I’m not Desperate to be President of Nigeria, Says Atiku

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By John Shiklam in Kaduna

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has said that he is not desperate about becoming the president of Nigeria.

Abubakar, who spoke in an interview with the Hausa service of the British Broadcasting Service (BBC) on Saturday, also revealed why he parted ways with President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) which he helped to bring to power.

Dismissing insinuations that he is desperate to be president, Abubakar maintained that he would have contested for the position in 2003 when all the governors rejected the then President Olusegun Obasanjo and wanted him to contest.

He said: “I am not desperate to be president of Nigeria. If you have been following political developments in Nigeria, I didn’t start aspiring to be president today.

“You will recall that in 1993, I contested with the late MKO Abiola, but I stepped down for him and he won even though at that time it was not my wish to contest, it was our party leaders who asked me to contest.

“In 1999, after I was elected governor (of Adamawa State), I was asked to be vice-president to Obasanjo and we spent eight years in office.

“In 2007, Obasanjo didn’t want me to contest, but I wanted to prove to him that I have the right to contest, so I contested to prove my right.

“All these were at the preliminary stages until 2007 when I contested for the presidential primaries.

“If I were desperate to be president, I would not have stepped down for Abiola in 1993.

“Secondly, you recalled that in 2003, all the governors said they didn’t like Obasanjo and asked me to contest. If I am desperate, I would have contested.”

Explaining why he is interested in 2019, Abubakar said having been vice-president for eight years, he ought to be done to move the country forward, but as vice-president he couldn’t do that.

He spoke about boosting the economy, creating an attractive environment for investors and creation of jobs to tackle unemployment.

On why he parted ways with Buhari and the APC, Abubakar recalled that after the elections in 2015, he met the president and told him of the need to restructure the party to address the challenges facing it.

He added that he advised the president on some aspects of his government but Buhari did not say anything.

“I told him that if things continued like this, I will quit but he didn’t say anything.

“In this administration, there are some people that are doing things that are not right but they are being protected by the government,” Abubakar said.

He said if he is elected president in 2019, 40 per cent of his cabinet ministers will be youths.

The former vice-president also reacted to the controversy surrounding Intels Nigeria Limited, a company which he has stakes in, and the federal government, saying he was not worried over the matter as he was not part of company’s management.

According to him, when the federal government awarded the contact to Intels, they signed an agreement that profits would be shared into three with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) taking a part, another part for servicing bank loans while Intels keeps the third part.

He said following the introduction of the treasury single account (TSA) by the government, Intels was directed to deposit all money in the TSA.