Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has dismissed as “sponsored stories”, reports that the All Progressives Congress, APC, had zoned him out of the presidential contest following a new arrangement.
In a statement issued by his media office, the former Vice President said at no time did the party’s Convention Planning Committee or its recently-dissolved Interim National Executive Council (NEC) discuss the issue of zoning of elective offices outside the positions of leadership of the party, which were filled at the convention held on Friday.
Atiku contested the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential primaries in 2011, but was defeated by President Goodluck Jonathan, who went on to win the general elections that same year.
Based on the APC’s zoning arrangement, the South-South zone produced the national chairman of the party while the North East produced the National Secretary.
“As for the presidential ticket, the position of all organs of the party is that it is open to all Nigerians irrespective of where they come from”, Nigeria’s former number two man said.
The statement described as “a hatchet job for Aso Rock”, a front page lead story in Saturday’s edition of a newspaper titled “Atiku Zoned Out”. It accused the presidency of being jittery of the prospect of President Jonathan slugging it out with Atiku in 2015.
It also accused the newspaper of abandoning principles and its responsibility to the public “by uncritically accepting and mechanically reproducing editorials, opinions and reports “from the Villa”.
“Atiku’s chances have never been better, given the climate of democracy and freedom in the APC” said the media office, which also disclosed that the former vice president will at any moment from now, be making a pronouncement on if, when and how he will be making a declaration.
The statement conveyed Atiku’s appeal to all his well-wishers, supporters and the general public to disregard such false reports, which it said are designed to deter him from offering his services to Nigerians.