Every four years since the return of democracy, the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar presents himself to contest the presidential election. For the past twenty-nine years, Mr. Atiku has been running to be the president of Nigeria. He had contested four times to become governor of his state, before he finally won in 1999 and was then asked to be the VP.
Not only has he been changing parties running for elections, he has also been selfish.
In 1993, he contested the Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential primary and came third behind Mr. Moshood Abiola. After having political issues with President Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku moved over to the Action Congress (AC), won the presidential ticket, contested in 2007 and came third behind President Umar Yar’adua. In 2011, he returned to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) where he made arguments for the turn of the North. He lost the primary to President Goodluck Jonathan. When he saw he could not have the ticket in 2014, he moved over to the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) where he contested again and came third in the primary. He supported President Muhammadu Buhari to win as he believed it was the turn of the North.
In 2019, he won the primary and contested with an overwhelming support from the people. It was equally the turn of the north.
Atiku did not fight for the result which many thought that he won the election. He travelled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) where he stayed for about seven months. He left his supporters and party to their fate.
In the just concluded primary elections, knowing full well that it is the turn of the South and by extension, the South-east, Atiku again presented himself for the sixth time depriving the south and the south-east their due chance. He won the primary which was tainted with perception of the delegates bought and influenced.
Shortly after the primary and announcing his running mate, Atiku travelled to the UAE where he has been, (returned today). He again, left his supporters and party to their fate.
He neither showed face in the Ekiti governorship election where PDP came third nor in the forefront of unifying his party after some party stalwarts felt aggrieved.
Atiku’s absence created a vacuum that the ruling party is trying to utilise to woo the aggrieved PDP members. According to Gov. Samuel Ortom, he stated that a committee put together to recommend the VP, suggested Governor Nyesom Wike for the VP candidate. Atiku, rather chose Governor Ifeanyi Okowa who polled only three votes behind Wike who polled fourteen votes within the committee. Mr. Okowa is accused of betrayal by the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum. Atiku’s choice for VP partly has caused divisions in the PDP, factionalised the party between those loyal to him and those loyal to Mr. Wike. The division may mar the chances of the party in the forthcoming election if not resolved.
The frustration within the PDP has made some of the leaders to speak out. Gov. Fayose was outspoken over the jettisoned zoning in the party favouring Atiku which is partly the cause of grievances in the party.
While this is ongoing, there are expectations for Atiku to be at the forefront to resolve the issues.
As a unifier – as he labelled himself, Atiku should have upheld equity, fairness and justice as contained in the PDP constitution which he often cited when he made argument for zoning in favour of the north but his personal ambition and serial lure to become the president of Nigeria, clouded any semblance of equity, fairness and justice in his purview.
Atiku has not presented himself to the media to begin intimating Nigerians what he would do to alleviate their economic suffering and insecurity among other issues. Nigerians have not heard from him, to ask him questions and to scrutinise what he aims to do for the country.
The former Vice President behaves as if the campaign and the winning of the election are already in lock for him.
Granted that the presidential campaign has not started fully, but Atiku has already sent out bullies who have continuously tried to set the country on ethno-religious quagmire. He has neither cautioned them nor separated himself and his campaign from such protégés who do these in order to sell his candidacy.
A unifier should not enjoy such a spectacle but does Atiku play to win?
If the former Vice President plays his politics to win, he would not be a serial aspirant or a perennial candidate. He would not have to stand for election ten times for combined gubernatorial and presidential elections. He would not also keep changing parties. If he has been unable to help build up any party, would he be able to build Nigeria from the current doldrums?
It does not seem that he will win easily this time with the peculiarity of the election season, where he no longer enjoys the momentum of support across the country as that of 2019. He may win as well but from his resort in the UAE, Atiku may count his sixth and probably final outing in his serial run to become president of Nigeria.