Former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar decamped last week from the ruling All Progressives Congress citing Kaduna State Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai’s leaked memo to the President which highlighted President Muhammadu Buhari’s neglect of key stakeholders in the party in the decision making process and in the appointment of key officials as his reason for his departure. The leaked memo to the President also talked about the failure of the party to fulfill it’s campaign promises two years into the life of the administration. In a swift reaction, Governor El-Rufai responded by saying that the party was aware of his planned defection and that he did it a month earlier. He went further to say that he would not be missed in the party and wished him success in his future endeavour.
Atiku has been trying to be Nigeria’s President since 1993 when at the Jos Convention of the Presidential primaries of the defunct Social Democratic Party, he placed a distant third after Dr Babagana Kingibe and Chief M.K.O Abiola who turned out the eventual winner of the primaries. Before then, he was a senior customs officer and a successful businessman who had amassed a fortune. He was later chosen by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo as his running mate in the 1999 Presidential elections after he had already emerged as the governor-elect of Adamawa state. He served as Nigeria’s Vice President under the Presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007.
Atiku, one of the few Nigerian politicians often referred to by his first name, has never hidden his desire to be President of Nigeria. This was the main reason he fell out with his principal, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. He seems quite bashful and unapologetic about his ambition to be President as he seems to believe that it is his God-ordained destiny. What the Americans like to call Manifest Destiny. But does Atiku possess the appropriate Presidential credentials even after his 8 year tenure as Vice President? If we are to judge him by his antecedents, can we truly say that he is the best material for the Presidency at this moment in our national life? Will the public’s perception of him as a corrupt politician not impede his chances of getting the plum job? Or will Mother luck smile on him and grant him victory on his fifth attempt to be President of Nigeria?
Truth be told, Atiku is not what we need now that Nigeria is slowing joining the comity of nations marching towards the 22nd century. Corruption is a big problem on our hands and the last thing that we need now is a President bogged down by corruption allegations both at home and overseas.We should not get carried away with sentiments. We should take a cue from South Africa where President Jacob Zuma was elected despite corruption allegations against him and the seeming regret of that decision by the electorate. Also,his lack of ideological politics, policy inconsistencies, and seeming desperation to occupy the office of the President which manifests itself in his serial defection from one party to another does not place him in good stead to occupy the most exalted office in the land. Even if he gets the Presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party or any other party, there are too many powerful politicians who worked with him in times past waiting in the wings to spill out dark secrets about him which will turn off many prospective voters. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, his arch-nemesis his bidding his time waiting patiently for 2019 before turning loose his verbal bazooka on him to finally liquidate him politically just like he did to former President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 elections. Others who might toe the Obasanjo line include former Minister of Defence, General Theophilous Danjuma and Governor El-Rufai.
Atiku’s extension of a hand of fellowship to the youths and the Igbos should be taken with a pinch of salt as he did nothing to elevate the status of both groups when he was in power. This gesture is an after thought and one of the manisfestations of his desperation to get power in order to satisfy his over-bloated ego. My advice to Nigerians is to shine their eyes as we gradually approach 2019. We should not be deceived by Atiku’s gimmicks, theatrics and rhetoric.