By Musa Mohammed Zango
It is a good omen that the former ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), the party that is home to that great Nigerian, Atiku Abubakar and other notable Nigerians like late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, General Ibrahim Babangida, Chief Bode George, former President Olusegun Obasanjo etc. is back on its feet and to reckoning.
The members and leadership of the party, led by Senator Ahmed Makarfi, former Governor of Kaduna State deserve commendation for holding a peaceful and free and fair elective convention that has given birth to a brand new National working Committee (NWC), under a new national chairman, Mr. Uche Secondus. The PDP has come back and shown that it is ready to embark on a new beginning to salvage the country from the glaring misrule and propaganda of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). While indeed there has been some misgivings and controversy pertaining to the conduct and outcome of the elective convention, it is not new. In fact, controversy within a party, is a necessary fall- out of elections and politicking especially in a political party, where the majority of members are free men and women.
With the convention to elect the members of the national executive over and the latter vigorously pursuing reconciliation and setting the party’s agenda, the next important elective convention of the party would be the convention to elect a presidential candidate or flag- bearer for the party to face the lackluster and pretentious Muhammadu Buhari.
Before it lost the 2015 presidential election, and now, the PDP is a party that does not lack capable men and women to engage in a presidential contest. In fact, it can be said that the PDP has always been star- studded. Today, however the situation is slightly different as a political party might have star personalities but are short in integrity and leadership quality to lead a country like Nigeria that has clearly faltered in many aspects of development and is eager to make progress.
Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri Adamawa and a Nigerian of fine credentials who have served notice that he is interested in the 2019 presidential race comes into the equation. The PDP should be thankful for the return of the former Vice President who described the party as his home and his return back to the PDP at the last convention, as a home- coming. If the ruling APC party is destined to win the 2019 elections, it would have improved its ways and prevented someone of the experience and qualification of Atiku Abubakar from leaving the party. However, the popular saying that one man’s loss, is another’s gain rings true here. For the APC change of duplicity to be replaced by a real change under a man ready, eager and yearning for service to be actualized, the APC has to run the incompetent and divisive government it has been running under PMB since May 2015.
There are many reasons why Atiku Abubakar is the right person for the resurgent PDP to field in the 2019 presidential race.
First, Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President 1999- 2007 on the ticket of the PDP is a founding member of the party and has contributed immensely like any good and loyal party member to the well- being of the party and its members. It is also on record that at various times, the man Atiku had sponsored many party members for elective offices with the objective of improving the fortunes of the party. That the former Vice President on two occasions had left the party, was the handiwork of anti- democratic forces in the party who acted with impunity and disregarded the lofty and patriotic principles on which the party was initially founded by the founding fathers of which Atiku Abubakar is one. Thus, Atiku Abubakar politically, is like a child, born and nurtured in the nationalist and inclusive brand of politics for which the PDP is known but who had to seek refuge elsewhere in difficult times elsewhere and in the process, garnered more experience in politics.
Second, Atiku Abubakar has a blueprint of governance. Unlike the man who today occupies the presidential villa in Abuja, the former Vice President who enjoys the company of educated people and is an intellectual in his own right has prepared a document titled, ‘Making Good Things Happen’ the Atiku Abubakar Policy Document, where he set out his vision of the developmental challenges facing the country and how he will tackle it, sector by sector when he becomes president. To show that he is a patriotic Nigerian whose ambition is driven more by the national good and not by pride, ego and selfishness for power, or desperation as some of his detractors are wont to sing, Atiku presented these strategic development document to Muhammadu Buhari when he came to power. Unfortunately, because the Buhari team is not thinking and intellectual minded, they have preferred to grope and experiment with the nation’s economy and destiny rather than spare some time and study a development blueprint offered with no strings attached. Trying to administer a big and complex country like Nigeria without a plan is what has landed the country in the situation of suspended animation in which the government of PMB has landed the country while they take solace in accusing the erstwhile PDP government for the woes of the country.
One is saying that according to the APC and its confused administration under PMB, the present woes of Nigeria are caused by PDP. PDP is ready and confident to repair the country and make it whole again through Atiku Abubakar, the man with the Blueprint!
Third, through his anti- corruption crusade for which Nigerians are grateful but which has unfairly targeted PDP members nationwide, the APC government has worked hard to taint most PDP stars. On this score, Atiku Abubakar is a very clean guy and is not carrying any real baggage on the corruption issue. On the contrary, the corrupt person we have today is Muhammadu Buhari, going by the many corruption scandals involving many members of his close circle of trusted aides and functionaries and the fact that in most cases, he has often kept mute.
On the issue of corruption, the former Vice President is only a victim of allegations, hearsay and suspicion because of his wealth and investment. These allegations are trite as none has been proven in any Court of Law, even when Atiku himself has gone to Court to prove his innocence. And when one talks of Atiku’s immense wealth, one has not seen the name of the Waziri Adamawa among Africa’s riches men or even the list of the World’s wealthiest rather Atiku could make the list of the Africa men of taste and class, going by the type of business ventures he has undertaking which has benefitted thousands of Nigerians and placed the country and his native Adamawa State on the Map of Africa. These investments are the Atiku Group of Schools in Yola, capital of Adamawa State and the popular Development institution known as the American University of Nigeria (AUN), also in Yola, the first development- oriented institution of higher learning in Africa. Atiku also has Faro water which makes potable water and fruit drinks, as well as Rico Gardo Animal Feed Industries which makes feed for all classed of livestock. The common trend that runs through all of these investments of the former Vice President and PDP homeboy, is that it provides employment to several thousand Nigerians, provides quality education, and provides skills and entrepreneurship as well as innovation, which is the hallmark of development.
Fellow Nigerians and proud PDP members, the occupant of Aso Rock today, Muhammadu Buhari, is a Lilliput when compared to the humble giant, Atiku Abubakar. If the APC makes the mistake of fielding PMB for 2019, and PDP fields Atiku, in view of the current wisdom and enlightenment of most Nigerians, the latter will easily pick the job creator from Adamawa. Another unique quality which sets Atiku apart from Buhari and which shows that Atiku is better for Nigeria in 2019, is that in Atiku’s thinking, there is only One Nigeria, no tribalism, no ethnicity, no nepotism, no exclusion or 97 versus 5 per cent!
Musa Muhammad Zango, a Sociologist and Public Administrator, writes from Bauchi.