The National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, has told former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, that although they are friends, he will not work for him as an aspirant.
Ayu stated this on Thursday while addressing members of the National Working Committee (NWC), and Atiku’s campaign team, who were on a visit to the party’s secretariat in Abuja.
He said: “Let me acknowledge the fact that you and I have been close friends, personal friends for more than 30 years, as it was indicated.We were key players in the Social Democratic Party and key players in the emergence of Chief MKO Abiola.
“So you are a presidential aspirant today. But I want people to know that you are still my friend. I can’t deny you, I never deny my friends, including those who are in the other disastrous party. You know them because even there we have common friends who miss road, who normally should be here with us.
“More importantly, since we formed this party as you have mentioned, we have worked together in various capacities. It is you and I that plotted the emergence of President Obasanjo. An administration that did very well, putting Nigeria, on a healthy map economically, socially and politically.
“Again, I can’t deny the fact that we work together harmoniously, whether on political issues, economic issues and on the National Security Council when I was Minister for internal affairs.
“I’m saying this to make it clear that those who say ‘oh! because of my personal relationship with you, as chairman, I’ll 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 side with any particular aspirant, but we love you all. I’ve said repeatedly that each one of you given the opportunity will run this country better than what APC has done or will be able to do.”
Earlier in his remarks, Atiku told the national leadership of the party to give him the right of first refusal for the 2023 ticket.
The 2019 flag bearer of the main opposition party stated that he already has 11 million votes in the kitty, describing himself as the best candidate for the party.
He, however, noted that since this is a democracy, all other aspirants should have the right to face the electorate for the ticket.
The former vice president admonished the NWC to pave the way for the emergence of the best candidate to lead the party to victory in the 2023 general election.
The aspirant affirmed that if he becomes the president, he would work for the devolution of powers to the states and unify the country.
He said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has failed in comparative analysis with the PDP’s performance in government.