By: Okanga Agila
In Nigeria’s political circle these days, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has apparently lost fancy even among admirers and he is often described as a “contest freak,” and too ambitious. These effacing sobriquets have resonated in recent weeks following speculations of Atiku, the Turaki Adamawa’s satanically discreet plots and indication of interest in the 2019 presidency of Nigeria.
This politician and business mogul is obviously on the cusp of a final lethal blow to his integrity, personality and political career. Atiku’s infinite passion to rule Nigeria as President and his interest in contesting every presidential poll is now not only perceived as suspicious, but signify an inherent destructive intent.
It was Just yesterday, Atiku lost the ruling APC presidential ticket against incumbent President Muhammedu Buhari and barely two years into Buhari’s four-year tenure, Atiku is already excitedly plotting schemes to seize power from Buhari in 2019. He has denied the allegation, but no sane person experts him to admit. When a man reclines from speaking out publicly, loudly and boldly anytime, over his ambitions like the dilemma of Atiku now, it is dangerous in itself.
In the perception of Nigerians, Atiku is an unstable political character, devoid of a sustained political philosophy, not worth marketing to even villagers. It’s extreme risk to vest power in such an inconsistent man to superintend over a country as vast and diverse as Nigeria.
From 1998 when democracy re-birthed in Nigeria, Atiku has grass- hopped into several political parties. No politician in his status has such records in Nigeria. The harm the zigzag political movements have done to his political career is his portrayal as a man barren of any clear vision of leadership.
From PDP in 1998, he moved into Action Congress (AC) in 2006, to contest 2007 presidential elections, after he disagreed with his boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo (OBJ). Former President Umaru Yar’Adua, (of blessed memory), mercilessly “wacked” Atiku and the AC at the general elections. Shortly afterwards, a restless Atiku returned back to the same PDP he ditched.
At the approach of 2011 general elections, Atiku resurrected his presidential ambitions again and sought to snatch PDP’s nomination ticket from former President Goodluck Jonathan. Atiku influenced a group, the Northern Political Elders Forum piloted by Alhaji Adamu Ciroma to present him as consensus candidate of the North to face Jonathan; he was again defeated at the party’s national convention in Abuja.
Thereafter, Atiku moved back into the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), in 2014 and its metamorphosis into the merger called APC and his agenda was nothing else, other than contesting the presidential race.
So, in the political life of the former Nigeria’s Vice president, spanning nearly three decades, Atiku has vied for the Presidency of Nigeria four times; 1992 under SDP; 2007 under AC; 2011 under PDP and 2015 under APC. This is apart from covert such attempts as in 2003 with OBJ and his tinkering with the idea under Buhari. The natural question is why this obsession with ruling Nigeria, as Atiku brandishes everywhere and at every political dispensation?
Unfortunately, Atiku has failed to conduct a test of puritanism on his political escapades, to make some adjustments where necessary. It accounts for the negative rebound of all his political moves. Unknown to him or perhaps, due to the prompting of unwillingness to embrace reality, many have come to see in Atiku a man who does not approach his political ambitions cleanly.
If Atiku does not deploy intrigues to out-maneuver his rivals or supporters, he is blackmailing his bosses to ascend the throne. These are traits that make an otherwise worthy politician perceived as unprincipled in the estimation of many. This is the plaque of Atiku at the moment.
But Atiku has refused to purge himself of these traits. In his 2019 fresh bid for presidency, Atiku is now deemed as the unseen hand in the national leadership crisis rocking the PDP as reflected in the Alhaji Ali Modu Sheriff and the Sen. Ahmed Markafi factions. He allegedly plans to grab its presidential nomination ticket to slug it out at the polls with Buhari, in the event his alliance with Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to float a new party platform, fails to secure him a presidential ticket in 2019. As usual Atiku is denying any connection with the crisis in PDP, but his rebuttal is a trademark with politicians in Nigeria.
But let Atiku be told the gospel truth that he has politically faded irremediably in the eyes of majority of millions of Nigerians and there are illustrations. During the December 2014 APC national convention for presidential primaries in Lagos, Atiku featured noticeably and was optimistic of picking the party’s presidential ticket. He threw his whole heart, body and soul into the race, with money and everything. But he was trounced by the “poor” President Buhari, who humbled him by polling 3,430 votes to Atiku’s 954 votes.
Even fresh entrants or political neophytes into the presidential race like former Kano state Governor, Rabi’u Kwankwaso polled 974 votes, higher than Atiku, a sign of his fast vanishing political value in Nigeria.
It is more plausible to think a man so consistently rejected by the electorate like Atiku should have taken a break and a retreat from politics for deep reflection. But Atiku gladly has no time for such persuasions.
So, instead of supporting President Buhari to serve Nigerians better, Atiku is already everywhere flaunting another presidential ambition for 2019. As usual he has paired up with the unjustifiably disgruntled, self-styled APC national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to rock the boat.
The duo have complained of been sidelined (whatever that means) and rent crowds for peaceful protests like Tinubu did at the weekend in Lagos. But these twosome must not forget that Nigeria is not their permanent patrimony to always be allowed to pilfer.
At every turn, Atiku kick-starts presidential campaigns on a faulty premise, deploying the instrument of blackmail or permutations that are selfish and suspect.
To dubiously warm himself into the hearts of people of the Southern region against Buhari ahead of time, Atiku’s utterances and body language clearly discredits the administration of the President. The former Vice President has suddenly become an apostle of the project of restructuring of Nigeria, a proposal predominantly mouthed by some southern interests to spite the Buhari Presidency. But only gullible Nigerians would believe him much more think he is a serious man.
What Atiku aims to achieve by this campaign is to address the minds of southerners that he is a personality who believes in overhauling the present structure of Nigeria and so, a vote for him as President would deliver it to them without hesitation. It is a blackmail of the Buhari administration to attract votes from regions angling for restructuring, at the expense of Buhari when he eventually runs in 2019.
Simply put, Atiku’s contrivances are mainly to demonize Buhari and anoint himself a saint in the eyes of the masses. But these are old tricks known to all. Atiku himself does not believe in restructuring and if per chance, he becomes the President, sometime in future, he will never give it a thought, much more implement it.
Over ambition kills and Nigerians will finally send Atiku to his political guillotine chamber, if he ventures into the race again in 2019.
Okanga writes from Benue state