2019: Between Atiku And Buhari, By Saleh Shehu Ashaka

The uncertainty over who will fly the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, flag in the next general elections gave way on Sunday as the party elected former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as it’s presidential flag bearer.

This has given the All Progressives Congress, APC, which has been waiting to see who the party will come up with to stand against its candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari, the basis to plan ahead.

An Atiku Abubakar candidacy in a big party like the PDP everybody reckons, holds much prospects but the large followership President Buhari commands tends to neutralize whatever fears that may arise as a result.

Atiku, just like Buhari has made several attempts to become the president of Nigeria.

In fact he had indicated interests in the position as far back as 1993 almost ten years before Buhari declared his in 2002.

Since then he had attempted to become president in 2003; 2007; 2011, 2015 and now.

Buhari on the other hand had tried since 2003; 2007; 2011 and won in 2015.

As both men prepare for the battle in 2019, it is obvious that there are factors that will work both in and against their favour.

Buhari has the incumbency factor to rely on. This means that apart from calling the shots at the national level he still commands loyalty from all the APC states including Ekiti which would have an APC governor in place by the time of the election.

Buhari also has a fanatical followership in his Northwest base which transcends to the Northeast including Adamawa where Atiku hails from.

Apart from that he is seen as having done much to rid the region from the scourge of terrorists whose activities has become worrisome to the people of the area.

He will also be helped by the fact that most of the states in the region like Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Bauchi are all under the control of his party.

His pairing with Prof. Yemi Osinbajo who is from the Bola Tinubu political camp also gives him an advantage in the Southwest.

The recent election in Ekiti and Osun States which the APC won has given a boost to the party in that part of the country and will definitely count in the presidential election.

The projects and appointments allocated to the Southeast geopolitical zones in the country by his administration like the commencement of construction work on the Second Niger bridge will also give him an advantage in the Southeast.

Currently, only Imo State out of the five states in the region is under the control of APC but the party is showing promises in Enugu State.

Buhari will however have a hard time in some states in the North Central zone due to the lingering issue of herdsmen, farmers clashes. Other states like Kwara, Kogi and Nasarawa are not strongly rooted in the APC.

There’s also much work for the APC to do in the South-south to win the votes there as this is the region the former president, Goodluck Jonathan hails from.

So far only Edo State is under the APC in that region.

Atiku however has the advantage of inheriting all those who have grievances with the current administration either in terms of policies or appointments.

The comment by the president that those who gave him 5 percent will not be treated equally with those that gave him 95 percent will work in Atiku’s favour in the Southeast and South-south.

Another thing is that Atiku has a political structure which wheel he has been oiling since the death of his mentor, Shehu Yar’Adua.

The PDM structure cuts across the entire length and breadth of the country and is formidable.

This would give him the spread needed to fulfill a constitutional provision for winning the Presidency.

Atiku is also cosmopolitan. His first wife, Titi is from the southwest and going by the reception that greeted his emergence, he seems to be favoured by the power brokers in the region including former president Olusegun Obasanjo.

The sudden support by the generals including former president Ibrahim Babangida and Aliyu Gusau will also serve to boost his chances and in the current dispensation where many are complaining of hardship, Atiku will use his wealth to win the support of many.

The allegation of corruption hanging on him will however taint his campaign.

The masses in the north do not see him as representing their interests as they see him as somebody far too comfortable to understand their plight.

Atiku also has the advantage of having worked with most politicians in all parts of the country and can find his way easily round any maze. He by far understands the political terrain more than Buhari.

The success of Atiku in business is also seen as an understanding of the economy, a sector many Nigerians feel Buhari has not done well.

Both men have things working for and against them but on the whole, the battle between Atiku and Buhari promises to be an interesting one.

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