Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufa’i, has challenged former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, to prove that he funded President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign in 2015. Speaking on ‘Democracy Today’, a Voice of America (VOA) Hausa service programme, el-Rufa’i said the former number two citizen did not contribute ‘a dime’ to the 2015 presidential campaign of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Atiku Abubakar had accused the government of President Muhammadu Buhari of sidelining him despite his contributions to bringing it to power.
“Agreed, in politics if you lose even only one person, it should worry you, but the utterances of the former Vice-President that APC used his money; who did he give the money to?” el-Rufa’i asked.
“For me, I know those that supported us with their money and property that we used during election, and I never heard the name of Atiku that he brought a dime.
“If Atiku said he brought money, who did he give it to? Let him come and say it and how much did he give and what was it used for?
“And, in fact, if Atiku brought money, I ought to know, because I was part of the leadership of the party and during campaign, along with former Governor Rotimi Amaechi.
“We were at the centre of the presidential campaign. Therefore, we are supposed to know. So, let him mention who he gave the money and how much?”
The Governor also said Abubakar defected from the APC because he knew he might not get the presidential ticket, even if Buhari decides not to seek re-election.
He said he could not lose sleep over Abubakar’s presidential ambition, adding that “this is the reign of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
“We in the APC were aware from the outset that Atiku was going to leave the APC back to the PDP in December and we thank God that he left in November,” he said.
“Atiku had seen that we in the APC, especially the APC Governors, had resolved to support President Muhammadu Buhari to run again in 2019.
“Even if President Buhari decides not to contest, Atiku knows that the APC ticket is not sure for him.
“That is why he left APC since he was only looking for where to contest for president.
“So, by 2019, we are waiting to see Atiku contest; we are waiting to contest against him and see what happens. I cannot lose sleep because Atiku wants to contest because, by God’s grace, this is the reign of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Asked about a large number of APC members who are likely to follow Atiku to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), el-Rufa’i said: “Sure, we know that, we cannot rule out the possibility of some greedy people following him; those that are following material things. But, if people will consider how we can work for the progress of our country, everybody knows that you cannot compare Atiku with President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Meanwhile, former Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido of the PDP, who also has plans to run for president, said PDP was happy to have Atiku back, but his return would not threaten his ambition.
“We are happy that former Vice-President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is back to PDP. PDP made him and that he is back to the party is our joy. Not only him, in fact, we want others who left the party like Senate President Bukola Saraki and former governors to come back
“If our interest is to see the progress and development of Nigeria, then, we should also pray that everyone who left should return home,” Lamido said.
However, when asked about his intention to run in 2019, Atiku simply said he had not made up his mind. “When I decide, I will let the world know,” he said.