If Alhaji Atiku Abubakar were to have his way, 2019 cannot come fast enough. All things being equal, he hopes to be sworn in as the President of Nigeria on the 29th of May after winning the presidential election billed for next year.
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Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has never hidden his desire to be the first citizen of Nigeria. In the months leading to the 2003 presidential elections, he made a bold play, as Vice President, to remove his boss, Olusegun Obasanjo, in PDP’s party primaries.
He had all the aces to win the primaries then. He was completely in charge of the party at state levels. As a matter of fact, most state governors wanted him to replace Obansanjo. How Obasanjo managed to upstage his deputy and win the party primaries is a story for another day.
Suffice it to say that highly respected people, including very influential traditional rulers around the country had to prevail on Atiku to back down and let OBJ have a second term. Agreeing to that deal was one of the biggest mistakes of Atiku’s political career.
By the time Obasanjo finished with him, he was damaged politically. All his people in the PDP were made irrelevant. He lost the party. That was a major reason he lost to Goodluck Jonathan at the PDP party primaries in 2006.
The right time to become President for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar
Atiku Abubakar’s path to the presidency has always been strewn with Obasanjo-sized thorns. Even at the last election, the influence of Obasanjo ensured he couldn’t defeat Buhari at the APC party primaries.
However, it seems the time is just right for Atiku to take over. Nigerians are completely disillusioned with Buhari’s presidency. Apart from the inflation eroding the purchasing power of ordinary Nigerians, Buhari looks lost on how to fight corruption. The change people voted and hoped for has disappeared in a smoke of presidential ineptitude and indecision.
Simply put, Nigerians want Buhari out of the way. And Atiku Abubakar is the most high profile candidate on the block. He is making all the right noises. He has even done the right thing by ditching the APC, which he supported to victory in the last election.
The biggest factor in favor of Atiku right now is simply this: he is not Buhari. But his supporters and the man himself claim he has more to offer than being just an alternative to an inept incumbent.
If you are going to work with the fact that politicians, like leopards, never change their spots, do his antecedents stack up in his favor?
The Atiku Abubakar Nigerians know
The former VP’s supporters would point to his selfless service to the country as a dedicated and humble customs officer who rose through the ranks through hard work and a commitment to excellence. And as a reward for his service, the people who matter made him a political leader because they knew the stuff he was made of.
In today’s politics though, he has his work cut out for him to convince skeptical voters. It is a known fact that Atiku left the APC because he suspected Buhari would not support his presidential bid. It wasn’t for some ideological reason as being peddled by his handlers. He has a well-documented history of leaving ditching his party if his path to power is blocked.
It was the spath he trudged when he moved to the APC from the PDP after discovering that Presidential Jonathan and the PDP are not in a hurry to grant him his wish to become president. The picture here is of a man who is loyal only to his shifting interests.
Atiku, like Buhari before him, has made the fight against corruption his rallying point. Here too, history paints him in a bad light. He has numerous corruption allegations swirling above his head like a black cloud announcing a bad omen.
For instance, it is public knowledge that President George Bush signed an order denying people like him a visa to the US. This was the result of wide-ranging investigations by a US Senate committee on money laundering activities by corrupt third world leaders. The report indicted Atiku’s Wife, Jennifer Douglas, of helping him launder about $40 million in the US alone. The report also mentioned other corrupt leaders around the world.
In another celebrated corruption case in the US, a Congressman, William Jefferson, was convicted of bribery and money laundering. What is germane to us is that, from the court transcripts, Atiku’s name was mentioned several times by different witnesses as one of the people the Congressman bribed to secure a lucrative contract in Nigeria. To be fair to Atiku, he was not indicted in that case.
For many people, one misgiving about an Atiku’s presidency is linked to his business interests around the country. The question is simply this: can he put the interest of the common man above his businesses as a president? Sadly, his record as Vice President showed he would likely put his businesses first.
And what about his political associates and friends? Is he sufficiently neutral enough and strong-willed not to pander to their wishes? Remember, almost all of them are part of the privileged clique that benefited immensely from the dysfunctional state of the nation. And they would do anything to make sure they continue to benefit. Unfortunately, the history of Nigerian politics paints a sorry picture of wide scale patronage as a system of government.
Atiku has been part of that system since he became a politician. In other words, he is a poster child product of that system.
It would only take a miracle for an Atiku presidency to bring to reality the Nigerian dream of a better, functional country. That is the reality no matter how many times his media handlers try to paint a picture of an alternate Nigerian universe with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.