Atiku and the 2019 Cross


POLSCOPE with Eddy Odivwri, Email: Tel: 08053069356

The penultimate Friday, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar resigned from the All Progressives Congress (APC) and did not say which party he was going into even though the whole world knew he was returning to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from whence he went to the APC.

His said resignation had dominated political conversations in the polity all through last week.
No doubt, Atiku wants to be president come 2019. His leaving the APC is because not only has he not been well treated as a senior citizen/member of the party, his chances of testing his popularity again within the APC is bleak.

With President Muhammadu Buhari making it faintly clear now that he would seek re-election in 2019, Atiku did not stand any ounce of a chance of flying the APC presidential flag.

So it is in shopping for a presidential platform that he had to return to his vomit, the PDP.
Some uncharitable commentators have described his moves as sign of desperation.

Understandably, Atiku has been consulting with the PDP chieftains on his next moves. The fog will clear after the December 9 national convention of the PDP. Thus far, only the Ekiti State governor, Ayodele Fayose has clearly indicated interest in running for the presidential office under the PDP, even though he had been clearly told that the office is zoned to the northern part of the country. His going ahead may just be for record purposes of being referred to as one of the also–rans.

If Atiku emerges the PDP candidate eventually, he would have President Buhari to contend with. The odds may not be in his (Atiku’s) favour.

Already, his state governor, Alhaji Jibrilla Bindow has technically disowned him by declaring to Buhari that unlike Atiku, he would not dump the APC. It may be mere political feel-good talk, given the hold Atiku has on Adamawa politics. In other words, will Gov Bindow dare to work against Atiku during a presidential election? Or will he secretly give tactical support to the Turakin Adamawa, his political leader while pretending to do the bidding of his boss, Mr President? Nigerians are watching to see how it will all play out. Thus far, only the minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Aisha Alhassan, aka Mama Taraba, months ago, had openly declared support and loyalty to Atiku.

But for Atiku to make an impressive outing, he will need surely more than the lone voice of a female minister.
With rumours about some national lawmakers warming up to flock along with him, Atiku would still need to run at a double-paced speed to match or check the grip Mr President has on the political space, especially as even some PDP governors, like Gov David Umahi of Ebonyi State, have openly endorsed Buhari for second term.

Worse still, the endless infighting within the PDP is bound to rub off negatively on the chances and strength of the party. This perhaps may be Atiku’s greatest cross as he attempts, once again, to hop into the presidential train.

Younger and seemingly stronger, Atiku may have an edge, even as he seems to be saying all politically correct things in recent times: support for restructuring, focus on youth development, economic rejuvenation etc. But the deep intrigues of Nigerian politics feed on more complex dynamics other than the mere atmospherics of age and gallery talks.

The days ahead are pregnant, not only for Atiku but for Nigeria also.