Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar last week confirmed his interest to contest the 2019 presidential election on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
Atiku recently re-joined the (PDP) after falling out with the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the platform of which he contested the 2015 presidential election primary and lost.
Atiku is not new to presidential race in the country, having contested in previous elections; losing out in the primaries or the election proper.
In 2007, he contested for the presidency on the platform of the defunct Action Congress (AC) but was third after the elections, behind the late Umaru Yar’Adua and incumbent President Buhari.
Furthermore, in 2011, shortly after returning to the PDP, he contested the party presidential primary and lost to then President Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2015, he contested the presidential primary of the APC and lost, placing last.
Earlier in the botched Third Republic, the former vice president had contested the primary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and lost, placing a distant third.
Having declared his interest to run again for president in the 2015 general election, he may have to brace up to contest the ticket of the PDP with several other aspirants, notably former Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido; former caretaker Chairman of PDP and Governor of Kaduna State, Ahmed Makarfi,; Gombe State Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo, among others.
However, one question that has consistently been on the lips of some Nigerians is; how did Atiku Abubakar amass his stupendous wealth? Some Nigerians who have anything at all to say about him or about his presidential ambition is about the source of his wealth.
Many people believe he possesses all the qualities Nigeria needs to take her to the next level, but they appear to have not got sufficient assurances that the man would not toe the normal path of developing an acquisitionist spirit as soon as he gets into office.
He has consistently challenged anyone who has evidence of corruption against him to come forward with proof.
Perhaps, Atiku needs to do more to convince Nigerians, that he is not corrupt as he is being constantly tagged by some of his critics.
What may however, work in his favour is that he is among the few politicians in the country that have wide acceptance, popular and has large support and followership in the other geo-political zones, especially in the southern part of the country, apart from the north.
National President of the PDP Youth Cultural Alliance Network, Fabiyi Oladimeji, said that Atiku was the most equipped presidential aspirant to lead the country out of its current woes, adding that the APC was working against his emergence.
“Atiku’s chances are very bright as one of the founding fathers of the party. A man with enormous democratic credentials, added to the fact that he has support across geographical and other segments across the country. The leaders of the party are alive and awake to the trends in the country; that Atiku is the biggest choice of the party members and Nigerians.
“Atiku is the most prepared for the office, with the requisite capacity and experience to lead Nigeria back to greatness and regain its lost glory.
“Even the APC is working hard to make sure that Atiku does not get the ticket of the party because he is their major headache and the only one capable of defeating Buhari,” Oladimeji said.
“Where is the corruption issue? A few months ago, he challenged Nigerians; anybody with proof of corruption against him to come forward with such evidence and till today no one has come forward. That settles it; Atiku is not corrupt,” Oladimeji said.
One issue that continues to dominate discourse among Nigerians leading up to the general election is the call for restructuring of the country and a return to true federalism. Being a key proponent of restructuring, and with his promise to devolve power to federating units if elected, Atiku would surely be a candidate to beat, if he is given the PDP ticket.
A political analyst and lecturer in the Department of Political Science, University of Lagos (UNILAG) Emmanuel Onah, admitted that Atiku would be a major contender for the PDP ticket, but added that it may be too early to know who would clinch the PDP ticket.
Onah dismissed the Obasanjo’s factor, against insinuations that the former president would never support the emergence of Atiku as the president of the country. He described Obasanjo as irrelevant.
“2009 is still a long way to go; it is too early to say if he would emerge as the PDP candidate. All the candidates have not declared their interest. There is no doubt that if he declares, he would be a major contender for the party ticket.
“Whether or not he would win the ticket depends on a lot of other factors; would the PDP give him a waiver to contest the primary? He just returned to the party? There are other candidates likely to declare soon; Makarfi, Lamido and the others, we can’t say, because we have not seen all the candidates yet.
“I don’t believe in the Obasanjo factor. Obasanjo is not a member of any party; he is not a member of PDP. The issue of influence, yes for a long time, he has not been crucial to emergence of any president. He cannot be ignored. As a former vice president, he has his connections, but I don’t think he has been a factor.
“He did not have much influence in the Jonathan election; he would not be a factor. Agreed, he would make statements that people would agree with, but that does not mean that people would act according to what he says,” Onah said.