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Nigeria: Former Founder Predicts Ruling Party's Demise

Vice President Atiku Abubakar of Nigeria has reportedly said he intends to return home from the United States where he is currently vacationing, despite rumors he might be arrested upon his return. Atiku is involved in a legal battle with President Olusegun Obasanjo who has declared the vice presidency vacant because Atiku was adopted by the Action Congress Party as its presidential candidate in this year’s general elections.

Omar Shittien is a former founding member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He said President Obasanjo’s actions have rendered the ruling party almost obsolete.

“The party is virtually dead as far as the support of the grassroots, that is the majority of Nigerians is concerned. The party is only alive because it heads a government that is lead by General Obasanjo. Otherwise, the party would have been dead completely. In 2006, the party concentrated in actually nailing its coffin. First of all, what it did a year before was to nullify all the registration cards of all members of the party and to thereafter continue registering only selected people, some senior members of the party in a clique supportive of General Obasanjo,” he said.

Shittien said the PDP has reached a point where it will get not support from Nigerians unless it uses force. He said the current legal struggle between Vice President Abubakar and President Obasanjo is a manifestation of the major crisis confronting the PDP.

“Vice President Atiku represents the will of Nigerians. He represents the conscience of Nigerians. What is happening in the Obasanjo government and the PDP is unconscionable. Only Atiku has the guts to come up and say look Nigerians cannot take this,” he said.

Shittien said President Obasanjo and the ruling PDP are going after Vice President Abubakar because he said the vice president rejected President Obasanjo’s bid to for a third term.

“Vice President Atiku told him in private that he would not support it. That was his crime. But Nigerians love democracy. They do not want any violence. They do not want any problems. That’s why most of the cases that Atiku has he goes to court, and all the five cases he has initiated in the court he has won,” Shittien said.

Shittien predicted that Vice President Abubakar would win his latest court case before a Nigerian appellate court.

“What is before the court really for decision is whether or not the president has the constitutional power to remove a vice president under Nigerian Constitution. The answer is emphatic no. The conscience of Nigerians certainly is not with Obasanjo,” Shittien said.