Atiku’s Perpetual Ambition And Ndigbo 2023

308 views | Law Mefor | June 9, 2020

Sowore, Kanu and Price of Ingratitude

“There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.”
Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) just said that the fate of Atiku Abubakar’s presidential ambition would be decided by zoning. Apart from this ominous statement, some fishy persons have been flying the same kite. Atiku’s son also just did the same. Adamu Atiku-Abubakar, the commissioner for Works and Energy in the Ahmadu Finitiri government, is quoted in newspapers as saying “My father will be aspiring to the number one office in the land because he has been an astute, strategic, master politician for almost four decades”.

Recall that Atiku had contested for the position of President for a record five (5) times and lost. Run-down of Atiku’s presidential ambition according to First presidential run Atiku Abubakar launched was a bid for the Presidency in 1993, placing third after MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) primaries.

Second presidential run was on 25 November 2006, when Atiku announced that he would run for president. On 20 December 2006, he was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress (AC).

Third presidential run in the 2007 elections, Atiku Abubakar returned to the People’s Democratic Party. In October 2010 he announced his intention to contest for the Presidency. On 22 November, a Committee of Northern Elders selected him as the Northern Consensus Candidate, over former Military President Ibrahim Babangida, former National Security Adviser Aliyu Gusau and former Governor and former senate president Bukola Saraki.

The fourth presidential run was In January 2011, when Atiku Abubakar contested for the Presidential ticket of the PDP alongside President Jonathan and Sarah Jubril, and lost the primary, garnering 805 votes to President Jonathan’s 2736. Fifth presidential run Abubakar declared his candidacy for the presidential nomination of the PDP mid-2018 and won the nomination at its convention on 7th October in Port Harcourt. He defeated 11 other contestants.

He is gunning for the 6th shot at the presidency, which may earn him an enviable place in the Guinness Book of Records. There is nothing wrong with that tall ambition but this time around, being an in-law to the Ndigbo will not count. The South East has a date with history, which now beckons on them. It will be foolhardy of them to let the golden opportunity slip for sentiments.

In the likely event that Atiku fulfils that prediction, it would be his 6th attempt. He has already surpassed President Buhari’s record even if he doesn’t run. Atiku Abubakar a former customs officer and former Vice President of Nigeria has become a veteran of the Presidential race in Nigeria. His ambition to rule Nigeria however unbridled is legitimate. But there is something about it. Thrice, he attempted to unseat an incumbent including Olusegun Obasanjo who made him Vice President when he was only governor-elect.

Atiku has always chosen the wrong moment to launch his bid. The last Presidential election was not a good moment. Buhari was running for his second term and they both shared a common power base with Buhari having many factors in his favour. Apart from the incumbency factor, which means the world in Africa when it comes to an election, the masses of the North in their millions, mostly Almajiri, prefer the man they call mai gaskiya. So, before the election, Atiku had lost the core North and had to rely on southern Nigeria to deliver him.

Whether by divine providence or political calculations, Atiku is an in-law to both Ndigbo and the Yoruba. He is married to Jennifer Iwenjiora Douglas-Abubakar from Onitsha Anambra State and Titi Abubakar from Ijesha Osun State. Atiku also wisely picked Peter Obi, a well-respected achiever and former Governor of Anambra State, as his running mate.

Ndigbo, as expected, rallied behind Atiku/Obi ticket aka ‘Atikulate Team’. South South queued behind them too. The election came and Atiku won his own state only by the whisker. When watchers knew that Atiku’s base was shaken to the core was when his own governor Bindo Umaru Jibrilla refused to endorse him, let alone defect to the PDP in his honour and support as expected.

On the whole, zonally, Atiku won only the South-East and South-South. South West followed the side their bread was buttered – APC where their son, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, was and still is Vice President. Surprisingly (though some say as usual), the Middle Belt played the northern card and voted for Buhari, including Plateau.

Now, amidst the growing clamour for Nigerian President of Igbo extraction, Atiku via his son and others says he is coming out again. What he is telling the South East is to commit political harakiri and asphyxiation by burying their ambition until his is fulfilled despite trying for the umpteenth time. This is as unfair as it is indefensible. One thing anybody can take to the bank is that the South East will take their chances with the 2023 Presidential election by supporting one of their own against whatever outcome.

It is important to remind those propping up Atiku again that one of the reasons he fell out with Igbo political leaders after the PDP Port Harcourt convention was for the interest of the South East in 2023 and his refusal to commit to a single term. That South East interest has not changed and will not be obliterated by his ambition. Let him not be deceived by political jobbers who may be telling him that the South East route is pliable.

Where does the South East interest in 2023 leave Atiku’s perennial Presidential ambition? It means he has to build an alternative power base as South-East and South-South will not go with him this time even if he chooses South East running mate again. His experience under Obasanjo and the experience of Osinbajo under Buhari have not shown that the office of the Vice President is relevant and desirable in Nigeria for Ndigbo to be so keen on it.

Besides, Ndigbo want to become the President of Nigeria, having waited in the wings for 50 years since the civil war.

Both the ambition of Ndigbo and that of Atiku Abubakar are both legitimate, one must concede. But ordinarily, he should be advised to support the South East as they have always supported him. But if he insists on his ambition, it will be naturally, ‘to your tents oh Israel’.

Ndigbo see 2023 as a magic year for their dream to lead Nigeria. It is the season when power is returning to Southern Nigeria and the two other zones in the South have already taken their turn. Morality requires them to cede power to the remaining zone – the South East.

There is justification for this great expectation. South East supported Chief Olusegun Obasanjo to become President in 1999 and 2003, even when his kit and kin deserted him. The South East supported Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to become President in 2010 and 2011. Even when the whole country seemed to turn against his presidency, the South East stuck with him.

It is therefore not out of sync for the South East to expect to reap some goodwill from the two zones of the South in zone’s quest for 2023. In the unlikely event that the other zones would connive and deny the Igbo man his right to lead Nigeria, a country they co-founded and played a pivotal role in its liberation, it will be a redefining moment for them. They will then know that indeed they do not belong here and shall factor such new reality into their future calculations and survival strategies.

It will, therefore, be tragic if the South East does not go for President in 2023. One can see the South West eyeing the position yet again, after producing a President for 8 years and Vice President who is also pushing 8 years in this same dispensation. One also sees some calculations for bringing back Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and South-South into the mix. Such high-wired politics is natural but must not override reason and the urgency for social justice and equity in Nigeria.

As said, the Nigerian President of Igbo extraction offers no silver bullet. But it will offer a healing process for the country and end disunity. It will end the civil war, which has continued in animosity for 50 years. The time to move the nation forward is now. The pussyfooting and shenanigans have to stop.

• Dr. Law Mefor is from the South East and an Abuja based Forensic/Social Psychologist and Journalist; and a vigorous campaigner for Nigerian President of Igbo Extraction; Tel.: +234-905 642 4375; e-mail:

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