Thursday, 14 December 2017

Atiku’s jinxed presidential bid

In a nation with records of ‘delegated’ Prime Minister,  Head of State  imposed through ambush by coup plotters with hidden agenda, president corralled into office despite loud protestation that he did not forget anything in State House, ill-prepared presidents who at the end of their tenure admitted being entrapped by their

self-serving captors and a nation that even celebrates an ‘accidental civil servant’, as if bureaucracy has ceased being a  specialized field that requires long years of training and apprenticeship, it is an irony that leadership of Nigeria has continued to elude Atiku Abubakar, who by training, experience, carriage, confidence is eminently qualified  to run the affairs of our nation.

And it is not as if Atiku, a grassroots mobiliser, generous giver, with friends in high places and among youths he has successfully mentored, has not paid his dues. As a  son “of an itinerant trader who travelled from one market to another selling imitation jewellery, caps, needles, potash, kola nuts and other nick-knacks…” who unfortunately passed on while he was just starting school, Atiku’s life has been  a lesson in hard work, determination  and courage. All those who have worked closely with him play glowing tributes to his humanity.
His bid for leadership however seemed to be jinxed since 1990 when he first lost his bid to be governor of Gongola State and in 1991, when his SDP ticket for the governorship of Adamawa State was annulled. In 1993, he had stepped down as SDP candidate for MKO Abiola with an eye on the vice president’s slot. He however lost out to Babagana Kingibe and SDP governors without whose support, MKO’s 1993 pan-Nigeria mandate would have been impossible. In 1999, he traded his hard-earned governorship victory of Adamawa for Obasanjo’s vice president with the hope of succeeding him in 2003 or 2007. In the pursuit of his ambition, he had stepped on the toes of an unforgiving Obasanjo, who not only drove him out of his official residence and out of PDP but foreclosed Atiku ever becoming Nigeria’s president.

In 2007, Obasanjo, a shrewd politician, played Umaru Yar’Adua, Shehu Yar’Adua’s younger brother against Atiku, the rightful inheritor of Shehu Yar’Adua’s Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), a platform Atiku had made available to Obasanjo who had no political base having been rejected by his own Yoruba people in 1988.  Atiku took refuge in Tinubu’s AC in 2007. Both he and Buhari were however rigged out by Obasanjo and Maurice Iwu in the most scandalously rigged election in our nation‘s history where even the declared victor questioned his own victory.   Atiku, against all odds, crawled back to PDP where he lost against Goodluck Jonathan, Obasanjo’s adopted godson in the 2011 PDP primary despite his adoption as northern candidate by powerful northern PDP leaders. Jonathan’s decision to contest the 2014 presidential race against his gentleman agreement to do one term drove Atiku and his supporters to the embrace of APC then at a gestation stage. Here again, he lost to Muhammadu Buhari in a keenly contested APC primary of 2014.

Last week, Atiku again crawled back to PDP with Jonathan’s degrading precondition that he first beg Obasanjo who is no longer a member of PDP. With the takeover of the PDP by Ayo Fayose and Nyesom Wike, two controversial politicians for whom the end justifies the means, the fulfilment of Jonathan’s humiliating condition does not seem sufficient guarantee for securing PDP 2019 ticket.  If Atiku survives the road blocks already erected by these two spiteful politicians, he will then start erasing scars the PDP left behind after 16 years of mindless looting. It will be his lot to defend the defunct CAN’s charges that “PDP turned Nigeria into a borderless land of unending misery, ethnic warfare, insecurity and torture”; allowed for the “takeover of the country by sundry armed gangs, killers of all sorts, suicide bombers who have brought Nigeria to the level of strife-torn Somalia”; made the country a morgue of decayed and obsolete infrastructures”.

After crossing this hurdle, Nigerians have to be told how the new PDP, controlled by those who freely set thugs and armed militants after political rivals  will improve on the baleful legacies of  Babangida, Jerry Gana and Bode George’s old PDP.

It cannot also be good news for Atiku that Buhari is likely going to secure the APC ticket to run in 2019 if he asks for it. Buhari has in spite of his initial health challenges, his government initial lethargy and insufficient support from his timid APC that is yet to appreciate that a political party is like a cult organisation that has no place for deviants, delivered on his core promises viz, anti-corruption war, revitalising the economy and ending insecurity in the north-eastern part of the country.

In spite of sabotage by some corrupt members of our National Assembly and a few bad eggs in the judiciary, Buhari’s anti-corruption war is on course. Stealing is now corruption and as Magu, the acting chairman of EFCC observed a few days ago, ‘the days of impunity are gone’. Nigerians are today united against corruption to guarantee sustainable development peace and security.

Recession has effectively come to an end in spite of antics of IMF and World Bank foot-soldiers in Nigeria and other prophets of doom that predicted Nigerian recession would drag on for years. Not many economies have been known to survive a recession in one year.  Buhari’s greatest success by far is in his battle against Boko Haram insurgents. Life is gradually returning to the north-east devastated by Boko Haram’s mindless killing of innocent Nigerians. Buhari’s success in routing Boko Haram out of Nigeria has been hailed by world leaders. Only last Sunday, Fareed Zakaria in his popular GPS Sunday programme quoted the latest report of Global Terrorism Index indicating terrorism in Nigeria has decreased by unprecedented 80% in two years compared to 40% in Iraq, 24% in Syria, 14 % in Afghanistan and 12% in Pakistan.

Above all, the integrity of Buhari, who Atiku will have to square up with if he secures the PDP ticket, remains unassailable. He therefore remains a formidable opponent to Atiku who has spent a great deal of time defending his own integrity.
Atiku’s first campaign outing last week was a disaster. His attack on Buhari’s record on job creation opens him to counter attack. By claiming that Nigeria lost three million jobs in two years will lead to how his mismanagement of the privatization process cost Nigeria the loss of World Bank projected seven million jobs.

Year 2019, is increasingly becoming dicey for Atiku.  If he loses once again, it will not be as a result of lack trying or inadequate preparation. The fault will be in his stars. Ahmadu Bello who never prepared for leadership of the country got it on a platter of gold and gave it to Tafawa Balewa, a non-Fulani minority from southern Bauchi whose grandmother had called for the killing of all Fulani that failed to vacate their land. On the other hand, there was also the Great Zik of Africa, who first studied politics as a science and practiced it as an art in preparation for Nigerian leadership. There was also Awo (the best President Nigeria never had) who spent all his nights when his contemporaries were carousing, studying Nigerian problems and proffering solutions. Nigeria’s leadership eluded both. Atiku should be happy to be in good company of these eminent and great forebears.
*Written By Oluwatosin Alalade 

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