Politics, as the saying goes, is really fascinating and very complex. It is the only permanent thing in life and most of the times its intricacies go beyond our imagination. Nigerian politics, for instance, is always in perpetual alignment, realignment and horse-trading, while Nigerian politicians are often easily predictable and seldom difficult to predict.
It can be said that former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar’s plans to return to his former party, the PDP, was in the process for almost three years. In late 2008, Atiku’s posters in PDP’s emblems floated many streets of some states in the country, in particular Jimeta-Yola, the capital of his home state, Adamawa. It was also rumoured, some few months ago, that Atiku smartly attempted to return to the PDP, but was blocked by some forces in the party. So, the news of his return to the PDP may not be surprising to political pundits who have been closely monitoring the body language in his political camp. However, Atiku’s plans return to the PDP has raised some important questions as well as series of political hypothesis on why he choose the current time to perfect his long thought plan. Is it a sign that that the former Vice President has received a green light from an influential factor in the PDP? Perhaps, he has already smartly got PDP‘s membership card from his ward. Only time will tell.
Political pundits are of the view that Atiku’s return to the PDP is what the strong man of Italian politics and its Prime Minister; Silvio Berlusconi called sopravvivenza politica- political survival. Nevertheless, there is no doubt; Atiku’s return to PDP would affect the political permutation in the PDP, the Action Congress, Adamawa State in particular and Nigeria as a whole.
There are three schools of thought on the reasons why Atiku choose this current political situation to return to the PDP. The first thought by students of politic holds the view that, Atiku is imprisoned by his ambition to be President of Nigeria in 2011, so he has seen a rare opportunity he can’t afford to miss. The second school of thought is that of political analysts, their view is, Atiku’s move is nothing but a display of one of the many intriguing characters of the Nigerian politicians- they are always in perpetual oscillation; they stick only to where the wave offers them satisfaction of their political interest, giving truth to the saying that politics is all about interest. The third school of thought is that of ordinary Nigerians, who see Atiku’s return to the PDP as the ‘the same old story’- the Nigerian political environment will continue to be dominated by same elements who have same interest. However, Atiku’s loyalists are quick to point out that Atiku’s move is purely for national interests, especially at this critical moment. National interest, peace and unity are key words that Nigerian politicians use all the time to achieve their political goals, so to speak.
There was a claim by a group with a name Coalition for True Democrats which is based in Jimeta-Yola, Atiku’s home state capital, that Atiku’s return to the PDP was designed to be a counterbalance to the Generals in the PDP. Though Atiku’s media aide has denied the group, calling them fifth columnists. Atiku is wise enough not to contemplate using such a sentiment as a weapon for his return to the PDP. It will be a political suicide by him; after all, he is product of late General’s Shehu Musa Yar’Adua’s political magnanimity. In addition, Atiku cannot afford any political fight this time around, because he has fought many battles and, though he won a lots of them, political-war has cost him quite a lot of political fortune- he has lost his home state and some his political allies. This brings us to the implications of Atiku’s return to PDP as regards Adamawa politics.
The Adamawa State government and the State chapter of the PDP in a statement recently, opposed Atiku’s move. It is obvious that the reasons for the fear, nervousness, leg-wobbling and rumblings among politicians in Adamawa State are because of Atiku’s plans to return to the PDP is nothing but the possibility of him dominating the political scene which is a little bit crowded with many political interests. Besides that, Atiku has strong and widespread political might, which any clever politician will look at twice. Moreover, the truth of the matter is, once Abuja is okay with Atiku’s return to the PDP, the state chapter and indeed the Adamawa state government has no option than to receive him with open hands. But, Atiku has to prepare for a fierce resistance both from his home state and other political interest, having in mind that politics is all about openness and secrecy, honesty and deception. Atiku’s failure to reconcile with the PDP at the time the party valued and dreaded him most- i.e. before the Supreme Court judgment on his case against Yar’Adua’s election, has given his adversary within the PDP the political weapon needed against him, though the odds seem to be in his favour.
Does Atiku still possess his hitherto political charisma and ‘macho-man’ power, especially the one he possessed during his ‘no shaking’ political battle with former President Obasanjo, to face the already in the waiting opposition in the PDP? Does the PDP need Atiku or is it Atiku that needs the PDP? The answers are anybody’s guess- the road to the ‘shield of the umbrella’ may not be as smooth as it seems. High-wired politicking is needed. The answer to the second question is – both Atiku and the PDP need each other, in one way or the other. Atiku was a member of the G21 and G34- the founding groups of the PDP; and he is still the Head of the People’s Democratic Movement (PDM), a political grouping founded by the late Gen. Shehu Yar’Adua, a movement that is still a component in the backbone of the PDP. Additionally, Nigeria being a heterogeneous society and also an ethno-religious sensitive country, Atiku is among the few politicians that many Nigerian outside his ethno-religious leanings are conformable with. So, the PDP will leverage from that. On the other hand, the PDP is stronger than any of the political party in the country, thus it seems the only platform strong enough to smoothen Atiku’s way to actual his ambition, so he needs its emblem.
From now to 2011 many interesting high-wired politics would happen. Nigerians should expect one-two-punch political battles; bubble to bubble politicking as well as merry-go-around political games, all for who becomes the President in 2011.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo. com, 08036070980.