Buhari has abandoned me, Atiku opens up

Atiku Abubakar

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar

In what may be considered as a prelude to his formally decamping to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of abandoning him.

He said he had been side-lined by President Muhammadu Buhari’s government which he said he helped into power in 2015.

Atiku’s pot-shot at the government came on a day one of Buhari’s ministers said she would resign from the cabinet should Atiku announce today he would run for president in 2019.

The Minister for Women Affairs, Jummai Alhassan told the BBC Hausa Service yesterday that Atiku ís her godfather and she would support him against President Buhari should both of them decide to run in the elections in 2019.

In an interview aired during yesterday’s morning programme of the Hausa Service of the Voice of America (VOA), Atiku said he had been sidelined despite the fact that he used his contacts and resources to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.

Atiku spoke from Yola, Adamawa State where he celebrated the Eid-el- Kabir festival.

“Honestly speaking, I’m still a member of the APC; I was part of all the processes, including campaigns until success was achieved.

“But sadly, soon after the formation of government; I was side-lined, I have no any relationship with the government, I’ve not been contacted even once to comment on anything and in turn, I maintained my distance. They used our money and influence to get to where they’re but three years down the lane, this is where we are,” Atiku said.

He praised President Muhammadu Buhari on the successes recorded in the fight against Boko Haram, but said it was not yet time to celebrate because the ruling government had failed in many fronts.

“Yes, there were successes but not comprehensive success because the Boko Haram miscreants are still very active, killing our people and many local government councils in Borno and Yobe are under their firm grip. People cannot dare go back to their dwellings

“This thing baffles me; I never imagined that Nigeria will fight a protracted battle with Boko Haram for five years. At a time, we fought the Biafra war, which was more complicated because of the terrain in the South but the Biafran soldiers were roundly subdued in 30 months. But here we’re, fighting an endless battle with the Boko Haram and there’s no end in sight,” he said.

On corruption, Atiku said very little was achieved in that respect. “How many people were arrested, prosecuted and jailed? How much was recovered from the looters?” he asked.

“When we came on board in 1999, I remember we recovered between $4.5 and $4.7 billion from those that looted under (Late Sani) Abacha.”

I’ll resign if Atiku runs in 2019 – Minister

In her interview with the BBC, Aisha Alhassan has said that she would dump the cabinet if Atiku will contest the 2019 elections.

“Firstly, what I hoped for even when I was working as a civil servant – when I didn’t even join politics – because His Excellency Atiku has been my godfather even before I ventured into politics.

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“After I joined politics, he continued being my godfather. You know everybody has a reason for a political relationship with somebody. Secondly, Baba Buhari hasn’t told us that he wants to recontest in 2019.

“I can assure you that if Baba Buhari tells us today that he wants to re-contest, I swear to God I will go to him and tell him that ‘Baba, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to work under you as a minister. But Baba as you know, Atiku is my godfather.’ That’s if Atiku wants to contest, but as we speak, he (Atiku) hasn’t told us he wants to contest,” she said.

The minister said she would resign her position as a minister if Atiku declares his intention to run because she would be a “hypocrite” if she remains part of the federal cabinet as her loyalty is still with the former vice president, being her godfather.

“We hope he (Atiku) will contest in 2019, that’s why I said so. But he’s yet to say so himself. Once he declares, I’ll do just what I said. If Atiku comes out to contest and I remain part of Baba Buhari’s cabinet at the same time, then I become a hypocrite. I’m not known for hypocrisy, ungratefulness and betrayal.

“If today I say I have nothing to do with Atiku, even Baba Buhari himself will doubt me. He’ll say I’m a betrayal and I’m not like that,” she added.

Asked if it is not too early to begin campaign for 2019, Alhassan said she was not in any way campaigning for Atiku at this time.

“This thing I said was when we paid him (Atiku) sallah visit. Is it in his presence that I’ll go and campaign? The issue of campaign hasn’t come up. Even me that people have been calling to come and contest, I told them that it’s not yet time, but it’s now time to work for the people.

“This is the work of those opposing me. They’re saying I should be sacked as minister. In the first place, I never expected the ministerial position. It is God that gave me, and if today I’m asked to leave, it is God’s time that has come to an end. I have fate and I believe that whatever happens to me is destined by God.”

She also said Buhari would not sack her because of the issue.

“Do they think Baba is also mad like them? They’re busy sending all sorts of things via phones that once Baba sees them, he’ll sack me. He won’t sack me as minister because of this issue, except if I commit an offence.

“Besides, I’ve been doing my job as minister to the best of my knowledge. I also defend the APC government, my political party. Baba is my leader and the president of my country. I have been respecting him and I’ll continue to respect him as a good man and someone with integrity.

“So, those saying I’ll be sacked will be put to shame. Even if I’m sacked, it’s because my time is over and nothing else. I didn’t seek for it in the first place; it’s God that gave me.”

There was no immediate comment from the APC on the issues raised by Atiku.

National Secretary of the ruling APC, Alh. Maimala Buni did not pick a call made through his phone last night and there was no response to a text message sent.

Many people close to Atiku said they were working towards his return to the PDP which they said remained the surest pedestal upon which he could actualize his presidential ambition.