Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has urged the President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress administration to fulfil its promise to Nigerians to make them feel safe again.
Atiku, who is also the founder of the American University of Nigeria group of schools in Yola, Adamawa State, faulted an online report on one of the Chibok girls.
Faulting the report, Atiku said, “Not everything is about 2019.”
Atiku was reacting to an online publication suggesting that one of the freed kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, attempted suicide to protest being compelled to attend one of his schools.
He noted that he was not aware that anyone was being forced to attend one of his schools.
“The Waziri Adamawa prays that those who have suffered so much get all the treatment and support they need, and urgently calls on the Federal Government to honour its promise to make Nigerians feel safe again,” the statement said.
The statement partly read, “His Excellency Atiku Abubakar (Waziri Adamawa), Vice-President of Nigeria, 1999-2007 and founder of the AUN Group of Schools is shocked that some would-be journalists think it is fair game to exploit a young girl’s trauma to score cheap political points.
“Atiku Abubakar is not aware that anyone is forced to attend ABTI schools. The story is contrived hogwash. He urges the media, a critical partner in our march to progress and development, to remember that not everything is about 2019.
“I wish to stress that the intention of the Waziri Adamawa was to give the freed Chibok girls (just like he did to an earlier batch in 2014) the best possible education, and that was why he helped set up the foundation programme to create such an opportunity in a familiar environment.
“Unfortunately, the best intentions can backfire. These girls are still healing, and clearly, the recent deterioration of the security situation in the North-East has opened old wounds.”
Meanwhile, there are indications that the APC National Working Committee members are divided on how to handle statements credited to Atiku and the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan.
Our correspondent gathered that the NWC would at its meeting today (Monday) discuss the possibility of punishing the former Vice-President and the minister.
It had been reported on September 9 that the NWC would meet on Monday (today) to discuss statements made by the former Vice-President and the minister.
The National Vice-Chairman, North-East, Mustapha Salihu, had confirmed Monday’s meeting in an interview with our correspondent.
Alhassan had last week said she would support Atiku against Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.
On his part, the former Vice-President lashed out at the Buhari administration, saying he had been sidelined by the government.
A party chieftain, who confided in our correspondent, said the NWC would discuss how to handle the duo.
He said that although members had not agreed on whether they should be sanctioned, but Atiku risked further isolation from the party and the government.
“What is certain is that the issue will be discussed, but their actions will not attract punishment like suspension. Atiku will be isolated from the party and the government,” the source stated.
Some of the party’s leaders, who spoke on condition of anonymity, in separate interviews in Abuja, on Sunday, expressed mixed feelings about Atiku’s latest outburst.
One of the respondents, a member of the NWC, said the former Vice-President was simply voicing out his frustrations about the shoddy treatment he had been receiving since the APC came to power.
He said, “Aside from not consulting him on a number of issues, his business interests have come under attack by the same government he worked hard to bring to power.
“Some individuals around the President are using Buhari’s name and office to make enemies for him. You and I know that the sudden change of policy with respect to the ports operations which Intels use to handle is not an accident.
“The man is a businessman and politician and like everybody else, he had certain expectations when he joined the party and worked with others to form government.”
The source added, “Atiku ought to have avoided saying what he said to the media because members of the cabal who have always been pushing for his isolation now have further ammunition to fight him.
“I am afraid, he risks further isolation because even those close to him within the party may be compelled to switch camp for political survival.”
Another party leader said those behind the leak of private comments made by Alhassan, were out to pull her down.
As to whether the party would consider punitive measures against the two, the source said, “You don’t punish people for expressing an opinion.”
When contacted, the National Vice-Chairman (North-West), Inuwa Abdulkadir, said, “I discuss issues not personalities.”
His counterpart in the South-South, Hilliard Ita, said he was not in a position to comment on the Atiku matter.
He however said comments attributed to the Minister of Women Affairs were unbecoming of a minister.
Meanwhile, a Second Republic lawmaker Junaid Muhammed, has reacted to a call by Senator Sheu Sani, who on Saturday, urged Buhari to reach out to the APC National leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Muhammed said the President, in his two years in office, had made more enemies than friends, adding that Buhari should reach out and listen to the people.