DEFIANT ATIKU DECLARES TODAY WITHOUT A POLITICAL PLATFORM

He’s not known to us – Adamawa PDP insists || Just like 2007 when Vice-President Atiku Abubakar declared his presidential ambition without a political platform, he will today declare his intention to contest the 2011 presidential election, without a platform.

In 2007, at the peak of his political battle with former president Olusegun Obasanjo, the then vice-president, who was not sure of the legal implications of declaring his ambition on a different political platform, made his intention known without any platform. It was when a federal high court cleared the coast for him that he contested on the ticket of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).

Similarly, as the Adamawa State born politician declares today, the PDP has said that he is not yet a member of the party and therefore, cannot contest the presidential election on the platform of the party.

The PDP’s position, made known on Friday by the national publicity secretary of the party, Professor Rufai Ahmed Alkali, came ahead of his official declaration for the 2011 presidential race, on the party’s platform, which is billed to take place at a world press conference in Abuja today. The PDP said Abubakar was yet to complete the process of his return to the party, five months after he claimed to have returned to the party.

The party noted that the reason the former vice president had not been considered for a waiver to make him a bonafide member of the party was that, he (Abubakar) needed to be cleared by the relevant level of the party before he could qualify for a waiver. Atiku’s woes increased last night, when Alhaji Mijinyawa Kugama, the Adamawa State chairman of the PDP told journalists that, the former vice president had not been readmitted into the party in the state. “Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is not a member of the PDP in my state,” Kugama insisted.

Described as “a political immigrant” by a columnist recently, Atiku had dumped the PDP in 2007, when it was obvious that he could not realise his ambition in the party. When signs emerged that the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua would not be able to do a second term because of his ill health, Atiku met with his former boss, apologised for his political sins and told him he was ready to return to the PDP.

In March this year, Atiku dumped the Action Congress, visited the national secretariat of the PDP and told the then national chairman of the party, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor that he was back.

However, amidst controversy over his membership of the PDP, Atiku in a statement issued Friday by his media adviser, Malam Shehu Garba, said he was entitled to a waiver like all other returnees to the PDP and has since been granted the waiver by the Ekwueme report.

The statement read in part: “The Turaki, who has since returned to the PDP having been duly registered in his Jada 11 ward of Jada Local Government Area of Adamawa State, like many others, sought expression in the Action Congress {AC) as a result of being excluded from a party he helped found. But the leadership of the ruling party, seeing the necessity to woo back these valuable members, constituted the national reconciliation committee led by the former vice president, Dr. Alex Ekwueme.”

But fielding questions from newsmen on why Atiku had not been considered for a waiver at a press conference in Abuja on Friday, the national publicity secretary of the PDP said there had not been any feedback from Atiku, regarding the formalisation of his membership at his Adamawa State level, as directed by the party’s national secretariat, when he announced his return to the party.

According to Article 10 [b] [iii] of the PDP constitution: “Any party member who loses his membership for reasons other than non-payment of annual subscription may be readmitted on the recommendation of his state chapter of the party, made to the national working committee which is subject to ratification, by the national executive committee.”

Article 10 [c] further provides that “decampees who return to the party should lose their seniority and privileges conferred by previous seniority.”

The national publicity secretary of the PDP said: “You will recall that the former vice president came into this secretariat and formally told the leadership of the party that he was returning to the party, with all his supporters nationwide.

“He indeed brought a document showing the names of the people who came along with him and signed the document and said they were returning unconditionally. I am sure you will also recall that, when he left, we invited you to come and see the former national chairman so that he could tell you why Alhaji Atiku Abubakar came into his office, and the chairman, I recall, informed you that the former vice president came into the secretariat, to say that he had returned to the party formally with all his supporters.

“But the chairman asked him to go back to his ward and register, because that is the elementary thing, and then the process can start from there. The party cannot reject any person coming back to the party. No party worth its salt can do that. But what the former national chairman said, and that is the position of the party, is that we do not have membership cards here to give to members.

“So he was asked to go back, which means what was said in effect was that Atiku Abubakar should go back and continue with the process of healing and reconciliation and kind of mend fences with him and all the stakeholders in Adamawa State; and since that time, there have been formal consultations and discussions between him and stakeholders in Adamawa State, and the Adamawa people too came to the secretariat and the rest of it. This is the usual thing in politics, there’s nothing unusual.”

He however assured that by the time they sort this out, Atiku may also be treated like any other returnee to the party.

“I think the issues are very clear. No matter what we have done here, all these cases that you see of who has been cleared, those at the relevant levels will have to clear them before they get to the national secretariat, and that is the situation,” Professor Alkali added.

“There are other levels that are usually waived, or waivers are given at their own relevant levels, not necessarily at the national level. But at the level of governors, senators, president and vice president, the waiver always comes from the secretariat, but it has to come on advice from the state chapter. This is the situation on ground and I cannot see why there should be controversy.”

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