20171009

Goodluck Jonathan, Atiku Abubakar Meet Over 2019?

The push to get former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to dump the All Progressives Congress (APC) and return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to enhance the opposition party’s bid to return to power in 2019 may have gained traction.

This is following a recent discrete meeting between him and former President Goodluck Jonathan.

The meeting said to have been held at the instance of Atiku, who was considering offers made to him by a section of the leadership of the opposition party to return, according to a THISDAY source, explored the desirability of the move and concluded that it would be a worthwhile political endeavour that could help terminate what both leading politicians regarded as the uninspiring rule of the APC.

There were "concerted efforts" by some PDP leaders to bring Atiku back to the party’s fold but he gave conditions, including an assurance that he would be given its automatic ticket to contest in 2019.

The fresh meeting with Jonathan was said to have looked into the possibility of this condition with both of them said to have agreed that all options should be kept open as the political dynamics of the country remained fluid, requiring a more pragmatic approach to the upsurge in politicking.

But Jonathan was said to have advised Atiku to consider returning to the PDP early enough to avoid being caught by certain provisions of the party’s constitution, which stipulate a period of time a member has to spend in the party before he could be eligible to contest for a political office.

“Atiku was advised to return early to enable him to fulfil eligibility condition in the party’s constitution and also have ample time to integrate his political structure into the PDP’s,” a source said.

The source said it was made clear to Atiku that he stood a better chance to realise his ambition in the PDP than the APC since President Muhammadu Buhari looked set to be given a right of first refusal.

According to the source: “He was told to note a recent comment by the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, stating that as the incumbent, President Buhari had a right of first refusal even when the decision would have to be his.

“That has been buoyed by Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai who had practically launched Buhari’s re-election campaign.”

Referring to the reactions of the APC leadership and stalwarts to the recent declaration of support for his presidential ambition by the Minister of Women Affairs and Youth Development, Mrs Aisha Alhassan, the source said it was made clear to Atiku that there was nothing left for him in the APC and that he should just return to the PDP where he could reunite more easily with other founding fathers who were eager to rebuild the party.