With less than 48 hours to the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday received an unusual endorsement when a gay group, the National Gay Forum, declared their support for his bid to rule the country. Addressing journalists yesterday at the Agura Hotel in Abuja, the spokespersons for the group, Victor Labelle and Freedom Awuke, urged Nigerians to provide support for Mr Atiku, whom they said was “committed to turning the fortunes of the country around for the better.”
“In view of the meaningful contributions of Atiku to national development, it has become imperative for PDP delegates to cast their votes for him at tomorrow’s party primary election as well as in the April elections,” Mr Labelle said. He said that his group was “exercising its fundamental human right of freedom of association.”
“Not too long ago, in the United States, gays made their voices heard,” he said. “It was the same in Germany, France and other parts of the world. We affirm our position and have decided to identify with our own dear former vice president of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as our own presidential candidate. We derive our consent from our constitutional right and obligation and urge well-meaning Nigerians, delegates and our fellow gays to throw their support behind Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. Let us join hands and make good things happen.”
He stated that the gay movement had decided to take an interest in political developments in the country and would henceforth make significant contributions to the political development of the country. “In an attempt to make meaningful political, social and cultural transformation, we have chosen to air our political views so as not to be left in a moribund condition,” he said.
Garba Shehu, spokesperson for the Atiku Abubakar Campaign Organisation, however expressed his surprise and dismay at the endorsement.
“Honestly, we don’t want to get involved in this kind of story…” he said. “However, we believe that lesbianism and sodomy are unlawful acts in this country, so we are surprised that law and order have so broken down in this country that gays will organise freely, address the press and the police did not arrest them. Law and order has broken down completely and the next thing we will be hearing now is that of armed robbers and the kidnappers that will organise — then bombers will also organise their press conference tomorrow. So one, we detest this kind of journalism; two, we say this is an illegal society organising freely in this country. Then that tells us the kind of government that we have.”
By Soji Bamidele