By Muhammad R. Abubakar
I choose to write as an outsider but a close observer of the activities of this quintessential civil servant, consummate businessman, exemplary politician, a prototypical bridge builder and a consummate family man.
People Democratic Party in its ‘wisdom’ has zoned the choice of its Presidential candidate to the North. Yes the North of Nigeria where the sitting President comes from.
With this decision of the People Democratic Party, many potential aspirants have shown interest directly and or indirectly. Some are being said to be anointed, some claim that ‘gods’ have spoken to them and some say that it is their turn. Well, let us see them all. All from the North.
Expectedly, some governors are pushing for one of their own, Ibrahim Dankwambo, the sitting governor of Gombe State who is currently serving out his last constitutionally allowed second term.
Another ex-governor in the person of Alhaji Sule Lamido has begun state by state consultation to the PDP sitting governors and other stakeholders within and without the party.
It seems as if the 2019 Presidential aspiration in the People Democratic Party is reserved only for the governors in the PDP, either sitting or ex. Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau, the ex governor of Kano State is also in the race. Shekarau is not loud about his ambition, but we all know him as a quiet worker.
The outing of Alhaji Ibrahim Shekarau in 2011 as an immediate ex-governor of Kano State was a disaster. It is the perfect reflection of the true capacity of ex-governors in Presidential race. Shekarau only garnered nine hundred and seventeen thousand and twelve (917,012) votes. Less than a million votes nationally. In the same race, even the immediate past chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, in the person of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu scored two million and seventy nine thousand, one hundred and one (2,079,101) votes.
The disastrous outing of an immediate ex-governor from Kano State which has the highest voters is supposed to have sunk a very good lesson to the People Democratic Party. Because Shekarau comes from Kano State in the North West and as an immediate past governor, he scored 512,521 of his votes from the North West geo-political zone. This represents 55.89% of his total votes in that election. From the South West, he got 30,903 votes; He got 20,357 from the entire South Ease; In the South-south of six states, Shekarau got a paltry 11,026 votes. From the Federal Capital Territory, 3,170 votes were cast for Shekarau the then immediate past governor of Kano which has the largest registered voters in the country.
If Shekarau of Kano State with the advantage of having the largest number of registered voters comes out with this number, I cannot imagine the blindness, forgetfulness, illusion and non-hindsight that will push another ex governor from any other State that does not have up to a quarter of the votes of Kano to be put forward as a Presidential candidate. Candidacy of any ex-governor is a disaster waiting to happen to any party.
Some forces are pushing the immediate past Senate President and ex-military Governor of Niger State, Colonel David Mark for the number one position. David Mark has not publicly responded but anything can happen. Where an immediate ex democratically elected civilian governor came with the worst result ever, I can’t see the impact of an ex-Governor who served in a ‘foreign’ State about four decades ago!
All the aspirants showing interest in Presidential Election in 2019 are from the North. They are all Governors at one time or the other. They are all from the North. Atikulate Atiku Abubakar the Waziri of Adamawa is loud and clear about his ambition. In fact his ambition has pre-dated the ascendency of any of the aforementioned Governors except David Mark who was governor in Niger State in 1984.
If it is a game of governors and ex governors, Waziri Atiku is abundantly qualified. He is the only ex-governor that never ruled for a second. The Atikulate Atiku is the most celebrated politician in Nigeria of recent history. Atiku is a consistent and the most unswerving leader. Waziri Atiku has made many people and established many politicians. Still, he is the most misunderstood politician in Nigeria’s political space today.
Waziri Atiku Abubakar has investment in media, shipping, education, property, oil and gas, agriculture and currently employs over 50,000 people, majority of who are youths. Waziri Atiku is the second largest employer in Adamawa, his State after the State government. Waziri Atiku Abubakar is an ‘I have done and still doing’ politician. He is not an ‘I will do politician’.
Atiku Abubakar almost single handedly fought political tyranny and power intoxication and arrogance by throwing everything he had including his single life into ensuring that Obasanjo did not succeed in his evil machination of the third term tenure elongation agenda. Atiku did everything to stop this satanic move including risking his political dynasty.
If not for the doggedness of Waziri Atiku Abubakar at that critical moment, only God knows where the greed and insensitivity of just one man could have landed the entire nation and its nascent democracy. He has saved our democracy by putting his bare chest on the line during this political confusion and third term brouhaha. He is an ‘I have done politician’ not an ‘I will do politician’.
Waziri Atiku Abubakar is about the most democratic politician in Nigeria today. Many politicians rode on Waziri Atiku’s political empire, acumen and leadership excellence to come into limelight. He prepared successors and built their political career. Many of those he lifted up from almost nothing chose to be his arch enemies, demolishers of men and properties.
Waziri Atiku Abubakar surrendered his political structures to many politicians but they dumped him after attaining power. Only Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola did not betray Atiku. Atiku has sacrificed his ambition in the interest of the polity and Nigeria. He is an ‘I have done politician’ not an ‘I will do politician.
Few weeks to the landmark June, 12 1993 Presidential election, Atiku withdrew in the run-off primaries to allow for Bashorun M. K. O. Abiola gather enough votes to beat Babagana Kingibe. That is pure sacrifice.
Waziri Atiku Abubakar warned Obasanjo about his arrest over a phantom coup plot charge by the Abacha junta. In fact, the officers who went for Obasanjo’s arrest met Waziri Atiku in Obasanjo’s house. Atiku was very angry with the officers so much that he could have physically fought them if he was not restrained by the like of Oyewole Fasawe and other guests that were around.
Waziri Atiku Abubakar craftily arranged for Obasanjo’s transfer to Yola prison to serve his life jail term that was reduced to 15 years after the intervention of prominent world leaders rallied together by Atiku and other well meaning personalities across the globe. Waziri Atiku arranged for prompt doctor’s visit to Obasanjo in prison; made sure that Obasanjo’s meals were ‘home cooked’ and warned Obasanjo not to allow anybody to take his blood sample because he knew that that was the method used in injecting his late boss, General Musa Yar Adua and Major Akinyemi with the dreaded HIV virus.
Waziri Atiku is a loyalist to the core and is ever ready to be there for both friends and foes. He is an ‘I have done’ politician not an ‘I will do’ politician.
When Atiku stood for the governorship election in Adamawa State, he won with a landslide. He had been tested. He never occupied the government house in Yola for a day. He abdicated the governorship seat to his then running mate Mr. Boni Haruna for the Vice Presidency to which he was invited by Doctor Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Obasanjo.
As the Vice President of Federal Republic of Nigeria between 1999 and 2007, he served as the chairman of the National Economic Council in which all state governors and the governor of the Central Bank and some ministers were members. This is the economic think tank of the Nation. This gives Waziri Atiku a plus and an edge over other ex and or sitting governors now aspiring for the Presidency of the Nation. He had dwelt in the Villa for eight (8) unbroken years and impacted positively.
As head of the economic team, which he personally drew, he had a herculean task ahead of him. Nigeria had just been out of series of the kleptomaniac, draconic military dictatorship ranging from the draconic Buhari/Idiagbon to maradonic IBB, Babangida, to the interim Shonekan, to the brutish Abacha and finally the fast-finger Abdussalam Abubakar. The economy was in shamble to say the least.
It was a politics of moral suasion because of what happened to the 1993 Presidential election that was generally and globally adjudged as the most transparent election in Nigerian history to date.
This economic team was responsible for positioning and re-positioning the whole economic architecture; to attract direct foreign investors through ease of doing business policies and creating favorable environment for local investors to invest unhindered as well. The world focus was on Nigerian economy when Atiku held sway as head of the economic team:
Waziri Atiku articulately drew an intimidating economic team consisting of such names as:
Dr. Ngozi-Okonjo Iweala, the Minister of Finance and coordinating Minister.
Malam Nasir Elrufai, Chairman of the BPE and latter the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory.
Malam Nuhu Ribadu, Chairman of the EFCC.
Oby Ezekwesili, Minister of Education.
Mr. Charles Soludo, the governor of the Central Bank.
One of the largest foreign investments in Nigeria today is Mobile telecommunication which came into Nigeria while Waziri Atiku headed the economic team.
Nigeria got a huge debt forgiveness of over thirty billion dollars ($30) from the IMF and the World Bank while Waziri Atiku headed the economic team. These are debts accrued during the first republic and the military junta.
Nigeria had its finest economic time while Waziri Atiku headed the economic team. Nigeria inculcated the spirit of saving and the foreign reserve of the country rose to its highest point ever of over $65 billon while Atikulate Atiku called the shots as the head of our economic team.
Waziri Atiku Abubakar has contested the Presidential Elections in 2007 under the banner of the Action Congress (AC) when his bid to succeed his then principal, Olusegun Obasanjo the demon of Owu. He did not get the support of the then president. Independent National Electoral Commission which was under the armpits of then Mr. President was used to frustrate Atiku’s ambition. It took the judgment of the Supreme Court to allow Atiku to contest after he was earlier disqualified by INEC on the grounds that he had been indicted for financial misconduct by an investigating panel set up at the instance of the same Obasanjo. Atiku got his ‘clearance’ only hours to the closure of the submission of nomination forms.
Waziri Atiku only barely had time to campaign effectively after the long legal distraction, yet he came third in the general election with two million, six hundred and thirty seven thousand, eight hundred and forty eight (2,637,848) votes across the country. Note that that election was conducted by Obasanjo’s INEC. This man is a dogged fighter. He puts everything he has into his conviction. He is an ‘I have done and still doing politician’, not an ‘I will do politician.
On the 22nd day of November, 2011, Atiku was selected by the Northern Elders’ committee as the Northern consensus candidate over former Military President, General Ibrahim Babangida; former National Security Adviser, Aliyu Gusau and former Governor of Kwara State and the current Senate President Mr. Bukola Saraki. Atiku has faced all political forces in Nigeria and remains standing. He is astute, dogged, focused, persistent and resilient.
Too many unsubstantiated rumours about Atiku fly every day. We have them in tons from U.S immigration ban controversy to financial impropriety. All these fallacies orchestrated by his detractors each time they feel threatened by his ambition to contest the Presidential election are yet to be made public or prosecuted in any competent court anywhere in the world.
Waziri Atiku gave these detractors the best opportunity to deal with him when he led the walk out from the PDP national convention with majority of the sitting governors and critical stakeholders. This led to the nPDP. He tore PDP into shreds in one swift move, yet the PDP could not use its attack dog (EFCC) to nib him. Ask why? No proof, only mud sliding. Waziri Atiku survived. He contested another Presidential Primary under another party and nothing was done to him.
Atiku surprises them with his fearless moves because he has no skeleton in his cupboard. He dared Buhari and his APC by simply resigning from the party on 24th November, 2017 and walked away. If this man were corrupt as being speculated, he would not ever dare Mr. Integrity, Muhammadu Buhari. He would have been warming the open arms of Mr. Magu by now in a prosecution hug. If Jonathan thought stealing is not corruption, Buhari does not think in the same way.
Waziri Atiku is only ‘corrupt’ in the figment of the imagination of his detractors whom he has defeated roundly either in the court of law or on the field of political show. Atiku has been doing it; he is not the type of a candidate who fills the political landscape with ‘I will do’.
Atiku’s ‘crime’ was that he stopped the ‘creation’ of another version of Mugabe in Nigeria. For this ‘crime’, Atiku has no remorse, no regret and no apology. Atiku will ‘commit’ such ‘crimes’ a million times over to save our democracy and Nigeria.
Only a detribalized leader can unify Nigeria and lead Nigeria to progress and prosperity. Atiku is an in-law to the North, West and the East of Nigeria. He is a bridge builder.
It is not enough for a politician to come from the North to be the Presidential flag bearer of the People Democratic Party in 2019. We need a national politician who has considerable followership from all the geo-political zones of the country.
We do not have the luxury to put forward a ‘local champion’ who is carried away by the waves of the poor citizens of his State whenever he blows his siren on the streets while in 95% of the country, nobody knows which State he governs until his vehicle registration number reveals. We do not want an aspirant who, when his name or that of his State appears in JAMB question for proper identification, our children either skip the question or risk the loss of the entire marks assigned to the question. He is not known.
We do not want an aspirant who is being shielded from criminal prosecution by the immunity clause in the constitution simply by the virtue of his current occupation of the seat of a governor of a State.
We cannot afford to risk the aspiration of ‘Papa-Pickin-in-dock’ for financial misappropriation. Some governors being pushed forward by other sitting governors have a case to answer over the release of series of cheques amounting to over thirty four billion Naira (N 34,000,000,000).
Independent National Electoral Commission has already announced that it will not sell nomination form to any aspirant that is under investigation or who has a criminal matter pending in the court. It is well known fact that they are all birds of the same feather.
MUHAMMAD R. ABUBAKAR, NASSARAWA, BIRNIN KEBBI.