Presidential hopeful and former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has revealed that he deliberately left Lagos out of the Southwest states penciled for take-over by the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2003 polls.
The PDP presidential aspirant made the disclosure yesterday, while meeting with party stalwarts in Lagos.
He said he deliberately excluded Lagos by then because of his long-time relationship with the former Lagos governor, just as he pleaded with the people of the state to forgive him for that costly mistake.
The former Vice President said if given another chance he would not repeat such mistake, adding: "When the PDP came to power in 1999, the entire Southwest states were controlled by the Alliance for Democracy (AD), but in 2003, I told my boss, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, to give me the authority to take over the Southwest, which he did and I took over all the southwest states except Lagos.
"I left Lagos, because Tinubu and I have come a long way from the PFM, PDM to SDP. For that reason I decided to leave Lagos for him. I could easily have taken over Lagos, but unfortunately he (Tinubu) used Lagos to bounce back and today we have lost the Southwest states to the ruling APC."
While asking for forgiveness for leaving Lagos out of the 2003 takeover arrangement, Atiku declared: "If I have another opportunity, Lagos will go together, I can tell you that. I knew what I did to preserve Lagos, but I want to appeal to you to give me the chance to return, so that I can correct that mistake. That mistake brought us to where we are today.
"Lagos State and its resources have completely become the property of one person and their children. If you continue in this stage after next election, it means you are going to be responsible to only one person."
Atiku warned Nigerians never to make the error of reelecting the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and President Muhammadu Buhari next year "for the sake of their present and future, the future of their children and grand children and the generation to come."
He also flayed the economic policies of the ruling party, saying Nigeria now has the worst economy since the return of democracy in 1999.
He said: "In fact this government came with a method of merely seven per cent growth GDP, but as soon as it got into power, it crashed the nation's economy into recession and we have been trying to come out of it, but up till now the nation is barely at 1.0 GDP growth."
The former Vice President asserted that the Buhari-led administration has made life almost impossible for Nigerians on account of spiraling insecurity in the country.
Decrying the state of insecurity further Atiku said: "I have never seen Nigeria so much insecure as it is today. You are safer even here in Southwest, but in the north we cannot travel, we can't go to farm they will kidnap us or our relatives and I believe by the end of this time we may not even have food to eat. That is how bad it is.
"The unity of this country, which enjoyed tremendous improvement under the PDP is now shattered. We are more divided than we have ever been, either based on north-south or Christian-Muslim, simply because we elected a government that is so insensitive to our multi-ethnic and multi religious composition. But I bet you, as I have said, if given the opportunity within six months I will restructure this nation and make the presidency so unattractive, because I will devolve powers back to the states to the extent that when they ask you to come and be president, you will ask, why."
He said the 2019 election is so crucial and would therefore be the most important election ever in the history of the nation, adding: "Our present, our future and the future of our children and grand children are going to be determined by this election. If you make the mistake and return APC to power you will have yourselves to blame.
"Don't let anybody come and deceive you, because there is only one way to go and that is to make sure we unite and we give a person, who has the capacity, this is very important and the national spread support to return PDP to power at the centre and in many states as possible in 2019."
Urging the voters to open their eyes, Atiku said: "People keep on saying that Buhari cannot be defeated in the north, but we found that he has always lost. For example, Buhari has never won in my state in his political career. Even in Katsina
State, where he hails from, he never won election there except this time around.
"So do not listen to the narrative that Buhari cannot be defeated in the north. Evidence and facts of statistics do not support that narrative at all."