Atiku: At A Time Like This!

Ozodinukwe Okenwa

Ozodinukwe Okenwa

Perhaps it is important we begin this piece by indicating clearly that the former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is eminently qualified to preside over our national chaotic affairs as President. The big man from Adamawa State has certain quality and positives trailing his political career spanning decades in Nigeria. Yet it goes without saying that there exist some negatives in his public service years. In the course of this treatise we shall dwell on both (positives and negatives) in order to be able to draw an objective constructive conclusion.

Last weekend in the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) held its national convention aimed at electing a candidate that would represent the party in the forthcoming presidential poll slated for February next year. Atiku Abubakar emerged victorious in the election thereby becoming the bearer of the umbrella symbolically in the general election.

Atiku defeated other contenders as he did four years ago in Port Harcourt. He polled 371 votes to beat his closest challenger, the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, who scored 237 votes. The former Senate President and Kwara State Governor, Bukola Saraki, the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Mohammed and others posted negligible figures.

Gov. Wike surprised not a few folks by coming second. Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal who was expected to give Atiku a robust challenge pulled out of the race in the eleventh hour throwing his weight behind the Waziri Adamawa. Like Peter Odili many years ago who failed to defeat Olusegun Obasanjo Gov. Wike came very close to booking appointment with Aso Rock next year!

There is absolutely something to be said positively about the triumphant former Customs boss when it comes to trouncing the opposition in his party towards the power conquest (or re-conquest) at the zenith. It takes mind-boggling horse-trading, political brinkmanship, shrewdness and engineering for one to always triumph in a tight competition for power.

Atiku Abubakar may be accused of power mongering leading to inordinate ambition for the presidency. But his uncanny capacity to prevail against all odds (including zoning) demonstrates his organization, well-oiled political machinery and popular support he enjoys from delegates. As a stupendously rich man critics had accused him of spending too much in order to win at all cost. Yet the truth of the matter is that politics is an expensive enterprise. He may have outspent others in his desperate quest to be the official candidate at the polls.

Financial inducement (bribery) is part of the dirty game of politics Nigeriana! Gov. Wike must have met his match in terms of who gave more and who was more appealing generously. Atiku remained a man to beat in the PDP convention given the reported intervention of Northern elders who were rooting for him.

Atiku, in our reckoning and that of many Nigerians, would definitely make a good President, much better than the incumbent underwhelming ailing one, Muhammadu Buhari. Unlike Buhari Atiku is not an ethnic champion or sectional divisive leader. Unlike him, too, the Adamawa-born politician is not known to be a religious executive bigot or fanatic. Like him, however, Atiku is a northerner, a Fulani!

While we have argued that power ought to rotate to the South-east we are not oblivious of the fact that the politics of power respects no tribal sentiments or zonal or regional inclinations. Nigeria presently needs a President capable of uniting Nigerians and growing the economy. And above all, one capable of turning the heat on the rampaging terrorists, bandits and kidnappers. In searching for answer ethnic or religious sentiments ought to be put aside!

Unlike Buhari Atiku has a huge baggage of corruption cases following his service years. The only infamous baggage following President Buhari about has to do with his dictatorial antecedents. Besides, his claim of being a repentant democrat is in serious doubt. Unlike the lanky retired General from Katsina State Atiku’s integrity is in doubt. Yet that does not mean that every other politician in our country is a paragon!

Like him or loathe him Atiku has what it takes to reposition the emaciated giant of Africa. He could knock some sense back into the senseless situation we are miserably living presently. The broken rotten system under Buharism would certainly see improvements and radical change upon his ascendancy to power in Aso Villa. We have little doubt that he would perform much better than the junketing clueless incumbent.

Atiku may have made money through graft but he had invested the illicit funds in lucrative ventures pumping out billions of Naira for him year in year out. And creating employment opportunities for our people. He is a notorious polygamist married to a couple of women (something accepted by his faith) but performance has little or nothing to do with conjugal matters, albeit controversial.

We hold, therefore, that Atiku understands the intricate workings of power. Again, he knows Nigeria inside out and what needs to be done to fix her broken hopes and dreams. And aspirations. The country, at this time, needs a bridge-builder and a strong healthy man capable of working round the clock to meet pressing national challenges.

Atiku may be corrupt and his patriotism may be in doubt (in the eyes of those who accuse him of being a Camerounian!) but whoever is not guilty of corruption should stand up and cast the first stone! We are not implying here that corruption should be condoned or celebrated. What we are saying, in essence, is that our politicians have all sinned and fallen short of national glory.

Expectations are high that the Atiku presidency would restructure the country and bring about unity. Nigerians are hoping that after the exit of Buharism terrorism, banditry, insurgency and kidnapping would be nipped in the bud. We expect ‘President’ Atiku to hit the ground running from day one.

Given the Buharian APC presidential pestilence the PDP, organized and united, could capture power at the centre it lost close to eight years ago. But even before the Convention took place a rising political star east of the Niger, ex-Governor Peter Obi, had thrown in the towel announcing his departure from the PDP. That, surely, was a huge blow!

Now that ‘Okwute’ has decamped to the Labour Party it remains to be seen who Atiku would pick as his running mate. If he (or the PDP) makes the mistake of making a wrong choice in this regard it may adversely affect their chances at clinching the presidency. But if they get it right then the presidency could be theirs for the asking.

At a time like this in the life of Atiku Abubakar history beckons! And upon his possible election to the presidency the Waziri Adamawa must demonstrate that his life-long ambition to be President is predicated on his genuine desire to provide leadership and service to his fatherland. And propel her to destined greatness.


SOC Okenwa

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