Atiku will be embarrassed as PDP elders, Obasanjo’s camp move to stop his bid

Atiku AbubakarBarely a week after the return of ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), there are strong indications that some forces within the party are opposed to his come-back, and may block his presidential ambition in 2011.

Some party stalwarts are also said to be displeased that Acting President Goodluck Jonathan did not consult widely enough before accepting Abubakar back into the fold.

A highly-placed source told The Nation, “There are moves by some of our elders and leaders to stop the former VP from contesting for any elective office. I think some of them were not sufficiently consulted before Abubakar’s return was perfected by fiat by Joanthan.

“Apart from that, the elders are planning to pressurize the party to invoke its constitutional provisions on membership and eligibility for participating in any poll.

“I am aware that you must have spent at least one calendar year in the party before you can vie for any office. Atiku will be treated as a new member of the party.”

The source said further, “Although Abubakar has sacrificed for the party in the past, the elders poised for war are saying that he has to warm the bench for a while.

“But as a former VP, he would still enjoy a few privileges including automatic membership of the National Executive Committee and the Board of Trustees of the PDP. “The elders are saying these positions should be enough for him in the interim. They want him to demonstrate that he is a. true party man before he can be trusted with any position.

The Nation also learnt that some party elders are asking Jonathan to reopen investigation of the $40million Siemens deal involving the wife of the former number two leader. Security agencies are reportedly already probing the deal, and studying the US Senate’s Report on it.

A top security chief was billed to travel to the US at the weekend to exchange information and discuss bilateral security issues.

A source said: “Security reports indicate that Jonathan was not properly briefed on some challenges confronting the ex-VP. So, some security agencies are also compiling reports on the $40m Siemens scam to guide the Acting President’s political rapprochement with the former VP.

“The probe is also necessary to enable the Presidency to put issues in correct perspective where it becomes inevitable that Abubakar might occupy any elective or appointive position in the next dispensation.

“The Acting President has just returned from the US and security agencies believe that acceptance of Abubakar into PDP’s fold might not be in line with some issues raised in the US.

 “It appeared a political dummy was sold to the Acting President by Atiku’s camp and before Jonathan could seek a third party opinion, he was carried away by the mainstream agenda of the ex-VP.

“At worst, the security agencies may advise Jonathan to restrict his romance with Abubakar to party membership and not electoral contest or alliance.”

In a related development, the IBB Mandate Group yesterday reacted to comments credited to the former VP at a recent book launch in honour of retired Supreme Court Justice George Oguntade. Atiku was said to have described former military ruler Gen Ibrahim Babangida (IBB) as “dishonest.” IBB recently declared his intention to run for president in 2011.

But the group in a statement by its Director of Media and Publicity, Eleojo Shaibu, said Atiku’s statements amounted to “an exhibition of complex and a low quality diatribe coming from a failed and spineless politician.” It described IBB as “honest, decent and humane.”

On Atiku, the group said further: “He is simply an unprincipled person who castigated the PDP so strongly in 2006 and has shamelessly returned to the same fold for his selfish ambition”.