Home Articles & Opinions 2023: It’s Actually Atiku’s Turn

2023: It’s Actually Atiku’s Turn

by Our Reporter

By Henry Olusola

If any out of the plethora of presidential candidates in Nigeria should have a sense of entitlement based on support given to others to succeed in the past, then the person who deserves to say that it is his turn to be Nigeria’s president in 2023, it is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The feeling of entitlement was ignited by Bola Ahmed Tinubu, then a presidential aspirant in the All Progressives Congress (APC) when he said he deserves a shot at the presidency because he has helped others to various political offices including the presidency and that it is now his turn.

Well, the boast may have worked for him in the APC because among those that contested against him, no one can beat him to the claim of building and supporting others.

But now that it is the general election, Tinubu’s claim falls short compared to others especially the presidential candidate of the PDP who had built leaders as well as contributed and supported some to becoming presidents of Nigeria.

Atiku’s journey to the presidency started in 1993 when he emerged a leading aspirant in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) primary in Jos.

Though among the first three leading aspirants, Atiku sacrificed his ambition and stepped down as an aspirant to pave way for MKO Abiola to emerge the presidential candidate of the SDP.

In the race was his fellow northerner, Babagana Kingibe but for national cohesion and unity, Atiku stepped down for Abiola who was from the Southwest but has never bragged about it or demanded compensation even when Kingibe was picked as the running mate to Abiola.

Prior to that, Atiku had wanted to be the governor of Gongola State before it was split into Adamawa and Taraba States.

He was leading at the polls but due to the crisis generated by the insistence of vested Interest in the election, the primary was annulled and he was barred from recontesting which paved the way for the opposition NRC with its candidate, Saleh Michika to win the election.

Throughout the dark days of Abacha, the PDP presidential candidate remained one of the most haunted political leaders for standing on the side of democracy that his house in Kaduna was raided in a military styled operation that almost cost him his life.

In 1999, Atiku, a staunch democrat, wanted to vie for the presidency but out of respect for the zoning principle of the party at the national level which favoured the Southwest for the presidential ticket, he opted to contest as governor of Adamawa State.

Again he showed how accommodating he could be, when after winning the governorship seat, he supported his running mate, Boni Haruna, to take over the seat even though they were yet to be sworn in and the position was challenged in court based on that.

It is on record that it was through that backing that a Christian was able to become governor of Adamawa State and that so far that has been the only time such level of tolerance peaked.

In 2003, no less than seven governors were rooting for Atiku to shove aside Obasanjo and run for president after the first term in office.

Though the then vice president initially indicated interest but after weighing the implication on national unity since Obasanjo was not willing to stand down,  listened to the voice of reason and again sacrificed his interest to allow Obasanjo continue.

Based on the political strength he showed, the former vice president was haunted and blocked from participating in the PDP primary in 2007, so he left for another party after setting up an enviable economic team for Obasanjo and introducing reforms in many sectors.

In 2011 because Jonathan had completed the term of Umaru Yar’Adua and it was agreed that a northerner should serve out the remaining term, Atiku contested for the PDP ticket but lost and in 2015 when all pleas on Jonathan not to re-contest fell on deaf ears, he left for the APC and contributed in making Buhari win after the latter became the APC presidential candidate.

In 2019 he contested against Buhari and though incontrovertible evidence showed he won the election, he did not threaten to destroy the country but allowed the administration to continue, viewing it as his own contribution for democracy to thrive.

One can see that Atiku is different from other political leaders who are only inspired by selfish interests.

Though Atiku helped many to become governors he never billed them or send his companies to collect taxes in those states.

He is one of the most betrayed political leaders of this era but he is never vengeful and never sought to remove any that does not do according to his will from office; he is aways forgiving

If someone whose only sacrifice was to put governors he could bill into office and deny them a second term when they refuse to play ball or only helped one presidential candidate for his own personal interest can claim it is his turn, then someone who has made all these sacrifice is better deserving.

2023 is clearly, Atiku’s turn.

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