By SOC Okenwa…
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) organized its presidential primary in the garden city of Port Harcourt penultimate weekend. More than a dozen aspirants for the supreme office of President were vying for the golden opportunity that the 2019 general elections in Nigeria represent. That is, a vibrant opportunity to send the incumbent President Buhari to compulsory retirement against his obdurate will come next year.
The likelihood of Buhari losing the presidential poll of February next year is as plausible as sunrise and sunset or summer and winter seasons all year round. But even when he retires against his volition Buhari would still be busy in his sleepy hometown tending to his many cows as a herdsman and taking good care of his fragile health.
The outcome of the Port Harcourt convention is generally known. Atiku Abubakar, a veteran politician, 71, clinched the ticket to robustly challenge Buhari for Aso Rock. He polled 1,532 to beat the Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, to a distant second position (693 votes). The Senate President, Bukola Saraki came third with 317 votes.
The 2019 presidential election would be very interesting indeed given the calibre of opposition pulling all strings to see to the defeat of the incumbent. The incumbent septuagenarian President is up against history. Whoever says the poll would be a walkover for PMB is deceiving himself. There is bound to be a stiff competition.
President Buhari’s appalling vacuity and divagation has put many of his erstwhile fans and supporters off. His many failings ring a deafening bell from Katsina to Ihiala, Lagos to Abuja. And set tongues wagging as to his capacity to pilot the ‘Naija’ ship to a safe anchor or harbour. Truth be told he has performed poorly and his clannish disposition does not help matters. He is an apostle of nepotism and he belongs to the past!
Aside Atiku whose credentials are sound and formidable we have got a young radical charismatic Omoyele Sowore, the popular Publisher of ‘SaharaReporters’ online news portal based in the US. The Comrade is in the race, according to him, to “take Nigeria back from rapacious politicians”. There are other politicians and technocrats in a crowded race for the presidency: Obiageli Ezekwesili, Fela Durotoye, Kingsley Moghalu etc.
From Port Harcourt, despite the intrigues of the likes of Wike and Fayose (they had wanted desperately to impose Tambuwal on delegates), the Wazirin Adamawa won a landslide victory to the consternation of his nay-sayers. By trouncing Tambuwal and Saraki Atiku trounced Wike, Fayose et al! Yet to show his magnanimity in victory Atiku had visited Governor Wike in the State House, moments after his triumphant declaration, where the latter was preaching reconciliation and unity.
Read also: OBJ the fox and tale of the lesser evil
Abubakar remains a shrewd politician whose desperate ambition to rule Nigeria dated back decades. He has been desperately nursing the ambition to preside over our national affairs for many odd years now. And now that he has made it finally it remains to be seen how far he would go to clinch the presidency come February. His political machinery across the federation is well-oiled and he has the wherewithal to prosecute the campaign for the omnipotent position in a potentially great nation.
Given that Atiku is very well prepared for the office he is seeking what imposes on Nigerians is the choice between the status quo deemed to have failed to deliver on its promises and a future presided over by either a known old face in support of restructuring or a youthful Macron-like fresh face who had fought battles against the military tyranny and for social justice all his life — right from his UNILAG days in Lagos.
Atiku Abubakar means many things to many Nigerians. For some he is a quintessential administrator of men and resources. For others he is a typical executive ‘Wazobia’ in a complex nation divided along ethnic and religious fault lines. Generally speaking however, Atiku is perceived in some discernible quarters as fantastically corrupt and secretive. He is reputed to be stupendously rich, one of the richest Nigerians still standing strongly economically and politically even in a climate of economic woes and political hurricane of the present.
Under ‘Babacracy’ as the Deputy to the then vindictive President Olusegun Obasanjo Atiku proved his mettle though he clashed with his obtrusive former boss on more than one occasion. Today Olusegun Obasanjo has ‘endorsed’ Atiku for the presidency. Atiku must be relieved for the ‘blessing’ he got from his most furious critic in Abeokuta.
From all econo-political and social indications Atiku is poised to perform presidentially better than the retired proud old soldier from Daura. He would definitely make a better President than PMB! As the eloquent Pastor Tunde Bakare put it recently in Lagos it would not be an Eaglet versus Eagle political match but one hell of a combat involving two big Eagles! May the better Eagle win if we must add to that here.
Olusegun Obasanjo was in his usual hypocritical best element when he recently played host to the PDP presidential flagbearer in Abeokuta. In the presence of notable revered men of God (the Kaduna-based Islamic scholar, Sheik Ahmed Gumi and the Winners Chapel ‘lord’ Bishop David Oyedepo) OBJ sounded like a mortal who had just encountered the Omnipotent Being lately. He had told the distinguished guests that he had imperially ‘forgiven’ Atiku since he had ‘repented’ from his ‘sins’! And shown enough remorse!
Pray! Remorse for doing what? For helping other patriotic democratic Nigerians ‘kill’ the infamous third term gambit of his in 2007? Or for some shady deals yet to be made public? Obasanjo who claims to love Nigeria more than himself owes us an explanation to this effect. But having said the foregoing it is perhaps in the spirit of what God Himself had implored us to do in the Lord’s prayer. To wit: forgiving others their trespasses as He would do to ours.
All said and done the losers in the PDP Port Harcourt Convention included Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Nyesom Wike of Rivers State. And the outgone Governor of Ekiti State, the embattled Ayodele Fayose. Tambuwal because he was the clear favourite prior to the convention. And Wike because as the so-called ‘top financier’ of the PDP he had worked hard to ensure the emergence of Tambuwal. Ditto Fayose who even threatened to quit the opposition party as a result of the Tambuwal defeat.
Another prominent loser was the embattled Senate President, Bukola Saraki. Coveting the presidency with a baggage of dented past, decamping from the ruling APC party in order to take a shot at same only to come a distant third with miserly 317 votes must have been a nightmarish disappointment for the crafty son of the late ‘Oloye’. Yet it must be said here that ambition is never a crime; there is no harm in trying one’s luck or testing one’s popularity or acceptability among the political rank and file.
And the winners, of course, include Alhaji Atiku Abubakar whose staggering victory over his adversaries testified to his political prowess and organisation. But above all, the delegates to the convention who are now smiling to the banks having been showered with Dollar rain during the decisive electoral contest. Each of the fortunate delegates must have gone home reportedly with more than ten thousand Dollars (!) generously distributed as bribes by the leading contenders.
Atiku must have outspent the rest hence his convincing victory though that did not remove from the fact that he was a formidable and experienced aspirant having gone that road before. We wish him the best of luck!
RipplesNigeria… without borders, without fears