Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has raised his consultation to run for the 2019 presidency.
Atiku was in Minna yesterday to consult with former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, in what officially was a visit to see the former head of state, who returned from a medical trip abroad.
But very competent sources told New Telegraph that the visit was more than a get-well quick visit. It was gathered that the visit was used to discuss the state of the nation, IBB’s health, the health of President Muhammadu Buhari and the 2019 presidency in which Atiku has a strong interest.
Sources close to the former Vice President informed New Telegraph that Atiku has been under pressure to return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he served as a vice president for two terms under former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
A source, who did not want to be quoted because he does not speak for Atiku, said last night: “You know, he (Atiku) has been under pressure, especially from the opposition to run for the presidency in 2019.
The pressure is coming from the PDP and he has been consulting on that for some time. We know he might not get the ticket with the All Progressives Congress (APC) as currently constituted but the opposition has been asking him to run.”
The source further said that although the former vice president has remained in the APC and silent on his ambition in 2019, he has not been satisfied with the performance of the APC government, which took over from the PDP in 2015. “He cannot endorse the APC government currently. The performance has not been good. It is not something he would even want to say much on now,” said the source.
It was also learnt that Atiku has received requests from different groups, especially in the North, calling on him to run for the presidency in 2019. Some of the requests have been received in the past one year, “since it became clear that the APC government is heading nowhere,” according to a close source. Atiku is said to have been meeting with some northern leaders in the quest to win their sympathy in 2019.
He has previously ran for the seat as an aspirant in 2007 on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) and contested for the PDP and APC ticket in 2011 and 2015, respectively. A top leader of the PDP in South-West told New Telegraph that Atiku would return to the PDP and pick the ticket of the party in 2019.
The leader, a former Senator and minister, said that although it was a known fact that Obasanjo has been an obstacle to Atiku in the past, the battle for 2019 would end that.
“Do you think the battle for the control of the PDP is for nothing? It is a battle of forces and it has to do with the control of the soul of the party, going into 2019.
Most of the people are struggling for fronts and I can assure you one of the most powerful fronts remains Atiku.”
Atiku had, after the meeting which lasted about two hours, informed reporters that he came to visit Babangida, who returned from a medical trip abroad. Atiku, who arrived the Minna International Airport in an aircraft number T7AAA at 12:40p.m., was received by the Niger State Governor, Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello, who accompanied him to IBB’s house.
He said: “I came to visit the former President and also to wish him well since he returned from his medical vacation abroad. That is the reason why I am here.” The meeting started at 1:15p.m., with a break at 2:15p.m. for them to observe prayers.
The meeting ended at 3:16p.m. and the former Vice President left straight for the airport with his entourage. He was in company with Capt. Yahaya Gombe, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, Alhaji Kwaironga Jada, Senator Mohammed Mangoro and Alhaji Jamilu Jibrin.
Speaking with journalists after the visit, Atiku said that despite cries from various quarters that there is hunger in the land, he would not advise the Muhammadu Buhari-led government openly. Atiku, who reiterated that restructuring Nigeria is required to enhance national integration and stability, disclosed that he would not advise the government on the pages of the newspapers.
According to him, “Well, if I am to advise this government, I will advise the government in confidence because I was in government before. I will only advise the government in confidence so that it won’t be on the pages of newspapers.” Speaking on the restructuring of the country, he said, “it is left for Nigerians to decide.”
Meanwhile, the National Coordinator of Turaki Adamawa, Dimeji Fabiyi, has stated that the former vice visited Babangida because of his health. Fabiyi dismissed the insinuation that Atiku was in Minna for his presidential ambition.
“My boss was in Minna to visit the former Military President because of his health. As you know, IBB had been outside the country for a long time on medical trip.
“Last time we were in Minna on condolence visit to the late Kure’s family, he made a promise that whenever IBB was back he would come and visit him. “He is not showing any interest on the presidency as he believed in the good works the present administration is doing,” Fabiyi told New Telegraph.
However, effort to get the Head of Atiku Media Office, Mr. Paul Ibe, was not successful, as he did not pick the numerous calls made to him.