Atiku, a former Vice-President, defected recently from the ruling party to the Peoples Democratic Party.
Okorocha spoke with journalists after he received an honorary doctorate degree at the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Ondo State on Saturday. He described Abubakar as a heavyweight politician.
He said, “I have taken a holistic view of our party, it (Atiku’s exit) is not the best because no matter how anybody thinks, Atiku carries some political weight. His leaving our party is not the best.”
The Imo State Governor, however, noted that since Atiku had decided to move on politically by going to another political party, the APC would make amends and his (Atiku) place would be filled up accordingly.
Reacting to the recent statement credited to the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, which said there would be no automatic ticket for President Muhammadu Buhari for the 2019 presidential election, against the position of the APC governors, Okorocha maintained that he would support Buhari for a second term.
The chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum had earlier said all the governors would support the sole candidacy of President Buhari in the 2019 election but Tinubu disagreed insisting that the APC’s presidential candidate must emerge through a primary.
Okorocha said, “The (Tinubu’s) statement came to me as a surprise; come to think of it, I never referred to him. I referred to the governors of Nigeria, including the PDP governors and I said only one or two of them had not joined yet.
“Since I made the statement, no governor has said something contrary to what I said. I am surprised that Asiwaju will now be speaking for the governors. He looks like somebody crying more than the bereaved. I did not see reason for the statement actually. But he commands my respect and I don’t want to take issue with the national leader of my party.
“What I mentioned was for the governors and secondly what I said is support. The word I use is support that does not mean there will not be a primary. Governors can only contribute 37 votes; we still have over 5,000 votes up there. What I was talking about was about governors. I was not talking about other party members. Governors alone do not determine the standard bearer of a party.”