Allies of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan and the governor of Adamawa State, Jibrilla Bindow, yesterday met President Muhammadu Buhari separately and pledged their allegiance to him.
Their benefactor, Atiku, resigned from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) recently and is said to be poised to join the opposition PDP.
It was being speculated that the duo might follow Atiku to his new party.
Though Mrs. Alhassan, popularly known as Mama Taraba declined comment on Atiku’s defection from the APC when approached by reporters, the Adamawa governor said he would not quit the ruling party.
Credible sources in the APC said the minister had assured Buhari of her absolute loyalty.
The minister met Buhari after she, alongside other cabinet members, attended the launch of the Policy Framework and National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.
The sources told Daily Trust last night, that the minister had opted to remain with President Buhari and APC, despite her benefactor Atiku Abubakar defection.
One of the sources said the minister, in what could be seen as a twist, had assured President Buhari of her loyalty and support beyond 2019.
But one of our source, a top official of the ruling APC, said, “She pledged her loyalty to the president (Buhari) and that she would not follow Atiku back to the PDP.”
Efforts to reach the minister proved abortive last night as she did not picking her calls.
She did not also respond to text messages sent to her phone. However, the Taraba State APC Chairman, Alhaji Sani Chul, told Daily Trust last night that the minister would not follow Atiku.
Another source who also craved for anonymity, said the minister’s new disposition was not a surprise.
“We are really happy with her decision, it is clear that she has seen some changes in the areas she complaint about in recent past if there are any. Yes, there were issues in APC like in any other party but clearly we are better.
“And most importantly, it is the minister that should be congratulated because by her action, she has extended the lifespan of her political career; she would have a lot to gain in the APC than in PDP.
“Following Atiku to PDP or whatever party would be a suicide mission for her; Atiku had globe trotted from one party to another, all in a bid to become president and Nigerians would not gamble with their future.
“Power belongs to God and you can’t get it by force; he too should have persevered in the APC to see what God has in stock for him; we earnestly congratulate Mama Taraba for making a tough but wise decision to remain in APC,” he said.
I am in APC for life – Bindow
On his part, the Adamawa governor said as a founding father of the APC, he would remain in the party for the rest of his life, stressing that he has no reason to leave the party he helped to build.
Addressing State House reporters after meeting with Buhari, Bindow, who is the governor of Atiku’s home state, said the former vice president remained his respected father.
The governor noted that he was at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa to brief President Buhari on the security situation in Adamawa State.
Asked whether he is likely to pitch tent with Atiku who left the APC last Friday, the governor responded: “First of all, the former VP is more than matured enough to decide whatever he wants to decide for himself.
“As far as I am concerned, I am one of the founding fathers of APC when I was in the Senate with the current Senate President. We were the ones that worked very hard to ensure all members of the National Assembly that we agreed to move to APC and we did. So, I don’t see any reason why the house I helped to build I will leave it, I am in APC for the rest of my life, period!”
On what becomes of his relationship with Atiku, the governor said: “Not only Waziri, every elder in Adamawa state as far as I am concerned I regard them as my parent or my father. So, Waziri (Atiku) remains somebody I respect as a father or any other elder in the state.”
He emphasised that Atiku’s defection would have no political implication in Adamawa, saying “Well, APC is strong; we have 25 members of House of Assembly. 24 out of 25 in Adamawa state House of Assembly are APC, all the three senators are APC, all the House of Reps including Adamu Kamir who have moved to APC. So, we are strong and will continue to be strong.”
Bindow said he was “fortunate enough” to have been the first governor that had “a very rare opportunity” to endorse Buhari for a second term “because as far as we people of the North East are concerned, we will remain loyal to our President who is highly committed to the fight against insurgency in the North East, we will remain loyal to our President.”
Why Mama Taraba’s move is surprising
In September this year, Senator Jummai Alhassan in an interview with the BBC, said that she would dump the cabinet and shift her loyalty away from Buhari if Atiku would contest the 2019 elections.
“After I joined politics, he continued being my godfather. You know everybody has a reason for a political relationship with somebody. Secondly, Baba Buhari hasn’t told us that he wants to recontest in 2019.
“I can assure you that if Baba Buhari tells us today that he wants to re-contest, I swear to God I will go to him and tell him that ‘Baba, I thank you for giving me the opportunity to work under you as a minister. But Baba as you know, Atiku is my godfather.’ That’s if Atiku wants to contest, but as we speak, he (Atiku) hasn’t told us he wants to contest,” she said.
The minister said she would resign her position as a minister if Atiku declares his intention to run because she would be a “hypocrite” if she remains part of the federal cabinet as her loyalty is still with the former vice president, being her godfather.
“We hope he (Atiku) will contest in 2019, that’s why I said so. But he’s yet to say so himself. Once he declares, I’ll do just what I said. If Atiku comes out to contest and I remain part of Baba Buhari’s cabinet at the same time, then I become a hypocrite. I’m not known for hypocrisy, ungratefulness and betrayal.
“If today I say I have nothing to do with Atiku, even Baba Buhari himself will doubt me. He’ll say I’m a betrayal and I’m not like that,” she added.
Asked if it is not too early to begin campaign for 2019, Alhassan said she was not in any way campaigning for Atiku at this time.
“This thing I said was when we paid him (Atiku) sallah visit. Is it in his presence that I’ll go and campaign? The issue of campaign hasn’t come up. Even me that people have been calling to come and contest, I told them that it’s not yet time, but it’s now time to work for the people.
“This is the work of those opposing me. They’re saying I should be sacked as minister. In the first place, I never expected the ministerial position. It is God that gave me, and if today I’m asked to leave, it is God’s time that has come to an end. I have faith and I believe that whatever happens to me is destined by God.”
She also said Buhari would not sack her because of the issue.
“Do they think Baba is also mad like them? They’re busy sending all sorts of things via phones that once Baba sees them, he’ll sack me. He won’t sack me as minister because of this issue, except if I commit an offence.
“Besides, I’ve been doing my job as minister to the best of my knowledge. I also defend the APC government, my political party. Baba is my leader and the president of my country. I have been respecting him and I’ll continue to respect him as a good man and someone with integrity.
“So, those saying I’ll be sacked will be put to shame. Even if I’m sacked, it’s because my time is over and nothing else. I didn’t seek for it in the first place; it’s God that gave me.”
Her statement came less than 24 hours after Atiku said he was side-lined by the APC.
In an interview granted during the Eid-el Kabir in Yola aired by the Hausa Service of the Voice of America (VOA), Atiku said he had been sidelined despite the fact that he used his contacts and resources to defeat the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015.
“Honestly speaking, I’m still a member of the APC; I was part of all the processes, including campaigns until success was achieved.
“But sadly, soon after the formation of government; I was side-lined, I have no any relationship with the government, I’ve not been contacted even once to comment on anything and in turn, I maintained my distance. They used our money and influence to get to where they’re but three years down the lane, this is where we are,” Atiku said.
Atiku media aide declines comments
When contacted, the Head of Atiku Media Office, Paul Ibe, declined comments on the remarks made by the governor of Adamawa State, Mohammad Jibrilla. “No comment,” he said.