By Eric Elezuo
The story below was first published in June 2018…
With a few months left to the 2019 Presidential Election, The Boss can authoritatively reveal that except for the recent declaration of the dynamic former Governor of Cross Rivers State, Dr. Donald Duke, no real opposition is standing in the way of the Turaki Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, from picking the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and eventually becoming the president everything being equal. As a result, the former Customs boss has become the cynosure of all eyes as the race for Aso Rock Villa gathers real momentum, and the most sought after bride even as he continued to make consultation in readiness for his much talked about official presidential intention declaration on July 28, 2018.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has remained a force driven and propelled by the desire to achieve whatever he sets out to do, and consequently has a retinue of incredible credential trailing his illustrious civil and political career.
A schemer of great repute, Dele Momodu, after an exclusive interview, described him in a write up earlier in the year as “a man so fastidious about his dream and so obstinate about achieving a lifelong ambition to be the number one Nigerian Citizen.”
I’ve followed his trajectory with keen interest since 1993 when he took on both Chief Moshood Abiola and Baba Gana Kingibe, in an epic Presidential primary, that Chief Abiola ultimately won. His formidability we were told was a result of the influence of his godfather and political colossus, Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, now of blessed memory. Chief Abiola actually reached out to the General, as he was fondly called, to prevail on Atiku to pull out of the race and support him. A deal was subsequently struck, between Abiola and Yar’Adua, for Atiku to be Abiola’s running-mate. Everything looked good on paper until the powerful and influential Social Democratic Party (SDP) Governors threw spanners in the works, forcing Abiola to renege on his word. Whilst Abiola wanted Atiku, the Governors led by the irrepressible Olusegun Osoba, from Abiola’s home State of Ogun, insisted on Abiola picking Kingibe. They convinced Abiola that it was dangerous to pick Atiku who would have been more loyal and too submissive to his godfather.”
This scheming against Atiku accounted in its own little way to the disaster the June 12 project finally came to be. That explains the type of clout the ex-Customs boss had around him even as far back as 1993. It was believed that Yar’dua was enraged at the outcome that he literally swore that Abiola would never be president. All on account of Atiku!
The election held; Abiola won, but was never allowed to be president. This led to led to reactions which Dele Momodu described as ‘cataclysmic’ that ended up consuming frontline players including Yar’dua himself. Alas in 1999, the same Atiku who was not allowed to be vice presidential running mate to Abiola became Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s vice.
However, his ambition to be number one citizen was not hidden, and that brought about the collapse of the smooth relationship between him and his boss after their first term in office. His recalcitrance was paying off though. He was becoming powerful, controlling some major institutions and personalities of government to the extent it was reported that Obasanjo literarily had to ‘beg’ him for an opportunity to go for second term.
The humbling of Obasanjo proved to him that he would get the ticket on a platter of gold in 2007, but Obasanjo had grown with time, and blocked every opportunity available to him. Obasanjo even schemed on perpetuating himself in power by going for the unconstitutional third term. Atiku will not have it, and went ahead to scuttle the plan. That was when his boss allegedly swore that Atiku would never be president while he (Obasanjo) lives. That pronouncement had haunted Atiku ever since.
Momodu wrote: “He has pursued his dream since 1993 and has never given up. That was 24 years ago. Indeed, Atiku has been in partisan politics for 28 years but only served in government for eight years. He has criss-crossed different political parties in search of that magic wand that could give him his heart’s desire. It has been a painful journey. He’s been dissed and lampooned as a serial “decampee” famed for wandering endlessly in the wilderness of Nigerian politics. That, for many people, is a major weakness which signals integrity issues. There are other minuses weighing on him like an albatross.”
But Atiku’s response to the issue of wandering from party to party was legendary. He said:
“There is nothing wrong with it. Ours is a fledgling democracy of barely two decades since the end of the last military regime. What it means is that the political parties are yet to mature and are going through constant transformations and changes. That is why even President Buhari has been able to move from party to party, including ANPP, CPC and now APC. And for those who read about world history and political books like I do, they will know that Abraham Lincoln, Sir Winston Churchill and others went through so much before achieving their dreams. I’m not different. I know what I want for my country. I’ve served Nigeria in different capacities and I am one of the most experienced leaders around today. There is no part of Nigeria I’m not familiar with. I have friends everywhere.”
“Atiku is not hiding the fact that he is the only candidate who can, not only give Buhari a good run for his money, but thoroughly defeat him at the polls when they come face to face in 2019. That explains why all eyes are on him as the one man who has what it takes to send Buhari packing from Aso Rock Villa, and he declared emphatically that ‘I will beat him (Buhari)’”
On the issue of corruption as a public officer and trust to manage Nigeria’s excessive commonwealth, Atiku fronted his business acumen, which has over the years made him rich beyond anyone’s widest imagination. Above that, his corporate social responsibility effort has lifted families and touched lives beyond measure, especially in his native Adamawa State
Hear him: “They can also trust me that I’m not coming to government to steal their money. God has blessed me with business acumen. How can you run a nation if you cannot run your own business? I run my businesses to international standards. Let any of those who want to compete with me show what they have managed successfully. I’ve lifted over 45,000 families out of joblessness and poverty through my microfinance company in my State Adamawa, and we’ve have empowered mostly women. The good news is these women have been very honest. We plan to replicate this nationwide…”
Much as many people think the ebullient businessman is obsessed with bearing the tag ‘president’, he debunked the notion, saying he only intends to give back to a country that has given him so much, and at the same time not allow mediocre run the affairs and run down Nigeria.
In his unpredictable calmness, he declared respect for his former boss, Obasanjo, who had labeled him as corrupt and a thief nobody should vote for, and challenged anyone who has evidence of corruption against him to come forward with it.
“I have the highest regards for my boss. He gave me eight years to serve Nigeria under him. We had our differences but we both tried our best. But on the issue of corruption, I have challenged anyone, anywhere, who has any evidence of corruption against me to come forward. I’m sure they would have combed everywhere trying to find anything incriminating against me, but they have not found it, or they are still searching.”
“It is not hard to imagine what gives the former Vice-President the hope that he will emerge victorious come 2019 when the followership he has generated in the last couple months has become cult-like, making him to boldly declare that he would win next year’s presidential election, in spite of whatever gang up against him”
Atiku is not hiding the fact that he is the only candidate who can, not only give Buhari a good run for his money, but thoroughly defeat him at the polls when they come face to face in 2019. That explains why all eyes are on him as the one man who has what it takes to send Buhari packing from Aso Rock Villa, and he declared emphatically that ‘I will beat him (Buhari)’.
“PDP needs a candidate with the brightest chance and that can only come from someone who has major experience, exposure, knowledge about running an economy, who is a Nationalist and not a sectionalist and whose brand cannot be intimidated in anyway by that of the current President. If PDP picks a weak candidate, then the Party is doomed. Some of those whose names are being touted and bandied about have not grown beyond their immediate domains.”
“I will definitely beat him this time. He has wasted a lot of his massive goodwill. A lot of people are disgruntled but keeping quiet and lying low. Our youths are suffering terribly and now they are being sold into slavery. Everyone knows my track record of inviting and attracting a good team and giving them the opportunity to work professionally. Nigerians are tired of leaders who cannot think big and work big.”
From every indication, Atiku has been tightening up loose ends in the quest to get PDP ticket and subsequently flush Buhari out of office through his thorough and nationwide consultation including mending fence with his biggest political enemy, Obasanjo.
Again, authoritative source has hinted that the Wazirin Adamawa is set to pick his running mate from the South East of Nigeria like he did in previous attempts as the race for 2019 Presidential election gathers momentum.
We are told that he has narrowed his choice to two highly formidable and accomplished Igbo leaders; the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu and former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi.
Atiku, no doubt, is reputed as the most formidable of all the current Presidential aspirants in terms of clout and connection, and has over the years proved that he has a soft spot for the people of the South East, having created alliances with them in many areas and he even went further by marrying a wife from the region.
It is not hard to imagine what gives the former Vice-President the hope that he will emerge victorious come 2019 when the followership he has generated in the last couple months has become cult-like, making him to boldly declare that he would win next year’s presidential election, in spite of whatever gang up against him.
He had made many promises that do not sound bogus or desperate, and some of them are repairing the destroyed economy that has brought tears, hunger and unending killings of innocent citizens of this country, especially in the Northern States, restructuring the country within six months in power, reuniting the already polarized tribes of the country among others.
“I know I will rule Nigeria come 2019; nobody can stop me; the highest the people are doing around me, is cheap blackmails, I am not a thief, and I will not be because of the fear of Allah,” he declared.
Today, Atiku has remained the loudest voice in comparison to all that has so far declared presidential ambition, and that explains why all eyes are on him.
“I shall be the president of Nigeria come 2019,” he vowed.