Thursday, 7 September 2017

The ‘cold war’ between Atiku and Buhari: Has the 2019 campaign started already?

In the past 24 hours, the camp of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has fired three shots into the orbit of President Muhammadu Buhari. But the presidency has not responded. Some political analysts believe this is just the beginning of the battle for 2019.
Many Nigerians consider Abubakar as charismatic, tactful and daring. Yes, he dared Obasanjo when the former president was at the apogee of power.
He was perhaps one of the most powerful vice-presidents in the nation’s history, but his political fortunes “dwindled” after he left power.
The former vice-president has, however, remained dauntless.
There are spluttering signs that Abubakar may run for presidential office in 2019. These signs have been made incandescent by Aisha Alhassan, minister of women affairs.
In an interview with the BBC Hausa, Alhassan described Abubakar as her godfather, saying she would support him if he runs for office in 2019.
“Atiku is my godfather even before I joined politics. And again, Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019,” she said.
“Let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a minister but Baba just like you know I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku says he is going to contest.
“If because of what I said, I am sacked, it will not bother me because I believe in Allah, that my time has elapsed that is why… Baba is not a mad man like those calling for my sack. They have been sending it and spreading that if Baba sees this I will be sacked‎.”
Also, she had in a video, which went viral on Wednesday, declared Abubakar as “president 2019”. Does this mean the former vice-president is taking a fifth shot at the presidential post? Is this a subtle campaign for him?
Abubakar is obviously not happy with the government of President Muhammadu Buhari. According to him, he has been sidelined by a government he helped to bring to power.
“Honestly speaking, I’m still a member of the APC; I was part of all the processes, including campaigns until success was achieved,” he said in an interview with the Hausa service of the Voice of America.
“But sadly, soon after the formation of government; I was side-lined, I have no any relationship with the government, I’ve not been contacted even once to comment on anything and in turn, I maintained my distance. They used our money and influence to get to where they’re but three years down the lane, this is where we are.”
So, will he run against Buhari, if the president seeks re-election in 2019? It is had to hazard a guess, but Abubakar appears not to have given up on running for office.
Abubakar has had a shot at the presidency four times, but he has been unsuccessful in all his attempts. He had his first presidential run in 1992 on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), but he was defeated by MKO Abiola in the party’s primary election.
In the build-up to the 2007 presidential election, Abubakar fought “tooth and nail” to become the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but he was schemed out by Obasanjo who held the ace at the time. Obasanjo preferred Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
He left the PDP for the Action Congress, which was the main opposition party at the time. But he met more encumbrances there. It was like the gods had conspired against him. He emerged as the standard bearer of the party, but when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) published the names of presidential candidates for the election, Abubakar’s name was missing.
INEC said his name was removed because he had allegations of corruption hanging on his neck, and that he had been indicted of corruption by a panel set up by the government. This was largely seen as the handiwork of Obasanjo.
Abubakar challenged this at the supreme court, and he got judgment in his favour. He subsequently ran in the election, but lost.
Shortly after his defeat, he re-joined the PDP and challenged Goodluck Jonathan in the party’s presidential primary election in 2010, but he lost as well. This was his third run.
In 2014, now in the All Progressives Congress (APC), he challenged President Muhammadu Buhari for the party’s ticket, but he lost. He came third in the election after Buhari and Rabiu Kwankwaso. This was his fourth presidential run.
But Abubakar appears not to be giving up.

( The Cable )

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