Atiku Abubakar, the presidential flagbearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has failed in his effort to enlist the support of former President Goodluck Jonathan for his 2023 aspiration.
This is according to a report by TheCable, quoting insider sources.
Atiku, in company with Ifeanyi Okowa, his running mate, had visited Jonathan at his Abuja home on the night of November 17 on a “peace mission” following his lukewarm attitude to the PDP crisis and the presidential campaign in general.
Jonathan, who was elected vice-president in 2007 and president in 2011 on the PDP platform, had been a backbencher in the party since losing his re-election bid in 2015.
Sources familiar with the Thursday night meeting informed TheCable that Atiku told Jonathan he was worried the former president had not been participating in the affairs of the PDP as the presidential election draws near.
He reportedly implored Jonathan to intervene in the face-off with PDP governors who are sympathetic to Nyesom Wike, the governor of Rivers state, sources said.
Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Samuel Ortom (Benue) and Ifeanyi Uguwanyi (Enugu) are all openly with Wike.
Wike has refused to back Atiku’s presidential bid, with his camp insisting that Iyorchia Ayu should resign as national chairman in accordance with the promise made my Atiku himself.
Atiku and Ayu are from the northern part of the country and the understanding is that the president and the national chairman of the party should not come from the same region.
However, the Atiku camp is arguing that until a president is elected, the current arrangement should stand.
Sources told TheCable that Jonathan believes the party, particularly Atiku, has not shown him any respect.
“Dr Jonathan has never been invited to the meeting of the Board of Trustees,” one of the sources said.
“The party has never accorded him the respect of involving him in its activities. Now that presidential election is close by, Dr Jonathan has suddenly become important.”
Jonathan reportedly reminded Atiku that he supported him fully in his presidential bid in 2019 but the candidate stopped picking his calls after getting the ticket.
“More so, those nominated by Dr Jonathan into the 2019 presidential campaign council were not appointed. Not a single nominee of his was picked,” the source added.
Atiku reportedly said he was not aware of Jonathan’s complaints and that he would raise them with the party leadership.
ATIKU’S ROLE IN JONATHAN’S OUSTER
The presidential candidate was also reminded of the role he played in getting the PDP ousted from power by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015.
Atiku had teamed up with five PDP governors to storm out of the PDP national convention in November 2013.
They later joined three opposition parties to found APC.
The governors were Rabiu Kwankwaso (Kano), Aliyu Wamakko (Sokoto), Abdulfatah Ahmed (Kwara), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa) and Rotimi Amaechi (Rivers).
“Atiku is facing a similar rebellion now and he now wants the same Dr Jonathan who was a victim of his own machination to help him resolve the crisis,” the source.
Jonathan had met with Atiku at the Dorchester Hotel, London, in 2014 to solicit his help in ending the PDP crisis but, ironically, Atiku reportedly said the only condition for peace was for Jonathan to withdraw from the presidential race.
“The opinion of Dr Jonathan’s associates is that he should rather support Obi, who has always treated him with respect, than Atiku. President Muhammadu Buhari has treated Dr Jonathan with more respect than Atiku, despite going after his wife and his former ministers,” the source said.