By Dirisu Yakubu
ABUJA- Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has in the past couple of weeks, sustained a level of consistency in his quest for the sole ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ahead of the 2019 Presidential elections.
More than any other aspirant in the race for the ticket, Atiku has managed to worm his way into the hearts of Nigerians across the land, with many suggesting that the ticket is his to lose. Although the race has as participants tested politicians including serving and former governors, Atiku appears to be on the driving seat given the status of the PDP today as an opposition party.
Only a fortnight ago, his formal declaration of intent to contest the Presidential election took place in his home state of Adamawa; an event that literary grounded the North-East state given the number of people in attendance at the rally. For a state under the leadership of the All Progressives Congress, APC, it was somewhat of a miraculous feat how Atiku drew people from their homes even as an opposition figure. So impressive was the event that Governor Jibrilla Bindo was accused of being the financial sponsor of the declaration rally; an allegation he promptly denied.
The ambition to govern Nigeria is one Atiku has nursed since 2003 at the expiration of the first tenure of the then President, Olusegun Obasanjo and though he failed in his previous attempt; Atiku did not abandon the project. He simply imbibed the lessons and made further inroads to the political firmament, making himself more visible as a result.
He knows what Nigerians are craving for and understood the troubles of the time. So, while still in the fold of the ruling party, Atiku caused quite a stir when in many public outings; he advocated the restructuring of the Nigerian State to pave way for the manifestation of her glorious possibilities.
That was certainly a risk but Atiku was prepared to damn the consequence. On the social media where he maintains a consistent presence; he preached unity, togetherness and nationalism while cautioning against the rein of nepotism and incompetence.
Thus, when he dumped the APC for the PDP in 2017; he made no secret of his stand on the state of affairs in the nation. He argued that nothing justifies the depth of suffering in the land even as he continues to question the handling of the herdsmen menace that has rendered some states of the federation vulnerable.
The Atiku Media Office (AMO) has done an excellent public relation service for the Wazirin Adamawa ever since it came on board. With AMO, not a day passes without a statement either in condemnation of the APC-led government’s response to a national issue or calling on Nigerians not to lose confidence in the possibility of their nation to rise up again.
His media visibility has thus placed him above fellow contenders, most of whom have remained in the shadow, despite their declaration of interest in the plum seat.
Long before his ambition became knowledge, Atiku had embarked on a wide range of consultation across board. He held day and nocturnal meetings with serving and past governors, serving and present members of the National Assembly, owners of big businesses, opinion leaders, traditional and religious leaders as well as respected members of the international community.
At Chatham House, United Kingdom not long ago, Atiku availed the world of his plan to revamp the nation’s economy if elected into office. He bemoaned the practice of states having to wait for federal allocations to be able to pay their workforce. A businessman with vast investment in real estate, education, agro-allied sector and more, the Presidential hopeful says he would tackle the unemployment scourge in the country headlong within the first few months of his Presidency.
Birth of CUPP
When a couple of weeks ago, 39 political parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the sole aim of fielding a joint Presidential candidate in the 2019 election, many did not see the image of a bigger picture masked by the excitement of the moment.
For the first time in many years, Obasanjo agreed to join same train with Atiku on the journey to a new Nigeria. His ( Obasanjo’s) party, African Democratic Congress, ADC, is one of the groups in the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP). Already, speculations are rife that the two former political associates are on the same page in the 2019 Nigeria rescue project.
A former member of the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) told this medium in confidence that Atiku may clinch the ticket ahead of others, based on his “visibility across the north and South of the divide.”
He said: “One thing you cannot take away from him (Atiku) is that he is a master of the game. Long before others joined the race, Atiku had started and covered a lot of ground. Now that he has mend fences with a former ally, his chances are as bright as daylight. I honestly believe his time has finally come.
“The business community is chocked at the moment because the environment is far from friendly. Atiku’s bluebrint on how to overcome this squeeze has received the applause of big business owners and of course, leaders of the party.
“The ticket is in the hands of delegates but I believe they are alert to the competencies of all the aspirants and would make their decision at the appropriate time,” he said.