Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Thursday spoke for the first time on what happened in the run-up to the 2003 presidential election, saying that he refused to accept the invitation to contest the election on moral grounds.
Atiku, who was responding to remarks from one of the participants in his South-west consultative meeting in Ibadan, noted that contrary to the notion that his best chance to have emerged as the president of the country was in 2003 when stakeholders in the PDP offered him the opportunity to contest against his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, he still found it difficult to accept the offer because doing so would be going against the position the PDP had earlier taken at a Caucus meeting to retain the presidency in the South.
Atiku noted that his ambition and indeed that of any politician cannot be realised in negation and commitment to party decisions.
“Yes I may nurse legitimate ambition but I am not the kind of person who will want to climb the political ladder because an opportunity cheaply presents itself. You don’t have to stand in the way of commitment to party decisions because you stand the opportunity to benefit from an infraction,” Atiku said.
A snap vote taken at the end of the South-west leg of the consultative meeting at the Golden Tulip Hotel showed that the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the preferred party with 60%, Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) followed with 29% while support for the PDP was 11%.
The consultative meeting continues in Bauchi on Friday with the North-east.
Meanwhile, the Oyo State Government on Thursday hosted former Vice President Atiku Abubakar in continuation of his nationwide consultation with his associates and stakeholders.
The former Vice president, who arrived mid-day, headed straight to pay a courtesy visit to the Oyo State governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi in his office.
The governor, while receiving Atiku and his entourage extolled the former Vice President as a “broad-based, principled and consummate politician.”
When explaining his mission to Oyo State, Atiku said to Governor Ajimobi: “My most memorable days in my civil service career were in Ibadan. So, I say this is a kind of a home-coming.
“Anytime I come to Ibadan – either for politics or personal reasons – I come back with a lot of memories. But much more than the memories, I am more fascinated by the new things and developments that I see in Ibadan. I want to say that since the Ajimobi administration took off, there have been positive changes in the city of Ibadan in terms of infrastructure development.”
He disclosed that his visit to Ibadan is in continuation of his political consultations with associates and stakeholders in response to the invitation extended to him by the APC in December of last year.
Responding Governor Ajimobi observed that not many politicians in Nigeria match the democratic credentials of Atiku Abukabar.
The governor also noted the humble nature of the former Vice President, saying: “He has a personal touch to his relationship and sometimes you wonder if he has ever been the Vice President of this country.”
“As you go round consulting in Oyo state, you have a friend and someone who can accommodate you and what you stand for in Oyo State. I pray that in the next few weeks your consultation will result in consummation and then we can conclude the marriage,” Ajimobi said.
The consultative meeting had several political bigwigs in attendance, including the senator representing Oyo Central Senatorial District, Senator Ayo Adeseun, former secretary to the Oyo State Government, Chief Olayiwola Olakojo, Chief Lekan Balogun and Senator Kamoru Adedibu.
The former vice-president, after the meeting, however, headed straight to the residence of the Aare Musulumi of Yorubaland, Alhaji Abdulazeez Arisekola Alao, where the two had a private meeting.