Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar may not be ready to step down in the race to clinch the All Progressive Congress (APC) ticket for the 2015 presidential election, but the emergence of a new aspirant said to be supported by party leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu may change this.
Atiku has former Head of State, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari, Kano state governor Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Imo state governor Chief Rochas Okorocha and publisher, Mr. Sam Nda Isaiah to battle with for the APC presidential ticket.
In an interview with the cable Network on the issue of consensus, Atiku said the idea of withdrawal does not arise at the moment, as no one has brought that up just yet.
“The issue of withdrawal at this moment is not on the table because, as candidates, we have not met; let’s say the five of us.
“Before you talk of withdrawal, before you talk of consensus, the candidates must meet as a group. And when they meet as a group all of them must submit to a consensus process,” he said.
“At the moment, none. We have not even met; five of us, not to talk of agreeing to a consensus option. I would like to say, perhaps, we have passed the consensus option, because this is an option that did not go through the national working committee, did not go through the NEC.
“So, I think if it did go through all these statutory structures then there is a very slim chance, unless out of the willingness of five us we decide to sit down and produce a process that will throw up a consensus candidate,” he said.
He however said he was the most prepared of all the aspirants for the party’s primaries, as he has years of experience in party primaries.
“I am really prepared for the primary because this is a game that I have participated in more than the others. In other words, I have been involved in primary election since the early 90s, and that has given me a lot of experience when it comes to primaries whether they are direct or indirect because we have participated in both types of primaries,” he said.
Dismissing Buhari’s chances, Atiku said; “The perception that the ticket is there for Buhari to take is a mistaken perception because Buhari has never participated in any primaries. In the three elections he contested he was simply given the tickets. He did not go through any primaries. I believe that is not going to be helpful to him in this very case.
“As of today, among the five of us who are going to participate in the primaries I am the only one who is running around the country. Nobody else is doing that. Nowadays delegates have become more enlightened than before. Most of them are very educated and most of them want to engage their candidates in discussions on what is it they have for them, for the electorate and for party. If they have not seen you, not to talk of interacting with you, how would they vote for you?
He also dismissed Okorocha’s chances by pointing out that APC was not “dominated by the influence of governors. In other words, the governors trying to force delegates to vote even against their own conscience like it happens in the PDP. This is a party that wants to bring about change. And that really wants to allow people to make choices based on their own convictions.
“So I have seen in a few states where we have governors; where I was very well received, and I had access to all the delegates, to talk to them, interact with them, and also to listen to all their own problems, and I like it and enjoyed it because you get to know quite a lot of things. You think you know all the problems, but when get down the bottom-line and then you begin to listen to ordinary people who live ordinary lives and you find there is a lot you learn.
“I think all these experiences give me confidence that I have an edge over the rest of them. I know it is not easy. It is difficult,” Atiku said.
However, with the emergence of a new aspirant, Aminu Tambuwal, who just picked up a nomination form and is said to enjoy the party leader, Tinubu’s support, Atiku may drop his ambition to support the younger politician.
More so, the former Vice president had assured that if he lost the presidential primaries, he would support any aspirant that emerges.
“I think I have proved that I am a pragmatic politician. Recall that in 2010 when I failed to get the PDP ticket against President Jonathan, I and others went to try to bring about an electoral alliance between the CPC and ACN.
“And even when Buhari eventually disappointed a group of us, myself, General Babangida, General Aliyu Gusau and Mallam Adamu Ciroma, I still went out of my way to support Buhari even in CPC. So for me it is not a big deal. I think I’m a pragmatic politician and I don’t know of others. What I know is that we have an understanding to support one another. I don’t know of the rest, but I can say of myself, I can support anyone that emerges,” Atiku said.
The event that unfolds in the following week is expected to make clearer the way the APC would go, as it seeks to unseat the PDP from presidency, in 2015.