Could this be Atiku’s moment? ~ By Simon Abah

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The newspaper vendor prayed openly for Atiku Abubakar to become president so that money according to him will flow. I wonder how, without industrial activity in every corner and bend. I don’t see how these plutocrats can change Nigeria when they not only read their party manifesto but the manifesto of other parties, it might have been good if the idea is to know what these parties are about but their intention is to switch parties at a moment notice. But you cannot begrudge Atiku for too long. The man has paid his dues. It would be perilous to the ruling party if its members think little of Atiku Abubakar as they are currently doing right now, predicting an easy victory for President Muhammadu Buhari. The world underestimated Donald Trump but he is president of the United States as I write against all odds.

Many factors could make a person president of his country. Time: however hard naysayers may try, once it is fated by the gods, there is nothing any mortal man can do. Time could be in Atiku’s side, considering that time was also on the side of the current president who couldn’t have been president if it was not predestined to be. Both tried and failed many times before they became their party’s flag bearers, Atiku though is a consistent turn-coat.

Can the gods trust him this time with the tough job of president of Nigeria? Money: Buhari couldn’t have been president without the financial resources of backers behind the scene. No-one can rule out the value of money in politics. Atiku may have oiled many delegates with money more than other contenders. Some of whom survive on government patronage and couldn’t spend what they have hidden in their private treasury even for a campaign to boost their electoral success.

It beats me hollow to see an important person who once occupied the number 3 most significant political position in a previous administration score as little as 35 votes in the presidential primaries. How politically relevant are some politicians in Nigeria? But can Atiku survive the race all by himself spending personal resources without support from his party and a ruling government willing to match and surpass whatever he spends mano-a-mano and gavel to gavel?

Emotions: no gainsaying this. Most Nigerians are tired of the Buhari government except for those who benefit from his administration. Most that carry Coals to Newcastle want a regime change out of emotions and may haul over the coals on anyone who suggests otherwise. Wouldn’t emotions run high in favour of Atiku in the South East and South West? And for split votes in the South West where restructuring even with a complicated constitution seems to be a hot potato with Atiku a forerunner of restructuring to gain support and votes. He knows he can’t buck the trend. People: the people of the north east look at the north westerners with patrician disdain. Many say they were never dominated by the north westerners. Atiku’s emergence may have given them the chance to engage in Fabian Tactics and the north western candidate.

Would the people support Atiku, a north easterner against Buhari, a north westerner? It remains to be seen. So also are the supports of the establishment players, notably some retired generals who are openly campaigning against the incumbent? Atiku at the moment is more popular than most members of the establishment. No-one contender has been able to resonate with the people in the southern part of Nigeria as much as he has. Such may not sit well with some of the establishment members. Allegiance to most establishment members is interest, not nativity. The establishment may do anything possible to ensure he doesn’t torpedo their interests. Don’t underestimate the power of the establishment.

What chance does Buhari stand with the people in the North Central part of Nigeria? A region snowed under by the blitz of dangerous criminals posing as herders? The only governor who seems to be his big fan so as to be in office is the governor of Kogi State who must churn out vitriol on anyone who says anything against the president as though that is his political contract and as if politics is war. The incumbent factor: how well the president’s media and campaign managers present his supposed accomplishments to Nigerians for the coming elections and acceptance of same by the people will determine if he wins or loses the challenge for re-election so also if the opponent is bold and can explain attainable public policies in simple, clear terms to the masses without celebrating airy-fairy ideas in the name of campaign. My fear with the opposite party is that they do not have a national leader; neither do they have a rallying point. This may be a deficiency. Who will rally the troops and ensure that they stay the course to defeat the incumbent president with clear cut, consistent messages in sync with harsh realities?

The international community: don’t rule them out. They determine the internal affairs of third world countries, Nigeria inclusive. The short term stop gap measure of the international community helps to alienate Nigerians further as they never advance causes to help the underprivileged people by holding avaricious politicians responsible for putting their snout in the trough of the gravy train thereby leaving many people browbeaten without hope for a bright future.

Sadly, I won’t vote for both chief contenders—President Buhari for not passing my threshold tests of credibility in office (to think I lost many friends due to my campaigns and support of his submission in 2015) and Abubakar Atiku because there is nothing new he will tell me. Will he tell me anything novel about the fight against corruption and the need to throw youngsters into office? Or, like Goodluck Jonathan, promote a breath of fresh air? The next president of Nigeria will face immense problems with powerful interests groups without a doubt and these problems cannot be solved by sleight-of-hand. I am wise enough to not rule out anything in politics and the possibility that Atiku Abubakar may be president of Nigeria.

Abah writes in from Abuja

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