Atiku Abubakar is exactly 71 years old today and yesterday’s ‘defection’ or resignation from the APC as he mildly put it might conveniently be seen as a birthday gift to his admirers.
Unarguably, Atiku would conveniently satisfy the requirements of the Guineas Book of Records as the most mobile prominent politician in Nigeria in recent times.
Atiku in the long statement he issued yesterday alluded that he had no reason to remain in the APC because the party had lost its bearing, there is impunity and youths, the leaders of tomorrow, had been sidelined by handlers of the party.
This was the exact excuse he gave when he was about dumping the then ruling PDP ahead of the 2015 general elections and joined five other governors and PDP chieftains who had earlier cleared the coarse.
But beyond this, Atiku this time around did not boldly say he was heading back to the PDP or any of the multitude of political parties available, insisting that he was studying the situation.
However, those following political permutations ahead of 2019 are fully aware that the Waziri Adamawa is definitely going back to the PDP.
Many of his men are already there in the PDP, and just the way he changed the shape of the APC followership and narrative in his home state of Adamawa and the neighboring Taraba when he defected ahead of 2015 as well as how he sealed the relationship with APC members in other states in the Northeast, Northcentral, Northwest, Southeast and Southwest, Atiku has just done same during the latest PDP congresses.
It was reliably gathered that Atiku will today (Saturday) seal his “revitalized marriage” with the PDP at his Jada Ward 1 in Adamawa, where already the ward chairman, the local government and state leaderships are all his “boys,” whom he facilitated their ascension to power after many of them dumped the APC in the last couple of months.
Cunningly, Atiku did not abandon his allies especially in the Southeast who refused to dump the PDP for the APC. Those close to Atiku said his biggest ambition in life is to become the president.
But clearly, actualizing this tall dream by Atiku will be very difficult in the APC, going by recent developments, including Buhari’s recent vigour and the body language of those around him.
Unless he refuses the Right of First Refusal that the APC would give him, Buhari’s second term is like a sealed deal for now.
Sources said that was why Atiku, who came third behind ex-governor Rabiu Kwankwaso during the party’s presidential primaries ahead of 2015, decided to move out of the APC at this critical moment.
The argument is that he would be 73 by 2019 and by 2023, he would be around 77, meaning his struggle of ever becoming a president would drain as a dream.
This is more evident because by 2023, it would no longer be possible for the North to produce the president, considering the zoning arrangement that is increasingly becoming popular.
But clearly, it will not be an easy ride for Atiku in the PDP either, as there are many predators already fighting to get the presidential ticket.
The likes of ex-governor Sule Lamido, ex- governor Ibrahim Shekarau and even the Chairman of the National Caretaker Committee of the PDP, Senator Ahmed Makarfi among others are all interested in the plump job.
But sources close to Atiku said he remains a formidable force, insisting that he had sealed a deal with the Southeast, especially because of his support for restructuring.
“And for the Southwest, the leaders there are bitterly aggrieved because of the way they are being treated and Atiku has reached out to them, they are negotiating,” a source said.
He said there is the likelihood that the Southwest would throw their weight behind Atiku and he would reciprocate in similar manner after he served out his tenure in the event he wins the presidency.
Another source said Atiku is also planning to fully involve the Southsouth and Southeast in the project.
Speaking on what many see as Atiku’s desperation, Mr A.A Lawan, the Director of Atiku Support Group, said the former vice president is not desperate.
“He only wants to liberate Nigerians from the shackles of underdevelopment. We all know that he is rich and has excelled in many businesses. His problem is not money, he wants to serve the people,” he said.
Atiku had vied for the presidency in 1993, placing third after MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) primaries.
In 1998, he was elected Governor of Adamawa State. While still governor-elect, he was selected by the PDP presidential candidate, Olusegun Obasanjo, as his running mate. The duo went on to win the presidential election in February 1999, and Abubakar was sworn-in as Nigeria’s second democratically elected vice president on May 29, 1999.
Over the years, Atiku had had a stint in many political parties, including the PDP, ACN, back to PDP, PDM, APC and now going back to PDP, all for the single dream of becoming the president.
Pundits believe that he would indeed have to fight a big battle this time around because it might likely be his last stint.