Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is no longer news to the majority of Nigerians. He was a former Vice President of Nigeria, an industrialist, a great employer of labour and a consummate politician. Atiku Abubakar is a veteran of presidential contests, who for the past three decades, has consistently featured prominently in virtually all the Presidential elections conducted in the country.
When Atiku Abubakar was not contesting a Presidential election, he would be sponsoring or bankrolling a Presidential candidate who would eventually win the election. It was Atiku Abubakar that bankrolled Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidential election in 1999. He equally had financially contributed heavily to Muhammadu Buhari’s Presidential election in 2015.
For four times, Akiku Abubakar had sought the Presidential ticket of different political parties to rule Nigeria, but on each occasion, he had failed to make it. But on his fifth attempt, that is, in the just concluded national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held in the Rivers State capital, Port Harcourt, Atiku Abubakar succeeded in beating 12 other contestants to fly his party’s flag for next year’s Presidential election. He secured 1,532 votes, while his closest rival, Aminu Tambuwal, got 693 votes.
It was in 1993, that Atiku Abubakar first sought to rule Nigeria when he contested the Presidential ticket of one of the two military created political parties, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), along with Chief M.K.O. Abiola and Alhaji Babagana Kingibe. Atiku Abubakar came third in that exercise, behind M.K.O. Abiola, and Babagana Kingibe.
In 2007, after falling out with his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, who he had served diligently as Vice President for eight years on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar jumped ship and joined the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). There, he picked the Presidential ticket to contest the 2007 Presidential election but lost the actual Presidential election to Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of the PDP.
In 2011, Atiku Abubakar returned to the PDP and there sought the Presidential ticket of the party. He, however, failed to pick the ticket, which he lost to President Goodluck Jonathan who went ahead to win the main Presidential election.
Again, in 2015, Atiku Abubakar left the PDP and joined the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC). He equally sought the Presidential ticket of the party but came third in the exercise behind Muhammadu Buhari and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. Buhari eventually won that Presidential election.
In keeping with the tradition of most Nigerian politicians, Atiku Abubakar once again left the APC in 2017 and journeyed back to the PDP. Again, he set his eyes on the Presidential ticket of the party. With as many as 13 aspirants seeking to fly the flag of PDP for the 2019 Presidential election, many people felt that Atiku Abubakar would have no chance in that crowded race since he was facing a Herculean task.
But there he is, at the end of the day, Atiku Abubakar has eventually picked the Presidential ticket of the PDP. He secured almost fifty Percent of all the votes cast by delegates that attended the national convention of the party in Port Harcourt, which means that his support base was widespread. Atiku Abubakar would now be squaring it up with President Muhammadu Buhari, who already has been selected by his party, the APC, in the next year’s Presidential election.
For Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the battle has just begun. Winning the PDP nomination is not winning the actual Presidential election. It is just the beginning of the beginning. Atiku Abubakar should know that the battle is not going to be an easy one, that it is not going to be a tea party. To root out an incumbent, particularly a vicious one, and who is strongly entrenched in the system, is not going to be an easy ride. The people are going to employ every available arsenal at their disposal, both conventional and nonconventional, in order to cling on to power.
The way I understand it, I think the PDP delegates who voted in Port Harcourt did a tremendous good work. Atiku Abubakar is not a pushover. He has what it takes to challenge and defeat the incumbent. He has a big war chest. He has the means and he has the resources. He is very well entrenched in almost every part of the country.
Atiku Abubakar is a Fulani Muslim, but he is not a fanatical Fulani Muslim like Muhammad Buhari. He is a liberal Muslim. As Vice President of Nigeria for eight years, he has friends that spread across all the 36 states in Nigeria. As flag bearer of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), which had its roots in the South West geopolitical zone, Atiku Abubakar is well known in that part of the country. He also marries from the area. And in every other part of the country, his name is a household one. His business empire is almost everywhere.
The organizers of Port Harcourt Convention should be given kudos for a hitch-free exercise. A lot of people had predicted that the convention was going to see the end of PDP, considering a large number of Presidential aspirants in the party. But this has turned out a false prediction going by the transparent manner the exercise was organized. by Dons Eze