In 2006, as a result of my firm stand in defence of our constitution and our democracy, my supporters and I were pushed out of our party, the Peoples Democratic Party, a party that we worked tirelessly with other compatriots to build as a vehicle to restore democracy to our country. We later returned to that party in 2009 when a new leadership of the party and the country promised a new direction, a direction of inclusiveness, of internal democracy, of an end to impunity, adherence to the rule of law and respect for the dignity of members and Nigerians.
Sadly, however, those promises have not been kept. In addition, the PDP continues to be beset with many crises, mostly leadership-induced crises. It has since lost touch with Nigerians and efforts made by many well-meaning members and stakeholders to bring it back to the vision of the founders have been rebuffed. To demonstrate the seriousness of the challenges and bring public attention to it I and some other leaders and stakeholders staged a walkout during the party’s last convention in Abuja.
As I speak, most of the issues that led to that walk-out are yet to be addressed. Many founding members of the PDP, I included, continue to be marginalized and excluded from the affairs of the party. For instance as a former Vice President, I am by virtue of the PDP constitution, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees and its National Executive Committee. However, I am not invited to the meetings of those organs nor consulted on their decisions, apparently because I dared to exercise my right to contest in the party’s primary election for a chance to be its flag-bearer in the 2011 elections. We have, therefore, concluded that that party cannot be redeemed. In short the PDP has abandoned Nigerians, the very people who gave it life and many electoral victories.
More worrisome though is the danger posed to the continued existence of this country by this culture of impunity and arbitrariness. We continue to have threats from officially protected political extremists. Increasingly our people are recklessly being divided along the lines of religion, ethnicity and region for political gains. Our history and that of many other countries in Africa and Eastern Europe ought to teach us that this is very dangerous and must stop.
We can and we must do better. Our people deserve better.
It is against this background that we should understand the visit by the leaders of the APC and their invitation to me to join hands with them to save the country. Consequently, I have been consulting my supporters and associates, my family and friends for the past few weeks. My decision may not satisfy some of my friends and associates. In the end, however, I have to put the interest of our country first. This country has done so much for me personally and it deserves all that we can do to help rebuild it and serve our people better.
Following this extensive consultative process, I have, therefore, decided to cast my lot with the APC, a party of change committed to the improvement of the lives of our people and to the continued existence and development of Nigeria as one indivisible country. My resignation letter as a member of the PDP will be delivered to the party tomorrow.
This is the right decision. As in 2006 it is the struggle for democracy and constitutionalism and service to my country and my people that are driving my choice and my decision. Let me emphasize that this is not about me. We have to have a country before people can aspire to lead it, but as it is today we may be losing this country. That is not acceptable.
I encourage my political associates and friends to register and join the APC once the registration exercise commences, so that together we can change this country for the better.
The process of building a nation, of securing and deepening democracy is indeed difficult. And it is not a lineal process. There would be alignment and realignment of political forces. There would be ups and downs and zig-zags, triumphs and challenges. Amidst all that, patriots must remain focused and do what has to be done to save and build the country and serve our people better.
That is what I have decided to do. I will do all within my God-given powers to help the APC win elections all over Nigeria and bring true change to our country and its long-suffering people.
Thank you and God bless Nigeria.
Atiku Abubakar, GCON
Former Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria.