At every point in Nigeria’s political transition, certain factors play out in favour or against certain politicians at all levels and as the 2019 general elections draw nearer, like in the past, former vice president Atiku Abubakar is gearing up and strategizing for another shot at the presidency. But how are his latest moves different from past ones?
The Wazirin Adamawa is not new to Nigerian politics. Born on November 25, 1946, the ex-VP is now 71 but is unrelenting in his move to become Nigeria’s first citizen. His is a household name when it comes to electoral contests, having run for the office of governor in the old Gongola State (now Adamawa and Taraba states) in 1991.
The fact that he did not win only succeeded in increasing his urge to vie for higher office that he therefore went for the presidency in 1993 during ex- military president Ibrahim Babangida’s aborted transition when he won third placeat the primary election of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) which favoured late MKO Abiola.
But for share providence, Atiku would have won the PDP presidential ticket in 2003, having curried the support of many PDP governors after his first tenure as vice president with ex- president Olusegun Obasanjo looking for a second term at the time.
And in 2007, he ran for the presidency on the platform of the defunct Action Congress (AC) after dumping the PDP following an acrimonious relationship with Obasanjo. He was defeated by the late former president Umaru Yar’adua.
2011 was another year for Atiku to slog it out for the presidency but lost to ex-president Goodluck Jonathan and in 2015, he went into the ring for the fourth time to seek the ticket of the APC but came a distant third after Muhammadu Buhari and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.
Atiku is now back in the PDP where he would probably give a trial for the fifth time with many pundits saying this should be his last chance, considering his age and other factors that would come to play in 2023.
For now, heavy weight politicians have commenced serious politicking in order to get the tickets of various political parties and the Wazirin Adamawa is not an exception.
Sources close to the ex-VP said he is still consulting with various stakeholders in the PDP and outside the party in order to have a general acceptability before declaring to run.
Our correspondents got a hint that over 600 Atiku support groups are being profiled and harmonised into one platform in order to have a clear cut expression of what they stand for and fully articulate their agenda. Investigations by Daily Trust revealed that the ex-VP’s main targets are youth groups.
Atiku is seen to be very active on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, where he targets the youths and delivers his policy statements akin to what obtains in the United States of America where Donald Trump used the social media to have his way. In 2017, Atiku also announced his return to the PDP on his Facebook wall where he heavily bashed his former APC.
Millions of youths got to know of the formal defection far ahead of the elderly and those in the corridors of power. “I am speaking to you today on Facebook live as I want to reach as many of our young people as possible as I have an important announcement to make about the future of Nigeria,” he said.
Atiku has since found a potent ground in the youths and is endlessly using it to sway votes in his favour.
“I have found in my travels across the country that whenever I get into conversations with young people, their number one concern is whether they will be able to get a job, for without a job they have no means of sustaining themselves or begin a family,” he said while going back to the PDP.
In an exclusive interview with Daily Trust, the Head of Atiku Media Office (AMO), Mr. Paul Ibe, said the Waziri Adamawa is not only talking about the youths but relentlessly giving them a sense of belonging.
Atiku has been making public appearances at high profile events, like book launches, weddings, burials, political events and has been speaking on restructuring Nigeria. Pundits say his statements about restructuring would endear him to many and especially the South where the clamour is more pronounced.
Atiku’s return to the PDP, apparently to seek the party’s presidential ticket, has however upset some. While many political pundits say his chances in the PDP are shaky and he might likely move to another party because of the alleged over-bearing influence of PDP governors who are reportedly planning to support an outgoing governor, Ibe has dispelled the claim.
Some Nigerians say Atiku’s chances of taking a shot at the presidency in 2023, in the event he fails to get it now, may be slim because of his age, hence his doggedness in clinching the coveted office in 2019.
But the chairman, All Atiku Support Groups, Mr Fabiyi Oladimeji, told Daily Trust that Waziri’s age should not be a source of concern, maintaining that priority should be on delivering good governance to Nigerians and strengthening the nation’s socio-economic and political fabrics.
“When people talk about age, sometimes I feel taken aback. When you look at Atiku, he does not even look his age. Today, California in the USA is the sixth largest economy in the world. The governor of California is 80 years old and he is doing a lot of good work.
“So if we have someone in that category and he is doing well, we don’t need to talk. I think it has to do with the capacity of the person who is coming to power.
“We are not looking at age,we are looking at somebody who’s going to give results, better deal, good governance, efficient service delivery. These are some of the things that Atiku is bringing to the table,” he said.
Not long ago, it was reported that Atiku would declare for presidency in two weeks, but both Ibe and Oladimeji said the information was not relayed correctly.
“We believe it is a process. He (Atiku) is not running for councillorship or governorship. He has to consult widely for the stakeholders to buy into it, to see what you are bringing and I think he is at that stage now. And we believe as soon as he concludes his consultations with the leaders and members of the party, it will be made known to the public,” Oladimeji added.
On social media, Oladimeji said, Atiku is the king of initiative. “We live in a global circle now, we are connected through the internet. But most importantly, Atiku’s vision, especially from 2019 onward would have to do with the youth and his programmes are going to be youth-centred, so he needs to show that he is with them,” he said.