A former Vice President and chieftain of the All progressives Congress, APC, Atiku Abubakar, has denied knowledge of the groups of politicians who announced their defection to the PDP from the APC.
Atiku said in a statement by his media office in Abuja that he remains a committed member of the APC and urged that the purported defections of these groups be discountenanced.
A total of 120 so-called pro-Atiku support groups on Tuesday defected from the APC to the PDP.
They dumped the APC for the ruling PDP at an elaborate ceremony held at Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja.
However, in a reaction, Turaki Vanguard, the umbrella group of Mr. Atiku’s supporters said members of the 120 groups were not supporters of the former vice president.
The National Publicity Secretary of Turaki Vanguard, Soji Bamidele, told PREMIUM TIMES that the defectors were not Mr. Atiku’s loyalists as they claimed.
“They are faceless groups, we don’t know them,” he said.
Mr. Bamidele, who confirmed that Mr. Atiku was being wooed back into the party, said the former vice president “is not shifting ground and will never go back to the PDP”.
Mr. Atiku was a member of the PDP before decamping to the APC in 2014. He however failed to pick the presidential ticket of the party, losing to Muhammadu Buhari, who is flying the party’s ticket in the March 28 presidential election.
While the groups were being received at the Yar’Adua centre, Atiku was attending a meeting with Mr. Buhari and media representatives.
Peter Ogar, national coordinator of Renaissance for Socio-political Transformation of Nigeria, who spoke on behalf of the groups, said they decided to return to the PDP as there was no alternative to President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said after critically analysing the president’s development programmes, the groups came to the conclusion that they surpassed all those executed by previous governments in the country.
“We have understood the event of December 10, 2014, wherein our able leader, the Turakin Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was, through a gang up, denied us and indeed Nigerians the chance to have a true option in the forthcoming presidential election,” Mr. Ogar said.
“Accordingly, we had to take time to analyse the inner workings of the current administration under President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and came to the conclusion that outside the Turaki, there is no better candidate within any opposition political party, hence the need for a rethink and strategic political repositioning for the sake of our great country, Nigeria.”
Receiving the defectors, the National Deputy Chairman of the PDP, Uche Secondus, assured them that they were now in the right party.
“Today, you have decided to return, you have equal rights with any other member of the party who have been there for a long time,” Mr. Secondus said. “You are free to engage in any party activities especially at this time when we are campaigning and election coming on the 28th.
“There would have been no better time for you to show and to declare your support for the party and our candidate, Jonathan. The rally point today is Jonathan; he is the symbol of Nigerian unity.”