Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is accusing President Goodluck Jonathan’s aides of aborting his meeting with the President to mend the crack in their Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Atiku, responding to a Sunday Vanguard questionnaire through his media adviser, Garba Shehu, alleged that a meeting called by Jonathan to discuss the issues with the former Vice President was sabotaged by the President’s staff who seemed not to be interested in solving the crisis in the party.
He explained that a day after the walk-out he and six PDP governors staged at the Eagle Square, Abuja Special National Convention ground, word came to him that the President wanted a meeting through his aides and that the Turaki should be present at home at 7:00pm on the given day.
“Atiku cancelled all appointments and asked that the house be cleared for an important delegation from the President. At that time, it was unclear whether it was the President himself who was coming or his
representatives”, the media adviser said.
“He waited from 7:00pm until well after 9:00 but nobody showed up. The Turaki learnt later, to his dismay, that the leader of the delegation reported to the President that Atiku had made himself unavailable for the meeting”.
Garba Shehu said Atiku had a string of international engagements beginning the next day and he left as scheduled.
He explained that Atiku had met the President not less than four times in the past and had, at the end of each meeting, indicated his readiness to be present whenever he was required to do so by the President.
“This is out of the respect for the office he occupies. From this, it is clear that around the President, there are people who prosper from this crisis and they don’t want it to end”, the media adviser said.”
The former Vice-President also explained why he lent his support to the faction of the PDP led by Alhaji Kawu Baraje, citing the need to entrench internal democracy in the party as basis for his decision.
Atiku, in the interview, noted that the decision among aggrieved leaders of the party to walk out during the convention of the PDP, “was the culmination of several attempts to call the attention of the party to how things were going in the wrong direction.”
According to him, “there had been several behind-the-scene efforts involving respected leaders of the party to correct certain wrongs in the PDP”.
He continued, “It appeared that the party was not ready to give consideration to all these complaints and it got to a point that some people felt that it was time to salvage the PDP, before it tarries far beyond redemption.
“I recall that not less than four different delegations were sent to me, three of which were led by former state governors and one by a serving governor, on why we need to act fast and salvage the PDP before the party collapses.
“At that point, I asked myself which was the right direction to go: to leave the party in the hands of Bamanga Tukur and watch the party I helped build to collapse, or join hands with like-minded people and rescue the PDP. I think at the end of the day, I took the right decision.
“What we did by the actions we took is to say that infractions to democracy and impunity will no longer be tolerated in the PDP.”
Atiku pointed out that the desire to salvage the PDP was the sole reason he backed the protesting governors, saying, “the effort to correct the wrongs in the PDP didn’t just start now. And that is why I will want to correct you on the appellation of ‘rebel governors.’
“Those of us who have come together to champion crusades to return the PDP to the dreams of its founding fathers are not leading a rebellion against the party. What we are doing is to further strengthen the PDP and reconnect it to the Nigerian people.
“I decided to join the governors in their protest after four delegations, one after the other, were sent to me. I did not give them any terms or preconditions because I believe in their sincerity of their purpose.”