A cross section of lawmakers in the House of Representatives have expressed optimism that the return of former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), will serve as great impetus for the party to end the four year reign of All Progressive Congress (APC) in the 2019 general election.
Speaking on the development, Henry Daniel Ofongo (PDP-Bayelsa) who expressed optimism that no PDP member would opposed to Atiku’s decision to rejoin and vie for any elective office under the umbrella of PDP, dismissed insinuation that Atiku contributed to the crisis that led to PDP’s exit in the 2015 general election.
Ofongo who represents the former President, Goodluck Jonathan in House, noted that Atiku being a founding member of the PDP has the right to return to the party since the issues that led to his exit ahead of the 2015 presidential election have been addressed.
“I want to say that God has seen us through our trying times as a party, because we’ve been enmeshed in internal crisis, but by the grace of God, today we are out of it after the Supreme Court’s ruling. And come December 9th and 10th, we will be having our convention.
“And I believe Nigerians have seen PDP rule for 16years before we lost the elections, we’ve learnt from our mistakes, and Nigerians have equally seen how it is to experience two sides. And by God’s special grace, in 2019, PDP will come back to power at the centre.
“And with respect to our former Vice President, his excellency, Atiku Abubakar’s resignation from the APC, for now we’ve not known if he’s coming back to the home he built and left.
“If he comes back, it’s his home and I believe PDP as a responsible party that has the interest of uniting Nigerians which for the first time in history kept faith with democratic rule for 16 years and still handed over power without going to Court and giving APC all the space without being too critical and opposed to their policies, I believe every PDP member will still welcome him if he decides to come back.
“Atiku is like a father who built his house and went on a sojourn, so if he’s coming back, his children won’t say why he’s coming back, because home is home. So if he comes back, we will welcome him.
“You could see that when he left, we still won. So Atiku leaving did not make PDP to lose the Presidential election in 2015. The truth is, we had our own internal problems. You could see that five governors left the party at a time.
“So many National Assembly members also left after the Governor, due to internal problems that I can’t begin to dwell so much on. But like I said, we’ve seen our mistakes, and we have looked at all of them as things that should not be repeated if we must move forward,” the Bayelsa added.
On his part, Samson Okwu (PDP-Benue) who spoke during an interview with select Legislative Correspondents, dismissed postulations by some APC members that Atiku is a ‘lightweight’ in the Nigeria’s political circle.
“I think anybody who sees Atiku as lightweight is a joker. I think that person is taking it at his own peril. Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is not a politician that you can take for a joke. I believe he is a man of integrity, I believe he is a man before he takes his decisions, he must have planned very well.
“I believe Atiku is one of the followers of Yar’Adua, and you know that bloc in Nigerian politics is still there and that bloc has never really worked with Buhari’s bloc and that is one of the points you know.
“I think the area that Buhari’s bloc and those who came together to work in 2015 was as a result of President Jonathan’s refusal to leave up to power and say I obey the power sharing that was supposed to go to the north, that was happened and nobody can take that as if that bloc is still on ground.
“So Atiku’s decision to come to PDP is a welcome idea for PDP and Atiku is a fighter, he has the energy, he has all it takes with the press and he has what it takes with the judiciary and believe such person coming to join a national party like the PDP, I think it is not a joke.
“For me, Atiku coming to a party that has national influence like the PDP, it will be a very great decision because Nigerians are waiting to make a change, that is what is important. Nobody knew that President Buhari was going to win that election but because of some cabals within the government of former President Jonathan it allowed Buhari to gain that influence and that is where the nomenclature of change came from but was there any change, there was no change.
“Atiku was a member of the G34 that formed PDP. So within the process if somebody has made him to be angry and left, it does not mean that he has not made a sacrifice for the party.
“The triumph of Sheriff and that of Makarfi it is just a small thing, was it like the sacrifice that people made during NADECO that pushed the military to hand over to the civilian, that is what we are going to look into, nobody is looking at what is happening now.
If we look at what is happening now, will Buhari get the ticket in APC? Don’t we see people who sacrifice for APC and the rest and even Bukola.
“What Bukola did that afford him to become the Senate President. Has any Nigerian politician looked at whatever has passed; when we are looking at what to do to win an election, PDP will go to sell his candidate to Nigerians so we are looking for a candidate that we can sell,” he said.
Okwu who doubes as chairman House Committee on Air Force however noted that Atiku can serve in various capacities within the party, other than vying for Presidency.
“That the former Vice President Atiku decides to come and join PDP, it is not that it should join PDP for, it must not be a ticket but if he gets it good and fine. But I am sure he is leaving APC to PDP is a welcomed development. It is the same thing when they were leaving PDP to APC, we were saying it is a joke and you can see what it cost PDP.
“The same thing he is leaving and Governor El Rufai said it is a joke. Governor El Rufai nobody knows him in this country, it was PDP that sold him, it was during PDP that he came to limelight in Nigeria politics. He left PDP to ACN and now he is in APC,” Okwu stated.
The Benue lawmaker who expressed optimism that Nigerians across board will embrace and vote for Atiku in the forthcoming general elections will vote for Atiku, the same way they voted dispassionately for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015.
Okwu also expressed optimism that Atiku will take bold steps towards addressing the issue of marginalisation raised by various ethnic and political groups as well as implementation of the National Conference (CONFAB).
“That is where Atiku has come in. Atiku is talking about restructuring and it wil heal every wound; so Nigerians are clamouring for restructuring. Remember President Buhari said that the National conference that was set by former President Jonathan that document will be sent to the dustbin. So we want the man who would bring that document that will reunite the country.”
While responding to question on whether Ahmed Makarfi is qualified to run for presidency in 2019, Okwu argued that “there is nothing that stops him from contesting, the party has zoned the presidency to the north and I can tell you he is not the only one; even as we are talking about Atiku, he is not the only one, we have people like Senator Mark that can serve.
“As for me as a PDP member, if I want to be objective, I will tell you PDP should pick his candidate from the northern minority and we look at the south west and pick a vice president from there and we forget about the vote of the kano, then we get vote from the south west and the northern minority and the south east and south south, the election is finished.”