With Uche Nnadozie
Last week, the political temperature was raised a notch higher. It is that season again. A season of permutations, blackmail, subterfuge and political gerrymandering. For one of the biggest personalities in the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC ditched the party or was ditched. Was he pushed or he took a dive? The jury is still out there. But what is evident is that all was not well between the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar. The former vice president since losing the presidential ticket in their party’s primaries in Lagos in 2014, has not been the same. During the campaign, he complained loudly that he had been sidelined, the party’s hierarchy quickly scrambled to him to sooth frayed nerves.
During the campaign he was to donate his media team to Buhari’s presidential campaign office. He also provided a private jet for Buhari’s movement. I am sure he dropped a tidy sum of money and helped to expand the then candidate Buhari’s wide acceptability. His presence alone in the party at the time was a big blow to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. His dumping the PDP to join a new uncertain party, the APC was a big public relations gain for the coalition. All that is a clear three years ago. Things have since moved quickly. Atiku is simply a politician, the Nigerian type. He just can’t keep it cool. He must contest. He must be on the ballot, come what may.
As the season for electioneering approaches, it is not surprising to a lot of political watchers the decision the Wazirin Adamawa has made. They say it is his nature. They say he likes perambulating. Moving from one party to another. But I see that this is Atiku’s last dance. Ladies and gentlemen this is Atiku Abubakar’s last dance. After the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar will not contest for president again. The reason he has left the APC is simply because he wants a platform to contest the next presidential election. He does not want to be caught in a leash, that is why he has taken the step to begin early. It is not because he is dissatisfied with the party perse, it is his burning desire to be president of Nigeria.
Personally I think that a lot of APC men and women have not been treated fairly by the president. The same way a lot Nigerians, ordinary folks like me who invested hope in this presidency have not been treated fairly. President Muhammadu Buhari has shown lack of capacity for the politics of things. He hasn’t exactly kept his sheep together. When politicians grumble, you are supposed to reach out. Yet again, when you try to reach out to a failed presidential hopeful whose eyes are still on the hot seat, there is no pacification that will work. In this case, there are muted talks that Buhari had promised to do a term. Since it appears that the president will contest for a second term come 2019, Atiku decided to advice himself or take the advice of his many friends and advisers because head or tail, he has no chance in the APC presidential primary.
Rather than throw darts at the veteran politician, I rather encourage him. Like I said earlier, this is his last dance. I am sure that his strategists have convinced him that no venture, no gain (that cliche!). They must have also convinced him that he has a chance. That with the bad economy, the Nigerian people are looking for another candidate. That Buhari and his team have nothing to sell to Nigerians to be handed a second term. So the economy is a huge campaign opportunity for him. There is the political side too. It is called restructuring. He and his advisers believe that since APC hasn’t kept its word on that magical word as such being a strong advocate, restructuring will sit well among a section of the country.
I support Atiku’s resignation from APC (although he never wrote an application). Nigeria’s constitution guarantees freedom of association. And he’s an expert on how to jump political ships. He knows it in and out. He has done it severally that pundits believed for Atiku and APC, it was only a matter of time. His movement out of the ruling party may precipitate a handful of defections as 2019 nears. He may also attract some underground support of some APC members who have or feels like they have not been dealt a good deed since 2015. It is normal. Politicians do these things. It is not peculiar to any one.
At least now the 2019 presidential election and other elections will not be a stroll in the pack. Although Intels, Atiku’s major cash cow has been cowed by Nigeria Ports Authority, NPA, yet he is the man that can mobilise funds. Being his last chance to the presidency he will put in his all. This will energise the polity and give the ruling party a run for their money. If the permutations are anything to go by, Atiku’s next destination is the PDP. That will be the third time he will return to that party. Lucky for them, that party needs people. That party was going to be chasing shadows in 2019, but Atiku will give them a lifeline. Atiku will instantly turn them to a real opposition party. Today they are just floating, rudderless and so inept. The former veepee will help them greatly.
By joining PDP, our polity will have a real choice at all levels. I wish this Atiku challenge will propel Buhari and APC to make faster progress in governance and politics. Atiku’s re-emergence offers business for political hustlers rather than what Atiku in APC would have been. Although the former vice president will come short at the end of the day, however, his dumping or being dumped by the ruling party is good for our political sanity and competition.