The All Progressives Congress has waved off the reported plan by the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, to contest the 2027 election.
In an interview with The PUNCH on Wednesday, the APC Director of Publicity, Bala Ibrahim, described Atiku’s 2027 ambition as the most laughable news of 2024. He said the former vice-president would be defeated again.
Recall that, the spokesperson for the ex-vice president, Daniel Bwala, had on Tuesday confirmed that his principal would again run in the presidential election come 2027.
So far, Atiku has attempted to become Nigeria’s President six times but has been unsuccessful in all attempts, namely: in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019, and 2023.
After the Supreme Court affirmed President Bola Tinubu as the winner of the 2023 election in which he came second, Atiku hinted that he was not retiring from politics and pledged his readiness to continue to shape the democratic discourse.
He had said, “As for me and my party, this phase of our work is done. However, I am not going away. For as long as I breathe, I will continue to struggle with other Nigerians to deepen our democracy and rule of law and for the kind of political and economic restructuring, the country needs to reach its true potential.
“That struggle should now be led by the younger generations of Nigeria who have even more stake than my generation.”
But speaking in an interview on Channels television on Tuesday night, Bwala, while responding to a question on whether Atiku would contest in the 2027 presidential election, said, “Sure, he would run. He has the capacity, he has the wisdom, he has the knowledge, he has the energy.
“And he is a president we never had. Because to be honest with you, if any politician understands the private sector very well, it is Atiku Abubakar and our economy can only come alive if there is a private sector-led economy. He’s the president the country is missing because of his experience and capacity.’’
Commenting on Bwala’s disclosure, the PDP Deputy Publicity Secretary, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said it was a welcome development, but countered the insinuation that the 2027 presidential ambition of some leaders might put the party in limbo, adding that the PDP must galvanize, harmonize, and mobilize support ahead of 2027.
The publication reported that Abdullahi stated, “It( PDP) is a political party. The ultimate objective and goal of a political party is to produce leadership. So, if people are interested in vying for the presidency, governorship, Senate, or whatever office in 2027 on the platform of the PDP, I don’t think they should begin to mobilise because that is one way you can keep a political party going.
“You cannot just wake up in the morning and instruct people not to nurse ambition. Then, it is not a political party. I understand the question to mean if they continue to promote their political ambition, it will be to the detriment of the political party; no, that is not correct.
“What I know as a politician: Politics is about ambition, politics is about interests. So, if people start jostling for power now, ahead of 2027 as you see it, it is not too early.
“There’s a need for them to cross the file and rank to ensure that they promote it in a healthy atmosphere, and that will keep the political party afloat. So, I am of the view that it is a healthy development. They should be allowed to do it once it is within the confines of the law.
“We’re not just expecting people to go campaigning now or rallying for support, but what they want to do is to promote the party and to be able to indicate interest in certain offices. It’s a healthy development.”
However, the APC publicity director, on Wednesday, said Atiku would lose the 2027 presidential election heavily. According to him, the former Vice-President does not have any political value.
On whether Atiku’s ambition is a threat to the APC, Ibrahim said “Our party, which is the All Progressive Congress, thrashed Atiku not once, not twice. Even when we thought he had the energy and little credibility to make him viable to Nigerians, we defeated him completely.
“How can someone who is just trying to regain his balance be a threat to the APC come 2027? That is unthinkable; Atiku can never be a threat to the APC. He wasn’t a threat when he had little value. How can he be a threat when he is already valueless? It’s a dream that will not come to pass.’’
The party spokesman advised the ex-VP to quit politics, noting that he was being misled by his aides and political associates.
Ibrahim added, “Atiku should better forget about politics completely. I think this is the imagination of Bwala and a few others around him. And it only goes to tell you that Atiku is surrounded by people who mislead him because anybody who has real feelings and concern for Atiku will not advise him to run against Tinubu again; not in the far future.
“This is not an issue of concern to the APC at all. Atiku is not a force to reckon with. He has never been a force to reckon with and he cannot be in 2027 when he must have diminished in terms of political value. We have not gotten to the bridge, but when we get there we will cross it.”
Some opposition political parties agreed that Atiku had the right to pursue his presidential ambition in 2027.
The New Nigeria People’s Party noted that though Atiku reserved the right to aspire to any political office of his choice, 2027 appears too far away to warrant a conversation yet.
The spokesman for the NNPP Presidential Campaign Council in the 2023 election, Ladipo Johnson, reasoned that a lot of events might happen between now and 2027 that could render the conversation around the subject unnecessary.
He said, “Daniel Bwala has the right to say whatever he wants regarding the ambition of his principal but it is left for Nigerians to decide what they want. Year 2027 is a long way to go and I think it will be improper to start a conversation around it. It is too early.
“In fairness to him, Atiku has the right to contest as many times as he wants. From now to 2027, a lot may happen. Let’s see how events play out.”