Associates and political leaders of former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, in the South-south geo-political zone were yesterday split between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) as preferred platforms in place of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The leadership and stalwarts of the APC had following a courtesy visit to Atiku on December 18 last year invited him to come and join the opposition party. Atiku had assured them that he would consult widely with his associates before taking a decision on the matter. Subsequently, he had commenced extensive consultations at home and abroad and last week stepped up the tempo with consultative meetings in Kaduna, Abuja and Enugu. A snap vote at the end of Atiku’s consultative meeting with his associates and political leaders in Benin City, Edo State, however, showed a near-tie by the attendees in their choice of a party to defect to. At the end of the vote, which followed the well-attended Atiku held with his associates at the Protea Hotel, 47 per cent were inclined to his movement to the APC as against 48 per cent for PDM. Only five per cent wanted his continued stay in the PDP. Atiku had in his remarks at the meeting, recalled that his political struggles, which commenced during the military regime, had always been about advancing the cause of democracy. He noted that the PDP, which he co-founded was now a shadow of its past and had little regards for promoting internal democracy. “I do not have any problem remaining in the PDP but it appears that the PDP has a problem with me remaining in the party. I am not invited to BoT, NEC and caucus meetings that I am statutorily qualified to attend,” Atiku told his associates. Noting that the decision to defect was one of the most difficult political decisions he had to make, the Turaki Adamawa said it was imperative that he consults with his associates, who have over time made good the support base he had. He assured them that the decision he would make at the end of the consultative process would be predicated on the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians. “The most important thing is the future of Nigeria and its people and not about (me),” he said. Atiku, who had consulted with his supporters and associates in the North-west, told Governor Adams Oshiomhole during a courtesy call on the governor yesterday that the consultation was a follow-up to the visit of the APC leadership to him in Abuja last December. The former vice-president stated that it was at that occasion the party requested him “to come back home,” adding: “I look forward to doing that this afternoon.” He commended the governor for his good work and urged him to continue in that direction. He also described Boko Haram’s killings in Adamawa State “as unfortunate”. Atiku also held private a meeting with the interim National Vice-Chairman (South-south) of the APC, Chief Tom Ikimi, at his residence. The consultations continued today in Ibadan, the Oyo State Capital, with a stakeholders’ meeting for the South-west associates. Meanwhile, Responding, Oshiomhole said the former vice-president had enormous capacity to interact and engage without bitterness, adding that he learnt a lot from him as a labour leader. According to him, that Atiku is consulting, shows he is keeping his words, pointing out that in every liberal democracy, there are two parties because there are two broad ideas- left and right. The governor said in Nigeria, the forces were not different and were made up of those who want the status quo to remain and those who want change. He added that unless there was a fair balance within the two forces, the expected change would not come. Oshiomhole, however, warned that in politicking, Nigerians should recognise that it was all about the country and prayed God to guide the former vice-president to take a decision would be in the best interest of the country.
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