FORMER Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, has accused the Presidency of sponsoring negative stories in the media against him, because President Goodluck Jonathan is scared of facing him in next presidential election.
Atiku’s position stemmed from media reports which, on Saturday, claimed that he had been zoned out of contention by the zoning arrangement put in place by his party, the All Progressive Congress (APC), which culminated in Friday night’s national convention to elect its national officers.
But the Presidency has fired back, saying Atiku is dragging in President Jonathan because he is only looking for big partners to square up with in order to shore up his image.
Dismissing the reports, a statement issued by Atiku’s media office in Abuja, on Saturday, said at no time did the party’s Convention Planning Committee or its recently-dissolved interim National Executive Council (NEC) discuss the issue of zoning of elective offices outside the positions of leadership of the party which, he said, were filled at the highly successful convention held on Friday.
“As for the presidential ticket, the position of all organs of the party is that it is open to all Nigerians, irrespective of where they come from,” Atiku said.
The statement described as “a hatchet job for Aso Rock” a front page lead story in today’s edition of a newspaper, entitled “Atiku Zoned Out”, wondering why the presidency is scared of the prospect of Dr Jonathan facing Atiku in 2015.
It also accused the newspaper of abandoning principles and its responsibility to the public “by uncritically accepting and mechanically reproducing editorials, opinions and reports” from the Presidential Villa.
The statement added that “Atiku’s chances have never been better, given the climate of democracy and freedom in the APC”, noting that the former Vice President would at any moment from now be making a pronouncement on if, when and how he would be making a declaration.
The statement urged Atiku’s well-wishers, supporters and the general public to disregard “these false reports emanating from the Presidency, which are designed to deter him from offering his services to Nigerians.”
Reacting to Atiku’s claim in a phone interview with Sunday Tribune in Abuja, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe, wondered whether the newspaper that carried the report was published by the Presidency.
“How is that Jonathan’s business now?” He asked, adding, “Is Presidency the publisher of the newspaper?”
The presidential aide noted that the Presidency did not consider Atiku a threat should Jonathan decide to contest the 2015 presidential election, advising the APC chieftain to face his troubles within his party.
Okupe further stated, “We have no interest whatsoever in the convention of the APC and the goings on within APC. We don’t see APC as any serious threat to PDP or to Jonathan if he wants to contest.
“Atiku is just grandstanding. Let him go and face his enemies from within. We have no business with it. It is not our business, we are not interested. We really don’t take him too serious. So, it is not an issue,” he stated.
Source: Tribune


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