By Chidiebere Nwobodo
Hitherto, many of my friends on social media and beyond, who understood me as a veteran political pundit had been inundating my inbox and phone lines, with the request to know my stand on 2019 presidential election, especially as it relates to choice of candidate. My sincere answer had been that I would make up my mind after major political parties must have conducted and concluded their primaries. I never gave it a second thought.
But few days ago, I had a paradigm shift. After a painstaking, meditative thought process, I decided to take a stand; even before presidential primaries of major political parties. I did a brief research on the presidential aspirants and came out with this conclusion: Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the path way to victory in 2019!
The million-dollar questions that will be racing through the minds of my readers at this juncture are: why Atiku? Is he not too old to run? Why not a younger candidate? Is Atiku not corrupt? Why this â€œdesperateâ€ man? Can Atiku even travel to United States? Why???
Before I marshall out mind-illuminating and unbiased answers to the above questions, without running the risk of prejudice, I will like to provide a background understanding to the political monster & dilemma Nigerians are going to confront in 2019.
Next yearâ€™s presidential election will be a different ballgame all together from what was obtained in 2015. Nigerians will deal with a government that has exacerbated the woes of this nation for the last three years, yet keep blaming the past for its gross incompetence and cluelessness. Nigerians, desirous of drastic change, will confront a President Buhari who has demonstrated through his actions and inactions that his only purpose of being in power, is just for the sake of it and lures of office. He has removed every doubt whether he has what it takes to rework Nigeria.
Opposition candidates will run against President Buhari who had made up his mind to re-contest in the face of contrary advice from prominent Nigerians, and will be ready to muscle any voice of dissent using the instrumentality of state institutions, just to cling to power at all cost. The PDP and other opposition parties have to go into this electoral battle with an APC—a ruling political party whose oxygen of survival is share propaganda and witch-hurting of opposition elements. And the list goes on.
Why Atiku? From my investigations and profiling of intending presidential aspirants in the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former vice president of Nigeria, is the only candidate that President Buhariâ€™s handlers dread like sheep fear lion. His emergence as the PDP presidential candidate will herald the fiercest political royal rumble in the contemporary history of Nigerian politics. He is the only presidential hopeful (amongst already declared aspirants) that will give President Buhari a good run for his money. He has been in the political trenches battling titans for decades.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the only aspirant that has formidable political machinery across the six geo-political zones of the country. He is a political veteran par colossus with huge financial war-chest. He has enormous political goodwill among the political class, though misunderstood as â€œcorruptâ€ and â€œdesperateâ€ by a section of the masses, who fell under the strong windstorm of propaganda ignited by those who detest Atikuâ€™s cult-like fellowship among the political elites.
Is Atiku corrupt? Like most Nigerians, Atiku Abubakar is not without blemish; he is not a saint either. One thing that is still counting for him is that, he has not been charged, indicted let alone convicted on any known corruption case both in Nigeria and outside the shores of the country. Atiku was a victim of jungle justice in the court of public opinion; of which was instigated by former president Olusegun Obasanjo, whose inglorious Third Term bid was scuttled by group of democrats led by Atiku Abubakar. Waziri of Adamawa was not given fair hearing in the court of public opinion. I think his epic political battle with his ex-boss Obasanjo, colored his perception and masqueraded his real personality.
If Atiku is as corrupt as most of us were meant to swallow hook, line and sinker, he would have been enmeshed in a lot of corruption trials with EFCC long before now, especially when juxtaposed with his age-long presidential ambition, which cut across several administrations. Atiku is a victim of oligopolistic tendencies of Nigerian post-civil war Military Establishment who has monopolized the nationâ€™s presidency. An Atiku Abubakar presidency is a nightmare to the cartel of retired military generals who sees him as too â€œpowerfulâ€ to be teleguided.
Is Atiku too old? As much as I remain an advocate of youth in governance, we should also not take it out of context. Youthfulness is not the only required quality for performance and service delivery. And old age is not the only perceivably weak point that makes a leader to fail, unless in a pathetic situation where senility and fragility sets in.
It may be good to recall that the worst (permit the use of my language) performing governor in Nigeria today is the youngest of them all—Yahaya Bello of Kogi State. President Donald Trump became US number one citizen at the age of seventy years. President Buhari is seventy-five (at least official figure). Has President Buhariâ€™s age been the reason for his perceived failures? No! Has Yahaya Belloâ€™s age been an advantage to him in transforming Kogi State? No! Is Trump being negatively effected by his age? No!
One of the best performing governor of the biggest state of California in America is Jerry Brown. Incidentally, he is the oldest at age 81. He is six years older than President Buhari, yet doing wonderfully great! My argument is; a dunce is a dunce irrespective of his age! Atikuâ€™s age is experience embedded in numbers not otherwise!
Can Atiku travel to America?? This is one of the funniest and dumbest question I have seen some gullible Nigerians asked. From my research, Atiku was never barred from going to United States neither was he declared wanted by FBI or CIA. He was simply DENIED visa! If US Embassy can deny an average Nigerian visa, who says they can do that to an Atiku Abubakar? Or are we implying that one automatically becomes a â€œcriminalâ€ if his visa application is rejected by US Embassy?
Billionaire Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich missed FA Cup finale between Chelsea FC and Manchester United club at the Wembly Stadium, as a result of United Kingdomâ€™s Home Office Department inability to renew his visa. Can we say in all honesty that he was â€œbannedâ€ from UK? Or is he now â€œcorruptâ€?
Come to think of it; must Nigerian presidential hopeful visit America before becoming president? Is Nigeria an American colony? Are we not undermining our sovereignty? Did Donald Trump pay homage to Nigeria before being elected US President? Please let us focus on serious issues of national significance not mundaneness.
Is Atiku really desperate?? I have heard this story of desperation for so long, but I will do justice to it today. I am not a protagonist of political â€œJumpologyâ€, otherwise known as cross-carpeting. Atiku has featured as a member of three political parties since 1999; namely PDP, AC & APC. But one striking factor of note is that, he has only appeared in the presidential election ballot paper only once—when he contested as Action Congress candidate in 2007.
Between an Atiku who contested only once and President Buhari who ran for president for four consecutive terms, and had just declared to run for fifth time, who is actually DESPERATE? As a matter of fact, the then candidate Buhari ran severally on the platforms of APP, ANPP, CPC & APC yet those insufferable hypocrites never referred him as â€œdesperateâ€ but will always Crucify Atiku.
In 2011, hundreds of Nigerians died in the North as a fall out of presidential election of which then candidate Muhammadu Buhari lost. The infamous speech of â€œdogs and baboons soaking in bloodâ€ is still fresh in our memory, yet Atiku is the political desperado in Nigeria. It is on record that no Nigerian has died as a result of Atikuâ€™s presidential ambition. Then, where is the desperation story coming from? Many Nigerians misunderstood Atikuâ€™s readiness cum eagerness to rework this ailing nation for desperation. Itâ€™s unfortunate.
As a bouncily cosmopolitan, maverick entrepreneur, liberal-minded Muslim, and pan-Nigerian in nature, an Atiku Abubakar candidacy is becoming increasingly appealing to many Nigerians of my nature.
The so-called saints had ruled this country severally, but nothing has changed. It is time to reinvent the wheel of the nationâ€™s progress and awaken the sleeping giant of Africa, by entrusting Nigeriaâ€™s destiny onto the leadership fulcrum of an economic enigma and political colossus like Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.