Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has called on members of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to be united in working towards the victory of party in 2023.
Mr Abubakar in an interactive session with BoT members to seek their support for his presidential aspiration in Abuja on Tuesday said anything short of victory would not be good for the party.
He said the 2023 general elections offered the party opportunity to return to the power.
“I am worried and you should be worried too that if we do not win, it means we will be in opposition again for the next eight years.
“By the next eight years, I don’t know how many will be left in politics and it may even ultimately lead to the death of the party because people gravitate, particularly in developing countries, towards governments.
“Ordinary people naturally gravitate towards government. So this is a very, very crucial and historical moment in history, for our survival. I want you to think about it.
“We are now at a crucial moment in this country. Many of you here, it is either we retire together or we move on together,” Mr Abubakar said.
The former vice president said that PDP administration had, from 1999 to 2007, made remarkable achievements that has not been matched by any subsequent administration.
Mr Abubakar said that PDP would score more votes in 2023 if the BoT members worked together.
“Somebody said that we recorded 12 million votes during the last election. Those are not only my votes, those were our votes.
“In achieving or recording those 11 million votes, it was all of us and I believe if we work together again, we can surpass those votes,” he added.
He, however, dismissed insinuations that he was working against the possible zoning of the PDP presidential ticket to the South-east.
“In the party, we invented and formulated this zoning policy simply because we wanted every part of this country to have a sense of belonging and I personally have paid my dues on the issue of zoning.
“Many of you were members of our government when all the PDP governors came in 2003 and said I should run and I said no. We have agreed that power should remain in the South-west, Why should I?
“Some of those governors that supported me, some of them went to jail, some of them were kicked out of their offices, we made sure that we kept the policy.
“Therefore, you cannot come and try to imply that the PDP has not been following the zoning policy,” he said.
According to him, 14 of PDP’s 16 years in power were led by southern presidents (Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan).
“So we should not be stampeded by the opposition party. They have a moral obligation which is inescapable.
“Some say the South-east have not been given the chance. When I joined the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) which my friend Bola (Tinubu) set up, he gave me a set of condition for giving me the ticket, one of which was that I should make him the vice president.
“I said no, ‘I’m not going to make you vice president. Instead, I took Senator Ben Obi,” Mr Abubakar said.
He also recalled that when he got the ticket again in 2019 to run, he took another person from the South-east, Obi (Peter), as running mate.
“ So there is absolutely no reason they should say that there is a deliberate attempts to exclude the South-east in political participation or power sharing.
“So I thought I should disabuse your mind and of course, as an enlightened political class, I don’t think there’s any deliberate policy to exclude anybody in this country,” he said.
On his part, Raymond Dokpesi, who is the Director General of Atiku Abubakar Campaign Council, called on BoT members to disregards all the ethnic and religious sentiments
He said that only the former vice president has what it takes to reposition the country.
“We have seen the list of aspirants that have shown interest across the various parts of the country but there’s none that has his credentials, his experience, his capacity and acceptance internationally and nationally.
The Chairman of the BoT, Walid Jubrin, assured that the BoT would provide a level playing field for all aspirants.