2019: Who Can Stop Atiku?

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Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has been a guest of many prominent political, traditional and religious leaders across the country in the past few weeks.Iyobosa Uwugiaren examines the strategic, political moves 

Even the ailing President Muhammadu Buhari knew long time ago that the former Vice-President and one of the founders of All Progressive Congress (APC), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, is a man to watch out for in the emerging political calculations, for 2019 presidential election. And apparently aware of his intimidating political structures across the nation, those with similar tall ambition have consistently built wedges on his way.

But trust him: Atiku has continued to walk along the blustery, stormy political pathway.

A senior presidential aide recently told THISDAY how at the early days of the present administration—-in 2015, the former Vice-President approached Buhari with ‘’a solid economic blueprint’’—detailing how the country could immediately absolved the shock of the fall of oil price in the global market—that has consistently threatened the economy of Nigeria in the last one year. Oil accounts for about 95 per cent of the nation’s foreign earnings, and by extension, the livewire of the nation’s economy.

Atiku was said to have comprehensively came up with a plan—how the administration could create a ‘’competitive market’’ that will attract the big foreign investment players into the country—assurances that their proposed billions of dollars investments in the country would be saved.

‘’Atiku’s economic blueprint, which contains detail policies and implementation strategies was handed over to the President. And President Muhammadu Buhari was initially pleased with the suggestion’’, the presidency source added.

‘’But few weeks later, some political hawks around the president strongly advised him not to allow Atiku Abubakar to use his indirect means to bring into country his billions of dollars. The fear of these political hawks was that the former Vice-President will use the huge fund to fight him in the 2019 presidential election.’’

The result of that advice was what the former Vice-President (Africa) of The World Bank, Dr. Obey Ezekwesilse, described as  ‘’opaque, archaic and ambiguous foreign exchange rate policy’’ that have compounded the nation’s economic recession.

The assertion of the source is that it was the fear of Atiku that forced Buhari to adopt such very devastating economic policy.

In spite of the fear of Atiku, many political analysts said that the on-going political conversations and calculations are pointing to fact the Adamawa born politician will be part of the strong political choices Nigerians would have to make in 2019.

Like the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-rufai noted recently—in his spiteful statement, the former Vice-President has long started his presidential campaign, ahead of the 2019.

To be sure, in the last few months, Atiku has been a special guest of many prominent politicians, traditional rulers, religious and influential groups across the nation, in what an insider described as ‘’strategic political moves’’ to reactivate his political structures across the country.

The insiders told THISDAY that already, some very powerful political forces and groups, including many loyalists of Senate President Bukola Saraki; former Head of States General Ibrahim Babangida; Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu, and groups of both former and serving governors are in different secret political conversations with Atiku, who is reputed to have sauntered into the fourth republic with huge measured quantity of democratic credentials.

THISDAY gathered that the calculation is based on the conspicuous signs that the ailing President Buhari will not re-contest and the need for the core north to present a formidable candidate who will be acceptable to the six geo-political zones, taking into consideration the burning ethno-religious and political question in the country.

For many of his followers, Atiku has established himself as a democrat immediately he left the public service and became a political devotee of late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, an acclaimed great political tactician that flounced the country like a hurricane.

His political history is legendary: a politician, businessman and philanthropist, he was born on November 25, 1946, and in the beginning of his national political career, served as the second elected Vice-President from 1999 to 2007—-under the umbrella of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), with President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Atiku worked in the Nigeria Customs Service for 24 years, rising to become the Deputy-Comptroller-General. He retired in 1989 and took up full-time business and politics. He ran for the office of Governor in the Gongola State (now Adamawa and Taraba States) in 1991; and for the presidency in 1993, coming third after MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe in the disbanded Social Democratic Party (SDP) primaries.

In 1998 he contested and won the Governor of Adamawa State. And while still governor-elect he was picked by the PDP Presidential candidate Olusegun Obasanjo as his running mate. They went into the election and won in 1999.

As documented by historian, Atiku’s second term as Vice-President was characterised by a squally relationship with Obasanjo. His attempt to succeed Obasanjo did not receive the latter’s support, and it took the judgement of the Supreme Court to allow him to contest in 2007—-after he was initially disqualified by the Independent National Electoral Commission over an alleged financial misconduct by a ‘’discredited’’ investigating panel set up by Obasanjo.

The apex court later ordered the electoral commission to restore Atiku’s name onto the presidential ballot and he ran on the platform of the Action Congress, having quit the PDP on account of his issues with Obasanjo. Expectedly, he lost the election, coming third after late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Muhammadu Buhari of the then All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).

As a ‘’consummated’’ businessman, Atiku is a co-founder of Intels—-an oil servicing business with wide-ranging operations across the country and outside the country. He is also the founder of Adama Beverages Limited, and the American University of Nigeria (AUN), both in Yola, the Adamawa state capital.

Born to an itinerant Fulani trader and farmer Garba Abubakar, the former Vice-President was said to have started out in the real estate business during his early days as a Customs Officer. History has it that in 1974 he applied for and received a N31,000 loan to build his first house in Yola, which he put up for rent. From proceeds of the rent he was reportedly to have purchased another plot, and built a second house. He was said to have continued that way, building a considerable range of property in Yola.

Apparently very go-getting in investment, he was said to have later moved into agriculture, acquiring 2,500 hectares of land near Yola to start a maize and cotton farm. The business fell on hard times and closed in 1986. “My first foray into agriculture, in the 1980s, ended in failure,” he was quoted as saying.

Later venturing into trading, buying and selling truckloads of rice, flour and sugar, Atiku’s most important business move was to have come while he was a Customs Officer at the Apapa Ports. One Gabrielle Volpi, an Italian businessman in Nigeria, was said to have invited him to set up Nigeria Container Services (NICOTES), a logistics company operating within the Ports. Those who know him very well said that NICOTES provide immense wealth to Atiku.

Atiku’s first expedition into politics was in the early 1980s, when he worked behind-the-scenes on the governorship campaign of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, who at that time was managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority. He canvassed for votes on behalf of Tukur, and also donated to the campaign. Towards the end of his Customs career, he met late General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, who had been second-in-command of the military government that ruled Nigeria between 1976 and 1979. Atiku was drawn by Yar’Adua into the political meetings that were now happening regularly in Yar’Adua’s Lagos home.

In 1989 Atiku was elected a National Vice-Chairman of the Peoples Front of Nigeria, the political association led by Yar’Adua, to participate in the transition programme initiated by Babangida.

Atiku won a seat to represent his constituency at the 1989 Constituent Assembly, set up to decide a new constitution for Nigeria. The People’s Front was eventually denied registration by the government (none of the groups that applied was registered), and found a place within the Social Democratic Party, one of the two parties decreed into existence by the regime.

 Many of his followers have said time without numbers that a ‘’tested hand’’ like Atiku is surely needed to coordinate the proper integration of the youths into the economic mainstream.

‘’He is the highest individual employer of labour in Nigeria and a believer in excellence. The truth that cannot be dismissed is that among those jostling to convince Nigerians for their votes in 2019, only the Turaki has experience in job creation. This is the choice Nigerian must make in 2019 without sentiment and pandering to the propaganda of surrogates of past failures’’, one of his followers said.

‘’The fragility of our mutual existence as a country cannot be over exaggerated. As a matter of fact, the erosion of our cultural, religious and social commonalities is an ever constant feature of the past two decades.

‘’There is need to undertake enormous reintegration of all divergent groups into a united country. Nobody can do it better than Atiku. He is a proven man of immense conviction and political muscles to navigate us to the destination of unity.’’

The argument is that Buhari came at a time he was needed to abridge the nation’s drift towards excessive insecurity and anarchy, and that Atiku is the man to build the country for the contentment and richness of all citizens of Nigeria.

But for sure, Atiku has Buhari’s gang and treacherous Obasanjo to battle with.

  • Baba Jada

    Atiku is a true democrat who believes in Nigeria, He has both the determination and experience to move Nigeria forward. Atiku isn’t sectional or tribal but uniting and accommodating of all. Your country needs you Turaki. #Nigeriaforall2019

  • Harry

    I sincerely believe Atiku is the man for the job in 2019. He is cosmopolitan and has a vast reach across all geopolitical spheres of Nigeria.

  • Mr. Abdin

    The political structure of the country requires some one who is experienced, tested, and is able to fix the country towards economic recovery and proper political direction. That is why the likes of the former VP Atiku Abubakar remained the most prepared man for the office of the President of Nigeria. God bless Nigeria.

  • Asuk

    It’s time to try Atiku.

    • Nuorah

      This country would have been a better place if Atiku became a President.

  • umar ardo

    “But for sure, Atiku has Buhari’s gang and treacherous Obasanjo to battle with”. And a whole lot more!

  • Salmon Omokanye

    Atiku has credentials that makes him unfit for Nigerian presidency. He made money in Customs by curruption or abuse of his office. His business with Nicotes while in the customs post was a brazing conflict of interest. He was said to have made money in real estates. That’s a joke! The man has many wives!! His America University Yola is neither charitable nor model of excellence. In academic robes he looked like a fraud. Obasanjo and Atiku were birds of the same feather. Both of them were a curse for Nigeria. If Nigeria has any chance of redemption from its forlorn predicaments (God have mercy) we must not have Atiku as president.

    • mikapower

      Yorubas and negative comment all the time.If u dont want have Atiku as president,will your father be the president? May be tinubu is a saint

  • remm ieet

    Some Nigerians are rooting for Atiku’s presidency because they think he is a detribalised leader. This is a plus for him. However, that does not answer all the questions about why he should be taken seriously in this political dispensation.
    If indeed he can bring about the change he is so desperately angling for, then he needs a lot of convincing to do as to why he should be the man of the moment. His supporters assume that Atiku’s party, APC is prepared to offer him the chance pork and barrel, to contest, in 2019. Part of calculation is that Buhari is looking at the exit in 2019, and Atiku is the best Crown Prince for the job.
    His best chance was in 2007, when Obasanjo’s presidency was rounding off. Unfortunately, there was no love lost between the two and Obasanjo sidetracked him.
    At some point Atiku was switching parties to realise his ambition, and he momentarily plunged into the political abyss, playing outside the political turf. To have contested with the incumbent at the last APC primaries and lost, makes a comeback on APC ticket a bit tricky. I wish him luck.

    • YK

      You are minding these brown envelopes guys? I am just tired of this country. We have elected a man of well over 70 years who has been struggling with his health so tell me why Atiku who will be 74 by 2019 should be only option we will have and be clamoured for by youths mostly? When are we going to stop celebrating thieves in this clime? They are always proud to say he made his monies from custom and I asked how? Atiku as of 1999 was owing Trans international bank heavily to the point that he couldn’t service the loans so who is deceiving who? May God grant Nigerians common sense.

      • mikapower

        Buhari is above 80 forget his lies

  • Olami

    This hahaha writer have collected brown envelopes, it seems, haven’t got so many facts wrong, I don’t know how much they put in side the envelope. For your information, Atiku was not a founding member of Apc he joined after loosing out in pdp, as one of the political prostitutes which Nigeria politicians are well known for simply because they have no ideas, policy or solutions to the problems of many Nigerians. All they do is lying to the masses using writer like you to sing their praises. My question is, is he the only one in Nigeria that has the solutions to the problems of Nigeria, afterall, he was once the vice-president of this country, and now he is taking another steps which he will fail woefully like he always did. But you know the truth is bitter, in as long as Nigeria president is a stool where you can lord it over everybody, people like him will like to be there.

    • Don Franco

      Dear Olami,
      Without confusing the messenger for the message, please tell me when was the first or last time that we’ve had a leader in the entire history of Nigerian civilization who came out, like Atiku has done, and stated publicly that Nigeria must be restructured along the lines of a confederacy?
      For this singular act alone; Atiku will get the votes of all centre-right progressives in Nigeria, including those of the entire SE; SW, Middlebelt, and Northeast, where he’s from. It will be refreshing to watch, this 2019….

      • Olami

        Ok let wait and see, 2019 is almost here, would you like to do me a favour, this your prediction will come to nil, politics is not mathematics, but the political terain a I am looking at it, won’t favour Turaki of Adamawa. Pls I will like us to discuss this in future as you will come to see and admit that I am right, mind you don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Alhaji Atiku, and he is not the first leader that says Nigeria need restructuring, which to me right now, I disagree because what Nigeria need most now are sincere leaders, and as bad or worse the military may be which I don’t support, had it been that the military leaders were sincere, this country wont be where it is today. The issue of restructuring or restructure of the nation will fail, if our leaders are not sincere, truthful and rule the nation with fear of God. Our institutions stinks, our way of doing things is collective, rather than facing the problems heads on, our leaders spend most of the time deliberating on irrelevant issues like custom boss must wear uniform which to me is irrelevant,what matter most is how can we provide three square meals on the table of Nigerians and not egomeniarism attitudes, schoolboy attitude, I am bigger and better than you, (naa that one we go chop).

        • Don Franco

          Dear Olami,
          In a restructured Nigeria, would the heads of Customs, NPA and the EFCC always come from a particular part of the country? Nobody is taking ownership of Nigeria due to deeply-seated feelings that we’re all being scammed, everyone is looking out for themselves, and their parts of the country; nobody is looking out for Nigeria as a whole; only with the kind of equity and probity that will be brought about by restructuring can we be redeemed from an oppressive strong centre, first; then from bad leadership, second.

          • Olami

            Dear Mr Don, restructure or no restructure, Good leaders can give us goodness in our democracy. Mr Don forget about yoruba, hausa, ibibio, igbo, fulani, idoma or itssekiri men and women dominating the political landscape or institutions of Nigeria, what I for one is after is competence, many of our institutions had been dominated by incompetent individuals who have never venture into management or know how to make an institution profitable and moreover, they go in there to steal and place their relatives, friends and cronies in sensitive and non sensitive place thereby denying the technocrats who can bring out the best out of that institutions the opportunity to excel. From top to bottom they are corrupt, there are no system or restructure that can survive with coruption inputs, and I don’t care attitudes, no respect no discipline, you can go to work anytime or day you want,arrive when you want in a restructured system, it will be back to square one. Competence in our institutions, competitiveness in privatisation of all these instructions to bring the best out of them. Not giving work to families and cronies that end up ruining these instructions. We won’t be able to be like other nations like Germany, Italy, u.k and USA. If you are not competent, with good experience and qualifications and knowledge, you won’t be given any appointment or jobs to manage because budget will be given and if you failed, you will be fired in United Kingdom for example. Mind you those nations aforementioned never restructure.

        • adaku

          by saying that Nigeria does not need restructuring negates all you have said ..There is nothing like sincere leaders. It is the system that creates corruption. Where all powers are concentrated at the center and the states are weak creates loop hole for corruption. Check all the developed countries the centers are weak. The federating units are very powerful. See how courts in the states are stopping Trump. No body holds the governors who are the problems we have in this country because every body wants to get their share from the center. by nature every human being has the tendency of being corrupt if the system permits. No body says Atiku is not corrupt , by the way who among st them is not corrupt. But he has said something we can hold him for because no body in Nigeria aspiring to be president has ever made such statement. That’s what this debate is all about not this yur political calculation in Nigeria which does not have any meaning that has only produced leaders like OBJ Jonathan and the rest

        • Uche

          “I disagree because what Nigeria need most now are sincere leaders, and as bad or worse the military may be which I don’t support, had it been that the military leaders were sincere, this country wont be where it is today”

          If you have not gotten sincere leaders either in the military or civilian administration after 57 years of independence, then you are never going to get it. By the way, there was no way the military regime that hijacked power could have thrown up sincere leaders because they were quota-system military officers whose recruitment, promotion and career advancement were based on region of origin. Gowon the ill-equipped and semi-illiterate that destroyed the chain of milit

      • YK

        You are joking and I pray you will not be heart broken though the reality is that he can’t even make it. I believe part of the gimmicks is working on your likes to hoodwink you. When did Atiku start singing restructuring? Did he mention restructuring while a vice president? The restructuring of this country lies on the entire south and middle belt. The day they agree is the day we will have new Nigeria but fulanis have always used divide and rule. They have been using SE and SS for long now it is SW that is why millions of Atiku may not be able to do anything about restructuring. Why do you think Awujale called Obasanjo judas? OBJ made the same promise to Yorubas when he was contesting and the likes of Awujale supported him based on that singular promise so also Afenifere and AD in 2003 so is Nigeria now restructured?

        • Don Franco

          Dear YK,
          Was Atiku supposed to mention restructuring as a VP, was it his place to mention it? 2019 is around the corner, let’s see how it will go…

          • YK

            Why not? Osinbajo has said so in Ibadan as a vice president. When he was campaigning in 2007 why did he fail to mention restructuring? In 2014 also, when he was meeting the delegates for APC primaries he was specifically asked on the restructuring he didn’t give a commitment. Why now? See I am not gullible and I read between lines, Atiku calculations are simple. He has studied the outcome of 2015 presidential election results and knowing fully well North is a no go area for him politically he discovered he needed to work on gullible minds in the south by deceiving them with restructuring to which your likes are falling preys now.

        • Uche

          “They have been using SE and SS for long now it is SW that is why millions of Atiku may not be able to do anything about restructuring”

          Please do not distort historical facts.With regards to the your assertions of the north using the SE and SS for long, l totally disagree with you. The north has been using the rest of non-Igbo South.

          In 1966, the Igbos fought the attempt by the north to dominate Nigeria through the (Northern) Nigerian Army. The Igbos under the leadership of Ojukwu challenged the north and insisted on the most senior officer(s) – Ogundipe – replacing missing Ironsi and not Gowon who was imposed on the country by the north.

          When the north went ahead and hijacked power, Ojukwu rejected Gowon while his counterparts in the west and mid-west acquiesced. Ojukwu spearheaded the historic Aburi Accord which offered Nigeria – particularly the south – a confederal political structure that would have permanently caged northern domination of Nigeria. The north rejected Aburi Accord.Instead of the south insisting on the accord, both the mid-west and western region chickened out and only Ojukwu became the lone wailer in the wilderness.

          Eventually when the crisis degenerated into secession of Biafra and civil war, the same mid-west and western region joined the north to fight against the Igbos and ensure the survival of Nigeria ( a country Awolowo aptly described as a mere geographical expression) where the north -particularly Hausa/Fulani will become first-class citizens while the rest of Nigerians will be second-class.

          So if the problem of Nigeria or National Question were between the Igbos and Hausas/Fulani, the problem would have been fundamentally resolved over 50 years ago. We are suffering today the political decision of the non-Igbo south in 1966.

          • YK

            People have ways of distorting the history. Civil war and the political directions each geopolitical zone has been following since 1954 are two separate things entirely. Now, go back and ask which party the so called Igbos supported in 1954, 1959 and 1962/63 federal elections and come back. Again, the one we witnessed. Tell me the party supported by Igbos in 1979, 1983, 1999, 2007 and the president threw by that alliance. Let me tell you because it seems you are not that old to know what actually transpired. The same mistake Ojukwu made is the same mistake Kanu et al are making right now and the reason why the project might be dead on arrival. Ojukwu wanted Biafra, fine did he consult others? Even his close neighbours like Ijaw, Urhobo et al were the consulted? The answer is no and you want them to join you in Biafra? Up till now majority of the SS don’t want Biafra and the mistrust between Igbos and SS is more pronounced than between Igbos and Fulanis. Now tell me why my territory should be carved into another territory without my consent? There is difference between restructuring and secession my friend.

    • sirOscie

      No politician is a saint.
      A politician who is ready and prepared for the job of governance is what Nigeria needs now desperately and the man Atiku Abubakar has shown he is the man to build the country for the contentment and richness of all citizens of Nigeria.

      • eyo

        Go and convince OBJ first, The god father of Nigeria politics.

        • Mr. Abdin

          Is OBJ God? Nigeria can move without him.

        • sirOscie

          You are the only one who sees him as such…Watch Nigeria move forward without your so called god.