Speaking after attending the Friday juma’at service with the president at the State House, El-Rufai expressed confidence that no one will follow Atiku in leaving the party. According to him, the only one who can is the Adamawa State Governor, Bindow Jibrilla, but has already endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for the 2019 presidency.
“I want to assure you that there is no one governor in the APC that is going to go with former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
“The only governor that he would think will go with him, the governor of Adamawa State has already endorsed President Buhari for the 2019 elections,” he said.
The Governor added that Atiku is not a threat to Buhari adding that he’d told Atiku not to run for president. His words:
“He has never been and will never be a threat to President Buhari. Let me say this very clearly, and I have said this to the former Vice President in 2014 Dubai when we met. Because before joining the APC, he sent for me.
“However, I told him not to run for the presidency because I believe very strongly this is Buhari’s era.
“As long as President Muhammadu Buhari is in politics I do not see any Nigerian from the northern part of the country that will be able to match him in popularity. Anyone standing up to challenge him is wasting his time.
“God has decreed that this is Buhari’s time and we are waiting for the PDP to give Atiku Abubakar the ticket and we will face him on the field. But I have no doubt that I will not lose any sleep about it.”
El-Rufai who said he’d heard Atiku would leave the party in December added that he is not surprised by the news of Atiku’s exit from the APC.
“I have heard about what the former Vice President said about leaving the APC. We knew he was going to leave in December but he has left in November which is good because the earlier he leaves for where he belongs, the better.
“He has changed political parties a few times, there is nothing surprising. Before the 2019 elections if situation changes and he thinks he can get the ticket in 2019 he will come back. That is what he has done a few times.”
Meanwhile, the APC has also reacted to Atiku’s resignation from the party, saying it had no issue with the former Vice President.
Atiku had, in his official resignation statement from the APC cited a lack of good relations with the party leadership, among other issues. He explained that he joined the APC in 2014 after some of its leaders appealed to him, following the crisis in his former party, the PDP which resulted in its fictionalisation.
But speaking in Abuja on Friday, the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Bolaji Abdullahi said that APC leadership had not seen any formal notification on the purported resignation, adding however, that based on what “we have seen in the social media, we can say that it is surprising. For us politics is all about interest; so, if the former Vice President feels that his interest is better served elsewhere, we don’t have any issues with that. We can always wish him good luck. For us, the task of building a political party is not a day’s job; it is a marathon. And, it takes many years and we will continue to improve our system to get the kind of party we want to really build.
He stressed that it took many years to build a strong political party, adding that parties were made up of different persons, some happy and some sad.
Abdullahi added that everybody would have to take decisions at some point in time.
He, however, said that the APC was not bothered about the rumoured exit of the former vice president from the party until it saw the number of people that would move with him.
He maintained that those remaining in the party would continue to work for it, build it and make it stronger in the interest of all.