GUEST Columnist by Zayyad I. Muhammad
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s ‘resignation’ from the APC is a minus to the party; while his return to the PDP is a plus to the opposition, PDP. Atiku claims his main reasons for resignation from the APC include the failure of the Buhari government to fulfill its promises and other unresolved party matters. But even the blind can see that the fear of facing Muhammadu Buhari at APC presidential primaries is Atiku’s real reason for resignation from the APC.
As things stands now, APC could not in any way persuade Atiku to stay in the party, because Atiku’s 2019 presidential ambition, I believe, was triggered and founded on the premise that Buhari will not survive his health conditions. Atiku then calculated that with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo being in power going into 2019 elections, he can play the regional card (North’s remaining four years) to battle APC presidential ticket with Osinbajo; as he did but failed against Jonathan in 2011- the ill-thought-out northern consensus candidate by Mallam Adamu Ciroma-led Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF).
Since Atiku’s calculation to secure APC’s presidential ticket now has failed, a return to the PDP is the only option available. For him, apart from an opportunity to avoid Buhari in the primaries, returning to the PDP was designed to achieve some political maneuvers. Atiku knows he has good political structures that make the PDP battle field much easier, albeit on paper. With only 11 governors and very weak at the centre, Atiku will find it very easy to ‘box’ PDP delegates without state governor as well as make some smart maneuvers to easily secure PDP presidential ticket. However, the PDP challenge would not be that easy–there are people like Sule Lamido, who is a product of the Aminu Kano radical politics of the north. Lamido is from the core Hausa-Fulani states and has large followers. Furthermore, his ‘cousins’ in the northeast will have nothing against him. The middle-belt and many northern minorities share his politics of radicalism. Another big challenge for Atiku is Gombe state governor, Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo. Dankwambo is one of the highflying governors with massive youth support. Equally, if Ahmed Makarfi, Ibrahim Shekarau and other candidates come on board, the battle for the PDP presidential ticket will take some never-thought-of dimensions. Moreover, the south south and south east will have a bloc vote; but there is a massive delegates’ vote from other regions.
Atiku has strong war chest but he has started a very difficult and long ‘journey’ to 2019. Buhari with his cult-like followers, some solid performance to show against Atiku’s ‘personal’ development, knit with Tinubu’s factor- the only individual now in Nigeria that has some governors with solid control of the southwest will make Atiku’s already tumultuous pursuit all the more unbearable. The Northwest and Northeast will definitely not be an easy spot for Atiku either. Northwest will definitely go for what Buhari goes for, while the Northeast, Atiku’s constituency does not have a common course, and Buhari’s sterling performance against Boko Haram has endeared him to people of the region.
One interesting and surprising thing about Atiku and Buhari is, as Atiku grows older; his fear of facing strong candidates at party primaries has increased, despite his immense war chest and political structures. On the other hand, Buhari’s boldness at facing any candidate at party primaries has increased.
As 2019 approaches, people who voted for Buhari in 2015; but are angry with Buhari, do not in any way see Atiku as an option, while people who did not vote for Buhari in 2015, see Atiku as a sort of way to get some temporary relief. Thus, Atiku will not cash-in from protest votes; but Buhari may cash-in from voter apathy. However, many of Buhari adherents are not happy with the so-called ‘jackals’ and the ‘hyenas’ who have seemingly hijacked PMB’s government. Thus the ‘jackals’ and the ‘hyenas’ have to tighten their belt to fight Buhari’s political battle with their ‘faces’ and ‘pockets’. As expected, Buhari will soon make some appointments and corrections as 2019 approaches, the politics is getting exciting- a scenario where it would be Atiku Abubakar against Muhammadu Buhari. It will be like a bicycle against a super tanker.
Zayyad I. Muhammad Jimeta, Adamawa State, email@example.com, www.zayyad.com.ng