By Enyichukwu Enemanna
The presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar has opened up on the circumstances under which he rejected a former Governor of Lagos State and incumbent President, Bola Tinubu as his running mate in the 2007 presidential election on the platform of the Action Congress (AC).
Atiku, a former Vice President of the most populous West African country, said he rejected Tinubu in order to represent the country’s religious plurality
Atiku who hails from Adamawa State, North East Nigeria, is a Muslim, while Tinubu who later won as President in the February 25 poll on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), is a Muslim also, in a country largely dominated by Christianity and Islam.
At a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday, Atiku said Tinubu prior to the election in 2007 which produced Umar Musa Yar’Adua of blessed memory as winner, approached him through cronies, seeking to be his (Atiku) running mate, a move he turned down.
Both Atiku and Tinubu were political allies prior to the 2007 election, a relationship he said ended when Tinubu opted to support Yar’Adua because of his inability to emerge as Atiku’s running mate in Action Congress.
“That was the end of the political relationship. We broke away when he supported Umar Yar’Adua”, he stated while answering questions on how their political relationship kissed the dust.
He insisted that Muslim-Muslim ticket, which assisted in keeping the governing APC in power in 2023 is not right. Kashim Shettima, the Vice-President who hails from Borno State, north east Nigeria is a Muslim.
Since the return of democracy in 1999, this is the first time the President and his vice are from one religious faith.
“It’s not right. Absolutely wrong. We are multi-ethnic and multi-religious. Our leadership should represent our diversity and our composition”, Atiku said at the press conference.
He also denied betraying Tinubu, stating that he was instrumental in why the Action Congress retained Lagos State, home state of Tinubu In 2007 when the PDP took over all states in the South West.
Atiku said he appealed to the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo to spare Lagos for the opposition at that time.
He has had a running battle with Tinubu, who he accused of forging his academic document which he (Tinubu) submitted to the electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as a candidate in the 2023 presidential election.
Chicago State University (CSU) earlier in the week released the academic records of Tinubu who has discrepancies with the documents earlier submitted to INEC.
Atiku who came second in the Feb. 25 election is asking the Supreme Court to void the election of Tinubu and declared him winner.
Kalu Kalu, an ally of Atiku also said the document obtained from Chicago State University will assist in prosecuting the case against Tinubu, as a fresh charge of forgery will be filed against the President.