2023: How Far Can Atiku Go?

The ambition of former vice president, Atiku Abubakar to be the president of Nigeria in 2023 seems to be experiencing some hiccups.

Former vice president, Atiku Abubakar has never hidden his ambition to become the President of Nigeria. At 75, age is no longer on his side and 2023 may be his last chance to contest the 2023 presidency.

However, the mood of the nation presently is not favoring that power should remain in the north after President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight years in power. But that has not stopped Atiku from subtly campaigning for the presidency. For Atiku, it has been a lifelong dream. His first shot at the Presidency was in 1992 on the platform of the Social Democratic Party ( SDP).

In 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo picked him as his running mate after winning the governorship of Adamawa State. He fell out with his boss and was not the chosen candidate to succeed Obasanjo in 2007.

In 2019 he contested against an incumbent and gave the president a good run for his money.

However, there is an unwritten rule that power should rotate between north and south.

We recall that last year southern Governors have insisted that power should be shifted to the South come 2023.

Socio-cultural groups in the south, Ohaneze, Afenifere, Niger Delta groups have also backed the calls for power to shift to the south in 2023.

Some northern leaders had kicked against the posture of the southern governors. Former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso,  explained why the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) should zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the northern part of the country.

Speaking during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics, Kwankwaso said the decision to contest should be based on strategy rather than mere clamor or sentiments.

He equally gave an insight as to why the main opposition party should give the northern region the chance to select its flagbearer in next year’s general elections.

You see many people are mixing what ordinarily shouldn’t come together at all,” the former governor said. “We have PDP, we have APC, we have APGA and we have many other parties today in this country.

“And the issue of where a party puts its presidency or vice presidency is a matter of strategy. If you look at it from 1999 to date, or even after 2023, we have 16 years for PDP, eight years for APC.”

He explained further, “In the 16 years of PDP, we had a situation where the presidency has been in the South for 14 years and only in the North for two years during the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua of blessed memory.

“Now, we see some people – maybe because they don’t understand politics or they want to be mischievous, they keep on mixing the two issues of two political parties. These PDP and APC are contestants in this game.”

Kwankwaso also faulted the demand of the Southern Governors Forum in July that the next president of the country must come from their region.

According to him, the call by the governors and other leaders is an attempt to intimidate the northern region into relinquishing its right to contest the highest office in the land.

Pointedly some leaders of the party in the north share the same sentiment.

On his part, the leader of the technical committee, Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign, Chief Raymond Dokpesi who has been touring the country, has solicited support for a one-term presidency for the former Vice President.

He said if elected, Atiku would rule for a single term of four years, which would pave way for the South-East to produce the president in 2027.

Dokpesi, who spoke in Umuahia, Abia State, maintained that Atiku, who hails from the North-East geo-political zone is the right person to wrestle power from the All Progressives Congress.

Some political analysts contend that zoning or no zoning Atiku is best placed to win the presidency for the opposition PDP.

The thinking is that for Atiku to pull his weight against an incumbent in 2019, he may spring a surprise against a candidate of the APC.

Again, some people have expressed reservations about his age and being able to stand the vagaries of the office.

However, Bauchi State, Governor, Bala Mohammed, has said he told the former, to allow him to contest the presidency because he is old and fatigued with Nigeria.

He said this in his speech while receiving the report of a Contact and Consultation Committee which he established for his presidential ambition which held at the Old Banquet Hall of the Government House, Bauchi.

He said “There is no need for us to be greedy; of course, my presidency will not cause division. You can see that at the heat of the time that my elder brother, Malam Adamu was going around, we invited our elder statesman, the one that we respect so much, the Waziri Adamawa (Atiku Abubakar), we named a road after him.

“We invited him to Bauchi and we interacted and I told him that in this game, I know he’s the most senior, he’s very qualified but because of his age and fatigue that he has suffered so much for Nigeria, he should allow his younger brother to be his spare tyre not to take over just like that.

On his part, Kassim Afegbua has advised the former vice-president, not to contest the presidency in 2023. He said the PDP must zone its 2023 presidential candidacy to the south, and as such, Atiku should “ditch his quest”.

Afegbua was the spokesperson of the Atiku Abubakar Presidential Campaign Organisation during the 2019 elections.

In a statement, Afegbua said Atiku should not make himself a “perpetual candidate” for the presidency. Afegbua said it is immoral for “such an old man to attempt another round of political contestation”.He said the presidency belongs to the south, adding that the idea of an Atiku candidacy is akin to “promoting an expired product”.

The question is, will Atiku ignore the warnings and contest the 2023 election irrespective of the zoning agreement? how can he convince southern governors on the platform of the PDP to support his ambition? Only time will tell.


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