The National Vice Chairman (South-South) of the All Progressives Congress, Hilliard Eta, has said that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar is no longer an option for the 2019 presidential race.
Eta said this in an interview with Saturday PUNCH in Abuja, on Friday.
He explained that he was one of those who canvassed votes for Atiku during the APC presidential primaries in 2015 but that their loyalty shifted to Muhammadu Buhari after he became the party’s presidential candidate.
Eta explained that he and all the other party faithful cast their lot with the party and its candidate which eventually led to Buhari’s emergence as President.
According to him, even the ardent critics of Buhari have been surprised by his performance.
Eta said the President was already doing what Atiku had always aspired to do if given the chance.
The APC chieftain said, “Another cycle is about to come and Atiku is no more an option for me because I think that the option for me now is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Buhari, who has done remarkably well in keeping the promises that he made to Nigerians.”
He urged the former Vice President to join the President in building the Nigeria of his dreams.
When asked if he was pushing for an automatic ticket for Buhari, Eta said, “Well, because of the sterling qualities of the President, because of the job he has done, the totality of the membership of the party may want him to go back without contest.
“What I mean is that those who may want to contest against him may join hands with him to build the country and have him only as both the aspirant and eventually the candidate of the party. It has happened in a lot of political circumstances around the world.”
In response to Eta, the Media Adviser to the former Vice President, Paul Ibe, said every Nigerian was entitled to their opinion.
He explained that the party chieftain was expressing a personal opinion, but that he could only speak for himself in such matters.
Ibe, who spoke to our correspondent in a telephone interview, said, “He is entitled to his opinion like all Nigerians, he is free to speak for himself just like he has done, but he can’t speak for all Nigerians.”