After recent reports suggested that All Progressive Party's (APC) five Presidential aspirants for next year's election have connived and agreed on next year's flag bearer, Former vice president Atiku Abubakar has denied ever having such knowledge of such an event.
Atiku is staged to challenge for the APC's spot against former Head of State, Gen. Mohammadu Buhari, Kano state governor Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Imo state governor Chief Rochas Okorocha and a publisher Mr. Sam Nda Isaiah.
Reports had suggested that the aspirants had met in Abuja this Tuesday to agree on the party's flag bearer for next election so it won't turn sour come primaries.
In a new interview, Atiku denied such an event: “No, I don’t think so. 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.
“They must also agree what is going to be the mode of the consensus process. How are we going to get a candidate to emerge? So there has to be process, there has to be willingness of all the parties. 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.
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Atiku revealed that he is already waiting for the Primaries as he is very experienced in Politics, he said: “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.
“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?
“Secondly, this is not a party that is 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.
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“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. The physical terrain, going round the country is not good particularly, in terms of the road infrastructure, very bad roads. And you fly all over. I have never seen an election period so short like this one.
So, for you to be able to cover the entire country, you need to be flying, sometimes covering two or three states in a day. Thank God most of the states I have covered them. The only thing is that you cannot stay too late because when it is dark most of the airports don’t operate. Only few airports operate in the night in this country.”
When asked if he would throw his support behind Buhari if he loses the primaries, He revealed something astonishing:“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”, the Turaki of Adamawa said.
Buhari has already contested twice for the Presidential position and lost both times.
Buhari, Atiku , Rochas Okorocha and Nda Isaiah and Tambuwal are the notable names trying to lead APC's flagship.