Anxiety in PDP over Atiku’s likely defection to APC
There is fresh anxiety in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as another of its big names, ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar, gives signs of his intention to cross over to the All Progressives Congress (APC)
Some emissaries from the Presidency and the PDP are mounting pressure on him to reconsider his planned move.
Atiku’s supporters in five of the nation’s six geopolitical zones have voted for the defection of the ex-VP to APC.
The only exception was the North-Central zone where voting on his move was 50 for and 50 against.
It was gathered that Presidency and PDP emissaries met with Atiku in Dubai and Abuja to prevail on him not to defect to APC.
Apart from assuring him of addressing his grievances bordering mostly on being sidelined as a key leader of the party, the emissaries also asked the ex-VP to name his terms to remain in the party.
Atiku however told the emissaries that he would consult with his supporters nationwide on his next political move.
A reliable source said: “The PDP is worried about the consequences of losing one of its founding fathers to APC. With ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo withdrawing from the activities of the party, it will be a blow to lose Atiku too.
“Some emissaries from the Presidency and the PDP have had audience with Atiku in Dubai and Abuja. You can imagine their desperation in trailing him to Dubai.
“In all these meetings, Atiku did not give any commitment but he expressed bitterness about being maltreated and sidelined by the party.
“He said he would consult with his associates and supporters nationwide to decide whether he should remain in PDP or quit.”
The PDP is said to be worried that Atiku’s exit would erode President Jonathan’s goodwill in the North.
“There is also anxiety in the PDP because Atiku would not leave the party without some heavyweights following him,” another source said.
Meanwhile, there were indications yesterday that Atiku’s associates and supporters in five out of the six geo-political zones have voted in favour of the defection of the ex-VP to APC.
Sources at Atiku’s office in Abuja said that more than 80 per cent of his supporters in the North-East want him in APC.
One of the desk officers said: “The supporters were all of the opinion that Atiku might not be properly reintegrated by the PDP. They believe the ruling party will only use him to gain some political mileage for the re-election of the President and later dump him.
“It may interest you that there were three options during the consultations, including PDP, PDM and APC. In most cases, PDP was the least choice of Atiku’s associates and supporters.
“We will however make the results of the consultations available to the former Vice-President for further analysis.”
When contacted, a top aide to Atiku said: “Only the former VP can make a pronouncement on whether or not he would defect to any party. Why can’t you wait for him to say his next move?
Atiku left PDP in 2007 but he was lured back in January 2009 following the implementation of the recommendation of Dr. Alex Ekwueme Reconciliation Committee.
He contested the PDP presidential primaries in 2011 but lost the ticket to President Jonathan.
Meanwhile, a statement from the Atiku Media Office yesterday said Atiku’s associates in the North-East were seeking his defection to APC.
Those who voted in favour were 88 per cent; PDM had 10per cent while PDP had only 2 per cent.
The statement said: “Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Friday concluded his nationwide consultative meeting with that of the North-East geo-political zone in Bauchi.
“The conclusion of the meetings came on a day that associates and stakeholders of the former Vice President from his own zone of North-East overwhelmingly rejected the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and rooted for the All Progressives Congress (APC) as a preferred political platform.
“Atiku had following the visit and invitation of the APC December last year commenced consultations at home and abroad on possible defection to the opposition party.
“But early in the year, he stepped up the tempo of the nationwide consultations with his associates and stakeholders, beginning with the North-West in Kaduna and followed by North-Central in Abuja, South-East in Enugu, South-South in Benin, South-West in Ibadan and ending with the North-East in Bauchi yesterday.”