Former vice president Abubakar Atiku met with former military president Ibrahim Babangida in Minna the Niger State Capital on Thursday, Dec. 13.
He arrived the Minna International Airport in a private aircraft and was received by the Deputy Governor of Niger State, Ahmed Ketso, the Head of Service, Yabagi Sule, the immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, the State PDP Chairman, Barrister Tanko Beji and other party members.
Atiku was also received by a crowd of supporters who had been waiting to welcome him but had not been allowed by airport security personnel to approach the tarmac.
The former vice president arrived the former Military President’s uphill mansion at about 12:40 pm and was ushered into one of the sitting rooms. Vanguard reports that after the exchange of pleasantries, Atiku, Babangida and former Governor Aliyu were left alone.
While the purpose of Atiku’s visit is not yet clear, there are indications that it may not be unconnected with his political ambition ahead of the National Convention of the Peoples Democratic Party scheduled for December 9.
After the meeting which lasted for about 45 minutes, Aliyu was also excused out of the sitting room, leaving only Atiku and Babangida who stayed together for another one and half hours.
It was gathered that the former vice president’s ambition hit a brick wall as Gen. Babangida was said to have advised him to drop his presidential ambition, Vanguard reports.
To further fuel the speculations, Atiku who had a cheerful reception from his supporters and journalists on arrival, however, snubbed them immediately after the meeting as he emerged with a long face reflective of a red card to his 2019 presidential aspiration.
Recall that after Buhari’s two-day visit to Kano, a statement by presidential aide Garba Shehu quoted Buhari as saying:
“I am overwhelmed with the massive reception I have received and definitely, since this is partisan politics, I think it has sent a clear message to the opposition.
“Even going by the details of the election results in 2003, 2007 and 2011, it was very clear that nobody could even dare to rig my scores from the elections in Kano.
“It has been so consistent and I don’t think I have the vocabulary to express my thanks to the people of Kano.
“I am very grateful to God and the people of Kano for the complete trust you have in me.”
But in reaction, the former vice president speaking through his spokesperson, Paul Ibe, said Nigerians will make the ultimate decision in 2019.
When asked to comment on Buhari’s statement over the warm reception he received in Kano whoch he said was an indication of his popularity, Atiku’s spokesperson said:
“The only thing I can tell you is that Nigerians will decide 2019. Nobody else can decide but Nigerians.”