Atiku has traversed the whole country in the past few months meeting with delegates in respective states… and they have all endorsed.
Over the years, one has not noticed the kind of thoroughness, caution and maturity with which the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is handling the search for an aspirant who will fly the flag of the party in a presidential election. Again, there is no recent memory where as high as 13 aspirants are jostling to grab the presidential ticket of the party.
Just as the trekker, Isa Mohammed Munlaila, who walked from Lagos to Abuja carrying a symbolic All Progressives Congress (APC) coffin, which he came to bury at PDP headquarters office, said, “all the aspirants are qualified and any of them can do better that the incumbent APC-led Federal Government.” For him, the line-up of PDP presidential aspirants is star-studded.
The Borno State-born trekker also said: “I am not a politician, but in the course of walking from Lagos to Abuja I discussed with people along the way and the general consensus is that Atiku Abubakar is the right person to be voted as Nigeria’s President come 2019.”
On the reason why the people are rooting for Atiku, he said they told him that the former Vice President has created thousands of jobs, is a youth-friendly person and he has the unity as well as restructuring of the country at heart. He also said that Atiku is the only candidate that has the capacity to wrest power from the ruling APC.
The jubilation and loud ovation that greeted the comments of the trekker at PDP headquarters, where members of the convention planning committee had gathered for their meeting, was overwhelming. It was as if it was choreographed. This tacit endorsement by the trekker, the audience at the PDP headquarters and those the trekker interacted with during his 30-day walk serves as proof that minds are made up on who the PDP should put forward as its candidate, if the party seriously desires to win the 2019 presidential election.
On September 19, 2018, Vanguard newspaper published a report on the criteria the National Working Committee said must be met by all aspirants who are desirous of clinching the ticket of the party in the 2019 presidential election. The criteria include acceptability across the nation, political viability, structures built over time and bridges built across the country.
From all indications, Atiku scores A+ in all the criteria listed. In terms of acceptability, the Waziri Adamawa is already a household name across Nigeria. An interview conducted among secondary school students in a rural setting in Imo State showed that the only presidential candidate known is Atiku Abubakar. They could hardly remember or recall any other candidate even when their names were mentioned.
Atiku’s acceptability has also been confirmed in a publication by Vanguard newspaper of September 30, 2018, titled “PDP Presidential Primary: Ex-militant leaders warn against imposition of candidate.” The publication followed a press briefing by the national coordinator of the South-South wing of ex-agitators, General Paul Agge (aka Don Agge), who led seven other top ex- militant groups to a meeting in Yenagoa.
Agge, among other things, said: “Atiku Abubakar remains the only aspirant who can defeat President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 election and take Nigerians to the Promised Land.” This means that his name is already resonating in the creeks.
“We the ex-militant leaders, under the different groups, wish to advice all PDP governors and leaders of the party not to impose any candidate in the forthcoming presidential primary election, which we are already sensing, because the fate of Nigeria for the next four years lies on the candidate that would emerge from the primary election of the PDP.”
At the last count, Atiku had over 300 support groups working for him. In fact, the figure had to be pruned down from over 700 support groups for a more effective management. They exist in all parts of the country.
There are doubts that any other aspirant enjoys such huge number of supporters spread across the country. It is the same groups that rallied all the money and bought the PDP presidential nomination form for the former Vice President. Total memberships runs into millions.
Atiku’s 60-member election/campaign council, headed by Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, is very intimidating. It is made up of seasoned politicians who have been tested and trusted over time. For Iwuanyanwu to say that he will die in peace when Atiku becomes President of Nigeria shows the seriousness attached to the 2019 presidential project. It is also a testimony that major stakeholders of the PDP are solidly behind the Waziri Adamawa.
It can be recalled that when another PDP aspirant paid a courtesy call on the Governor of Abia State, some support groups of the Waziri Adamawa came with larger than life banners thinking it was their candidate that came into town. This gives an inkling that some of the aspirants are not just popular in many parts of the country.
Atiku’s viability is not in doubt, judging from the successes he has recorded in his businesses, philanthropy and political life, which stand him out. The list is usually too long.
Being a former Vice President who was in-charge of National Economic Council for eight years and participated actively in taking lots of policy decisions that led to the modest economic development of the country, he knows what it takes to pull the country out of its present economic woods. It would be boring listing achievements made by the council at the time but suffice it to say that, if experience is anything to go by, none of the other candidates comes close.
Atiku has traversed the whole country in the past few months meeting with delegates in respective states, members of socio-cultural organisations, elder statesmen, traditional rulers, youth and women groups, and they have all endorsed. They already see him as a presidential candidate of the party and that he is the president they are waiting for.
The large crowd that receives him and accompanies him on each visit shows the level of support and acceptability that he enjoys.
In terms of political structure and bridges built across the country, Atiku fulfilled this criterion long ago having inherited the structures of one of Nigeria’s political mavericks, the late Shehu Yar’Adua. It is always fascinating how Atiku knows the nooks and crannies of communities in all parts of the country and the large numbers of great personalities and locals he knows on first name basis in each community.
From what is currently on ground, it is up to PDP and its delegates to do the needful. As the Igbo will advise, if you know how to pound yam, pound inside the mortar, if not pound on the floor. By the time you finish pounding on the floor, you will realise the futility of the effort and how stupid you have been because you have ended up preparing poison for your own consumption. The result is obvious, if the food finds its way into your stomach.
A word, they say, is enough for the wise. This is not time to play selfish or sentimental politics because of the obvious impact it will have on the future of the PDP as a party, its members as individuals and Nigerians in general. In summation, the cap fits Atiku. Let him wear it for the good of all.
Ugoji writes from Abuja