Former Vice-President AtikuAbubakar has cleared the air over his speculated presidential ambition. But this development may have further thrust him into yet another battle against those ready to stop him from occupying Aso Rock, OlawaleOlaleye writes
Former Vice-President AtikuAbubakar’s demeanor at the Leadership Newspaper’s conference and awards, penultimate Tuesday said it all. The aura around him was depictive of a man set for a big leap, albeit for the discerning. Then, his speech was the clincher. As he intermittently received tumultuous applause as he read through his address, the audience, no doubt was listening to a man with an amazingly tall dream.
His carriage and general body language also hinted of one ready for the nation’s biggest job. The depth of his contribution spoke of keen experience even as his inferences seemed more of identified solutions to the beleaguered nation. He gave no clue as to what lied ahead both in his speech and response; the audience literally bought into all that he said such that the Lead Speaker, Professor Pat Utomi, adopted his speech as the basis of his paper designed to address the theme of the conference: “Is the Opposition a Serious Alternative in Nigeria”.
Although, he may not have been particularly swayed by the attention that followed his speech, the event had perhaps made Abubakar into believing that the time to drop the hint was now. And thus, less than a week after the Leadership Newspaper event, Abubakar told a sceptical public that there was no going back as far as 2015 presidential election was concerned. He confirmed that he would present himself in the presidential election and that his rumoured interest in the race should no longer make news.
Consequently, the presidency, playing somewhat smart politics, wished him well, saying the presidency of the nation was anybody’s right to contest. But Abubakar who seized the opportunity to also dismiss insinuations of alliance talks with opposition leader, Senator Bola Tinubu, said his ambition to rule Nigeria depended on a number of factors which he however did not disclose.
The former vice-president who said this much in an interview with a national daily explained that any alliance aimed at achieving his ambition would be within the PDP and not extended outside of his political family. Besides, he was said to have begun to make in-road to the South-west as part of moves to consolidate his ambition. Such moves were said to have included cementing the relationship between him and his former boss, Chief OlusegunObasanjo.
But more significantly, the Abubakar pronouncement was believed to have stymied some of the thinking, especially in the Northern part of the country about ousting the incumbent President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, using a younger politician who would be acceptable to all and represent their interests adequately.
To this end, efforts were said to being made, in addition to the ongoing alliance talks across political divide, to raise people who would speak to the Northern leaders as well as their elite to appeal to the like of Abubakar and former military president, General MuhammaduBuhari to shelve their ambition and pave the way for the revolution that is about to launch with the birth of the proposed mega party by the oppositions. It is also for this reason, analysts say that conscious efforts and in different forms, are being made to genuinely bring the opposition together and confront the PDP machinery in 2015.
While different names are already being touted as likely choice of the proposed alliance, the Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. AminuwaziriTambuwal, has remained prominent as a possible joker the opposition might deploy to the battle field against the President with a Christian running mate from the South-west geo-political zone.
Interestingly, it has not been difficult for many to buy into this particular postulation, given Tambuwal’s sustained affinity with the opposition Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), since the party was believed to have facilitated his emergence as speaker against the choice of the PDP in June last year when the Seventh Assembly resumed sitting. Some also contended that it is sole reason the Speaker had remained confrontation with the President in all their dealings even as heads of independent arms of government.
Unfortunately, while Buhari who had earlier indicated his interest to quit active politics had since returned to the turf, it is a major assignment in the hands of the opposition contemplating merger against the PDP to dissuade both Abubakar and Buhari from throwing their hats in the ring for a project that is essentially against their long nursed dream.
And for Abubakar, the dream to become President dates back 2003 when his stout profile almost scuttled the re-election bid of his boss until he was properly courted by Obasanjo before the latter pulled through his second term bid. He did not stop there, he also aided in bungling the third term agenda of the former president, a development that would later complicate his own chances within the PDP. But in 2007, he came out openly, defied and prevailed over all the hurdles shoved on his way and went ahead to contest the election, albeit on a different platform, ACN.
That he did not win the election was not the issue, however, that he was merely on Sabbatical to the ACN was evident as it did not take long before he fell out with the players in the party and subsequently returned to his fold where his ambition to becoming president is more realistic than anywhere else, given the weight and standing of the PDP in the political equation of the country as it still currently stands.
Thus, with the chances of the incumbent President believed to be growing slimmer within the ranks of the PDP, Abubakar might have concluded that taking his chance is best now than ever. And coming from the beliefs that a number of forces are no longer comfortable with the president in the PDP and would do everything humanly possible to foil his re-election agenda, the urge to take the chance might grow even stronger.
In fact, it is believed that the recently denied amendment to the PDP constitution to allow the President an option of first refusal at the party’s convention as practiced in the United States of America was ruined by agents loyal to the likes of Abubakar and others opposed to a return of Jonathan in 2015. In other words, the idea was actually mooted but dropped when it became obvious it was dead on arrival. “It will never work,” a source was told THISDAY.
However, to think that Abubakar would give up the struggle for the presidency on the basis of regional sentiment or on account of some alliance that do not have any political bearing with his career amounts to sheer waste of time.
Already in the PDP, like the oppositions are doing, there is said to be an ongoing re-alignment of forces to effectively engage the leadership and influence control as far as the 2015 election is concerned. Particularly note worthy is the recent move to resuscitate the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), the political structure of the late AlhajiShehu Musa Yar’Adua, which is said to have come directly under the leadership of Abubakar. That, of course, gives him yet another edge in the subsisting equation.
Not only is Abubakar unrelenting in his presidential ambition come 2015, analysts believe he would also give the kind of fight he never gave in his entire political career, more so that he believes the coast is clearer than it had ever been and earnestly desires the nation’s number one job.