Atiku at 70 and the Long Walk to 2019

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On Friday November 25, 2016, former vice president Atiku Abubakar turns 70 years old. Atiku means different things to his critics and supporters.

As expected, Atiku Abubakar has started a very difficult and long ‘journey’ to 2019- he has commenced under-ground campaign for his quest to be president come 2019. Atiku’s opponents are always quick to describe him as opportunistic and a desperate serial presidential contestant.

They often argue that his core reason for venturing into politics is like that of a typical Nigerian politician- the quest for power and self enrichment. His supporters however believe Atiku is not defined by mere politics, rather his style of doing it. Atiku is politically adventurous and his strategies in politics are always audacious- they surpass those often employed by ordinary Nigerian politicians.

Atiku has always been accused of being corrupt, but no one has ever proven or provided evidence to support the accusation. One may say; Atiku is simply a victim of his love for philanthropy and he has also been fortunate in investments he ventured in.

Students of politics admire Atiku’s style of politics- the man loves political adventures, often not well-thought ones, especially when it comes to the politics of the contest for the presidency of Nigeria. Atiku so far has spent nearly half of his age doing politics. Atiku has fought many tough political battles; the most daring being the one against his former boss- Obasanjo. Atiku was labeled a disloyal vice president.

Over the years, Atiku has been the most visible politician, especially in the politics of Nigeria’s presidency. His opponents are always quick to describe him as a desperate serial presidential contestant. His supporters see his unrelenting participation in party politics as a clear sign of Atiku’s passion to serve his fatherland.

Many observers are of the opinion that Atiku has shown his desperation by commencing campaign for the presidency at this time and also being a member of the ruling APC which has the sitting president.

Atiku’s numerous political decisions were excellent and sound, but not without flaws, especially regarding his presidential ambition. Of recent, Atiku appears to be in rush and reads his ‘political map’ up-side-down.
With the current scenario, age will not be against Atiku, but party platform to contest on and the directions of President Muhammadu Buhari, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the opposition PDP. Whether Buhari will go for second or not nobody knows, but whatever happens, Buhari and Tinubu will decide who gets APC presidential ticket. Apart from President Buhari, Tinubu is the only individual now in Nigeria that has some governors with solid control of the southwest. President Muhammdu Buhari has ‘everything’ in the APC. The Northwest and Northeast will definite not be an easy spot for Atiku- Northwest will definitely go for what Buhari goes for while the northeast, Atiku’s constituency does have a common course.
Atiku’s biggest political error is, instead of him to quietly reintegration himself firmly in the APC, he is busy over- blowing his trumpet. The likes of vice president Yemi Osinbajo, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Governor Nasir El-rufa’i, Governor Aminu Tambuwal, are some strong presidential materials in the APC that will give Atiku nightmare, and If Buhari decides to contest, the game is over for Atiku.

Atiku’s unique style of politics may have favoured him; but he is gradually losing his rightful place in the political arena. Atiku is not well-grounded in APC; he may not make strong impact in the North-East. In fact, for now, Atiku does not have the capacity and confidence to announce the party platform he intends to contest on. Therefore, Atiku’s greatest obstacle to his presidential ambition will still be on how to get a strong party platform to contest on.

Love him or hate him, Atiku has immense war chest that easily scares off his opponents- vast political network and connections, but he has started a very difficult and long ‘journey’ to 2019. There are many odds against him, compared to those in his favour, taking into consideration the present realities in the polity. As Atiku clocks 70, it appears that he would surely put in a strong fight for presidency. After all, politics has become Atiku’s number one hobby. Happy birthday Turaki Adamawa.

Zayyad I. Muhammad Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com 08036070980

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