The 2023 presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has insisted that he is not in support of removal of Iyorchia Ayu as some governors and members of his party have been demanding.
Five governors of PDP led by Nyesom Wike of Rivers have refused to join the campaign of Atiku for 2023 election over their insistence that Ayu should vacate office.
The Governors had said with the emergence of Atiku from Adamawa in Northeast Nigeria as the presidential candidate of PDP, Ayu, who is also from the same zone should vacate office for a Southerner in accordance with the zoning policy of the party.
But Atiku had refused to back the call, as he insisted that it will be risky for the party to embark on rejigging of its leadership few months to the election.
Speaking on the Hausa Service of VOA during his ongoing trip to the United States, Atiku confessed that the crisis in the party which was caused by the disagreement over removal of Ayu is yet to be resolved.
But he insisted that he will not support the change in leadership of PDP.
“We are yet to resolve the matter. But we have moved ahead. Our train has moved. We leave the dislocations to the dust bin of history,” Atiku told Aliyu Mustapha Sokoto, the Head of the Hausa Service of the VOA during an exclusive interview at the station in Washington on Tuesday.
He described the call for removal of Ayu, as ‘not a clever move as the elections are approaching.’
“It is not proper, at this time, to contemplate a change of leadership of our party, whereas we are approaching the elections season,” Atiku said, while expressing confidence that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would be preside over free and fair elections in February next year.
“This is because we have seen how they conducted two elections in Ekiti and Osun. In both cases we have praised them for good outings. In addition to this, President Buhari has assured us that he would allow a transparent, free and fair elections to be conducted in 2023,” Atiku told the VOA.
Atiku said that his government, once he is elected, will not be manipulated by any group of persons intent on controlling the affairs of state.
‘Cabal,’ wrote the VOA Hausa on its website, ‘is an English word frequently used in Nigeria to indicate that a coterie of politicians, and not the president, dictate the affairs of government.’
“You won’t find any cabal in my government. It is me: Waziri (Atiku) that will run the administration,”
Atiku told the VOA that in order to tackle the problem of insecurity, the overhaul of the constitution is imperative. “We would confront this issue by convoking a constitutional review so that states and local governments, to whom we intend to give the imprimatur to run their security affairs, would be able to do so. But this requires a rejig of the constitution.
“Before we embark on this, we intend to employ more boots on ground, especially in the areas of policing and civil defence, all of which we want to equip the personnel properly,” Atiku said.
The former Vice President explained that his administration would work closely with the judiciary to ensure speedy trial of offenders, pointing out that he would support the imposition of death penalty for terrorism related offenses.
Although Atiku, wrote the Hausa Service, didn’t talk elaborately on his current relationship with his erstwhile boss, Olusegun Obasanjo, he, however, said his disagreements with him (Obasanjo) back when they were in office, is one of the factors that cost him victory in his bid for the presidency in 2011.
On the printing of new currency by the Central Bank of Nigeria under the current administration, Atiku said he knows nothing about it.
But on the issue of Nigerian oil refineries, the ex Vice President said: “my position on this is not new. I have told you some years ago that I will privatize them. The reason is simple. If you allow investors to own them, they’d be better managed.”
He added that private investors have the capacity to overhaul the refineries and making them functional at all times.
Turning to corruption, he said the rule of law would be applied in making sure that those found guilty are not left off the hook. “This would demonstrate to Nigerians that our government means business,” Atiku said.