Atiku Abubakar remains the best bet to fly the party’s flag, writes Paschal Oluchukwu
Former Vice-President and Presidential standard-bearer of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar will from every indication throw his hat into the ring for the sixth time in his sojourn into Nigeria’s political murky waters. But that is not news, and neither is it the crux of this piece woven on my very personal thoughts, reflections and observations vis-à-vis the current happenings in the Party and Nigeria at large.
As a keen watcher and a diligent follower of happenings and developments in the opposition, PDP, every material fact shows the party is in dire need of a sincere consensus builder who would first and foremost shoulder the responsibility of unifying the party and save it not only from further cracks but also from tethering to the precipice. There is no gainsaying the fact that flowing from certain actions, reactions and counter-reactions, the internal rancours within the party’s national, zonal and state leaderships versus its elites are mainly driven by ambitions on the part of the political class who are more in a hurry to position their loyalists to lead the party rather than quench the fire first.
However, from a deeply analytical viewpoint, the conflicts bedeviling the main opposition, PDP are not uncommon in a political or social system where there are conflicts of interests. Any wonder German political scientist and class conflict theorist, Ralph Dahrendorf postulated that conflict involves manifest clashes between social forces as incompatible differences of objectives, such as a desire on the part of both contestants to attain what is available, wholly or in part, only to one of them.
He therefore conceptualized social conflict as the great creative and ever-present force that leads to change, remarking further that societies and social organizations are held together, not by consensus but by constraint, not by universal agreement but by the coercion of some by others. Beginning from the attempts to oust its National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus who has just about three months to the end of his tenure to the ultimate scramble for his successor and to the multiple disagreements leading to defections to the ruling political party, the PDP seems heading for the worse if there is no immediate consensus-building process led by no other than an able and respected personage like Atiku Abubakar.
The reasons the mediation and reconciliation mantle best fell on Atiku at these disturbing times are obvious; Firstly, Atiku has consistently harped on unity in his Press assertions that, “The PDP is greater than our individual ambitions. We have to consolidate the party first before we talk about our ambitions. We have to be careful not to play into the hands of the ruling party. We can’t afford a one-party system in Nigeria that denies our people a viable alternative for true change in 2023”, Abubakar maintained in a statement issued through his Media aide, Paul Ibeh on August 5th this year.
Secondly, Atiku had few days before making the afore-stated assertion and in sharp contrast to the expectations of many taken a boldly pragmatic step to hold a reconciliatory meeting with Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike – a PDP strongman he had fallen out with due to conflicts of interests in the Party’s 2019 primary election.
During the meeting which took place at the latter’s private residence, Atiku had rightly disclosed that Nigerians are waiting eagerly for the PDP to take over power at the federal level in 2023. As a matter of fact, Atiku in his archetypal open-minded disposition did not hesitate to disclose to journalists that party affairs brought him to Port Harcourt, and that he had spent the time reconciling torching issues with Governor Wike. The issues, of course, as he had further emphasized bothered on how to ensure unity and stability in the PDP, which he noted are critical for the party in clinching electoral victory in 2023.
Thirdly, Atiku yet has the cognate experiences in wealth creation and economy-building going for him especially at this critical time in Nigeria’s history where the nation’s economic woes have deepened under the current leadership with policymakers more keen in deliberately throwing up figures which are not in tandem with economic realities into the polity. Come 2023, Nigeria needs a leader who have managed and sustained wealth and not just an elitist consumerist who could plunge the already tottering economy into unmanageable abyss.
Apart from being favoured by zoning, should the PDP ticket go north in 2023, Atiku who hails from Adamawa in the North-east geo-political zone still has the dominant political structures and alignments across regional and party lines to give the ruling party a huge run for their money, considering especially the misgivings of many Nigerians on the failed promises of the APC. He almost succeeded in clinching the Presidency on his fifth trial in 2019. He is therefore now most positioned to lead the PDP back to power come 2023 especially if the party’s political leaders look beyond selfish considerations and focus chiefly on returning to Nigeria’s seat of power.
Even beyond the shores of Nigeria’s territorial borders, Atiku has shown demonstrable capacity to build and manage wealth via his many foreign businesses and conglomerates. Little wonder his 2019 campaign thrust mainly targeted our nation’s teeming unemployed youths.
It startled Atiku during the 2019 campaigns that unemployment for women and young people stood (as at then) at a staggering 33% and 70% of unemployed youths population are uneducated and unskilled. To solve this, Atiku had vowed that creating jobs and economic opportunities for them will be vital both for reducing the pool of easy recruits for violent groups and reducing underlying grievances that feed the conflict.
Unfortunately in today’s Nigeria, majority of those in the aforementioned group has grown into bandits, unknown gunmen, kidnappers and all the threats to our national life, security and a huge hindrance to the prosperity of our people. This has become our fate simply because some Nigerians preferred party, religious and tribal sentiments to adopting and imbibing the plan to “Launch a new, more efficient, cost-effective and sustainable national Entrepreneurship Development and Job Creation Programme which targeted even up to three million self and wage-paying employment opportunities in the private sector annually.
It bothers also reiterating in conclusion that the man Atiku Abubakar has also shown himself a pan-Nigerian who understands the in-depth heterogeneity of a diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society like Nigeria. Further to just the mere ambition of a man, Atiku’s zeal, courage and steadfast contributions to Nigeria’s economic growth and development appears well summed up in Billy Beane’s position that: “The reason all really successful people have to be slightly mad is because people like that are not capable of living in the comfort zone”.
Indeed, another chance for the erstwhile Vice President would prove this!
Amb. Oluchukwu, a businessman wrote from UAE