There are strong indications that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar may soon dump the All Progressives Congress (APC) and return to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a move aimed to strengthen the opposition party’s bid to return to power in 2019.
ThisDay reports that the move to get Atiku may have gained traction with a recent discrete meeting between him and former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Sources told the news outlet that the meeting was held at the instance of Atiku, who was said to be seriously considering offers made to him by a section of the leadership of the opposition party to return.
Indications had earlier emerged that there were concerted efforts by some PDP leaders to bring Atiku back to the party’s fold but that he gave conditions, including an assurance that he would be given its automatic ticket to contest the 2019 presidential election.
However, in the recent meeting he had with Jonathan, it is understood that the duo have looked into the possibility of this condition with both of them said to have agreed that all options should be kept open as the political dynamics of the country remained fluid, requiring a more pragmatic approach to the upsurge in politicking, which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) warned against last week.
It was gathered that Jonathan also urged Atiku to consider returning to the PDP early enough to avoid being caught by certain provisions of the party’s constitution, which stipulate a period of time a member has to spend in the party before he could be eligible to contest for a political office.
This is coming at a time when the INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmud Yakubu, cautioned politicians against political campaigns for 2019, saying the ban on electioneering was yet to be lifted in accordance with Electoral Act 2010 as amended.
“Atiku was advised to return early to enable him to fulfil the eligibility condition in the party’s constitution and also have ample time to integrate his political structure into the PDP’s,” a source privy to the meeting said.
The source further stated that it was made clear to Atiku that he stood a better chance to realise his ambition in the PDP than the APC since President Muhammadu Buhari looked set to be given a right of first refusal by his party’s leadership.
The source continued: “He was told to note a recent comment by the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, stating that as the incumbent, President Buhari had a right of first refusal even when the decision would have to be his.
“That has been buoyed by Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai who had practically launched Buhari’s re-election campaign.”