All seems not to be rosy in the camp of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar following the congratulatory message to President Muhammadu Buhari on his inauguration on Wednesday by the South-East Governors’ Forum.
The Forum chaired by Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi state, also has in its fold, the quartet of Willie Obiano (Anambra), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) and Emeka Ihedioha, the newly inaugurated governor of Imo state. Apart from Obiano who is a member of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, all other four governors were elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
In a paid advertorial published in a national daily yesterday, the forum congratulated President Buhari and expressed optimism in his determination to make Nigerians happier in his second term in office.
The congratulatory message read, “We, governors of South-East Nigeria, heartily congratulate the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, on this historic occasion of his inauguration for a second term in office.
“We are confident, Mr. President, that with your swearing in for another term, happier days are ahead not just for South-East but the whole of Nigeria.”
An official of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, who does not want his name in print said by that “singular show of political maturity,” the President is facing the future with optimism, knowing that “his election and subsequent inauguration has the backing of leaders across party lines.”
Although he declined to speak further on this, his position may be difficult to fault given the fact that Atiku and the PDP are seeking the nod of the election petition tribunal to void the declaration of President Buhari as winner of the February 23 Presidential election.
Responding to this development, National Publicity Secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan told Vanguard exclusively that regardless of the interpretations being directed at the advertorial, the PDP stands with Atiku in his quest for justice.
According to him, the matter before the tribunal is between Atiku, PDP and the APC, adding that governors are no party to the petition.
Asked if the party is not worried by the congratulatory message, the publicity scribe said he speaks only for the party and not governors elected on its platform.
He said: “The matter which our candidate, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar took to the tribunal has the backing of the PDP.
We are irrevocably committed to retrieving our stolen mandate but as for the congratulatory message, I can tell you that we are not worried as a party. We are a united front, united in the pursuit of justice. There are no divisions in our ranks and as far our petition is concerned, we are focused and optimistic that justice will be done.
“It is a matter involving Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the PDP and the APC. Governors are no party to it. This is what Nigerians should realize.” So, isn’t the party worried that four of its governors are rallying behind a mandate the PDP is challenging at the tribunal, our correspondent asked to which Mr. Ologbondiyan had this to say. “I don’t speak for the governors; I speak for the Peoples Democratic Party.”