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By Agofure Okpodovan

The presidential race of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, may hit the rocks again if the Turaki Adamawa does not distance himself from an ex-convict and corrupt former governor of Delta State, Chief James Onanefe Ibori.

The media reported that Ibori is currently flirting around with Atiku over who should be his presidential running mate. And it appears failures associated with previous attempts to become President of Nigerian has been wipes off Atiku’s memory . This time around he may be in for another regrets if the PDP presidential candidate refuses to distance himself from an unrepentant criminal and corrupt ex-onvict, Ibori.

Atiku is aware that acute corruption bedevils this country in monumental proportion and Nigerians neither want to hear nor see any trace of corrupt individuals piloting the presidential campaign of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Ibori is well known locally and in the international community as a corrupt, crude and hardened criminal who pleaded guilty for looting Delta State treasury during his tenure as governor between 1999 and 2007.

The Econet (now Airtel) unscrupulous transaction and many other shady deals for which Chief Ibori pleaded guilty and was jailed in London, cannot be forgotten in a hurry. About £4.2 million of Delta State stolen funds by Ibori was repatriated to Nigeria last year and withheld by the federal government. Delta State Government is still battling for the recovery of the money and several billions of Naira in foreign currencies hanging in foreign banks, yet to be repatriated.

Atiku as an experienced politician and a forthright presidential candidate of PDP, is aware of the electoral and electioneering disaster that will befall him and PDP over renewed political romance with a hardened fraudster and ex-convict, Chief James Ibori. This should never be allowed to happen at all.

Ibori of 1999 is no longer the Ibori of 2022, in terms of political relevance and control of Delta State politics. The just concluded gubernatorial primary in the state wherein his partner in money laundering and looting of Delta State treasury, Olorogun David Edevbie, was rejected by delegates arrest to the fact that Ibori is an expired politician.

Atiku cannot afford to take Nigerians for a ride, he must stay away from Ibori otherwise his victory in 2023 cannot be guaranteed.

At the just concluded PDP presidential primary in Anuja, Chief James Ibori could not influence one single delegate votw fort Atiku The state governor, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, is unarguably the current leader of Delta State politics and Chairman, South-South Governors Forum. He is in perfect control of the state political structures, loved by Deltans, and if Atiku must win in 2023, he should of a necessity avoid ex-convict James Ibori.

It was reported that Ibori accompanied Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to PDP Secretariat for official transactions and this singular act may attract negative public reactions. For him to succeed, he must not be seen to patronise unscrupulous elements, corrupt past leaders and ex-convicts like Chief James Ibori. Atiku must thread with caution this time around.

2023 presidential election is obviously Atiku’s last chance to become Nigeria’s president and he must not waste this golden opportunity because of an ex-convict. Atiku must listen to PDP leaders and NEC of the party to pick his running mate. He must never allow an ex-convict to dictate or determine who become his running mate. Millions of Nigerians will abandon Atiku because of his political romance with Ibori. He must at all cost avoid this foreseeable political and electioneering disaster.

In Delta State, Chief Ibori is no longer in charge of the political structures. He deliberately distanced himself from party politics since he returned to Nigeria after serving his jail term in London. Ibori is only interested in planting rogues in government to steal Delta State resources.

Deltans have resolved never to allow Ibori have access to their state treasury via partners in crime. This also accounted for reasons why his co-conspirator, Olorogun David Edevbie, could not emerge as 2023 governorship candidate in the state. Atiku must not waste this opportunity, he should avoid patronising past corrupt leaders with little or no electoral value.

There is no gainsaying the fact that Ibori is a political leper and a corrupt leader, his personal relationship with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar not withstanding. And if Atiku truly want to win the 2023 presidential election, he must avoid the former rogue governor of Delta State.

As the saying goes “show me your friend and I will tell you who you are.” Darkness and light cannot cohabit, they are separate entities; one is positive and the other is absolutely negative.

Atiku must surround himself with positive leaders and not negative corrupt ex-convicts with no electoral value like Ibori.

If Atiku allow Ibori to dictate who become his running mate, 2023 presidential election will be a monumental disaster for him and his party, because Nigerians will not vote for a candidate who is fraternising with ex-convicts and corrupt past leaders.

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