2023 Presidency: Atiku Dumped By Key Aides, Stakeholders
Former Vice President, Mr Atiku Abubakar’s bid to relaunch himself into the presidential race one last time before he firmly joins the octogenarian rank has suffered a setback as once trusted aides, political associates and key allies are deserting him.
THE WHISTLER learnt the unified position of Southern and Middle Belt Forum, once a fulcrum of Atiku’s political base, has elicited renewed demand for a southern presidency in 2023 thus causing these bases to shift their support to someone of southern extraction.
It was gathered that, the demand of Leaders of Thoughts, the thinktank of the Southern and Middle Belt Forum, SMBF, who insist on power rotation has emboldened southern and middle belt citizens, who believe that any party, whether Atiku’s Peoples Democratic Party or the ruling All Progressives Party, that fields a candidate from the Southern part of the country will receive full support.
Already, the apex socio-cultural group of the South East, the Ohanaeze, has said it will support any chosen southern candidate with N10 billion.
Also, in a strongly worded response to the Arewa Consultative Group, the SMBF warned and advised “that any political party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the South should not expect support from the four regions.”
In the 2019 presidential election, like all previous political engagements, Atiku enjoyed the support and endorsement from Afenifere in the South West, Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the South East, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, in the South-South and the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, in the Middle Belt.
The rejection of Atiku has set the ball rolling as a former spokesperson of the Atiku Ababakar campaign in the 2019 presidential election, Mr Kassim Afegbua, has warned on Monday that Atiku will lose should he contest and advised him to allow a southern candidate to get the PDP’s presidential ticket.
Afegbua, who was also Information Commissioner in Edo State, in a statement titled ‘2023: Atiku and the Age of Methusalah Politics’, said, “With the abysmal performance of President Muhammadu Buhari on account of age, incompetence and lack of capacity and political will to take deliberate and sustained action to bail out the country from all manner of challenges, it will be immoral for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to continue to express interest in seeking election in the 2023 Presidential election having attained the retirement age.
“He cannot assume the role of a perpetual candidate or professional aspirant year in, year out, of the party as though the party was established for him alone. It defeats all sense of logic for such an old man to attempt another round of political contestation at a time the general feeling and mood in the country supports a younger Nigerian from the Southern extraction of the country.
“For me, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar should quit his quest for Presidency and support a Southern Nigerian candidate in the spirit of fairness, equity and justice, that will assuage the feelings of stakeholders from the Southern part of Nigeria. It will be against the run of play and natural justice for any aspirant of Northern extraction to show interest in the 2023 presidential election within the Peoples’ Democratic Party threshold.
“It will offend national sentiments, emotions and logic for anyone from the North to show such interest given our diversities and heterogenous political configurations. Given PDP’s doctrine of political power balancing and fairness, it will be against its own unwritten rule to cede the ticket to any Northern aspirant least of all, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.”
Also, another spokesperson and close ally of Atiku, Mr Segun Showunmi has distanced himself from him, saying its time for a young southern person to be Nigerian president.
Showunmi, who is aiming to be governor of Ogun State, like Afegbua, joined other aides from the southern and central parts of the country that have rejected Atiku’s latest foray into the presidential race.
But the Chairman of the Technical Committee for Abubakar Atiku Presidential Project, Mr Raymond Dokpesi, has declared that Atiku, if voted into power in 2023, would vacate office after only one term of four years to pave the way for Nigeria President of South East extraction.
According to him, former Vice President “remains the shortest way” to actualising the Nigeria President of Igbo extraction.
“Atiku is the surest bet; he is the shortest cut to a South East Presidency. The truth is that he will be about 80 years then. We only need him to rescue Nigeria now,” Dokpesi said.
But the mood in the PDP tells a story of a party waiting to see which zone in the south the candidate of the ruling APC will emerge to enable it work out its candidate.
This paper had reported that the PDP was working for an arrangement to zone its presidential ticket to the south following mounting pressure.
But for Atiku, who sees this opportunity as the last chance, the current political development is almost certain to stop him from seeing to realisation of that dream.