“Our party and its presidential candidate have commenced an action for legal redress to reclaim our victory in the 2023 presidential election,” he added.
When asked if he was willing to work with Obi, Atiku said he is open to collaborating with the former Anambra State governor.
He said, “So, as far as I am concerned, Peter is welcome to dialogue with the PDP. We are ready to dialogue with him. I don’t think we will have a problem if he wants to dialogue with the PDP, whether for an alliance or not,” he said during the event.
Speaking further, he noted, “At the time Peter decided to leave the PDP for the Labour Party, we had not begun our primary process. So, the question of whether he was going to get a ticket or not did not arise.”
Asked whether Obi’s candidacy affected his performance at the poll, Atiku answered in the affirmative saying Obi took PDP’s legacy votes in the South-East and South-South.
But he argued that the Labour Party candidate couldn’t still have garnered enough votes to beat him in the contest.
“It’s a fact that Peter Obi took our votes from the South-East and South-South, but that wouldn’t make him a president – you need votes from everywhere. He’s welcome to dialogue with the PDP on forming an alliance,” the PDP candidate said.
The former Vice-President disclosed that Obi left the PDP because he was scared of the party’s governors who had insisted that one of them must produce the presidential candidate for the 2023 election.
Atiku said, “You negotiate for power, you don’t fight for it. I think Peter Obi was in a rush. When the campaign started and our PDP governors said, ‘They must produce the president among them,’ he got scared and left (PDP). I didn’t get scared and stood up against the governors.”
When asked if Tinubu had reached out to him, Atiku said he was aware of any reconciliatory moves by the president-elect.
The PUNCH had earlier reported that the APC set up a reconciliation committee to meet with Atiku, Obi and other aggrieved candidates who contested the election.
“Well, I am not aware of that. I was home all day today. I was not aware of any governor coming to see me,” the former vice president said.
Responding to the points raised by Atiku during his media conference, the Chief Spokesman for the APC PCC, Festus Keyamo, maintained that the PDP candidate’s desperate attempt to become the next president was long dead before Saturday’s election.
Keyamo stated this in a statement titled, ‘Atiku Abubakar should quit being delusional: He destroyed his party and reaped the full consequence of his indiscretion.’
Keyamo said the former Adamawa State governor’s presidential aspiration died the day his party was fractured into three components that produced Obi and Dr Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigerian Peoples Party as his political rivals.
He also asserted that the PDP standard bearer breached the zoning principle of his party by insisting on running for the presidency when that was clearly against the mood of the nation.
Even after emerging as the PDP candidate, Keyamo noted that the party continued to rub insult on the faces of southern leaders in the PDP by insisting on keeping the position of the national chairman in the North, which he said culminated in the rebellion by the G-5 governors before the polls.
APC berates Atiku
The APC PCC spokesman further mocked the PDP candidate saying his ‘bogus claim’ to have won Saturday’s presidential poll claim without a shred of evidence was the last kick of a dying horse.
He said, “Atiku’s bid for the Presidency this time around was dead on arrival when his inordinate ambition fractured his party into three parts, with Alhaji Rabiu Kwakwanso and Mr Peter Obi breaking away to the NNPP and the Labour Party, respectively. The massive loss he suffered in traditional PDP zones and states is a clear testament to this.
“One wonders, then, how he expected to have won the election. It is also comical to see that he claims victory at the polls together with Obi with whom his party has been holding press conferences. Nigerians have since seen through the ambition of Atiku that it is merely self-serving.
“He has run for Presidency at every point in time in the last 30 years, irrespective of the zoning tilt of the nation. Following his successive failures and rejection by Nigerians in different elections, it should be clear to him by now that he is simply unelectable. The expositions relating to his confessed mode of siphoning public funds whilst in office through SPVs further dented his aspiration before Nigerians.’’
The APC PCC welcomed Atiku’s decision to challenge the outcome of the results, saying it was prepared to meet his challenge, no matter the nature of the challenge, anywhere and anytime.
“If he is not embracing the olive branch extended to him and other losers in the 2023 elections by the President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the least he can do is to quietly relocate to Dubai which has become his traditional home base,” Keyamo jibed in an apparent reference to Atiku’s regular trip to the picturesque city.
Speaking to The PUNCH on his party’s next move, the Spokesman for the New Nigeria Peoples Party Campaign Council, Ladipo Johnson said the party was looking at many issues arising from the election, pointing out that it would make its position known at the right time.
“We witnessed a lot of things that were not right during the election. There are a lot of legal issues being looked at by the legal department of our party. When this is over, we will make the next move,” he said.
On claims by Obi that he won the election, Johnson urged the former Anambra State governor to prove his argument beyond doubt at an election petition tribunal.
“Obi, like every other Nigerian has a right to make a claim. We can’t join issues with him or with anyone else. If he is truly sure he won the election, I think the right thing to do is to prove this claim at an election petition tribunal. It is not enough to claim victory,” he added.
Tinubu meets NWC
Meanwhile, the President-elect, Tinubu, on Thursday pledged to hit the ground running from his first day in office to deliver on his campaign promises.
He reiterated that he would run a fair and inclusive administration that would unite all Nigerians.
Tinubu gave the assurance when he received the members of the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress.
The delegation, which arrived at his residence in Abuja on a congratulatory visit at about 2.35 pm, had the National Chairman of the party, Senator Adamu Abdullahi; National Youth Leader, Dayo Israel; Deputy National Women Leader, Zainab Ibrahim; Vice chairman (North-East), Salihu Lukman and National Secretary, Iyiola Omisore, in attendance.
While drawing attention to the challenges of electioneering in the country, Tinubu said he ran a tough campaign anchored on issues right from his bid for the APC’s ticket.
He said, “It is going to be a fair government guided by the rule of law, justice and fairness. It is going to be hard work from day one and we are going to join hands in building a government of the people and by the people.
“We drew a strong commitment with Nigerians. From the primary we were transparent. We were committed to our ideals. We promised Nigerians that if we win we will work for all Nigerians.”
The president-elect also restated his commitment to uniting the country promising to be president for all.
According to him, he felt a fresh weight of responsibility after collecting his certificate of return from the electoral commission on Wednesday, promising to commit his victory to unite Nigeria.
“I am committed to uniting the country. Definitely in any contest, particularly a democratic contest, there must be losers and winners,” he stated.
Tinubu also thanked the party leadership for showing commitment and courage in leading the party to victory despite all the odds.
Adamu disclosed in his speech that though transition elections are always tough for ruling parties, the victory of the APC was long foreseen.
Earlier before the NWC members visited the president-elect, Adamu addressed journalists where he lampooned the PDP and the LP agents and others for storming out of the collation centre after the APC flag bearer was declared the winner of the presidential election on Wednesday.
Recall that the PDP National Collation Agent, Dino Melaye and some other party agents staged a walkout of the International Conference Centre in Abuja, alleging that the INEC had been compromised. They also refused to sign the result sheet of the election.
But Adamu, who addressed newsmen at the party secretariat in Abuja, described their actions as ‘childish’ and a calculated attempt to rubbish the elections.
While urging the opposition to take the result in good faith as ‘good sportsmen’, the former governor of Nasarawa State noted that the laws of the country also provide channels for the redress of electoral grievances.
He said, “I would be remiss if I fail to condemn in the strongest possible terms the shameful conduct of the leadership of PDP and the Labour Party in their unwarranted attempts to sabotage the elections and throw the country into chaos and avoidable crisis. It is a pity that they take their loss so badly. They ought to be good sportsmen and women in the political arena.
“Their protest walk out from the collation centre was childish but a calculated attempt to rubbish the elections and impugn the integrity of the electoral umpire. Their call for the cancellation of the elections over their unproven allegations of electoral fraud must be the height of diabolical desperation.
“Nothing in our laws and the constitution gives aggrieved individuals and groups the right to abort the unequivocal choices freely made by the people in their wisdom. Power belongs to the people and the people must be allowed to exercise it in the best way they choose in instituting the government of their choice.
“Our laws provide channels for the redress of electoral grievances. We urge those who feel aggrieved to avail themselves of those channels to seek redress. To set the house on fire in pursuit of a rat is not an act of courage or patriotism. It stands condemnable.
“We are happy to see that the people have seen through their unpatriotic antics and rejected their attempts to set the country on fire. We commend the highly placed and patriotic former public officers who instantly rose in defence of the conduct of the elections and the election results and condemned the saboteurs.”