BY: BISI DOSUMU
Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has declared his intention to contest for president under the platform of the All Progressives Congress. The former VP, on Wednesday formally declared his intention to seek the presidential ticket of the party at a colourful ceremony in Abuja.
The event, held at the Shehu Yar’ Adua Centre was attended by the Senate Minority Leader, Senator George Akume, Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Hon Dino Melaye and a number of party officials as well as APC youth leaders across the country and the Adamawa State APC governorship candidate, Senator Mohammed Jibrilla.
While addressing a world press conference at the venue of the declaration, Atiku commended Nigerians for their “never say die attitude”, stating that that is the reason he cannot give up on Nigeria. He said the 2015 election is about ensuring that youths live safe and secured lives and are able to support their families.
“The future of this nation should never again be subjected to experimentation or learning on the job”, Atiku said. Speaking further, he said “good leadership is what it takes to make good things happen”. He expressed sadness that rather than paying the country’s debts, Nigeria still borrows, despite the rise in the price of oil compared to the time he served as Vice President. He also recalled with sadness the death of job seekers at the last immigration recruitment exercise as he noted that till date, no one has been held accountable.
While noting that Nigerians have not been this divided since the time of the Civil War, he went on that “what we have is a serious governance deficit. To put it bluntly, our country seems to be on auto-pilot with no one in charge.” He disclosed that the APC is offering change. “I have what it takes to bring people together and turn things around for good.I want to lead a government that will invest in the people because the people constitute the wealth of a nation, I want to lead a government that will have zero tolerance for corruption. Nigeria must rise to retake its leadership position in Africa. This places on us the responsibility of stewardship. It is this call that I have come to answer once again. We will create a country that will truly be the pride of the black race, a Nigeria for all Nigerians.”
Atiku has had his eyes on the presidency for some decades now. Two years after he contested for the governorship of Gongola (now Adamawa and Taraba) State in 1990, he vied for the presidential ticket of the Social Democratic Party, placing third behind Moshood Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe.
Since then, the closest he has been to the Presidency was when he served as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s vice between 1999 and 2007. He had won the Adamawa State governorship election in 1998 but while he was still the Governor-elect, he was selected by the Peoples’ Democratic Party to be the running mate to Obasanjo who was the party’s presidential candidate then.
In the 2007 elections, he was the presidential candidate of the Action Congress and he came third behind Umar Musa Yar’ Adua of the PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria Peoples Party.
Again, in 2011, Alhaji Abubakar gave the presidency a shot as he vied for the PDP ticket which was eventually won by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. A group of Northern leaders selected Atiku as the north’s candidate, preferring him to the likes of former President, Ibrahim Babangida, Aliyu Gusau and Bukola Saraki.