Barring any last minute hitches, former Vice President and All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, seems set to throw his hat into the ring for another crack at the presidency. And according to sources he is already oiling his political machine ahead of the 2019 presidential elections.
It was learnt that the Turakin Adamawa, as he is fondly called by his political associates, has been making significant inroads into various parts of the country in line with his game plan to actualize his dream.
Atiku, sources revealed, is not only reviving his old structures in the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), which had earlier fused into the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and later moved into the APC, following his defection to the party in 2014, but also expanding his political frontiers to various parts of the country.
Sunday Telegraph gathered that prominent members of the PDM, who played some roles in the victory of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, have been assigned different roles in their respective zones to mobilise support for Atiku’s aspirations, which may be made public anytime soon.
Atiku, a source said, is counting on the natural support expected to come from the North-East geo- political zone where he hails from and the North Central geopolitical zone which shares some common affinity with the North-East.
Some political analysts have linked him to new political groups springing out of these two northern zones. In addition, he is said to be banking heavily on the people of the South-South and South-East geo- political zones who have become embittered by the vexed issues of marginalization both in political appointments and distribution of infrastructure.
The experienced politician, it was learnt, has already begun pandering to the interests of these two southern political blocks through his growing advocacy for restructuring of the federation, a gospel that resonates with the South and minorities groups in the North. Atiku dropped the first shot in this direction at the Late Gen.Usman Katsina Memorial Conference, held at the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua Memorial Hall, Murtala Square, Kaduna in July, 2016.
There, he delivered a lecture titled: “Restructuring Nigeria for Greater National Integration and Democratic Stability” during which he said that national integration and the survival of Nigeria’s democracy were related and very important in achieving national integration and the survival of democracy in Nigeria.
Alluding to the opinion that much of the nation’s political power resided in what is often referred to as the Kaduna Mafia, he advocated “an honest and clear-headed” look at better working federal systems in the world.
According to him, those systems will reveal among other things, a greater devolution and autonomy for the federating units, less interference of the centre on local matters, such as local government administration, including local policing; central governments that depend on taxation of resource extraction and other economic activities rather than rents for their operations.
This progressive stance, sources said, seems to have enhanced his acceptability in the southern regions, especially in the South-East whose near aversion for the government at the centre has manifested in the plethora of pro-Biafra organisations like the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and the Biafra Independence Movement( BIM), to name a few.
Sunday Telegraph also learnt that Atiku is also dangling the Vice Presidential ticket before the South- East as a way of guaranteeing their support, especially among some prominent Igbo politicians who say it is too early to unmask their support for now. However, what might seem to be Atiku’s joker has also been viewed with a lot of suspicion by some politicians.
A vocal politician from Kano State, Dr Junaid Mohammed told Sunday Telegraph that although President Muhammadu Buhari had failed to meet the aspirations of Nigerians, Atiku cannot be an alternative in 2019. He dismissed Atiku’s advocacy on restructuring and challenged him to define in clear terms the parameters of the restructuring agenda. “When I hear this kind of thing being said by him, I will like him to define his terms.
What does he mean by restructuring? Does he want us to go back to the four regional structures in which the North will be twice as big as the three southern regions in terms of land mass and resources? Will that bring a sense of balance in the national discourse? Unless I am told what he actually means by restructuring, I don’t like wasting my time,” he said.
When reminded that Atiku has been advocating that Nigeria be restructured into six geo-political zones, Mohammed again dismissed the proposal as a project of the PDP which, according to him, had been rejected by Nigerians when they voted the party out of government. The former member of the House of Representatives asserted that the current campaign for restructuring cannot make Atiku win an election.
But a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Cairo Ojougboh described the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as a major stakeholder in the Nigeria project. Ojougboh, who is the Vice Chairman (South-South) of the Sheriff faction of the PDP said the former Vice President was free to join any political party in the country. “Abubakar Atiku is a major stakeholder in the entity call Nigeria, an advocate of true federalism and he has the right to romance any party or group he chooses. There should be no rumour about his intentions as he is capable of speaking for himself at the right and appropriate time,” Ojougboh stated.
A member of the All Progressives Congress (APC), who did not want his name in print, told Sunday Telegraph that Atiku’s chances of becoming the next President could only be actualised if the politician worked with a coalition of political groups in the country. According to him, both the APC and PDP will not serve the purpose because while PDP had become an abandoned child, the APC would have been too divided to be a formidable force by 2019.
On the restructuring agenda, he said Atiku’s adoption of the concept of restructuring was a significant boost to the agitation for fiscal federalism which he said had become inevitable with the current economic realities. Politicians from the North, he said, have been the greatest obstacles to the restructuring of Nigeria but might join Atiku particularly with the growing prospects of discovering oil in the Lake Chad basin.
However, the Head of the Atiku Media Office, Mr. Paul Ibe debunked insinuations that the Turakin Adamawa embarked on the campaign for restructuring of the federation because of the 2019 presidential election.
According to Ibe, the former Vice President had long been an advocate of restructuring even when he served in the Obasanjo administration. He, however, did not confirm if his boss was actually mobilising towards taking another shot at the presidential seat. Recall that the Presiding Bishop of Divine Seed of God Chapel Ministries in Ibadan, Oyo State, Prophet Wale Olagunju, who accurately predicted President Muhammadu Buhari’s victory in the 2015 election, has revealed that President Buhari will be dethroned in 2019 election by former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
He said: “God says the name Atiku Abubakar will continue to ring like a bell. He will be so popular among Nigerian politicians to the extent that many will root for him. God says should Atiku Abubakar contest the 2019 election, he will defeat Buhari hands down.”
Meanwhile, Atiku’s donation to the Delta State chapter of the ruling APC , believed to be part of his preparation for 2019 elections caused no little rumpus penultimate week.