2011: PDP MAY BAR ATIKU
Former Vice President, Alhaji
Indications emerged on Wednesday that former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar, may be barred from contesting the 2011 presidential election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, based on the submission of the party's National Chairman, Prince Vincent Ogbulafor.
The PDP national chairman, while speaking with newsmen shortly after Atiku left his office in Abuja, said the fate of the returnee would be decided by the party's constitution.
Atiku had said he was at the party's headquarters in Abuja to inform Ogbulafor and other members of the party's National Working Committee that he had returned to the PDP.
But Ogbulafor said the PDP constitution was clear on the fate of those just joining and those returning to the party, either as a result of suspension or voluntary return after leaving.
He, however, said that the party did not set any condition for Atiku before he could be re-admitted.
This was also confirmed by Atiku while speaking with newsmen after he emerged from Ogbulafor's office.
The PDP chairman said, 'This is a political party office and it is open to all Nigerians; and like I said the umbrella is large enough to accommodate several Nigerians. If all Nigerians decide to join the PDP, that is a pass mark to the party.
'Therefore, when the former vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, came in to the office wishing to see me, we discussed many issues regarding his return to the party, his intention and the rest of them.
'Why should I set a term for him? The party has a constitution. In our constitution, if you are suspended, you have a period of term to serve; then if you are coming back, the constitution sets such conditions for coming back. The party constitution has made that clear.'
Article Eight of the constitution stipulates on the eligibility for membership.
Also, Article 8.9 says on those returning to the party, 'Persons who desire to rejoin the party after leaving it shall, unless exempted by the National Working Committee, be placed on probation for a period of time not less than a year.
'On the payment of prescribed fees, a member on probation shall have the right to attend all meetings of the party but shall not be entitled to vote at such meetings.'
Asked if the NWC members would not consider the Alex Ekwueme report, which preached reconciliation in Atiku's case, he said no.
He also declined to speak on whether the NWC would wave the article in favour of Atiku.
Earlier, Atiku had said he was at the party headquarters to inform the officials that he was back as a member of the party.
Asked about his mission, he replied journalists, 'Yes it is my party, so I am back. I went to inform him (Ogbulafor) formally that I have returned to the party since last week.'
The former vice-president, however, refused to disclose whether he was nursing any presidential ambition.
He merely told newsmen to allow him to 'settle down first.'
He was accompanied by some of his friends, including Otunba Oyewole Fasawe and Alhaji Umar Kareto.
Meanwhile, Ogbulafor has said that the April 8 meeting of the party's National Executive Committee was shelved due the death of some members of the party.
Specifically, he said that it would be wrong for the party to be holding a NEC meeting when two senators from Gombe State died while a former minister, Hajia Fatima Ibrahim, also lost her life in a motor accident.
Besides, he also said that the members of the NWC took cognisance of the recess by the Senate, adding that a new date for the meeting would be announced as soon as the Senate reconvenes and Acting President Goodluck Jonathan returns from his trip to the United States.
Meanwhile, Adamawa State Governor Murtala Nyako on Wednesday said he never objected to former vice-president, Atiku Abubakar's plan to return to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Senior Special Adviser on Media to Nyako, Aminu Iyawa, had on Saturday issued a statement saying the governor and Atiku were yet to reconcile their differences.
Iyawa further stated that 'no reconciliation meeting ever took place between Nyako and Atiku, and no reception of whatever kind is being organised for Atiku's return to PDP.'
But Nyako told journalists on Wednesday at Yola International Airport, Yola on his return from Abuja that he did not object to Atiku's return to the party, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
'What I said was that I am not aware of the date of reception said to have been planned by some governors and of which it was alleged I would be the chairman.
'I am not aware of the objection, but what I want to say is that he (Atiku) is a big man; because they are coming back to the party, there must be some degree of security.
'But quite frankly, what we hear from them is that when they come back, they will take control of the party or destroy it.
'What we hear from them is not complimentary, because it seemed that their coming back does not mean that we are going to work together for the progress of the party.
'I don't know what my man (Iyawa) has issued, but if you walk out of the party at any time and you want to come back, there are procedures which the PDP has laid down which you have to follow,' he said.