Former vice president Atiku Abubakar has formally returned to the Peoples Democratic Party and has explained the reasons behind his decision.
Atiku who made the announcement on Sunday, Dec. 3, in a Facebook live broadcast said the decision to return to the PDP followed consultations with party leaders and stakeholders from across the country.
While responding to questions from a few people on Facebook, Atiku who resigned his membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in November, said he was committed to creation, pointing out that he was particularly disappointed with the APC for failing in its promise to create jobs for the Nigerian people.
Atiku touted his credentials as a business owner with a long history of creating jobs not just in his home state of Adamawa but elsewhere across the country.
“I have found in my travels across the country that whenever I get into conversations with young people their number one concern is whether they will be able to get a job for without a job they have no means of sustaining themselves or begin a family.
“Creating jobs is something I know about as I have created over 50,000 direct jobs and 250,000 indirect jobs in my own state of Adamawa.
“Without the security of a job we cannot have security in our country. So without jobs there is no future for you or for Nigeria,” the former vice president said.
Atiku who is expected to be a major challenger to President Buhari in 2019, said he would be spending the coming months crisscrossing the country as part of his political consultations.
This is the third time Atiku would sign up with the PDP, a party he helped form in 1998.
He left the party in 2007 while still a sitting vice president to run for president under the defunct Action Congress. He rejoined the PDP in 2011 to seek the party’s presidential ticket at the primary but lost to Goodluck Jonathan.
He abandoned the party yet again in 2014 to align with the then newly-formed APC. He contested the party’s presidential ticket but lost to Mr. Buhari.
Nigerians have been reacting to Atiku’s announcement. For instance, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has expressed happiness over Atiku Abubakar’s return to the PDP. He described his action as a welcome development not only for the party, but also for the nation’s democracy.
In a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media, Uche Anichukwu, the lawmaker said the move represented a massive vote of no confidence in the leadership capacity of the ruling APC, first, by the masses, and now by the “cream of its hierarchy and founding members.”
“Nigeria is in dire need of a rescue mission to rekindle hope in our democracy, restore her on the path of prosperity, and halt the worsening divisiveness that threatens our corporate existence,” he said.
Ekweremadu called on other PDP members who left to return and reunite under the umbrella.
“I, therefore, enjoin all former PDP faithful who left for various reasons as well as other progressive-minded Nigerians to emulate Alhaji Atiku, to reunite under the umbrella to salvage the nation because I see a new and better Nigeria coming in 2019.
“I see a country where corruption will be eradicated, a nation that will be a pride to Africa and admiration of the international community, and a nation where no man will be oppressed, intimidated, persecuted or sidelined on account of ethnicity, religion or political persuasion. No amount of desperation will stop the will of God for Nigeria in 2019”, he said.
Similarly, Atiku’s announcement has made Senator Ben Murray-Bruce describe the former vice-president as “the next president of Nigeria”. In his Twitter handle @benmurraybruce, the PDP Senator representing Bayelsa East wrote:
“Just watched @atiku, the next President of Nigeria,#Atikulately announcing he would return to my party, the @OfficialPDPNig.
“We in the PDP already have a good retirement package for President @MBuhari. Time to#ChangeTheChange.”
Recall that Atiku had previously boasted that he could easily defeat President Muhammadu Buhari if both men contest against each other in 2019.
But the Personal Assistant to President Buhari on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, says the former vice president has lost touch with reality and is living in an illusion to believe that statement.
In an interview with Channels TV, Lauretta said she thinks Atiku is hallucinating: Her words:
“Atiku may have had that weight some years ago but over the years he’s been losing that weight and at the moment, I can tell you the even in his local government area in his native Adamawa, he can’t win any election. So where is the weight? I think Alhaji Abubakar Atiku has lost touch with reality; I think he needs to check again.
“President Buhari is not competing with him at the moment. What he’s trying to do is to put President Buhari out of the good work he’s doing and to come to wallow in the mud with him.
“And President Buhari is very busy trying to repair the damage that PDP did for 16 years to this nation, he is busy with the job of governance and trying to ease the pains that Nigerians have been going through over the past 16 to 17 years. The President also knows that the ban on politics has not been lifted; so, he is not going to come out to wallow in the mud of ‘he said, she said.”
When asked if Atiku’s exit from the APC has any effect on Buhari, she said:
“The president is not perturbed at all, he is not moved in any way. Alhaji Atiku is known to hobnob from one party to the other when he cannot have the control of the party. When he resigned from the PDP some years ago, he gave the same reasons he gave so many years ago and that’s what he has given again for leaving the APC.”