I'LL RUN ON PDP TICKET – ATIKU
Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar yesterday in Abuja put paid to stories that he was not a member of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), when he vowed to pursue his presidential ambition in next year's election on the party's platform.
He spoke at a news conference, against the backdrop of purported denunciation of his membership of the party by the Adamawa State chapter. He declared his intention to formally file his application to contest for the seat today (Monday).. 'Granting waivers to contest is an ongoing process. I'll file my application tomorrow with the party as I have declared today' he explained.
The former presidential standard bearer of the Action Congress (AC) in the 2007 elections expressed optimism that he would not be deterred or discouraged by intrigues and machinations from his political detractors in the renewed quest, adding for emphasis: 'I'm used to going against the tide. If I fail to realize my ambition, that won't make me quit PDP'
Atiku picked five critical areas for immediate intervention if he assumes power. These include employment generation and wealth creation, power generation and infrastructural development, security, good governance and war against corruption, education, health and social services and the Niger Delta.
Promising to chart a new course to lead the country and the people out of the woods, he said he had been close enough to power to know the enormous potential that a president has to move things in the right direction. 'We just have to give ourselves the chance to do that with someone who is well prepared for the challenges; someone with a plan to decisively tackle our collective and urgent problems. I am that person,' he declared.
He urged Nigerians to count on his experience, exposure and awareness of the fact that the development of the country depended on investments on the youths. Describing himself as a bridge between experience and youthfulness, he said his vision was anchored on a robust determination not to pass the 'mess to the next generation'
Going down memory lane, he said he was prepared to make enormous sacrifice for the good of all as he had done before. 'At enormous personal cost, I contributed immensely to the defence of our democracy, especially when attempts were made to subvert our constitution in order to elongate the tenure of a sitting president. Before then, I had made sacrifices for our democracy and for the peace and unity of our country. I stepped down for Chief Moshood Abiola to emerge as the SDP candidate in 1993 and in 2003 when most of the PDP governors urged me to contest against president Obasanjo, I declined in the interest of the unity of the country.
He promised to evolve a scheme where it would no longer matter which region of the country a public holder comes from, an obvious reference to the zoning principle in the PDP. 'This is not the time for a novice; this is not the time for ill- prepared leaders. This is not the time for risky experiments. It is time for action. It is time for an experienced, committed and visionary leader to rescue our country from imminent collapse. I am that leader. I am ready to lead. Together, we can make good things happen'
Meanwhile, former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, yesterday reaffirmed his decision to contest the 2011 presidential election, hinging his ambition on the claim that the country is now worse than he left it 17 years ago when he stepped aside as president.
Babangida who hosted top media chiefs at his Hill Top home in Minna, Niger State at the weekend said there is no cause for fear that the many strong candidates emerging from the North would cause a split of northern votes.
He said the trio of himself, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar and outgoing National Security Adviser, Gen Aliyu Gusau had given their words to the leadership of the North that either of the two of them would be ready to step down for anyone of them if the larger interest of the group makes it inevitable.
Babangida who confessed that he had prepared himself for office as far back as 2006 said he would make public his manifesto and blueprint for reviving the country's social, political, economic and political development.
IBB who timed the Minna parley to coincide with his birthday this week said he had been humble enough to admit his mistakes of the past, and apologised for areas he feels he might have erred said that his eight year reign (between 1985 and 1993) remain a nostalgic period in the history of the country's political and economic engineering. According to him, several programme started by his regime, which were rechristened and readopted by subsequent administrations, especially in the areas of opening up the economy and foreign policy thrust.
Babangida also used the opportunity to address the nagging issues of the murder of Dele Giwa as well as the controversial Okigbo report.
While he restated that neither he, nor anyone connected with his regime had been proven to have anything to do with Dele Giwa's death, IBB maintained that the Okigbo Panel, which was never a probe of his regime, did not indict him in any part of the report. On the institutionalization of corruption in Nigeria which the ex-military president is credited with, IBB said it was a dubious tag to give him, pointing out that it is still on record that neither him nor any minister who served under him has been found guilty by any court or tribunal of corruption charges.
However, he said he already has the panacea for corruption. According to him, the key lies in opening up where necessary and tightening up in other places, even as the enforcement institutions and agencies are strengthened.