There will be no preferential treatment for any of the 17 aspirants seeking the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice President Atiku Abubakar heard yesterday.
Atiku, who was at the party’s headquarters to drum up support for his presidential aspiration, said the 11 million votes he garnered at the 2019 election qualifies him to be accorded the right of first refusal on the party’s 2023 presidential ticket.
Atiku said: “I dare say Mr. Chairman, that I am the best candidate. Under normal circumstances Mr. Chairman, this is a guy who has already 11 million votes in his kitty.
“And I think, as a party, you should give me the right of first refusal but we are in a democracy. All I can urge you is to make sure that you conclude the same way you started by being very fair, very credible and giving every contestant the opportunity to face the electorate.”
The National Chairman, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, who led members of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) to host Atiku, told the one-time vice president to not to count on his friendship for now.
Ayu and Atiku have maintained a long standing friendship, which the former vice president confirmed spanned more than 30 years.
The party chair said: “I am saying this to make it clear that those who say because of my personal relationship with you, as chairman, I will work for you.
“Mr. Vice President, I will not work for you as an aspirant. I will work for all the 17 aspirants. It is left to you to convince the delegates of our party that you are the best.
“You have to market yourself. You have to work hard. This National Working Committee for now, we remain an umpire. We are not going to take sides with any particular aspirant. But we love you all.
“If you happen to be the choice of our delegates, all of us sitting here, will work very hard to ensure that you win the 2023 elections. And when you win, it will not be taken away again as it was done in 2019.”
On his plans if given the chance, Atiku promised to tackle insecurity and economic challenges.
He recounted how the PDP administration revamped the stagnated economy bequeathed to it in 1999 when he got elected on a joint ticket with former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Atiku said: “Nigeria was indebted. We have no foreign reserves, the economy was in shambles. Mr. Chairman, and very many of you here who are in doubt may know that by the time we left, we left Nigeria in the healthiest economic position. We have done it before, Mr. Chairman, we can do it again.”
He also promised to ensure devolution of power with enough resources to the states.
The aspirant said: “I believe that is the best way to get Nigeria developed to its fullest capacity by giving autonomy and resources to the various components.
“There are some of us who grew up in the First Republic when we had regions that were virtually in charge of everything in their respective regions; ranging from security to economy, to everything.
“And we saw how we fed and we believe this is the best way to make sure that this country is developed to its fullest potential.
“Mr. Chairman and members of the National Working Committee, I am really not here to lecture you.
“I am just really here to inform you of my decision to run again, and also to urge you to provide the right kind of leadership so that the best candidate can emerge.
“We all know, every Nigerian knows that the APC has failed but we should not take Nigerians for granted. We should go all out to let them know that the APC has failed and that it will continue to fail.”