Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Thursday explained how he rejected state governors’ request to vie for the presidency against ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003.
Atiku, who stated this in his opening remarks at the 94th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abuja, said instead of accepting the governors’ call, he reminded them of the party’s resolution which stipulated that power should remain in the South-West for eight years.
He said: “The Peoples Democratic Party has the right to determine its rules on how the party should be governed. The people of Nigeria also have the right to determine who governs them.
“Where the President comes from has never been the problem of Nigeria. There is no such thing as a President from Southern Nigeria, or a President from Northern Nigeria.
“There is only one President from Nigeria, for Nigeria, by Nigerians. Talking about inclusion, I would like to see a new national working committee of our party, our great party that has sizable numbers of our youths and women.
The decision of NEC today will either see PDP into the villa in 2023 or not. Since its inception, this party has faced serious challenges and has risen above sentiments to solve those challenges and moved forward.
Those of us who served in the constitutional conference, which drafted the current constitution of Nigeria, sure remember that after we finished the draft of that constitution, we all met as members of the constitutional conference and resolved to correct the injustice that was done to a particular part of this country.
“And we said in whichever party you found yourself, your presidential candidate must come from the South-West because Abiola had won election, not only did he win, he was killed.
“So, we all agreed as members, and we went out of the constitutional conference, and we formed our parties, those of us formed PDP others formed ANPP, those who formed AD formed AD.
“At the end of the day, there were two alliances in two parties. PDP brought Gen. Obasanjo, ANPP brought Olu Falae. This is to show you that Nigerians have a sense of fairness.
“All the PDP governors and some members of the party met me at the Villa and said that they were not going to support [then] President Olusegun Obasanjo for a second term, that I should run.
“I now referred them to the resolution of NEC where NEC had decided that power should remain in the South-West for eight years.
“How do you want me to go against the resolution of NEC and I turned it down, and we moved on. So, this country has a sense of fairness. This country has a sense of justice, this country has a sense of fairness.”
“Therefore, this thing that is in-built in our party, we should be able to use it, to embed it, to make sure today’s deliberation is in the best interest of our party, in the best interest of Nigeria, which will ultimately give us the victory that we asked for — to go back to the Villa.”