Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has said the All Progressives Congress as presently constituted, cannot do without holding an elective party primary to choose its flag bearer for the 2015 presidential election.
Atiku said this in an interview with journalists, in Abuja, on Monday. He was reacting to the clamour by the Gen. Muhammadu Buhari campaign team for an automatic ticket for the retired general.
In a veiled reference to agitations by Buhari’s supporters for an automatic ticket, Atiku said such agitations were borne out of a fear of an elective contest.
According to him, such a campaign can also be a carryover of the political background of those seeking for such concessions which is alien to the APC as it is today.
He said, “There is nothing like automatic ticket and those people who are asking for automatic ticket might have been coming from a political background that did not know contest before.
“You know the APC is an amalgamation of a number of political parties that came together and merged their identities but the APC as currently constituted cannot escape an elective mode of primaries.
“There is no zoning, on what basis are you going to say it is automatic? There is no allocation as they do in the Peoples Democratic Party, there is nothing like that so, on what basis?”
He implored politicians not to be scared of a political contest because it helps to strengthen democracy arguing that should he lose in a fair contest, he would support his party to win the elections.
In response, the South-East Zonal Publicity Secretary of the party who belongs to Buhari’s camp, said neither the general nor his supporters were afraid of a contest.
He, however, said the long term interest of the party was of utmost importance because there was little or no time left for the party to deal with the rancour which was likely to follow.
Okechukwu said “It is not a question of being afraid of a contest. Why we are asking for an automatic ticket for Buhari is on many grounds. We have seen that the connection between him, the middle class and the masses of this country is unparalleled.
“He has a bond with the masses of this country and the middle class and that kind of bond generated 12 million votes in 2011 in a micro CPC, a small CPC, now we have a broader political party.
“We need to compliment and supplement that 12 million votes instead of running the risk of the rancour, the bitterness of direct or indirect primaries. We have to avoid that rancour.”