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No Going Back On Igbo Presidency In 2015 – Atiku

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SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 30, (THEWILL) - Former Vice President and presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar has reiterated his commitment to Igbo Presidency in 2015.

Also, key political leaders in the South-East have said that their support for Atiku for the 2011 presidency stems from the fact that the former Vice President is trusted and tested.

The Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) and Igbo Political Forum (IPF) had signed an agreement that will see the North supporting the South-east for its bid for the Presidency in 2015 in return for the latter’s support for the former for its 2011 bid.

Speaking in Enugu yesterday at the beginning of his tour of the South-East zone to meet with PDP leaders and stakeholders and business community leaders in the region, Atiku said he remains irrevocably committed to a President of Igbo extraction in 2015.

“I am committed to an Igbo presidency in 2015 to a point of passion. I remain resolutely committed that this zone be fully reintegrated in Nigeria,” Atiku told members of the Enugu State House of Assembly.

The PDP presidential aspirant said he has a historic duty to give meaning to the agreement reached between the NPLF and IPF that the presidency is ceded to Ndigbo in 2015.

“I am bound to abide by that agreement as it affects our children and grand children in the pursuit if national unity,” he assured.

But when asked if he would not seek an extra 4-year term in negation of that pact, Atiku said: “I believe in the constitution of our great party, the PDP; I believe in the decision of the party caucus; I believe in the court of law and that is why we have gone back to the court to demand that President Goodluck Jonathan should not run. I will abide by the agreement the NPLF and IPF.”

He stressed the importance of internal democracy in PDP, pointing out that it is an important component of deepening the nation’s democracy.

“Today, the PDP has become a national party winning elections in all the zones of the country. It is therefore a basis for our unity and stability. It is our responsibility that this party is sustained and transformed by instituting internal democracy in our processes,” he said.

On observation that the ongoing campaigns by all the campaign organisations may adversely affect chances of PDP at the general elections he said “I have never seen a campaign so hostile in the same party” adding however, “we have a lot of work to do.”Atiku told the 22-member House shortly after a minute silence was observed for their late colleague that he was in total support of financial autonomy for the legislature as a measure of checks and balances.

“The State Houses of Assembly lost the opportunity to provide for financial autonomy during the last constitution review and they must not let such an opportunity slip by again,” he said.

He put on record the spirited battle with others to ensure that lawmakers in the states were reinstated as delegates to the PDP presidential primaries.

“But for a number of us, State Assembly lawmakers will not be delegates for the 2011 primaries. We fought it and today some people that wanted to disenfranchise you are those who want your vote. The day you allow your freedom to be taken away from you, that day you are no longer a human being,” he said.

Responding, Speaker of Enugu State House of Assembly (ESHA), Hon. Eugene Odo said that the people of the zone owe it as a duty to themselves to make marginalization, which has become their lot history.

“We are courageous members (of the state assembly). We have been humbled by our President’s to be words. There is nobody in this Assembly whose father or grandfather has not suffered marginalization and this we do not want to continue. Enugu State House of Assembly will go the extra length to mobilize support for the cause to which you (Atiku) have espoused before us today (yesterday),” Odo said.

But a tragedy at the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation on Ogui Road was averted when campaign staff, party faithful and sympathizers teamed up to put off a fire which broke out on the first floor of the office as Atiku was being awaited to commission the campaign office.

There were no fatalities or injuries while destruction to property was minimal.Atiku had driven straight from the ESHA complex to Nike Lake Resort to meet with Anambra state delegates when the fire incident occurred. However, Atiku still proceeded to commissioning the campaign office later.

Atiku arrived the Akanu Ibiam International Airport to a tumultuous welcome. Among the dignitaries on hand to receive him at the airport were Chief Dubem Onyia, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, Dr. Sam Egwu, Prof. ABC Nwosu, Prof Chinwe Obaji, Senator Ben Obi and former Commander of 82 Division, Gen. AB Ibrahim (rtd).Chairman of IPF, Chief Simon Okeke had set the tone for the meeting at the ESHA when he declared that the people of the South-East zone have elected to take their destiny in their hands as it relates to the region’s quest for the presidency in 2015.

“Ndigbo should not let mud to be thrown in their face anymore. We must take our destiny in our hands,” he said.

According to him, “a hostile brother is worse than a distant friend.”

South-east leaders among them Okeke, Onyia, Obaji, Nwosu, Obi and Soludo had earlier harped on the strength of character and integrity of Atiku as the basis for their support of his 2011 bid.

The former Vice President will be in Owerri today in continuation of his engagements with PDP leaders and delegates of the region ahead of the 2011 presidential primaries.