The 2019 presidential election was Atiku Abubakar’s best outing in his over 26-year quest to be president of Nigeria. Atiku fought the 2019 battle with everything at his disposal. From the onset, Atiku had been on the offensive knowing fully well this would be his last shot at the presidency. In another eight years, he will be 80 years old.
Muhammadu Buhari defeated Atiku Abubakar with over four million votes, a result rejected outright by Atiku. The Peoples Democratic Party’s standard bearer is citing perceived electoral discrepancies. Atiku’s refusal to concede defeat is a wrong move. The Waziri Adamawa ought to have conceded defeat and make ‘the famous phone call’ to congratulate Buhari. Former President Goodluck Jonathan’s phone call to congratulate Buhari is a major fulcrum on which Jonathan still enjoys world recognition and respect till date.
Atiku could have seized the opportunity of that rare moment to retire himself from the politics of the presidency in style. Instead, he chose the path of self-gratifying stalemate that will bring unending legal tussles. Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana said Atiku will face “insurmountable legal obstacles” at the Presidential Election Petition’s Tribunal. Apart from the legal obstacle, Atiku is already receiving knocks. The fiery ones are from his immediate constituency– the North. Most northern talakawas are not happy with Atiku.
Had Atiku accepted defeat in good faith and congratulated Buhari, he would have earned himself international recognition and a new role in the politics of northern Nigeria. Most of Buhari’s cult-like supporters would have developed admiration for him and given him special respect.
Atiku does not have a robust cult-like followership. Many that supported him during the 2019 election did so based on three reasons – some because they opposed the Buhari government; some did it because they are members or sympathizers of the PDP; while others had no option than Atiku.
Nevertheless, Atiku’s decision to seek legal redress is a good one and very significant for Nigeria’s democracy; strengthening democracy goes beyond winning and losing an election. It also involves all forms of power play, which must be kept within the ambit of the rule of law. Politically aggrieved persons seeking legal redress are part of the processes of enshrining democratic tenets in a complex country like Nigeria. Equally, Atiku has history of legal successes on political matters. Those successes and array of lawyers at his disposal have definitely gingered him to go to court.
Losing the 2019 presidential election has finally closed Atiku’s doors for contesting an elective office. However, as a former vice president of Nigerian, an astute politician, successful businessman and a high profile traditional title holder, Atiku cannot run away from national and local politics. Thus, Atiku’s has reached a new chapter in his political life; he has no option but to redefine his political participation.
In the local politics of his home state -Adamawa, Atiku is always in the equation- he is either pulling the strings or a threat. The current politicians in Adamawa State can be categorized into three – they are either in Atiku’s team, have left the team, or about to join the team.
In recent times, Atiku has relaxed his interest in Adamawa politics. The Atiku political team at home needs to be re-energized and young talents infused into it. Atiku’s biological sons are gradually becoming politically active, this is a development his team can build on to sustain the continued relevance of the Atiku political brand. His children’s involvement in local politics can serve as a training ground for national participation. This will be a new ground being broken by Atiku because most political elites in the north have been very weak in training their biological children in the art of politicking. This a major reason northern political dynasty crumbles with the death or aging of their progenitors. Atiku should not make that mistake.
Atiku has witnessed moments of successes, failures and disappointments. The 1999 and 2019 presidential elections were his best moments in his over 26-year quest to be president. In 1999 he became vice president while in 2019 he came close to being the president. But oftentimes, Atiku makes costly political blunders – he failed to utilize a rare moment to get global recognition and local respect.
Zayyad I. Muhammad, Jimeta, Adamawa State