The national leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party led by its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, has met with the 2019 presidential candidate of the party, Atiku Abubakar.
The meeting, which held at the party’s presidential campaign office, otherwise known as Legacy House, Maitama, Abuja, on Sunday night, was the first interface the party would have with Atiku since he won the presidential primary in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Sunday morning.
Investigations by our correspondent showed that Atiku and his team were the first to arrive for the meeting.
They were said to have waited for Secondus and his team, who were delayed with flight schedule from Port Harcourt.
It was learnt that the meeting, which started late in the night, lasted for about two hours.
Authoritative sources at the meeting said that the party’s leaders discussed the issue of a running mate with Atiku and members of his team.
It was also gathered that Atiku was mandated to submit to the party a list of his preferred candidates as running mates to enable the party to discuss it with him.
A source said, “The meeting told the former Vice President that he should work with the party henceforth and that he has ceased from being a private person.
“The meeting demanded the list of those he considered could be his running mate. The party let him know that he has to carry its leadership along and that he (Atiku) cannot unilaterally pick a running mate without the party’s input.
“Some names were mentioned, but the party’s position was that a proper list should be compiled to enable both sides to look at the list and take a position.”
The source said that some criteria were set for who should partner Atiku to enable it to defeat President Muhammadu Buhari in the February 14, 2019 presidential election.
Such criteria, he said, included that the running mate should be younger than Atiku and be grounded in the economy.
“The party was very clear about these two areas. The running mate must be grounded in the economy and must also be younger than the presidential candidate,” the source added.
The source added that series of meeting would be held within the week in order to enable the party to meet the deadline set by the Independent National Electoral Commission for the submission of candidates’ names for the elections.
He said, “There were other discussions concerning the setting up of the campaign council and those who should be there.
“In all, the candidate told the meeting that he was a team player and that he would always defer to it and that he could not do the job alone.
“It was a family gathering sort of, and the former Vice President also pledged to work with the party in order to have a successful campaign.”
Atiku is better than other presidential candidates, says BoT
Meanwhile, the Board of Trustees of the party has described Atiku as the best of all other presidential candidates in the country.
The Chairman of the Board, Senator Walid Jibrin, stated this while speaking with our correspondent in Abuja.
He also played glowing tribute to the Chairman of the National Convention Planning Committee, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, and its Secretary, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State.
Jibrin said the BOT would play an advisory role to the Atiku campaign council.
“Atiku is the best of all other parties’ candidates. I urge all PDP members to support Atiku,” he added.
Buhari has never run a successful private business – Atiku
Meanwhile, Atiku has accused President Buhari of never being a successful businessman.
In a statement from his media office in Abuja on Tuesday, Atiku said, “The open, democratic and free and fair election (something alien to the APC, according to Buhari’s own wife) on Sunday of His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, as the Presidential candidate for the PDP has clearly left the APC in a state of panic and confusion.
“On Sunday, the Buhari Campaign Organisation launched the first weak salvo. And on Monday, the APC’s National Publicity Secretary unleashed his own knee-jerk reaction, accusing Atiku of being desperate.
“Our response to the APC is to ask who is desperate between a Muhammadu Buhari who said, ‘If what happened in 2011 should again happen in 2015, by the grace of God, the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood’ and an Atiku Abubakar who said, ,‘Love and peace should not only be preached, but must also be put into practice for the sake of sustaining the peace in our land’?
“It is left for Nigerians to judge, but even a blind person can see that Nigeria has been ‘soaked in blood’ ever since she was unfortunate enough to have fallen under the leadership of a man whose words are destructive and never productive.”
In his response to the APC’s demand for Atiku’s scorecard in public office, the statement said, “Some of Atiku Abubakar’s achievements as Nigeria’s Vice President are that as head of the National Council of Privatisation, he superintended over the GSM revolution that saw Nigeria go from 50,000 to 100 million GSM lines, has added 500,000 direct jobs to the Nigerian economy and attracted $27bn to our GDP. Our question to President Buhari and the APC is how many jobs have they created?
“Another of Abubakar’s achievements is the successful privatisation of many public enterprises that hitherto consumed government resources without yielding a profit. In response, we ask President Buhari how many loopholes in public expenditure has he plugged? The spectacular failure of the 419 Nigeria Air is still fresh in the memory of Nigerians.
“Finally, the APC spokesman had the guts to question His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar’s source of wealth.
“We wish to remind APC’s National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, that Atiku Abubakar is not like President Buhari who has never run a successful private business throughout his life.
“Unlike Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku Abubakar is an expert job creator who has founded many successful and thriving businesses including the American University of Nigeria, Yola; a microfinance bank that has moved 45,000 families out of poverty and Rica Gado, a livestock feed company that has significantly reduced instances of herdsmen/farmers clashes by providing a business-friendly solution instead of asking Nigerians to give up their lands for cattle ranching or face death, as the Buhari government did.”
The statement added that unlike President Buhari, Atiku does not believe Nigerian youths are lazy. “How could he when 25,000 out of his 50,000 employees are youths,”? he asked.
It urged the Buhari Presidency and the APC to mention even one successful private endeavour that the President had successfully run.
“And by private enterprises, we are not referring to 150 cows that never increase in number, year in year out,” the statement added.