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Published On: Fri, Dec 1st, 2017

Dilemma, permutations as Atiku quits APC

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The decision of the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, to quit the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) did not come as a surprise.
Ardent followers of the Waziri Adamawa’s politics and the reality in the ruling party were sure that he would port since there seems to be a consensus in the APC that President Muhammadu Buhari be supported to run for second term come 2019.
Political calculations in the ruling party is that allowing Buhari another term of four years till 2023 would brighten the calculation of power shifting to the South when candidates from the South-east,
South-west or the South-south would have the privilege of becoming the president of the country.
Stalwarts in the APC believe that allowing any other candidate, aside Buhari, emerge the President in 2019 would short-change the South.
This, according to the calculation, is because whoever becomes the President, aside the incumbent, is likely to run for another term in 2023 thereby jeopardizing the interest of the South. So, those interested in the Presidency from the South would rather support Buhari and have the assurance that power would shift in 2023 with mutual understanding between political gladiators from both regions.
So, with the President bouncing back from his illness and the demonstration of his agility and strength in his handling of state matters since his return from treatment from London, the United Kingdom, observers believe that nobody has the political clout to challenge Buhari for the APC Presidential ticket ahead of the 2019 Presidential election.
Those nursing the ambition to contest the Presidential ticket on the platform of the ruling party with the understanding that Buhari would only serve a term in office, as revealed recently by his Minister of a women Affairs, Sen. Aisha Jummai-Alhassan, must have a rethink.
Although Buhari has yet to officially declare his intention to run, his latest comments in Abidjan, Côte D’Ivoire, where he hinted on the possibility of his seeking re-election and the call on him to contest in 2019 by various political groups, including governors on the platform of his party, have left no one in doubt that the APC ticket s for him just for the asking.
This is notwithstanding the declaration by party stalwarts, including the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, that Buhari would have to emerge the candidate of the party in a transparent and democratic manner. Fact however remains that whoever challenges Buhari at the APC congress would only be an actor in a mock fight.
Considering the prevailing political reality, any candidate serious about wrestling power from the President must try his luck elsewhere as the ticket in the APC is already in Buhari’s pocket, at least for now.
With this political calculation, Atiku, already 70, would have to wait for another twelve years, 2031 precisely, when power is expected to return to the north in order to actualize his ambition on the platform of the ruling APC, all things being equal. Therefore, the Wazirin Adamawa and his ilk currently in the ruling party have no option than to try their luck elsewhere to leverage on their popularity and acceptance to stop Buhari in 2019. So, Atiku’s quitting the APC is not sacrilegious as some of his political detractors would want us believe. That’s just the most sensible political move to make.
There are indications that others with presidential ambition in the ruling party, especially from the north, will still dump the party to test their popularity in an atmosphere considered unbiased and democratic.
Although the ex-Vice President has yet to declare for any political party, there are indications that he may soon return to the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of which he was a foundation member. The movement of his supporters across the country into the PDP, which he dumped ahead of the 2015 general election, indicated that it was just a matter of days before he will officially declare his political destination.
With the resolution of the PDP to zone the presidential ticket to the north, the party has become a beautiful bride to other northern politicians who may want to challenge Buhari at the polls. This opposition party is even more alluring because of its spread across the nation.
Aside Atiku, other politicians who have indicated interest in the PDP presidential ticket include the former governor of Jigawa state, Alhaji Sule Lamido and his counterpart from Kano state, Ibrahim Shekarau. Even though Ekiti governor, Ayodele Fayose also showed interest, his ambition is considered dead on arrival because of the party’s decision to zone the Presidential ticket to the north. His best bet in this issue remains the Vice Presidential slot.
Although some top-notchers in the ruling APC have dismissed Atiku’s decampment as inconsequential to the party’s electoral fortune in 2019, political analysts argue otherwise. They believe that the APC must strategize and realign well ahead of the 2019 general election if it is really interested in retaining power in some states and at the centre.
Buhari’s success in his fight against corruption and decimation of the dreaded Boko Haram insurgency plaguing the North-east region may be a plus for him, but Atiku’s looming image in that region, where he hails from, must not be taken for granted.
The politics of Adamawa, his home state, currently under Jibrilla Bindow who is considered as his political son, has begun to quake. It was an open secret that the former Vice President played a pivotal role in the success of the incumbent governor and the ruling party in the 2015 governorship election in the state.
The governor himself confessed that the Waziri Adamawa supported the APC with a colossal amount of N500 million to prosecute his election and the fact remains that there are lots of Atiku’s sympathizers in his government. It was also reported that majority of those currently in the State Assembly were sponsored by the former Vice President.
Bindow has however declared his intention to severe himself from Atiku’s apron-string as he told newsmen that he was not going to leave the APC. The line has therefore been drawn for a battle of supremacy between his camp and that of the ex-Vice President ahead of 2019 general election.
Aside Adamawa state, Atiku’s loyalists, even in Buhari’s cabinet, may soon port as soon as his final destination is known. One of such to have openly declared support for the Waziri Adamawa even while still serving as a minister in Buhari’s cabinet is the Minister of Women Affairs.
Jummai-Alhassan was once quoted to have said “Atiku is my godfather even before I joined politics. And again, Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019. Let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a minister’. But Baba just like you know, I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku said he is going to contest’.
Now the kicker “If because of what I said, I am sacked, it will not bother me because i believe in Allah that my time has elapsed that is why.” With these, it is only a matter of time before Alhassan dumps the APC if she would be willing to walk the talk.
Considering her political influence in Taraba state, where she was the APC’s governorship candidate in 2015, the ruling party’s influence would get whittled down if she dumps the party and this may have dire consequences on its votes both at the governorship and presidential elections.
Atiku’s recent political activism has broaden his acceptance base in
the southern region notwithstanding the fact that his critics may not be willing to acknowledge this. The former Vice President, it was, who re-ignited the campaign for the restructuring of the country which elicited serious debates in the polity.
It is trite to state that the debate on restructuring would be an issue in the 2019 general election especially in the south. To defeat Atiku in the South in 2019, if he eventually emerges the candidate of the opposition PDP, the ruling party must be willing to convince the voters of its readiness to address the clamour for restructuring.
In any case, political intrigues, alignment and realignment, aggregation of interests and horse trading, especially in the two leading parties in the country would determine who emerges the nation’s President in 2019. But it will take surreal efforts for the opposition to defeat Buhari who has been able to attract cult followership across the country due to his integrity and forthrightness.

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