By George Onmonya Daniel
It seems former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and the Presidential candidate of the People Democratic (PDP) in the last election in 2019 where he lost to President Buhari is interested in running again in 2023. At least his son, Adamu Atiku Abubakar, said this on June 7th, 2020, in Yola, Adamawa State, and Atiku Abubakar hasn’t debunked the story.
Will Southern Nigerians just allow Atiku after President Buhari’s eight years in office, the five which has been disastrous already? Most Southern Nigerians believe that the president position should be rotated to the South since the North would have spent 8 years by 2023 in power.
The same Atiku Abubakar was amongst the people who wanted President Goodluck Jonathan to step down after late President Umar Musa Yar’adua passed away on 5 May 2010. The likes of Atiku Abubakar, Senator Bukola Saraki, former President Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, late Adamu Ciroma, were all among the voices that championed that Goodluck Jonathan must step down as candidate in 2011 to pave way for a Northern candidate.
This protest later resulted into Atiku Abubakar leaving the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and joining the All Progressive Congress (APC). It was the same protest that led the likes of Saraki and other APC members today, especially from the North, to leave the PDP and join the APC. So is it justifiable that Atiku Abubakar is still nursing the ambition to be President in 2023 after a Northerner, a President Buhari he backed in 2015 because they were in the same party became president?
From the Southern Nigerian perspective 2023 should be simply a southern affairs, whether it’s the All Progressive Congress or the People’s Democratic Party. Even though some Northern Nigerian politicians have tried to campaigned for a Northern candidate and we have seen posters of Nasir El-Rufai for 2023, even posted by the wife of Nasir El-Rufai on Twitter, Mr. Nasir El-Rufai himself has come out to say that power should rotate to the South.
The People’s Democratic Party have come out to say they have not decided anything yet on 2023, but it’s clear that they are fully watching the ruling All Progressive Congress and would be happy to take advantage of any crisis in the APC, which they are doing already as one can see with Governor Obaseki of Edo State who just defected from the APC to the PDP.
Will the Atiku candidacy for the PDP in 2023 sell? Some Christians even feel it is now time for a Christian to occupy Aso Rock Villa. In a country where religion, region and tribe matters in the whole process and emergence of who becomes what in politics at this level in most cases, Atiku Abubakar would definitely come under a huge pressure to step down and no one knows it than the People’s Democratic Party. If the PDP features Atiku and the APC features a Southerner, especially a Southern Christian, the PDP should just be ready to kiss 2023 goodbye. Atiku of all people should know that better than anyone.
Goodluck Jonathan was unpopular in the North due to a campaign that started from his own party, the PDP, in 2010 after Yar’adua’s demise over what some people in the party said was a gentlemanly zoning agreement and the one person who was at the forefront of that campaign was no one but Atiku Abubakar himself. It was the zoning agreement that pushed most Northern PDP members to leave that party and form a coalition with the APC that would later lead to the PDP losing the 2015 presidential election to the APC.
2023 will be quite difficult for Atiku. His emergence as a presidential candidate representing the PDP will simply handover the election to the APC.
I don’t see Atiku Abubakar emerging at the PDP candidate for 2023. The PDP would try to cash in on every crisis in the APC and take advantage of the feelings of the people.