IN the next few months the campaign for the 2019 Presidential election will commence. Already there are moves by many politicians to forge alliances with various groups across the country, all aimed at ensuring that they find a place of reckoning in 2019, as every good politician seeks to be relevant at all times.
A recurrent decimal in the political history and development of Nigeria since the Third Republic is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar Turaki Adamawa. You will only ignore him at your peril.
In fact he had become involved in politics in the early 1980s when he worked closely behind the scenes on the Governorship Campaign of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur who was then the General Manager of the Nigerian Ports Authority. He canvassed for votes on behalf of Tukur and also donated to the Campaign.
Towards the end of his career in the Nigerian Customs Service he met Alhaji Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who had been second in command in the Olusegun Obasanjo Administration (1976-1979).
He had been so involved in the political activities of the Yar’Adua Group that in 1989 he was elected National Vice Chairman of the Peoples Front of Nigeria which participated in the transition programme initiated by the then Military President Ibrahim Babangida.
The influential politician won a seat to represent his constituency at the 1989 Constituent Assembly. When the Peoples Front was denied registration, as were all the other groups then, they found a place within the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and became a dominant group in the party. He won the SDP primaries for the new Adamawa State Governorship Election but was disqualified from contesting the election.
When his friend and political mentor Shehu Musa Yar’Adua was disqualified in 1992 for the SDP Presidential Primary, Yar’Adua pushed him forward as their standard bearer. In the Convention Primary Atiku came third behind M.K.O Abiola and Babagana Kingibe and a run off was to be held between the first two candidates. Atiku stepped down for Abiola and directed his supporters to vote for M.K.O, on the understanding that he would be picked to be M.K.O’s runner mate. Eventually this hope was dashed
In 1998 he won the Governorship Election of Adamawa State under the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), but before he could be sworn in, he was picked by the then Presidential Candidate of the party Olusegun Obasanjo to be his running mate. He was sworn in as Vice President of Nigeria on May 29, 1999 and served for two terms, until 2007 with President Obasanjo.
In the build up to the PDP Primaries for the 2003 Presidential Elections he was so influential within the party that, with the support of the PDP Governors he could have easily defeated the President but agreed to support the President at the last minute after Baba was alleged to have kowtowed to him. President Obasanjo never forgave him for this humiliation and has since then thrown his weight to frustrate any move of the Turaki Adamawa to become the President of Nigeria.
It has become public knowledge that the main disagreement between the two top citizens was President Obasanjo’s moves to perpetuate himself in office.
Since then the Turaki has been contesting for the Presidency of Nigeria under different political platforms – 2007 Action Congress (AC), lost to late President Yar’Adua, 2011 PDP Primaries lost to President Jonathan, 2015 All Peoples Congress APC, lost at the Primaries to President Muhammadu Buhari.
It is therefore clear to any discerning observer or analyst that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has the same ambition, aspiration and interest in leading the nation as Muhammadu Buhari who tried on four attempts – 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 and was only successful in 2015. The question now arises: Will Atiku Abubakar succeed in his 5th attempts after failures in 1993, 2007, 2011 and 2015?.
There is no doubt that he is a tried and tested heavy weight in the Nigerian political firmament, having seen and experienced it all since 1983. He is a middle of the road politician and not fanatical on any issue. A bridge builder with many supporters and admirers in all the geopolitical zones of the country, he, like the late sage Obafemi Awolowo has solid structures on the ground that ensure mobilization of people and votes at the shortest notice.
Unlike many political leaders of Northern extraction, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is a vocal advocate of the importance of Education in a country’s social and economic growth and development. He demonstrated this in his establishment of American University of Nigeria (AUN), the first American style university to be established in sub-Saharan Africa.
In the present debate on the political future of Nigeria the Turaki has stood up to be counted. When it was an anathema for any politician from the far Northern Region of Nigeria to support ‘Restructuring’, a recipe for devolving power from the centre to the constituent states, AtikuAbubakar has been vocal in his support for True Federalism and has been delivering speeches all over the country stressing the need to restructure the country.
In one of his more recent analysis of the Nigerian situation he criticized his “Northern people” for being responsible for their backwardness, citing as example that despite the fact that Ndigbo lost virtually everything during the civil war of 1967-1970, they had since re-established themselves in commerce and industry in Nigeria while the people of the North had remained backward.
He is of the view that our current arrangement is a unitary Federalism which was a creation of prolonged military rule and that every part of the country should take charge of its resources while the Federal Government should handle Defence, Foreign Affairs and Immigration among others in the Exclusive List.
He believes that political decentralization will help to deepen and strengthen our democracy as it will encourage more accountability. He also considers that True Federalism will encourage states to compete to attract investments and skilled workers than merely waiting for monthly revenue allocation from Abuja.
Muhammadu Buhari won the Presidency
after many attempts. He came with a huge bag of positives – an incorruptible leader, frugal in private and therefore will be in public expenditure, his government will fight corruption in the country to a standstill, will so improve the Nigerian economy that the naira will exchange 1:1 to the dollar and many other goodies. The country is going into the Third year of the Military General’s Leadership and what do we see?
With his tremendous goodwill and general acceptance in the North Central, South South and South East geopolitical zones Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has the best opportunity to make a breakthrough in 2019 and realize his life time ambition to be President of Nigeria since the high hopes on the Daniel coming to judgment in the nation in 2015 have been dashed. Is the time not ripe for the Turaki Adamawa to steer the ship of the Nigerian state which has since shown signs of wrecking
Since it is now clear that all that glitters is not gold and that the hood does not make the monk, is it not imperative that Nigerians should look elsewhere for their salvation.