Atiku Abubakar, former vice president of Nigeria, has declared his interest again to run for the presidency in the forthcoming 2015 general elections but he has to jump over the first hurdle in the race by beating about four other contenders in the All Progress Congress, APC, to clinch the party’s ticket
| By Anayo Ezugwu | Oct. 6, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT |
IT was a much expected event and the mammoth crowd made up of gaily dressed politicians and their supporters from different parts of the federation were not disappointed with the proceedings of that day. There were speakers, dancers and jesters who made the event hilarious. Of all the performers none was more eagerly awaited than that of the great masquerade of the day in the person of Atiku Abubakar, former vice president of Nigeria. Abubakar got a loud ovation when he mounted the podium and it became thunderous when he finally let the cat out of the bag saying that he was offering himself for service as a presidential frontrunner.
On that epoch day of September 24, Abubakar formally declared his intention to contest the 2015 presidential election on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, for a third time. He promised that if elected president, he would tackle insecurity, corruption and work to rebuild the country’s infrastructure in order to return Nigeria to better days. Abubakar’s desire to become President is born out of his desire to give back to the nation.
Abubakar, who is desperate to rule the country, became the first presidential aspirant in any political party in Nigeria to publicly declare his bid for the presidency. He told his supporters at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, that “We need a strong, dynamic, decisive, competent and visionary leadership that can halt the current drift of the ship of state, fight corruption, create jobs, rebuild our infrastructure, provide social services and tackle insecurity in a decisive, robust multi-pronged way. This is the change we want and deserve and this is the change the APC is primed to offer,” he said.
Abubakar said the 2015 elections were about Nigerian youths and the nation’s future. He stressed that the nation, under the current administration, had failed to provide the required environment for the youth to reach their full potential. “It is inspiring that amidst difficulties and growing anxiety over the future of our country, our people have refused to succumb to despair and hopelessness. This never-say-die attitude gives me immense hope and it is one of the reasons why I can never give up on Nigeria.”
Reacting to the agitation for generational shift, he said his generation owed younger Nigerians the responsibility of offering its political shoulders to them to climb on. This, he said, was necessary to improve their vision and expand their horizon. He noted that it was this trans-generational collaboration and partnership that represented the best model to create the future that the nation desired and deserved. Nigeria, he said, should never again be subjected to leadership experimentation or learning on the job.
He recalled that the Olusegun Obasanjo administration which he was a part of successfully reformed some critical sectors of the economy such as telecommunications and the capital market. “As Vice-President from 1999 to 2007, I worked closely with my boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who is a passionate defender of Nigerian unity. We focused on macro-economic stability and transforming critical areas such as banking, insurance, oil and gas, telecommunications, pension and the civil service. We created institutions that should lay the foundation for good governance and accountability such as the Bureau of Public Procurement, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, SERVICOM, whose golden rule is ‘Serve others as you would like to be served.’ Sadly, most of these institutions are now mere shadows of themselves.”
The former vice-president said the Obasanjo administration was able to deliver because it had vision, commitment and dedication. He expressed sadness that rather than pay down the nation’s debts, “our borrowing has been on the increase even at a time the price of oil has consistently been above $100 per barrel since the inception of the Goodluck Jonathan administration.”
He argued that resentment, disillusionment and hopelessness were the factors on which insecurity and disharmony thrived.in Nigeria, adding that we are more divided today than at any other time since the civil war. He said that there was a disturbing rise in ethnic nationalism and religious bigotry because “we have a governance deficit. Our country seems to be on auto pilot with no one in charge. Nigeria now more than ever before, needs a strong, dynamic, decisive, competent and visionary leadership that can halt the current drift of the ship of state. Corruption needs to be fought, jobs need to be created, our infrastructure needs to be rebuilt, social services need to be provided and insecurity needs to be tackled in a decisive, robust and multi-pronged way.”
While commending the leadership of the APC for adopting the modified open primaries in selecting its flag bearers at all levels, Abubakar said the party remained the most potent political force to end years of PDP’s dominance of the political space. Leaders of the party that attended the event reassured supporters of its readiness to rebuild the country.
The former vice president’s declaration is coming against the backdrop of his being endorsed by the South-west caucus of the APC. The APC caucus in the south-west zone known as the Atiku Abubakar Collectives, made the announcement of its endorsement of the former vice-president at an interactive session with Abubakar, on Tuesday, September 23.
The group, whose members were drawn from the six states of the South-west and Kogi State, and led by Bode Ajewole, said its endorsement of Abubakar was predicated on the former vice president being the most experienced among all the likely contenders for the ticket of the party. “At such a time like this, we need a strong leadership, a bridge-builder; someone who understands the intricate nature of our geo-politics and strengthens the bonds of our unity as a people, who share a common hope in a Nigeria for all Nigerians.”
Responding to the endorsement of Atiku, Babalola Borishade, director general of Atiku Abubakar Campaign, said it was important for supporters of Abubakar to engage everyone within the APC and mobilise support for Abubakar to emerge as the flag-bearer of the party. Abubalar has been described as the best man to chart a new direction for Nigeria.
Also, Binta Massi Garba, chairperson of APC in Adamawa State, said she has endorsed the former vice-president for the 2015 presidential race. Garba, who made this statement in Bauchi after the party’s stakeholders in the North-East, said what Nigeria needed now was a person who can salvage it from its current problems and in turn give it a new direction. She said that Abubakar was not only a detribalised Nigerian but also a man of proven integrity, who was versatile in the Nigerian political terrain, adding that the people needed him now than ever before. “Former vice-president Atiku Abubakar has been tested and has proven his democratic competence. He is the man who can chart a new direction for the people of this great country,” she said.
Similarly, Senator George Akume, leader of the National Assembly caucus of the APC, who spoke on behalf of other party leaders, said the APC has within its ranks, the men and women who have what it takes to rebuild Nigeria.
It is not everybody that is enthused with Abubakar’s declaration. Jasper Azuatalam, chairman, Buhari Vanguard, said Abubakar’s declaration is to make way for the big masquerade that will change the country for good. “We congratulate Alhaji Atiku Abubakar on his successful declaration to contest the 2015 Presidential election under our party the APC. We wish him well. This is the beauty of democracy as showcased by our party the APC. The masquerades are arriving the dance floor. The procedure is that the smaller masquerades appear first followed by bigger masquerades. Hold your breath as we await the bigger masquerade in about two weeks from now. Change is here,” he said.
Irrespective of his wide supports and endorsements, Abubakar has other candidates like Muhammadu Buhari, former head state, Rabiu Kwankwaso, Kano State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, Edo State governor, Rochas Okorocha, Imo State governor and Sam Nda-Isaiah, publisher of Leadership newspaper, who have been reported to have interest in contesting for the presidential ticket of the party.
Meanwhile, Abubakar has other odds against his burning desire to be the president of the country. Realnews in its September 2, 2013, edition reported that Abubakar’s main obstacle is former President Olusegun Obasanjo under whom Abubakar served as vice-president. Obasanjo practically put a nail on Abubakar’s political coffin when he said: “I wanted someone who would succeed me so I took Atiku. Within a year, I started seeing the type of man Atiku was. And you want me to get him there?” The former president, who was a guest speaker at the 4th Annual Ibadan Sustainable Development Summit, organised by the Centre for Sustainable Development, University of Ibadan, in collaboration with African Sustainable Development Network, was speaking on poor leadership in Africa.
This is not the first time Abubakar is aspiring to be the president of Nigeria. In 2006, he had joined hands with Tinubu to found the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, which was then Action Congress, AC. He used the defunct AC platform to prosecute his presidential ambition in the election of 2007 and lost to the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, who emerged as the elected president with Jonathan as his vice-president. But having reasoned that his fortune could only be best served on the platform of the PDP, he returned to the party.
His ambition to get the PDP ticket for the 2011 presidential election was dashed when Jonathan decided to run for the presidency. If, indeed, Abubakar fails to win the ticket of the APC, it would be difficult for him to realise his ambition because another election will not hold until 2019, and by then the former vice president would have clocked 73 years and age would not favour his political ambition. In the main time, the question being asked in the political circles is whether there is any guarantee that he would get the party’s presidential ticket come November this year.