A group of young professionals recently converged in Abuja with a sole mission: to mobilize support for the candidacy of Atiku Abubakar as the nation’s President in 2019. The emergence of the movement invariably birthed a new word, ‘Atikulated’ in the country’s political lexicon. So, what does it mean to be ‘Atikulated’?

By Dirisu Yakubu

As the 2019 general elections inch closer by the day, those expected to play key part are already making known their intentions, albeit in proxy through individuals and groups. Apparently playing the waiting game in expectations of the release of the official timetable by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), these political actors have managed to seize the moment nevertheless, reminding the electorate the mileage of their candidacies in the next general election.

Atiku-Abubakar

He is yet to declare interest in the race to oust President Muhammadu Buhari out of Aso Rock but it is common knowledge that former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar is one of the aspirants currently working behind the scene, perfecting strategies to swell the rank of his support base ahead of the 2019 elections.

Having rejoined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) a few weeks ago, not a few agree that the desire to contest the highest political office informed Atiku’s decision to ditch the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the last quarter of 2017.

Shortly after resigning his membership of the APC, various groups spread across the land began to pledge their support and solidarity to Atiku, arguing that his success story as a businessman, not to mention his vast leadership experience, makes him the right candidate to square up against Buhari or whoever the APC may throw up in 2019.

A fortnight ago, a youth movement, ‘IamAtikulated 2019″ emerged in Abuja with the sole objective of drumming support “For the candidacy of Atiku Abubakar as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2019.”

To this group of young employed youths, the term, “Atikulated” connotes sundry layers of meanings. According to the national coordinator of the movement, Ike Bishop Okoronkwo, the term is synonymous with excellence, honesty, capacity, the chosen one, unifier, bridge builder among others.

Thus while introducing themselves, members revealed the depth of their belief in the former Vice President by prefixing their names with the new political buzzword.

“My name is Atikulated Ike Bishop Okoronkwo,” he said as another gave his as Atikulated Gbenga Akanji. Decked in T-shirts bearing the inscription, “IamAtikulated 2019,” their shared surname of Atikulated brought to the fore the rising influence of a man they see as a mentor, a man they are not afraid of handing their future and that of their fatherland to, in 2019.

In choosing to be Atikulated, the movement said they see in the Waziri, “A detribalized leader and a uniting figure, a bridge builder who bridges gap between tribes; he relates equitably with Nigerians in business and in politics without greed or sentiment.” In choosing to be Atikulated, the youths argued that Atiku’s “Multi- billion naira investment in education, media and shipping with which he has empowered small and middle income earners” makes him a man with sufficient knowledge of how to fix an economy riddled with perennial challenge of unemployment.

“At IamAtikulated 2019, we are campaigning for transformation of Nigeria’s economy and employment of youths. And having looked at the profiles of those currently aspiring to contest for President on the platform of PDP in 2019, we have identified Alhaji Atiku as the only one with the character and content, political will and capacity required to bring the needed transformation that Nigerians are yearning for,” Okoronkwo stated on behalf of the movement, a remark not lost on those aware of the role Atiku has been playing in getting the youths creatively engaged in the past few years.

Perhaps, the biggest takeaway by journalists who witnessed the birth of the movement was the ease with which the new buzzword fits into everything of good account. For instance, when the coordinator for Imo State addressed the group and suggested strategies to recruit new members, he got a standing ovation even as Okoronkwo thanked him for his “Atikulated” submission.

It is early in the day to suggest that the support of these ‘Atikulated’ folks will likely tip the scales in favour of an Atiku’s candidacy but suffice to state here that the erstwhile number two citizen has done his homework pretty well by getting a good number of employed youths to buy in into his message of political salvation.

What, in the opinion of his supporters got them ‘Atikulated’ is that the Waziri Adamawa possessed the “Mental and political bandwidth” required for the task of salvaging the nation from the clutches of poor governance.

In the past one week, Atiku has been in the news for reasons not unconnected with his age-long ambition of governing the world’s biggest black nation. Unlike other Presidential hopefuls, Atiku has seized the opportunity offered by the funeral arrangement of Second Republic Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme to preach national unity, urging the Nigerian government to immortalize the late national icon.

By this singular act, Atiku has   demonstrated his readiness to campaign for votes anywhere, aware that his utterances of today would to a large extent , determine his level of acceptability amongst Nigerians in the months ahead.

As he transverses the length and breadth of the country ‘Atikulating’ more Nigerians, Okoronkwo says his honed geo-political instincts easily make him a good product sellable to all and sundry.

On Thursday, a former Minister and chieftain of the PDP told Vanguard in confidence that for the opposition to stand a chance of forming a government at the centre in 2019; credible candidate that has both “substance and influence” should be fielded to test his popularity against whoever the ruling party will field. When asked who amongst the current crop of aspirants fits the bill, he said: “Our party has zoned the Presidency to the North and that is a good omen, if you ask me. Atiku Abubakar to me, is mile ahead of others that have so far indicated interest to contest the office of the President and Commander-in-Chief,” even as he prayed the party to put its “Best foot forward” come 2019.

He added: “In the North, Atiku has provided and he is still providing job opportunities for the people. He is doing same in the South. He is an advocate of restructuring, a word those in the ruling party do not want to hear about until recently. Let me say for the sake of emphasis that Atiku is the right man to fly our ticket if we are desirous of winning the Presidential elections.”

  The task before   ‘Atikulated’ Nigerians is certainly a difficult one but they argued that the man they are ready to swim or sink with is preparing a Nigeria of opportunity for all and special privileges for none. Musical as that sounds to the ears of all and sundry, it is left to be seen how the Waziri Adamawa will convince the PDP, a party he helped form in 1998 to hand him the sole ticket ahead of others.

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