Nigeria’s perennial presidential candidate is back on the stump. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the candidate for Nigeria’s main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party, in the 2023 presidential election. He served as vice-president of Nigeria to President Olusegun Obasanjo from 1999 to 2007. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has had aspirations to be the president since 1992: this is his sixth attempt. He was on the ballot in 2007 and 2019, and lost in party presidential primaries in 1993, 2011 and 2015.
He was the People’s Democratic Party candidate in the last presidential election (in 2019) where he garnered about 11 million votes (39%) against the 15 million votes (53%) of the winner, President Muhammadu Buhari. Total votes cast in that election were about 28.6 million, with a voter turnout rate of 34.75%. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar holds the traditional title of Wazirin Adamawa in his home state of Adamawa, northeast Nigeria. The title symbolises the office of a prime minister and it makes him a respected person in Adamawa. The 75-year-old is an influential businessman and one of the popular politicians who dominated politics after Nigeria’s return to civil rule in 1999.
It is a good development that the former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has come back to reckoning. This is a party that was founded to promote the unity of Nigeria under a pan-Nigeria platform. The party that is home to great Nigerians like former President Baba Olusegun Obasanjo, late Alhaji Solomon Lar, late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, former Governor of Kano State, former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar Atiku Abubakar, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, Senator Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja and other notables like late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, General Ibrahim Babangida, and most of the top members of today’s ruling All Progressives Congress.
It is equally a good sign for Nigerians who have had a rough time under the leadership of the All Progressive Congress (APC) that a humane and detribalized Nigerian, in the person of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a good economic manager is the presidential candidate of the resurgent PDP. The good thing about Alhaji Atiku’s candidacy is that at last, an alternative to the President Buhari brand of leadership has emerged in the person of a man who is many things rolled into one, and in whom Nigerians will find the qualities they are looking for, in management and leadership. Before it lost the 2019 presidential election, the PDP was a party that did not lack capable men and women to engage in a presidential contest. In fact, it could 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 only a few would have the leadership quality to lead a country like Nigeria that has clearly faltered in many aspects of development.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri of Adamawa and a Nigerian of fine credentials comes in as a breath of fresh air both from the resurgent PDP and from the Northern part of the country that has been poorly represented by the clannish administration of APC led government. For the APC’s change of duplicity to be replaced by RecoverNigeria 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 since May 2015, which openly denied responsibility for the promises it made to Nigerians during the campaign for the 2015 election. There are many reasons why Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is the right person for the people of Nigeria at this time following the uninspiring leadership of the APC led government.
First, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has a blueprint of governance. The former Vice President who enjoys the company of educated people and is an intellectual in his own right has prepared a policy document with his vision encapsulated in JOBS – Jobs, Opportunity, Being United and Security. In it, he set out his vision of the developmental challenges facing the country and how he will tackle them, sector by sector when he becomes president.
Second, and related to the above, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar outlined his governance and political agenda to a select and distinguished international audience of foreign diplomats, Nigerians, politicians, academics and leading businessmen at the international think tank, Chatham House in London, the UK. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar presented an outline of a cooperative and all-inclusive type of democratic government in which the states and the Federal Government would be partners in a transparent system built on prudent economic management, as against the present situation of master-servant relationship where the states get monthly handouts from the central government! According to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and experts who have reviewed the lecture, this system of national economic management will liberate the creative energies of the States and encourage them to mobilize and better utilize resources for development in areas where they have comparative advantages.
Third, through his anti-corruption crusade for which Nigerians are grateful but which has unfairly targeted mostly opposition politicians nationwide, the APC government has worked hard to taint most PDP members. On this score, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has been vindicated by no less a person than Prof Itse Sagay, czar of the president’s anti graft panel. On the contrary, the corruption and suffering under APC led government. 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 Alhaji Atiku Abubakar himself has gone to Court to challenge the allegations. And when one talks of Alhaji Atiku’s immense wealth, one has not seen the name of the Waziri Adamawa among Africa’s richest men or even the list of the World’s wealthiest rather Alhaji Atiku could make the short list of those who have impacted humanity the most.
Alhaji Atiku’s investments are the Atiku Group of Schools in Yola, capital of Adamawa State and the development institution known as the American University of Nigeria (AUN), also in Yola. The AUN is the first development-oriented institution of higher learning in Africa. Alhaji Atiku also established Adama Beverages Limited in Yola, which makes potable water and fruit drinks, as well as Rico Gado Animal Nutrition which makes feed for all classes of livestock. The common trend that runs through all of these investments of the former Vice President is that they provide employment to thousands of Nigerians directly and indirectly, provides quality education, and provides skills and entrepreneurship as well as innovation, which is the catalyst of development.
Fourth, Alhaji Atiku aside from being a foremost investor and entrepreneur is a good economic manager. As Vice President under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Atiku was the Chairman of the National Economic Council which started a revolution of sorts in the management of the national economy.
Under the Obasanjo/Abubakar administration, Nigeria did well in introducing measures and implementing policies that gave the entire national economy a lease of life and breath of fresh air and created jobs and regular income for the majority of Nigerians. Several industries and companies, both local and foreign started business in Nigeria while those who had been in the country before 1999, expanded their businesses, and modernized their production processes.
If we reflect on the fact that the PDP left office in 2015, for APC to takeover, and since then, more than 13 million jobs have been lost and hundreds of businesses collapsed or Japa relocated outside the country, it would be clear what a disaster the APC government has been. It is therefore a matter of urgency for Nigerians to elect in the February 25 presidential elections, a man used to business and entrepreneurship and who gets things to work to replace President Muhammadu Buhari.
Finally, a unique quality which sets Alhaji Atiku Abubakar apart from Baba Tinubu and which shows that Alhaji Atiku is better for Nigeria in 2023 going forward, in view of the present sorry state of national integration in Nigeria, is that in Alhaji Atiku’s thinking, there is only One Nigeria; whose citizens without exception deserves equal access to the good things of life. The way the former Vice President runs his businesses and his large family is such that there is no place for tribalism, no ethnicity, no nepotism, no exclusion or 97 versus 5 per cent! No one near him is made to feel unwanted, a stranger or an outsider which are all hallmarks of the APC led government.
Nigerians need a break from the present choking system put in place by the APC misdaventure.
•Recover Nigeria With Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.