Former Nigeria Vice President,Atiku Abubakar has said defeating President Muhammadu Buhari will be a cakewalk for him if the president runs against him in 2019 electon.
Mr. Abubakar said Mr. Buhari has become politically weak after squandering the goodwill Nigerians accorded him during the 2015 elections.
In an interview with veteran journalist, Dele Momodu, Atiku said he decided not to wait and participate in the APC primary election because the party had become a one-man business.
He said since President Muhammadu Buhari came into power, he failed to take charge of the growth of the party. The former vice president expressed optimism of defeating President Buhari in 2019 saying he has lost a lot of goodwill. He said:
“After Buhari won the election, he was no longer interested in the Party that made him President. Every activity stopped and not even the Party Chairman, Chief John Oyegun, could take any decision.
“I called Chief Oyegun a few times to tell him our Party was dying slowly but he told me he would not do anything unless he got clearance from the President. At a stage, I gathered about 18 prominent members and began to meet in the hope that we can re-energise Party activities, but some people lied to the President that I wanted to use the forum to launch my Presidential campaign.
That forum became simply dead on arrival. No BOT, no NEC meetings, as stipulated in our Constitution. “The Party became a one-man property. Everyone grumbles behind the President’s back but they are too timid to raise a voice against the illegalities being perpetuated. I should be bold enough to know what I want, and can do so at my age, so I decided to leave…”
“I will definitely beat him this time. He has wasted a lot of his massive goodwill,” Mr. Abubakar said.
The former vice-president was interviewed by Dele Momodu for his column which was published Saturday in The Boss Newspaper he publishes.
He said many associates of Mr. Buhari are furious, but they are silent about their disapproval of the president and are waiting for the right time to strike back.
“A lot of people are disgruntled but keeping quiet and lying low,” Mr. Abubakar said. “Our youths are suffering terribly and now they are being sold into slavery.”
Mr. Abubakar said he would be ready from day one should Nigerians elect him president in 2019.
Mr. Abubakar, vice-president from 1999-2007, dumped the ruling All Progressives Congress last week Friday, citing alleged failure by the Buhari administration to improve the quality of life in the country and neglect of the youth in federal cabinet appointment.
His political allies have indicated that Mr. Abubakar was on his way to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, which has opened its doors to him.
The national spokesperson for the APC, Bolaji Abdullahi, countered Mr. Abubakar’s assertion, saying Mr. Buhari would handily beat the former president should he stand for re-election.
“I believe that the reasons Nigerians voted for President Buhari in 2015 are still pertinent. They voted President Buhari because they needed a leader who has integrity, strong on corruption and capable of defeating Boko Haram.”
“If he stands for election in 2019, we believe Nigerians would still vote for him,” Mr. Abdullahi told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Saturday afternoon.
President Buhari has not yet declared his intention to seek re-election although his recent actions and comments have strongly suggested he will.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has finally addressed the issue of his presidential ambition since his resignation from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
He former vice president left the APC and although he has not formally announced the party he will go to, there is high speculation that he will return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Asked if he was guaranteed of the presidential ticket of the PDP, Atiku said: “Nothing is absolutely certain in this life, but PDP needs a candidate with the brightest chance and that can only come from someone who has major experience, exposure, knowledge about running an economy, who is a Nationalist and not a sectionalist and whose brand cannot be intimidated in anyway by that of the current President.
“If PDP picks a weak candidate, then the Party is doomed. Some of those whose names are being touted and bandied about have not grown beyond their immediate domains.
On his perception of the 2019 elections, Atiku expressed optimism that he would defeat the sitting president.
He said: “I will definitely beat him this time. He has wasted a lot of his massive goodwill. A lot of people are disgruntled but keeping quiet and lying low. Our youths are suffering terribly and now they are being sold into slavery.
Everyone knows my track record of inviting and attracting a good team and giving them the opportunity to work professionally. Nigerians are tired of leaders who cannot think big and work big. Dele, I will be ready from day one…” Asked if he wasn’t afraid of Buhari, Atiku said: “No, definitely not.
Buhari is free to contest and I’m free to contest. And Nigerians will make their choice.” Meanwhile, despite the progress so far recorded by the administration of Buhari in the last two years and months, the Sage Africa, a civil society group, declared that the president does not deserve a second term in office.
According to the group, President Buhari is yet to fully fulfil his electoral promises.