He said his decision was the right one, recalling that in 2006, he and his supporters were pushed out of a party they had worked tirelessly with other compatriots to build as a vehicle to restore democracy to Nigeria. “We later returned to that party in 2009 when a new leadership of the party and the country promised a new direction, a direction of inclusiveness, of internal democracy, of an end to impunity, adherence to the rule of law and respect for the dignity of members and Nigerians,” he said, regretting that those promises were not kept and that the PDP continues to be beset with mostly leadership-induced crises. According to him, as in 2006 it is the struggle for democracy and constitutionalism and service to Nigeria and her people that have driven his choice and decision.“Let me emphasize that this is not about me,” he said. “We have to have a country before people can aspire to lead it, but as it is today we may be losing this country. That is not acceptable.”
The former Vice-President said the PDP has lost touch with Nigerians and that efforts made by many well-meaning members and stakeholders to bring it back to the vision of the founders have been rebuffed. According to him, it was in order to demonstrate the seriousness of the challenges and bring public attention to it that he and some other leaders and stakeholders staged a walkout during the party’s last convention in Abuja.
“As I speak, most of the issues that led to that walk-out are yet to be addressed,” he said. “Many founding members of the PDP, I included, continue to be marginalized and excluded from the affairs of the party. For instance as a former Vice President, I am by virtue of the PDP constitution, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees and its National Executive Committee. However, I am not invited to the meetings of those organs nor consulted on their decisions, apparently because I dared to exercise my right to contest in the party’s primary election for a chance to be its flag-bearer in the 2011 elections.”
As a result, he said that he and his supporters have concluded that the PDP cannot be redeemed, and that the party has abandoned Nigerians, the very people who gave it life and many electoral victories. “More worrisome though is the danger posed to the continued existence of this country by this culture of impunity and arbitrariness,” Atiku said. “We continue to have threats from officially protected political extremists. Increasingly our people are recklessly being divided along the lines of religion, ethnicity and region for political gains. Our history and that of many other countries in Africa and Eastern Europe ought to teach us that this is very dangerous and must stop.” Stressing, “We can and we must do better,” and that “Our people deserve better,” he noted that his decision may not satisfy some of his friends and associates, but that he had decided to put the interest of the country first.
“This country has done so much for me personally and it deserves all that we can do to help rebuild it and serve our people better, he said. He described the APC as a party of change committed to the improvement of the lives of the people of Nigeria and to the continued existence and development of Nigeria as one indivisible country.
Atiku encouraged his political associates and friends to register and join the APC once the registration exercise commences, asserting that together they can change this country for the better. “The process of building a nation, of securing and deepening democracy is indeed difficult,” the former Vice-President pointed out, noting that it is not a lineal process.
“There would be alignment and realignment of political forces. There would be ups and downs and zig-zags, triumphs and challenges. Amidst all that, patriots must remain focused and do what has to be done to save and build the country and serve our people better.” He said that was what he had decided to do, and that he will do all within my God-given powers to help the APC win elections all over Nigeria and bring true change to Nigeria and its long-suffering people.