In a move that surprised no one on Sunday, December 3, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar announced his return to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) two weeks after he resigned his membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress. In his resignation letter, Atiku attributed his exit from the APC to the party’s non-performance, especially in keeping its promises to the bulk of the Nigerian population; the youths.
However, for those who are more discerning, Atiku’s departure from the APC is largely hinged on the ‘hijack’ of the party by those loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari, thus rendering any attempt by anyone to replace PMB as flag-bearer in 2019 ‘dead on arrival’.
It is therefore safe to posit that Atiku is in search of another chance to, again, test his political might and give the Presidential seat another shot. As he embarks on a journey fraught with disappointments and treachery, here are some of the issues he has to tackle and overcome.
Perhaps the most enduring perception of Atiku Abubakar in most parts of the country is that he is a corrupt political figure. The campaign of calumny carried out by Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Halliburton scandal and the outright refusal or prolonged delay (as he clarified recently) of the United States of America to allow him visit all but highlight and give credence to the notion.
Whether wrong or right, he is viewed in certain quarters as part, or a major representation, of the ugly past Nigeria should be weaning herself off to build a good, rewarding future. Already, on social media where Atiku is very active, many who have expressed desires to vote for him are only doing so because, in their opinion, the incumbent isn’t much better. That leaves Atiku with a lot of unmotivated voters and that, as Goodluck Jonathan learned, is dangerous.
Monkey don work, baboon wan chop?
Atiku may rightly claim to have helped build the PDP in 1999 but since he left the party acrimoniously in the build up to the 2015 election and contributed significantly to its push into oblivion after the election, it was the sweat and cash of some people that helped keep the ghost of the party and laid a foundation block for the rebuilding work Ahmed Makarfi, the party’s chairman, is leading.
Notable amongst these people is the former governor of Jigawa state, Sule Lamido, who has indicated interest in bearing the party’s flag in 2019 and has started a mobilization exercise he cleverly tagged ‘consultations’.
Will Lamido and his ilk standby and let Atiku hijack the party and profit off the work they did to save the party when Ali-Modu Sheriff was hell bent on completing its ruin? That is highly unlikely and should they team up to wrestle the flag with him, Atiku’s ultimate defeat may not even be at the polls.
Without disregarding Atiku’s fair following in the north, from all intents and purposes, it appears the northern establishment has sanctioned President Buhari’s bid to run again. From the tacit support of the Northern Elders Forum to the public show of support of El Rufai and his colleagues, Buhari will have no problem convincing doubters in the north to pitch their tent with his team.
That leaves Atiku with swing states in the North Central, Middlebelt and the South. With religion and ethnicity still major deciding factors in Nigeria’s politics and the likes of Tinubu -who are very influential in the South – yet to show any strong sign of dumping Buhari, it would be interesting, if not surprising, to see Atiku whip up enough votes in these states/regions to unseat Muhammadu Buhari.
Power pass power
Atiku may be one of Africa’s richest men, but nothing compares to the access and resources open to a sitting president – especially in a country like Nigeria where sycophancy and hero-worship is the only way some people know how to fend for themselves.
Unfortunately for Atiku, he would be running against the President alongside a number of people who profit from the mere fact that Buhari carries the tag. As seen in 2015, it is not impossible to beat the incumbent. But to pull that kind of stunt, the stars have to align neatly for you in the form of a widespread disaffection, selfless and joint support from all or most of the country’s regions.
None of these is in play, and that makes Atiku’s bid extremely difficult irrespective of how much confidence he oozes or how easy he paints it.
Article written by Adeshina Peter, follow him on Twitter via @shina_pitta