A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, said yesterday the PDP would have taken over governance of Lagos State during the 2003 general elections.
He recalled that when PDP took over power in 1999, the entire South-West geopolitical zone was under the control of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD).
But he said in 2003 election, he got the backing of his boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to deliver the six South-West states to PDP which he did with the exception of Lagos.
Speaking in Lagos when he visited the PDP secretariat to solicit delegates’ support ahead of the party’s presidential primaries, Atiku disclosed that he refused to take over Lagos in 2003 because of his relationship with the APC National Leader and former governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
He, however, tendered his apologies to members of the PDP in the state, urging them to give him the chance to correct the 2003 mistake to ensure that the state’s resources ceased to be in the hand of one man.
Atiku also boasted of defeating President Muhammadu Buhari who is likely to emerge as the APC candidate in the coming election, saying Buhari had never won in many northern states including Adamawa and Katsina states until 2015 when he and other opposition members teamed up with him.
He said the thinking that Buhari was invincible in many states of the North was not backed by statistical evidence or results of previous elections.
According him, Buhari’s reign had brought more woes to Nigeria, saying the APC government should be stopped in 2019.
Speaking on why the PDP did not take over Lagos as far back as 2003, he said, “When we came to power in 1999, the entire South West was being controlled by AD and when we were approaching 2003 elections, I told my boss (Obasanjo), ‘give me the authority to take over the South-West’ and he gave me that authority and I took over all the states with the exception of Lagos.
“This is because Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and I came a long way from SDP, PMM, PDM to SDP and I felt I should leave Lagos for him. I could easily have taken over Lagos.
“My brothers and sisters, I want you to forgive me for leaving Lagos out of that arrangement. If I have another opportunity again, Lagos will go together with the rest. I can tell you that I know what I did to preserve Lagos.”
Atiku reiterated that if given the opportunity to govern the country, he would restructure it in six months and devolve power to the regions and states to the extent that the centre would be unattractive.