Retreating from change: Atiku in suspended animation

Atiku Abubakar

Would 2019 be Atiku Abubakar’s own moment to crown a cycle of Presidential trials? That should remain in the realms of conjecture; it was the dominant impression among Nigerians as the news of the Waziri Adamawa nee Turaki’s resignation from All Progressives Congress (APC) broke last Friday.

Without elaborating on his next destination, the former Vice President, who personally signed a statement announcing his exit from the party he joined on February 2, 2014, disclosed that he was pondering on his next political expedition.

But, it seemed obvious that the eminent politician wanted the statement to serve the purpose of explaining his itinerary, as well as, the extenuating circumstances that necessitated his retreat from change.

Atiku reiterated that his decision to accept the invitation to join APC after he became party-less as a result of fractionalization of PDP, was predicated by “the struggle for democracy and constitutionalism and service to my country and my people…”

He noted however, that “events of the intervening years have shown that like any other human, and like many other Nigerians, I was fallible,” stressing that while other parties have purged themselves of arbitrariness and unconstitutionality, the All Progressives Congress has even gone beyond “to institute a regime of a draconian clampdown on all forms of democracy within the party and the government it produced.”

There is a close resemblance between Atiku’s references to “draconian clamp down on all forms of democracy” and the 1985 coup d’état speech that announced the overthrow of the Buhari/Idiagbon military junta.

While announcing his resignation from the APC as well as, taking time off “to ponder my future,” Atiku expressed frustrations that “the party we put in place has failed and continues to fail our people, especially our young people.”

Having to that inevitable juncture, the question, which the Waziri Adamawa would answer in the days, weeks or even months, to come, is what his retreat would mean for his presidential ambition, vis-à-vis his next platform.

Implications For APC
Having now divested himself from the ruling party, would the vacancy precipitate the reconciliation of various interest groups that left the party in limbo all these years?

There is no doubt that APC prevaricated in observing the necessary laid down procedures to build the party, including composition of the Board of Trustees (or Elders Committee), filling up vacancies in the National Working Committee (NWC) and holding the midterm convention; out of apprehensions over clash of Atiku’s presidential ambition and President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term ambition.

Will Nigerians see a knee jerk attempt by the APC leadership to build peace within the platform among the remnants or further vacillation to ensure the exit of the last vestiges of Atiku tendencies?

What looks most certain is that a flurry of attacks would be piled against the former Vice President with the usual name-calling and attempts to dress him in the garb of a desperate politician that started plotting for the party’s downfall from the word go.

However, aside from such precipitate reaction, there is the possibility that those APC members associated with the former Vice President would henceforth be treated with coldness, because such caliber of loyal supporters may be waiting to know where their leader would cast anchor before jumping ship as well.

Notable among those is the Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Hadjia Amina Jumai Alhassan, who publicised her unwavering loyalty to the Waziri Adamawa. In the days ahead, all eyes will be trained on the Federal Executive Council, to see if Mama Taraba would resign as her political godfather has done, or wait for baba Buhari to indicate his preparedness to contest the 2019 Presidential election before quitting as she stated.

From the Blantyre Street headquarters of APC, through various Government Houses to the Presidency, the news of Atiku’s exit would continue to dominate discussions. Although the party was yet to make a statement, as at the time of this report, there is no doubt that most Buharists would heave a temporary sigh of relief at Turaki’s dumping of APC.

Consequently, the inevitable response from the party leadership could be the drafting of a new template to ensue genuine peace and reconciliation. The party would sooner than later learn that instead of Atiku Abubakar, rallying round an individual superstar constitutes its greatest challenge.

His Future, Possible Platform
Being party-less once again, it is possible that the former Vice President wants to examine all options and maximize his contacts. Finding himself in a temporary suspended animation, it is possible that Atiku wants to concretise his plans and ensure that he does not undertake another blind leap, especially at the twilight of his political odyssey.

In 1992, when he sought the Presidential ticket of Social Democratic Party (SDP), he campaigned on the signpost of The Bridge, which was a way of communicating not only his detribalized persona, but also underscore the movement from draconian rule to democratic leadership.

Although he was shortchanged in Presidential calculations preceding the emergence of Chief Moshood Abiola, that failure to be part of the Hope 93 helped him to keep his presidential ambition alive.

He was later to use his bridge connections to consolidate Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidency, as well as, help in transitioning the former military head of state to a civilian president. But, as in his recent experience, after three years together with Obasanjo as Vice President, Atiku came face to face with brutality, which is the defining feature of soldiers.

Should he choose PDP to ventilate his political future, Atiku would be back to his natural habitat. However, how he succeeds to wriggle out of the ongoing calculations about 2019 would determine whether he would make it after two attempts at the Presidency. For now Atiku is offering an alternative viewpoint on Nigeria’s leadership contemplation.

 



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