirements are met.
Realnews: How does the Atiku faction want the crisis resolved?
Shehu: It is very clear from their actions and statements that they want a peaceful resolution of the crisis. They do not want the PDP dead.
— Sep. 16, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT