By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA-It is no longer news that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is aiming to reclaim power at the center from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, in the 2019 general elections. To do this requires sublime political permutations, with its first task being the need to hurriedly and urgently put its house in order.
Shortly after the Supreme Court ruling that affirmed Senator Ahmed Makarfi as the authentic head of the party’s leadership, the former Kaduna State governor quickly urged all members of the party including the warring factions to return home, declaring the verdict as a “No Victor, no vanquished contest.”
A few days after that historic judgment, there are indications that the party is going all hog to convince former Vice President and founding member of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku to return into the party’s fold. Investigations by this reporter indicate that the calls by Makarfi and former President Goodluck Jonathan for aggrieved members to return to the party are not unconnected with the need to field a strong Presidential candidate for the 2019 elections to give the APC a run for its money.
Earlier in the week, the Adamawa State PDP Chairman, Abdulrahman Bobboi in a chat with journalists in Yola, disclosed the plan of his party to have the former Vice President ditch the APC, even as he questioned the ability of the ruling party to tap into his (Atiku) vast political resourcefulness.
“The former vice president was a founding member and Vice President under the PDP and he is resourceful. He has acquired vast experience and should not be abandoned. They’re working hard at the centre and we are doing same here in his home state.
“APC is not tapping his experience; we that know his resourcefulness will not give him breathing space until he returns,” Bobboi had said, fuelling insinuations that the man may be on his way back to his former party yet again.
Atiku has not hidden his ambition to contest the highest political office in the land despite failing in the past. Though a member of the ruling party; the ex-Vice President is aware he stands no chance of clinching the party’s ticket in the event that President Buhari elects not to seek a second term. It is widely believed that incumbent governor of Kaduna State, Nasir-El-Rufai is likely to get the backing of the President in 2019 should he decide not to run again.
As a result, Atiku, analysts say, is aware of his fate and would favor a return back into the PDP especially now that the man (Olusegun Obasanjo) who appeared to have stood in his way of running on the platform of the party is no longer in the PDP fold, having tore his membership card a few years ago.
When contacted to clarify the position of the party on the imminent return of Atiku to the party yesterday, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Prince Dayo Adeyeye said the door of return remains open to all those who left the party for one reason or the other. Asked via a text message if the party is expecting those who had left the party to return including the former Vice President, Adeyeye replied, “Everybody.”
Atiku who was Vice President for eight years (1999-2007) has become a champion of restructuring of the Nigerian State and has grabbed every opportunity to lecture all and sundry on the imperative of fiscal federalism as a panacea to the nation’s troubling experimentation with democracy. With the PDP, now a firm advocate of same, there would be no better candidate, pundits argue, with the experience of Atiku to fly the party’s banner in 2019.
Interestingly, prominent members of the party across all geo-political zones in the country see in the former Vice President a bridge builder whose political philosophy is all embracing. It is however not clear if Atiku has been approached with the offer but what is clear is that while he is an apostle of restructuring, his party, the APC has consistently argue that good governance, not restructuring is Nigeria’s biggest challenge at the moment-a case of two strange bedfellows.