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Why Atiku ‘lost’ the presidential elections

By Simon Abah
12 March 2019   |   3:35 am
Atiku Abubakar a leading politician ought to have understood the science of politics but it appeared that he did not in recent moment and he lost his last chance to be president of Nigeria. One of his greatest mistakes in my view was to have sought General Olusegun Obasanjo’s support for his democratic project and…

Atiku having friendly conversations with Obasanjo

Atiku Abubakar a leading politician ought to have understood the science of politics but it appeared that he did not in recent moment and he lost his last chance to be president of Nigeria.

One of his greatest mistakes in my view was to have sought General Olusegun Obasanjo’s support for his democratic project and I wondered for many reasons.

Considering that the former president accused him of sly practices in the past unworthy of being a president I expected a rebuttal and not amity, this was suspicious in the eyes of many people who might have voted for him. Could the former president’s accusations therefore be true? It is almost like asking Scylla to save you from the hands of Charybdis.

Atiku Abubakar couldn’t win the Battle of the Nigerian Somme because he surrounded himself with many people who were liabilities to his party. Because in politics when the sum of politician’s liability is more than the sum of their assets, it would do the party more harm. Goodwill is important in politics and better than money.

The national chairman of the party didn’t have the gait and stature of a national party leader that could speak truth to power without, hectoring the opposition, in my view I figure that he didn’t have what it takes to restore the influence of the party, to the whole country and a major opposition party that ruled for sixteen years became a party restricted to only South-East and South-South.
Had the party produced a presidential candidate other than Atiku, the incumbent would have been routed out of office. Unfortunately, the message of Atiku throughout the campaign period was without clear-cut goals, he didn’t propagate easy-to-understand philosophy to the people, creating people friendly policies, to promote a political culture – to secure a national majority. It was basically same old hoary speeches synonymous with even the incumbent. I think restructuring was one of his greatest albatross.

The northern elites not the masses are the greatest beneficiaries of Nigeria’s lopsided federation and Atiku should have known and not preach restructuring until he secures the mandate because they enjoy the status quo, there isn’t a Sardauna (Ahmadu Bello) in the north and northerners celebrate him even though northern politicians are not as disciplined as he was and have not been able to manage his legacy projects.

A perceptive politician must understand the workings of the stars to understand time and the right moment and sponsor another candidate. 

This was not the right moment for Atiku presidency. He missed the chance many years ago. How far can we go in life without heroes to build the lives of people and the land? I knew he wouldn’t survive the inequitable test of the north westerners.

The truth is that when bazaars are to be shared for all northerners, some hawkish politicians come up with the ‘core-north’ theory to deprive people from having a share from the bazaar but when it comes to campaigning for interests to secure a majority, they hoodwink the gullible with the one-north theory to secure such majority for the benefit of a few. A few hawks hold the cornucopia with the majority doves moaning. 

The North Westerners have always held the false belief that power should reside in the North West and not the North East and despite the sophistication of the North Easterners, they hardly support their own kinsmen against the North Westerners.
Atiku also didn’t make the effort of courting the north western establishment who were already suspicious of his candidacy and saw it as another extension of Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency which was largely South-Southern and South Eastern. I wish they re-branded the party away from the old which hasn’t passed the threshold test of credibility necessary to win trust and elicit support from the masses.

The top brass weren’t humble, couldn’t sell policies but enjoyed grandstanding machination. They also failed to make people appreciate the ‘newness’ of the PDP, a party for all.

Nigerians deserve more than mere speeches to make headlines. I wish the opposition is very strong but unfortunately they choose to be didactic instead of emphasizing credible programs and fronting people that Nigerians can trust fresh faces as it were. I expected to hear succinct plans aligned towards political integration, as well as economic and social integration but heard nothing. I think for me the candidate did not draw any man close to himself other than to advance his own political interests.

This was so clear for all to see. The North Central Region and The South West have always determined who became president in the fourth republic and Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s efforts have produced three presidents in Nigeria, in 2011 it was thanks to the alliance with the west that Goodluck Jonathan became president, in 2015 Muhammadu Buhari couldn’t have been president without the west and the north central region, it is also the case in 2019.

Alliances are important in politics; the contender didn’t have a strategic alliance. His party failed him many times over because they relied on a general who didn’t have troops to meet and command anywhere in Nigeria.

Matter of fact he has never commanded any political troop, in essence, he doesn’t have a political constituency but he is a very lucky man indeed, respected worldwide.

Whatever happened to his Third Force contrivance? Now we are back to the same page in our political history, government for only a few with the celebration of things that are merely adequate and not spectacular and with the saving of only about ten percent of GDP and not forty percent, with killings everywhere.

The same governmental style with the absence of thought leadership and with folks reading from the script instead of from the heart. I wonder what might have happened had Atiku Abubakar won the elections with a president who said boldly on national television that he would congratulate himself when asked if he would congratulate the winner if he loses the elections.

With the kinds of celebrations albeit violently that I witnessed when the results were finally announced, I can preempt what might have happened had Atiku won and could the incumbent have had the capacity to stop it? Maybe it was good he did not win although I did not support his presidential project neither did I support, this time, the presidential project of the incumbent.

Abah wrote from Abuja