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As rolling stone Atiku rolls again

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As rolling stone Atiku rolls again

Atiku Abubakar is an intense political hunter who smells opportunity like a bloodhound smells rabbit. However, his resignation from APC last Friday and his impending return to PDP would immediately compound his image problem as a Nigerian rolling stone that gathers no moss. Since 1999 Atiku has serially been in PDP, then AC, returned to PDP, secretly sponsored PDM, then entered APC and is about to return to PDP. Sociologists often talk about push-pull factors that fuel social phenomena. Many push and many other pull factors jointly account for Atiku Abubakar’s latest party move, even though he said in 2014 that APC was his last bus stop.
The push factors that Atiku mentioned last Friday include APC’s “arbitrariness and unconstitutionality.” He said it also instituted “a regime of draconian clampdown on all forms of democracy within the party and the government it produced.” Other push factors that he did not mention include APC’s comatose state at the national level caused by President Buhari’s aversion to party politics; lack of a fighting chance for APC’s 2019 presidential ticket; the fact that even if Buhari does not contest, APC governors will insist on filling the void; as well his belief that APC leaders are out to cripple his businesses. Nigeria Ports Authority’s [NPA] recent cancelling of Intels’ lucrative oil services contract  gave Atiku that feeling, especially since NPA’s managing director Hadiza Bala Usman is the former chief of staff to Kaduna State Governor Nasiru el-Rufa’i, the APC chieftain who has shown the most aversion to Atiku, after former president Obasanjo. 
Atiku’s early lunge for 2019 was partly driven by the age factor. He is 71 and he seems to think this is his last chance. President Buhari’s long sickness earlier this year has made Nigerians wary about age but Atiku’s age will be less of an issue if he is running against Buhari, who is three years older. Fuelling Atiku’s restlessness is money. Aliko Dangote being a notable exception, Nigerian billionaires appear to believe that the best use for money is to use it to secure political power. The relentless political ambitions of Waziri Ibrahim, Moshood Abiola, Shehu Yar’adua, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Bamanga Tukur and Harry Akande were cases in point. 
The first pull factor for Atiku is that PDP appears to be on the rebound since its messy leadership fight between the Makarfi and Sheriff factions ended. PDP still has a credibility problem but it also has many political assets that attract Atiku. It dominates two geopolitical zones; it has national spread; despite its resounding defeat in the 2015 elections it still has functional structures in every state and probably in every local government as well. PDP has 11 state governors, controls 11 state assemblies and has a sizeable number of federal legislators, including a deputy senate president. 
Also attractive to Atiku is that PDP does not have an overwhelming leader, which makes it amenable to hijack. Former President Jonathan is reluctant to serve as PDP’s rallying point because he lacks presidential power to back him up and he is suspicious of PDP governors’ intentions. Atiku calculates that he is the kind of experienced politician with national stature that PDP needs. Another huge attraction is that PDP has zoned its presidential ticket to the North. Even though Ekiti State governor Ayo Fayose says he will also contest, chances are that fellow governors will dissuade him because he is too controversial. 
PDP has many presidential aspirants and Atiku must have done his study on each one of them. The openly declared aspirants are former Kano State governor Malam Ibrahim Shekarau and former Jigawa State governor Sule Lamido. Former Senate President David Mark, Gombe State Governor Ibrahim Dankwambo and current party chairman Ahmed Makarfi are also likely aspirants. Atiku will reckon that his political stature is larger than theirs’ because he held a higher office. Even though each of those aspirants has his base and network of supporters, Atiku might be more wary of Makarfi because he led the party through its bitter factional fight and his tenure as party chairman might convince PDP governors that he is the kind of consensus builder that the party needs. 
Yet another possibility which Atiku would reckon with is the possibility that more APC defectors could follow in his footsteps and storm into PDP. The most likely one is former Kano State governor Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso. Kwankwaso never made it into Buhari’s cabinet and never got the recognition that he believes his second place finish in the APC presidential primaries merited. At the state level too, he was shut out by the man he anointed, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje. Kwankwaso’s options are also constrained because PDP’s Kano State branch is controlled by his arch-foe Malam Shekarau. APC snatched its Kano chapter from Shekarau in 2014 and gave it to Kwankwaso, but PDP won’t do the same since he is not a governor now. 
Atiku is entering PDP days before its convention to elect national officials. He needs to play a role in the emergence of PDP’s national chairman and other officers because their sympathy will be needed in next year’s presidential primaries. One of the biggest factors pulling Atiku into PDP is the hope that APC’s failures in the economic and political fronts, plus failure to placate disgruntled APC chieftains as well as APC’s continued unpopularity in the South East and South South regions could bolster PDP. It was for the latter reason that Atiku grabbed the agitation for restructuring with both hands, hoping it will make him the darling of Southern voters. It was a dangerous gambit because Atiku’s support for restructuring risks alienating Northern voters. But then, Atiku may have calculated that Buhari is unbeatable in the North.  
Agitating for restructuring also risked Atiku’s old wish to be the political favourite son of the North East. Since 1999 Atiku vigorously pushed the idea that the North West marginalises the North East and the latter must get the presidency after Obasanjo. The Buhari phenomenon however demolished that demarcation. Buhari got a bigger slice of the votes in Borno [95%] than he got in Kano [90%] or Katsina [93%]. With his relative success in tackling Boko Haram, it is difficult for Atiku to dislodge him with an appeal to North East solidarity. 
One of the chinks in APC’s Northern armour is the weak political standing of many of its first term governors. In many Northern states voters are saying there is no Sak in 2019. That is, they may vote for Buhari but will not automatically vote for other APC candidates. For Atiku and PDP this feeling is a God-sent and they will try to snatch some Northern states from APC. Atiku Abubakar’s single biggest card in politics is money and his willingness to spend it in an overwhelming fashion. In this wise I recall what Adamawa State Governor Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow sensationally said in 2015 to APC members who paid him Sallah homage. He said he left former Governor Murtala Nyako’s political camp on the eve of the 2015 election because when he emerged as APC candidate, Atiku asked him how much money he needed for the campaign. Bindow said he needed N300m but the next day Atiku sent N500m. 
I have only one advice for Atiku Abubakar. While he is doing relentless strategising and politicking and doling out the money, he should remember to produce a thoughtful national program for the campaign and possibly after. Too many Nigerian politicians succeeded at the polls only to realise that they forgot to have a program.

As rolling stone Atiku rolls again Reviewed by Blessing Admin on 03:24 Rating: 5

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