As the political clocks gradually and steadily ticks to 2019 and with the unfolding of election calendar by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), last week, political pundits and fixers are already on the chessboard calculating who will be where and its implications on the national question. In this analysis, EMEKA ODOM x-rays the growing clamour for former vice president, Atiku Abubakar and what he is bringing to the table.
he social and mainstream media has been awash in the recent past with calls and expressions of support by different interest groups for the resuscitation of the presidential ambition of the former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. This huge support comes from some groups under the aegis: Concerned Nigerian Youth Development Organisation (CNYDO), Kaduna Articulated and Atiku care Foundation, etc. These groups have all declared their support for the ex-vice president ahead of the 2019 Presidential election, and believe strongly that Atiku is the right man to take over the job of ruling Nigeria from the incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.
They believe in the capacity and capability of the presidential leadership of Turaki Adamawa at this crucial point of the nation’s quest for economic, political and technological transformation. According to them, given the present economic recession and the drive for expansion and development of the local economy with a clear purpose of ensuring a paradigm shift from petro-economy to agro-economy, as well as the fostering of national unity and cohesion which may believe have been greatly dented in the recent past, Atiku Abubakar possess the wherewithal to provide solutions to this dilemma which the country has found itself in. They also see Atiku Abubakar as a man who commands acceptability across the country, having a network of friends, political associates, supporters and loyalist who have in the past found him to be reliable, trustworthy and dependable as a politician.
These current “Atiku for President” drummers are also of the opinion that having served successfully as the vice president for two terms to ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, he knows and understands the intricacies of running a complex and dynamic country like Nigeria in the 21st century, taking into consideration the tribal, religious, political and socio-cultural divergence.
The man, Atiku Abubakar is after all not a rookie to the presidential race in Nigeria. As a retired custom Officer, Atiku’s presidential ambition dates back to 1992 under the social democratic party (SDP). In that same contest, his ambition was checkmated by Chief MKO Abiola’s popularity and acceptance by the prowers that be at the time. Again in 1998, during the build-up to the 1999 general elections, the man ralied and organised most northern politicians of Musa Yar’adua dynasty into what has endured till today as people Democratic movement (PDM), a major block in the PDP. His already grown political influence culminating into his election as the governor of Adamawa state, an office he never got sworn into before Olusegun Obasanjo chose him as his running mate. Atiku’s fallout with his boss in 2007 led to his decampment from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party to join force with a major opposition gladiators to form the Action congress (AC). As expected then, Atiku picked the presidential ticket and flew the flag of the newly formed party, squared it out with his erstwhile ‘political sibling’ of the same Yar’adua political dynasty – Umaru Musa Yaradua who was a favoured choice of the Obasanjo domineering PDP.
Having lost the general election, Atiku made a dramatic come back to the PDP in the build up to the 2011 elections; consequent upon the reconciliation regime in which all aggrieved PDP members were encouraged to return to the fold. Upon the formation of a mega party, The All progressive Congress (APC) coupled with the growing dissatisfaction within within the ruling people’s democratic party (PDP) occasioned by lack of internal democracy, Atiku Abubakar once again dumped his PDP and embraced the newly formed APC. He thereafter contested the presidential ticket against General Muhammad Buhari (rtd), Rabiu Kwankwaso, Rochas Okorocha and Sam Nda- Isaiah, Buhari eventually won the nomination as well as the general election.
From the foregoing, Atiku Abubakar is neither a rookie nor a novice to the rudiments of building virile presidential campaign machinery. Some will argue that the man already has a structure in place and all it will require for him to re-activate it is just a verbal declaration and notification to his supporters who are widely spread all over the federation. Atiku’s network of contacts and supporters is pan – Nigeria.
In 1992, the Adamawa political colossus suppressed his presidential ambition to that of chief MKO Abiola’s. Again in 2003, a time he probably would have pulled the rug off the feet of chief Olusegun Obasanjo on his second term ambition; given his political advantage of being in direct command of the loyalty and support of almost all the 26 PDP governors who really wanted him to contest against his boss, but he declined and supported the incumbent.
Atiku’ political synergy and alliance with the south-easterners manifested vividly in 2007 when he chose Senator Ben Obi as his running mate against all odds. In the south-south, his supporters include some of the strongest opinion leaders and political heavy weights.
In addition to all these, one other factor going for Atiku is his matured conduct and discipline which he has displayed since he lost the APC ticket in 2014.
Perhaps, what has heightened this clamour for his presidency is the mist which has in the last few months covered President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term ambition, occasioned by the president’s body language.