National Chairman of the New Nigerian People’s Party, (NNPP), Professor Ahmed Rufai Alkali has denied insinuation that his party presidential candidate, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso would step down for former Vice- President and People’s Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
Addressing newsmen at the party national secretariat in Abuja, Professor Alkali alleged that certain elders in the North were being mobilised to put pressure on the NNPP presidential candidate to withdraw from the race for Atiku Abubakar in a consensus deal.
Alkali who did not name the Northern elders behind the move, however, maintained that the NNPP Presidential candidate is in the race to win the election.
Alkali urged the PDP presidential candidate to concentrate on how to woo some of the governors who have vowed not to support him in his aspiration rather than pushing for a consensus Northern candidate.
He said:” We aren’t a party to any consensus arrangement. Our candidates for all the elective offices have been campaigning for elections at all levels. “We have no engagement with Atiku Abubakar. He is running his campaign, we are running our own. He wants to be President, it is his legitimate right, guaranteed under the Constitution, But our candidate is also a front-runner and he is eminently qualified.
“We know he has been putting pressure on our candidate, using some leaders to talk to Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso.
“It is for this reason of using people to lobby in his favour that we shunned the engagement with the Northern Elders Forum. We knew the agenda.
“Now, they have been talking about a national government when we aren’t running a parliamentary system. Atiku is going so low, trying to force people to endorse him. We have 18 political parties in this country and we don’t know why he is so desperate.
“Of course, we know his worry: the PDP of today isn’t the PDP of the days of its founding fathers. The umbrella can’t give shed to anybody, it is in tatters. Five governors aren’t with him, coming from very powerful states.
“His house, the PDP isn’t in order, it is so divided, and you want us to come and follow you. The PDP is in shred and you want us to come and follow you. Very soon, those who have been threatening to leave would soon do so. Rabiu Kwankwaso has said this election is for the people, he has been campaigning vigorously.
” So, we disassociate ourselves from the endorsement of Atiku Abubakar. ”
However, Atiku spokesperson, Paul Ibe dismissed the allegation of pressure on Rabiu Kwankwaso to withdraw from the race in a Northern consensus deal.
Speaking with Tribune Online in a telephone interview, Paul Ibe said he was not aware of any plot for a Northern consensus candidate.
He declared that the PDP presidential candidate has never shied from his belief in a Government of National Unity to create a win-win situation for all contenders and relevant stakeholders in the politics of the country.
He said: ” Atiku isn’t building any Northern consensus but a Nigerian consensus. Yes, he is from Adamawa in the North but he is a Nigerian. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is preparing for the governance of Nigeria, not for election.
“He is a visioner and that explains why he is pushing for a government of National Unity to douse tension in the country. Atiku is a win-win situation for everybody. It is ridiculous for anybody to say he is trying to build a Northern consensus. ”