Atiku And The 2019 Script, By Funmilola Ajala

I was in a phone conversation, on Friday morning, with a compatriot currently holidaying in Dubai when the news popped up on TV that one of the oldest cats in Nigeria’s political arena, Atiku Abubakar, has “resigned” from the All Progressives Congress (APC), ending what a commentator aplty captured as a ‘loan transfer’ from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Pushed by sheer eagerness, I broke the story to the fellow in Dubai, who shocked me with her unemotional retort: “That’s nothing new. Didn’t Nigerians know he (Atiku) would find his way out of APC before 2019?”
Scanning through the plethora of reactions that dominated the blogosphere after the announcement, it was apparent that Nigerians, irrespective of their political orientations, were not jolted by the latest move of the Adamawa-born former Customs’ officer. To many of them, it was – all along – a question of ‘when’ and not ‘if’, at least going by antecedence.
Nonetheless, as unsurprising as Atiku’s severance of political ties with the APC may look to the viewing audience of Nigeria’s sporadic nay unending political theatre, it seems the only takeaway from his inconsistent trajectory is the consistency of his personal ambition. The former vice president has a long chequered history of eyeing the top job in the country.
From the early 1990s when he first impressed himself in the minds of politically conscious Nigerians, young Atiku journeyed from a presidential aspirant in the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), to becoming Olusegun Obasanjo’s deputy in 1999, to contesting the presidency in 2007 under the Action Congress of Nigeria (after falling out with Obasanjo), before losing the PDP ticket to the then incumbent Goodluck Jonathan in 2010; and most recently losing the APC ticket to Muhammadu Buhari in 2014.
GOOD OMEN FOR THE APC?
Perhaps, Abubakar had prepared the minds of the Nigerian populace to what was to come with his seeming hostile disposition to the government enthroned by his party, post 2015 elections. He appeared clearly at variance with the direction of the Buhari-led government and the persistent voicing of dissent gave him away as an ‘enemy within’ the APC.
But for the APC, Atiku’s desertion from its fold may be considered a huge relief, if one considers his destabilizing effects within the party. During the last Eid-Kabir celebrations, Minister of Women Affairs, Jummai Alhassan sent tongues wagging when she openly declared support for Atiku in the race for 2019. While leading a delegation to pay Salah homage to her political benefactor, she reffered to the Turakin Adamawa as, “The incoming president in 2019, Insha Allah”.
More than few saw this, rightly so, as not only politically contradictory and capitulating, but an equally unpardonable aberration unbecoming of a highly placed public official.
Now that the chicken has gone home to roost, it is expected that loyalists like Mrs Alhassan and others would, in turn, vacate the APC since their tenancy has expired, while the ruling party is cleansed of irredentists rocking its ship.
On a personal note, President Buhari would do himself and his government some favour by consulting the ‘resignation letter’ of Abubakar Atiku. Therein, the former vice president made what looked like salient points against the APC, a party he described as a “mirage”, over its failure to, on the one hand engender internal democracy, and on the other hand, deliver dividends of good governance to Nigerians. Specifically, as Buhari prepares the ground for his promised appointment of new Ministers, Atiku’s jab that youths have not been well represented in this government should not be jettisoned. That is a red flag which should be adequately taken care of.
RENEWED ROMANCE BETWEEN ATIKU AND PDP?
After successful spells in Italy and Spain, one of the most celebrated managers in football in the 21st century, Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea FC in 2013. Granting an interview as prelude to his second coming, having managed the same outfit between 2004 and 2007, the Portuguese summed up his departure from the London giants as a “perfect divorce”, since they disengaged on mutual consent.
The return of Abubakar Atiku to the opposition PDP, at this point, is of course a carefully calculated risk which, if things manifested as scripted, is aimed at uprooting the APC from power in 2019. There is no gainsaying the obvious that this remains the immediate attraction for both Atiku and the PDP. The former’s known financial clouts and his appreciable followership would come handy for the latter, even as it struggles to put the hallucination and hangover of the past to rest. Exactly the sort of tonic needed by a resurging political movement.
In doing this, however, both Atiku and his new found love, the PDP, must be aware that scepticism of theirs remains with the electorates who regarded the umbrella party’s reign as years of locusts which led to the current economic famine in the land. Fortunately for the PDP, as things stand, Nigerians are condemned to – once again – choose between it and the APC come the general elections in about 16 months time, so long the realisation of the much hyped ‘third force’ is elusive.
To this end, the first hurdle to be negotiated by the PDP would be its national convention, scheduled to hold in Abuja on December 9. Allegations similar to past experiences of manipulations are already emerging among aspirants for the National Chairmanship seat of the party, who accused the Ahmed Makarfi-led caretaker committee of bias. How they manage this latest eruption would go a long way in revealing what lies ahead.
ATIKU AND 2019 AT A GLANCE
On Thursday, September 28, 2017, Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose became the first politician to formally launch campaign for presidency in 2019. At his declaration in Abuja, the firebrand governor indicated that his interest, asides being a fundamental right, emanates from lack of enthusiasm so far displayed by members of the political class in the North to contest against Buhari in the next election. It is on record that the PDP had zoned its presidential ticket to the region, hoping that this would help divide the votes between the itself and the APC at the polls. Yet, none in the region has summoned enough courage to dare Buhari for the coveted keys to the Aso Villa. With Atiku’s eventual return to the PDP, the calculus is expected to change.
In his reaction to the u-turn made by Atiku, a former associate and Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai labeled the ex-veepee a “serial contestant” for the presidency, who could make his way back to the broom caucus before 2019, if his ambition would be guaranteed.
Sadly, there would be major impediments which may truncate Atiku’s eternal aspiration to rule Nigeria; two of such, though not new, are:
Perception:
In the eyes of many, Atiku not only represents the political oligarchs which continually hold the country by the throat, but the face of the corrupt juggernauts that foisted extreme poverty on the hapless masses. He has had to constantly defend himself against, though unprovened, allegations of grafts in the court of public opinion. Still, many would easily point at the stupendous estimates of his wealth – spread across countless business ventures – as a comfortable signpost of a strong nexus to financial impropriety.
It remains to be seen how Atiku washes himself clean of such negative and injurious perception.
Obj’s factor:
It was widely reported few weeks back how former President Goodluck Jonathan welcomed the possibility of Atiku’s return to the PDP. However, in what seems a narration of lessons from a personal trauma, Jonathan identified former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a god which Atiku must appease if his presidential desire would ever see the light of the day.
This is a statement of fact Atiku can only ignore at his own peril. He knows too well how the ‘Ebora Owu’ had contributed to frustrating him in time past, hence Jonathan’s advice can only serve as a reiteration of a known reality. At least for one last time, Atiku may have to literally prostrate to ‘Baba’, to have him say just a word of positivity. Again, achieving that may be tantamount to pushing a Carmel through the eye of the needle.
2019 IS HERE!
In concluding this essay, it worthy of note that recent political events in the country tend to confirm a wider dichotomy (both in social stratification and pragmatic thinking) between the ruling elites and the dissolutioned masses.
Analysts of political happenstances often chastised ‘professional’ politicians for their impatience in talking 2019 as if we were there already. Such thoughts come only from glaring limitations to the dictates of the Gregorian calendar, whereas political actors’ minds are configured to the constant cyclical nature of politicking – everytime, at all times.
From all indications, 2019 is already upon us.
*Ajala, a journalist, writes via ajalatravel07@gmail.com
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2019: Atiku Not A Threat To Buhari, Says El-Rufai

Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-rufai, has said that former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, is not a threat to President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.

He reiterated that even if Atiku is given the ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, he will not defeat the President because Atiku is known as a serial defector and presidential aspirant.

El-rufai disclosed this in an interview with State House correspondents on Friday after joining Buhari in observing juma’at at the Presidential Villa mosque.

El-rufai was reacting to the exit of the former vice president from the All Progressives Congress.

El-rufai said he had in 2014 told Atiku in Dubai that no northern politician in the entire north was as popular as Buhari.

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2019: PDP Reveals Plan To Woo Tinubu, Obasanjo, Atiku, Others

Ahead of the 2019 Presidential election, the Rivers State Governor, and Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Reconciliation Committee, Nyesom Wike has revealed the party’s readiness to woo former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to ensure it regains the lost presidential seat.

Wike made this known in the latest issue of ‘The Interview,’ a monthly magazine published by Azu Ishiekwene.

He also listed Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso as one of the many APC Chieftains to be wooed.

In the same vein, the governor vowed that he and Rivers people would do everything to ensure PDP emerges victorious in the state come 2019 election.

“The whole thing boils down to sincerity and commitment. We said if things would not happen, all of us would go down with it. That was the driving spirit for us and that is what we are going to repeat in 2019.

“If the Federal Government is going to kill all of us, so be it. Because we know what they have planned and their strategies and so when it is time, we will face the APC squarely in this state. Just watch,” he said.

 

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Fulfil Your Promise To Make Nigerians ‘Feel Safe Again,’ Atiku Tells Buhari

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government to fulfil its promise of making Nigerians “feel safe again”.

In a statement signed by his media aide, Atiku said those who have suffered from the Boko Haram insurgency deserve to get the treatment and support they need.

According to him, his intention was to give the freed Chibok girls “the best possible education”.

The statement partly reads:

“The Waziri Adamawa prays that those who have suffered so much get all the treatment and support they need, and urgently calls on the federal government to honour its promise to make Nigerians feel safe again.

“Atiku, the founder of the AUN Group of Schools, is shocked that some would-be journalists think it is fair game to exploit a young girl’s trauma to score cheap political points.

“Atiku Abubakar is not aware that anyone is forced to attend ABTI Schools. The story is contrived hogwash. He urges the media, a critical partner in our march to progress and development, to remember that not everything is about 2019.

“I wish to stress that the intention of the Waziri Adamawa was to give the freed Chibok girls the best possible education, and that was why he helped set up the foundation programme to create such an opportunity in a familiar environment.

“Unfortunately, the best intentions can backfire. These girls are still healing, and clearly, the recent deterioration of the security situation in the north-east has opened old wounds.”

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2019: Atiku Denies Supporting IPOB Leader, Nnamdi Kanu

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, has denied report circulating round some sections of the media that he is supporting the agitation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) leader, Nnamdi Kanu.

In a statement issued by his media aide, Paul Ibe said, Atiku described the report as classical fake news, asked Nigerians to ignore the report.

The statement reads: “It has come to the notice of the Atiku Media Office that there is an opinion article titled “IPOB: Loathe or love Kanu, he has fought better – Atiku” purportedly written and signed by His Excellency Atiku Abubakar, Vice President of Nigeria, 1999-2007 and chieftain of All Progressives Congress in circulation.

“What started as the handiwork of mischief makers and their sponsors bent on tarnishing the reputation of the Waziri Adamawa was first noticed on chat rooms.

“But having found its way on the website of a reputable newspaper which obviously fell victim to the evil work of the scammers, the media office of the former Vice President is compelled to respond and to state as follows:

“That the article in circulation is unknown to Atiku Abubakar or Atiku Media Office;

“That His Excellency Atiku Abubakar never signed any opinion article with that title in circulation;

“That this is the handiwork of evil people and their cowardly sponsors aimed at soiling the reputation of Atiku Abubakar and his political standing;

“That this signposts a wicked and deliberate plot to unleash media attack on Atiku Abubakar with a view to portraying him in bad light;

“That this is classical Fake News;

“The Atiku Media Office urges Nigerians and the reading public to discountenance the article and to be vigilant as more of such diabolical stuff are underway.”

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Re: How Atiku’s Presidential Bid is Unsettling Enugu APC, By Bennett Nnabike

Following report on a national newspaper which claims that former Vice-President H.E Atiku Abubakar’s Presidential Bid is unsettling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu state, the attention of Concerned Enugu APC Stakeholders has been drawn to unfounded and unsubstantiated speculations in the report.

For the records, the APC in Enugu has not decided on any Presidential candidate ahead of 2019. No member of our great Party can authoritatively say which candidates will be contesting for the APC Presidential ticket in 2018; since no leader has formally and publicly declared intention to run for exalted position in our great country.

The former Vice President has not inaugurated any committee to drive his

campaign in Enugu. So, we find it absurd to link H.E Atiku Abubakar’s ambition to the crisis unsettling the APC in Enugu.

We restate here that the crisis in the Enugu chapter of our Party has to do with alleged financial misappropriation by the Chairman, Ben Nwoye, and his cohorts.

Well-meaning members of our Party in the state have filed several petitions to the National Leadership of our great Party and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) calling for the investigation of the allegations of financial impropriety brought against our Chairman.

While, we await timely response to the petitions filed, we join voices with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, who is the highest ranking member of our Party in the state, to plead for peace and also call for dialogue among key stakeholders.

We also maintain our position that due process, transparency, accountability and fair-hearing as enunciated by the APC constitution be adhered to in handling Party affairs.

Finally, we emphatically state that linking the crisis in the Enugu chapter of the Party to H.E Atiku Abubakar’s Presidential bid is an effort to cause confusion and disaffection in the Party in the State.

It should be noted that as many as will indicate interest in contesting for our Party’s Presidential ticket in 2018 are free to set up their structures in our state at the end of day we will gladly work together to ensure that the APC retains its Presidential mandate.

SIGNED:
Bennett Nnabike 
Chairman
Concerned Enugu APC Stakeholders

Ezekiel Mmadu 
Secretary
Concerned Enugu APC Stakeholders

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Political Drama Season: The Atikus In The APC, Their Rehearsed Lines And Reality, By Umar Hassan

No,you are wrong.No one could have possibly predicted that political drama season would premiere with a serving minister endorsing another candidate in his sitting room over her principal,the President.She hasn’t claimed to be misquoted or ‘videoshopped’ and the president’s continued retention of her services has kept suspense at ice chill level.
Are a select few privy to some existing agreement to step down after his first tenure or is he just playing matured statesman?.Ratings are through the roof.
By virtue of her position as Minister of Women affairs,Hajiya Jumai Alhassan’s open support for Atiku Abubakar is a firm ratification of the failure and incompetence of President Buhari’s government.No one tells the smell of a husband better than the wife.
Things took a rather predictable turn from then on with Atiku capitalizing on that epic moment to say afterwards, the Buhari government had let him down.Now with the adrenaline at a controllable level,you get a chance to adjust moods and use a clear head.
Atiku’s theatrics aren’t top notch.As a matter of fact, the ‘Buhari has let him down’ speech had been prepared since 2015 just as it has been prepared for everyone to beat him in an election; primary or general.He is a political hustler who craves power and will go to any length to get it.
Before the next surge of excitement in the drama series of ours,we must seize this sober period to warn ourselves of the need to prepare well for the new season and what it portends.The need to remind ourselves that the chief protagonist and much heralded bearer of the torch of change has turned out the worst president we have ever had.We may not even have a country again come the next elections.Its that bad.
Every candidate will harp on the dismal performance of President Buhari and everyone will appear good but we must be most wary of those that helped sell him to us.For one, their sense of judgement is what they themselves drag into question when they tell us ‘Buhari has let us down’.What were those promises again?
A boko haram annihilation in 2 months,a $1-N1 exchange rate,N5,000 monthly stipend for indigent citizens and free feeding for students in primary schools.All appeared unrealistic and that anyone would expect an unintellectual and philistine Buhari to come through on all that bearing in mind oil prices had been on a steady decline since 2014 doesn’t speak too well of those in the APC fold.A party who has been described as a more formidable opposition to itself than even the PDP by embattled lawmaker, Abdulmumin Jibrin.
That some are already clamouring for an Atiku presidency means the desperation to want to see this government leave could very well expose us to a certain type of vulnerability.The vulnerability of settling for anything other than the Buhari government and that might ultimately translate to settling for less like we did with it in the first place.
Atiku may capitalize on the fact that this administration decided against extending probes past the Jonathan administration to dare anyone to provide any proof of corruption against him but that won’t change what we know.
Though the Buhari administration may make any other before it appear indefectible,we know Atiku helped Obasanjo oversee a government Nigerians deserved more from and only fell out with him because of his presidential ambition.
We must keep our emotions in check,memories vivid and expectations sharp.Enjoy the drama but hold on firm to reality.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.
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Alhassan Appears Before APC Committee Over Atiku’s Comment

The Minister of Women Affairs, Senator Aisha Alhassan on Thursday appeared before the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress.

The Minister met the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun with the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi.

Although details of the closed door meeting were not made public, it was learnt that the Minister was given an opportunity to explain herself in the light of the recent controversy generated by her media comments.

The minister emerged from the meeting and rushed into her waiting vehicle.

Punch

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2019: Atiku Vows To Fight Corruption Better Than Buhari

Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has promised to take the war against corruption to a greater height if elected as President of the country in the 2019 polls.

The APC chieftain said this during a facility tour of the new ultra-modern Yaliam Press Limited in Jabi area of Abuja on Monday.

A statement by his Media Office in Abuja, quoted thus: “he would fight corruption like never before if he is given the opportunity to preside over the affairs of the country.”

The former vice president further state that: “It is sickening to continue to regurgitate allegations of corruption against me by people who have failed to come forward with a single shred of evidence of my misconduct while in office.

“Despite previous desperate efforts to link me with corruption, the William Jefferson trial in the United States ended in 2009 without indicting me or linking me to corrupt activities.”

 

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Atiku Contributed ‘Nothing’ To Buhari’s Campaign – Ex Campaign Director

A former Deputy Director of the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council, Mallam Mohammed Lawal, has said that former Vice President and Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar contributed “nothing” to the campaign of President Buhari in 2015.

Lawal, a director on the board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation( NNPC), stated that Atiku remained bitter for losing the presidential ticket to Buhari.

Lawal said: “We know that right from the time Buhari was sworn in, Atiku started plotting to cause problem, to ensure that this administration does not succeed.

“During the campaign, he granted an interview to BBC and said he was sure APC would not win the presidential election.

“He was making preparations that if APC did not win, he will go back to PDP and get the ticket after ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s projected exit in 2019.

“Immediately after the presidential primaries, Atiku left the country. He did not come back. All along, while we were prosecuting the presidential campaign, Atiku was not in Nigeria. He did not participate in the presidential campaign.

“After the presidential election, he came to congratulate President Muhammadu Buhari and left the country. He is  complaining now  that he was not contacted.”

“ I knew all the intrigues. Atiku fought Buhari tooth and nail. He was extremely unhappy about the loss of presidential primaries.

“He did not campaign for Buhari during the election. He even refused to contribute any money. He  promised to campaign and to contribute to the campaign. He did not contribute anything meaningful.

“ Let him say how much he spent. How much did he claim he spent? Is his money more important than his appearance at the campaign? He spent all the  money he thinks he has to ensure that Buhari did not win.

“People are not foolish. He told the BBC in 2015 that he was sure that Buhari was not going to win. So, will somebody who did not believe in the party’s candidate spend anything?”

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Only Illness Can Stop Buhari From Seeking Second Term, Says Amosun

The Governor of Ogun State, Ibikunle Amosun, has said that only illness could stop the President from seeking a second term.

This is coming after a statement credited to Women Affairs Minister, Hajia Aisha Alhasan, who openly endorsed former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as candidate for the 2019 Presidential election.

The governor  spoke with reporters  in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, shortly after a Book Launch and Scholarship Scheme in commemoration of one year remembrance of renowned educationist, the late Chief Lamidi Sofenwa.

According to him, if Buhari and his administration had not come in time on rescue mission, “only God knows where Nigeria would have been today.”

“On this 2019 for me, the only thing that can probably  prevent  Mr. President from contesting is on health ground because if not for this administration of President Muhammadu Buhari only God knows where Nigeria would have been.

“As humans, we quickly forget things, if we could be fair to this administration, they came in at a time the country was plunged into a very deep end and imagine where the country is today. We were in recession and now we are out of it and it is not easy to get to this point.

“Again I am saying it, the only thing that can stop Mr President is on health ground but as we can see today Mr President is back and is rejuvenating and very soon, it would be clear for everybody to see that Mr President is so well now.

“Meanwhile nobody will take the fact that from the three cardinal points he set for himself, this administration has been doing tremendously well in the aspect of security and we all know that nothing good can happen in any country without adequate security.

“Yes, some people are saying Boko Haram has not yet been conquered but if you look at America and put into consideration how many years it took them to win the war against Osama Bin Laden, among others you will know that this administration should be applauded as far as security is concerned.

“The same thing in our economy, just look at our agriculture it has never been this good. At least,  I am a governor and this is my seventh year,this is the first time that truly Nigeria is diversifying,” Amosun said.

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Atiku Voices Out, Says Buhari Kicked Him Aside After Bringing Him To Power

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has expressed his displeasure at the Buhari-led federal government, saying he was sidelined by the President and the party (All Progressives Congress) he helped brought to power.

In an exclusive interview with the Hausa Service of the Voice of America, VOA, Atiku alleged that despite his efforts in making sure that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, was defeated in 2015, he was deliberately kept away from government and decision making.

His words: “Honestly speaking, I’m still a member of the APC; I was part of all the processes, including campaigns until success was achieved.”

“But sadly, soon after the formation of government; I was side-lined, I have no any relationship with the government, I’ve not been contacted even once to comment on anything and in turn, I maintained my distance. They used our money and influence to get to where they are but three years down the lane, this is where we are.”

Speaking on the fight against Boko Haram, Atiku mentioned that “the ruling government had failed in many fronts.

“Yes, there were successes but not comprehensive success because the Boko Haram miscreants are still very active, killing our people and many local government councils in Borno and Yobe are under their firm grip. People cannot dare go back to their dwellings.

“This thing baffles me; I never imagined that Nigeria will fight a protracted battle with Boko Haram for five years. At a time, we fought the Biafra war, which was more complicated because of the terrain in the South but the Biafran soldiers were roundly subdued in 30 months. But here we are, fighting an endless battle with the Boko Haram and there’s no end in sight”.

On corruption, Mr. Abubakar said little was achieved, asking “How many people were arrested, prosecuted and jailed? How much was recovered from the looters?”

He also made reference to the achievement of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, during which he was vice president, in recovering stolen funds.

“When we came on board in 1999, I remember we recovered between $4.5 and $4.7 billion from those that looted under (Late Sani) Abacha,” he said.

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