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Can Atiku Abubakar Be Trusted ? Can Atiku Abubakar Be Trusted ?
by Ovi Magazine Guest
2022-10-05 07:41:20
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Can Atiku Abubakar Be Trusted ?
By Tunde Akande

That Atiku is surrounded in his campaign by the same discredited men and women from the sixteen years of wastage by PDP has left a gaping hole in Atiku's candidacy.

Alhaji Abubakar Atiku is a good politician. Atiku is the standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Politics in the Nigerian sense is about scheming, manoeuvring, and unbridled ambition, and in those games, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the master. Atiku, the Waziri of Adamawa, is Fulani, a tribe that has gained popularity for scheming and manoeuvring and so it is natural for Atiku to have these qualities. An unconfirmed story circulating on WhatsApp said to be written by Donald Duke, third Republic governor of Cross River State gave an account of the dexterity of Atiku to have things work in his favour at all times. Donald Duke gave an account he witnessed because his father was Atiku's boss when he worked in the Customs in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. "Of many things Atiku did that would have earned a dismissal, none ended that way because Atiku had his way with the emirs in the North. They always protected him," Duke reportedly said.

Atiku Abubakar could have been president immediately after Olusegun Obasanjo in 2007. Obasanjo ignored the persons suggested to him by PDP as running mate and went for Atiku Abubakar who had just won the governorship of Adamawa State in 1999. Instead of being governor of the state, Atiku became number two in Nigeria's power configuration for that time. If there is ever a Nigerian vice president who had more than enough to do, Atiku was. His successors have not been that lucky. He was very visible; his principal left many sensitive and important assignments in his hand. But ambition soon kicked in as political jobbers midway in Obasanjo's first term inundated the press with cries of "Mandela option." By "Mandela option" they said Obasanjo should toe the line of Nelson Mandela of South Africa who because of his old age served as president for only one term. That set off war between Obasanjo and Atiku. An attempt was made to impeach Obasanjo in the House of Representatives. Not a few observers thought Atiku was behind the move cashing in on the preponderance of northerners in the membership of the House of Representatives and also that a northerner from Kano, Ghali Umar Na'aba was Speaker. Eventually, Obasanjo won the election for a second term and ensured that Atiku became a pariah.

That was the closest opportunity Atiku had to becoming president, but he lost it. Observers think if he had supported Obasanjo for his two terms, he would have easily succeeded him. Since then, Atiku has contested almost every election for the presidency, but luck has not come his way. He has moved across ACN, the party of Bola Tinubu, now a contender with Atiku for the presidency in 2023, PDP, APC and back to PDP. Shehu Mahdi, the medical doctor and fiery political activist from the North is sticking with Atiku for victory in 2023 election. In an Arise Television interview where he denounced Obi as unsuitable for 2023, he upheld Atiku as experienced, gentle, forgiving, peaceful and a bridge across the various divides of Nigeria. Mahdi said Northerners should go for Atiku because he will hit the ground running immediately, he wins the election because of his experience.

But the possibility of election victory for Atiku is in jeopardy. He is in a war of attrition with Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State and a contender with Atiku in the PDP presidential primary. Wike seems to be the nemesis of Atiku's dexterity at political scheming and manoeuvring. To the constitution of PDP, it is the turn of the Southeast to produce the presidential candidate of the party. The Igbo pitch their tent in PDP, the party they have always embraced. Wike started to emphasize his Igbo root before the primary even though he had had brushes with the Igbo secessionist group, Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB. But Atiku and his political machinery schemed out the Igbo. The presidential candidacy will not be zoned to any section of the country but anybody, both north and south, will be free to contest, they pushed. Atiku had also been involved working silently behind the scenes in the selection of the chairman of the party. If the presidential candidate will come from the Southeast, it means the chairman must come from the North. Atiku ensured that the chairman came from Benue, a state that could be classified as north or south depending on where the pendulum swings. By that scheme, according to a source, Atiku had prepared the way for his presidency through the party. He had skillfully schemed out the Southeast.

A source at the Oyo State branch of the PDP alleged that to get an Atiku man chosen as the chairman of the party in the state costs Atiku a hefty amount of money. Whether Atiku did similar things all over the PDP states in Nigeria is not known but it is probable. He also made many frequent visits to Governor Nyesom Wike, until Wike who described himself in a recent media outing as a no-nonsense person, also declared interest in the presidency. It would seem that Atiku's large capacity to manoeuvre and to use his huge resource is turning in the negative for him. He defeated Wike in the primary, Wike came second, and he refused to select Wike who was picked by a committee Atiku constituted to recommend three vice presidential possibilities for him. Rather than go by that committee's recommendation, Atiku choose Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State. Now Wike is fighting hard. He has asked the Chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu, to resign so that a southerner will take his place to fulfill the party's constitution that all elective and party posts must be zoned.

That won't favour the schemes of Atiku who seem to have planted Ayu to work for him. Atiku has fought back by getting the PDP executives to pass a vote of confidence on Ayu. Wike has gone forward to accuse Atiku of winning the primary by a bribe of one billion naira to Ayu. Ayu, he said, used that money to corral support for Atiku from the delegates and the governors so that the contestants will step down for Atiku. Wike said the money was given to Ayu in Lagos. He also accused Ayu of having the desire to be the secretary to Federal Government in an Atiku presidency. Wike dared Atiku to deny and he would name names. Wike also said Bola Tinubu offered him a senatorial seat to secure his support for his presidential bid. Not only Atiku and Bola Tinubu of APC but also the Labour Party where Perter Obi is the presidential candidate have made overtures to Wike. Wike has thus become the beautiful bride of the 2023 election. He also has a following among some South East governors who feared the surging popularity of Obi in the East might make them irrelevant in the next dispensation and thus it appears they would need a strong man like Wike to remain relevant.

Wike has dared the PDP to dismiss him as some party members are threatening. He said he would help PDP lose the coming elections. He insisted Ayu must fulfil the promise he made that he would resign if a northerner won the Presidential primary of the party. As the campaigns flag off, Atiku is facing the greatest threat to his ambition because his schemes seem to be working in the negative. Many fear the party may collapse and become extinct. Observers agree that Atiku may have schemed himself to a loss of the presidential election. The traditional stronghold of the PDP, the Southeast is lost definitely to an Obi embrace in that region. Obi and Tinubu are also eating into Atiku's northern stronghold. Even if a miracle happens and the tide turn in favour of Atiku, observers are asking if Atiku can be trusted to deliver the nation from the great challenges that the APC has brought upon the nation in the seven years of Buhari's presidency. Can a man whose god is money, tame corruption, critics are asking? That Atiku is surrounded in his campaign by the same of discredited men and women from the sixteen years of wastage by PDP has left a gaping hole in Atiku's candidacy. Can a man who cannot keep promise made to his party members, as Wike has painted on the canvass of the heart of Nigerians, be expected to keep promises made to the electorates, however, good they made look like?


Tunde Akande is both a journalist and pastor. He earned a Master's degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos.

First published for METRO

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