Atiku leaves Minna with long face after IBB refuses to endorse his presidential ambition

FORMER vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has left his supporters guessing what his next move will be after he stormed out of a meeting with former military ruler General Ibrahim Babangida in Minna yesterday without speaking to anyone.


Last month, Alhaji Atiku, who served as vice president between 1999 and 2007, left the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and last week, he declared for the main opposition the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Widely expected to become the PDP presidential candidate in 2019, Alhaji Atiku has begun touring the country and yesterday met with General Babangida in what was seen as the start of his campaign.


However, he left the meeting without speaking to journalists or his supporters, prompting suggestions that he may not have got the endorsement he sought. Apparently, Alhaji Atiku left the meeting with a long face and appeared reflective, hinting that the parley did not go as well as he had hoped it would.


Alhaji Atiku had arrived at Minna airport earlier in the day to a cheerful reception from his supporters, making it all the more surprising that he breezed past the same supporters after a one-and-half hour closed-door meeting with Babangida. Some sources say that Babangida told him to forget his presidential aspiration for 2019.


Meanwhile, the leadership contest for the PDP chairman turning into a heated three-man contest with Prince Uche Secondus, Dr Raymond Dokpesi, and Professor Tunde Adeniran emerging as the front runners. Altogether there are said to be nine candidates vying to be PDP chairman but the race is expected to be down to these three.


Ahead of the election tomorrow, party officials have scheduled a meeting with all nine declared candidates for this morning. Yesterday, following a series of meetings among the six southwest candidates in Abuja, it emerged that some of them were inclining themselves towards a consensus candidate from the region.


However, a consensus was yet to be arrived at mainly because Professor Adeniran, who has acquired a national momentum, has failed to impress his home base. Tomorrow, the PDP will hold its annual convention where delegates will elect the party chairman.