The defection of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to the All Progressives Party, APC may have altered, if not complicated the choices of the opposition party in the coming match up with the ruling PDP
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
YEsterday’s defection of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to the All Progressives Congress, APC was celebrated with boisterousness at a long planned for rally of the party in Yola, Adamawa State.
The event which had been scheduled well ahead of Atiku’s defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had initially been organized to herald the formal defection of Governor Murtala Nyako to the APC. Nyako’s switch followed a trenchant battle between him and the immediate past national chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur.
However, beyond the celebration of yesterday is the dawning reality of the import of Atiku’s presence in the APC.
For Atiku, it is a return to a fold he once jilted. In 2006 at the peak of the face-off between him and former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku had joined other politicians to form the Action Congress, AC, on whose platform he made an unsuccessful bid for the presidency in 2007. Following the defeat, and apparently sensing what was then believed to be the unassailable lead of the PDP in the country, Atiku returned to the PDP in 2009.
But just like 2006, the new lords of the PDP still gave him a cold shoulder and Atiku apparently saw that there was little difference between Obasanjo, the father and son, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan. The cold shoulder rubbed home well to the extent that the Adamawa State chapter of the PDP chose Dr. Goodluck Jonathan ahead of their son in the 2011 presidential primary of the PDP.
Given the rebuff of the presidential primary, it was interesting that Governor Murtala Nyako on hearing of Atiku’s return to the PDP on Sunday, sympathized with him telling Vanguard that he was not ignorant of the humiliation the former vice-president was subjected to in the PDP.
Nyako who spoke through his director of press, Ahmed Sajo, gave concurrence to Atiku’s assertion in a statement on Sunday, that he had been denied of his statutory privileges such as invitations to high level meetings of the party. Atiku’s exit from the PDP inevitably clears the way for Dr. Jonathan to easily pick the presidential ticket of the party for the 2015 election.
While things would apparently look calmer in the PDP, given the exit of the strongmen that would have ordinarily fought Dr. Jonathan for the party’s ticket, the outlook for the APC is bound to be much more competitive given the drive by some of the leading lights of the party to claim the presidential ticket of the opposition party.
It is no surprise that the level of pessimism on the party’s prospects have multiplied.
Atiku, who has participated in all presidential elections in the country since 1992, it appears, has set his sight on another contest in 2015.
However, he is bound to meet his match in the face of a determined ambition by some other members of the APC. While the intentions of General Muhammadu Buhari remain unclear, a number of prominent opposition figures are already being penciled down for the APC contest. Among these are Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso who is said to be the favoured candidate of some leading northern political figures, Senator Bukola Saraki, the immediate former governor of Kwara State who is also a rallying point for the opposition in the Senate and newspaper publisher, Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah.
Though Saraki has not declared his intention, the 2011 presidential aspirant is believed to be consulting stakeholders on his prospects.
While Kwankwanso and Nda-Isaiah have fully thrown their hats into the APC circle, the intentions of Speaker Aminu Waziri Tambuwal and Governor Adams Oshiomhole remain in the realm of speculation. Also in the realm of speculation are the ambitions of the former anti-graft czar Mallam Nuhu Ribadu and former military governor of Lagos and Borno States, Gen. Buba Marwa.
Speaker Tambuwal remains a member of the PDP, but his inclination towards the APC is about one of the most openly talked about secrets in the country today. Many sensitive issues on the party’s plans and prospects are not discussed in high level meetings Tambuwal attends. The speaker’s fitness for the presidency became an issue last year at the Vanguard Man of the Year investiture ceremony when former Military President Ibrahim Babangida openly called on him to aspire for higher office.
“When leaders like Tamuwal delivered on their electoral promise, we advise them to try something higher. For Tambuwal, your guess is as good as mine. Well done,” Babangida had said to the ringing endorsement of those present.
But whatever presidential aspirations Tambuwal may have would be juxtaposed with the reality of the claim that the political authorities in his native Sokoto State have already set aside the gubernatorial ticket of the APC for him.
Also of note is the increasing speculation of the aspiration of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the governor of Edo State. While Oshiomhole has been generally applauded for his incisive approach to governance in Edo State, permutations have generally put him as a positive balance as a running mate to any candidate that may emerge from the North. But many others are also looking at the prospects of pitching Oshiomhole as the APC presidential candidate with a Muslim running mate in a fixture that would undoubtedly be a Technical Knock Out for the PDP.
With a popular APC candidate from the South-South, matching the PDP’s Jonathan, whatever prospects of the PDP laying claim to the South-South vote would eviscerate. The PDP would be left to struggle in all other zones, probably except the Southeast. With such dreams in mind, the prospect of Atiku entering the fray in the APC is bound to unsettle many existing and exciting permutations.