Even though the current administration of President Muhammadu is less than two years in office, the race to succeed him by 2019 is already on.
The major Political Parties in the country particularly the All Progressives Congress [APC] and the Peoples Democratic Party [ PDP] are all gearing up for the election. The crisis currently brewing among the two Political Parties is all about who controls the structure ahead of the election.
A lot is been said about the crisis in the PDP. The crisis in the PDP is between Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and Olusegun Obasanjo.
The lessons from the botched two conventions of the PDP and the crisis that has engulfed it is a reflection of the various political groupings in the party that came together to form what is known as the People Democratic Party today. At inception in 1998 about sixteen years ago we had different groups. Former Vice President Dr Alex Ekweme had his own political group drawn mainly from the old National Party of Nigeria [NPN] of the second Republic, Former Vice President Atiki Abubakar also had his own group known as the People Democratic Movement [PDM] mainly from the Yar Adua political machinery. Former Governor of Kano state Alhaji Abubakar Rimi also had his own group, including also former governor of Plateau state Chief Solomon LAR. Initially a pan Yoruba cultural organization the Afenifere were all part of the various groups in the party. Then a faction of Afenifere led by Chief Bola Ige later left the party to participate in the formation of the then All Peoples Part [APP] before they later moved to Alliance for Democracy [AD]. They all came together to form what was known as G38 that later transformed to be known as the PDP.
For the formation of new political parties in 1998 the then Independent National Electoral Commission [INEC] guidelines states that only political associations that won at least one third of election in at least two third of the states of the country would be registered as political party. The first election into the National Assembly only the PDP and the APP was qualified to be registered as a political party. The then AD did not meet the requirements but was registered to give the South West a sense of belonging and bring them back to the country after the June 12 1993 elections annulments.
The PDP became the biggest and the largest political party in Nigeria with the widest spread. But the military hijacked the party and forced its own candidate Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on them. Being the largest political party in the country he won the election. But as Obasanjo began to tinker with the idea of a third term in office he began to build his own structure, sidelined the former founding fathers of the party like Alex Ekwueme, Atiku Abubakar, Adamu Ciroma etc so gradually the founding members and Fathers of the PDP began to lose out from the party.
The crisis the party is having now is that the founding fathers of the party are trying to take control of the party once again.
The Port Harcourt convention of the PDP has revealed the hands behind the current crisis in the party. Ali Modu Sheriff is said to have the backing of the former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Sherriffs father was a major contractor for the military when Obasanjo was the military head of state and he has been doing all he could to market Sherriff in the South especially South East and South South. Atiku loyalists in the PDP who call themselves founding fathers of the party are opposed to Sheriff. Zoning the chairmanship of the part to the North East is to zone Atiku who is also from the North East out of the Presidential race in 2019. BESIDES there is the fear that Ali Modu Sheriff planned to transform himself as the Presidential Candidate of the party in 2019 with Ayodele Fayose as his running mate. The plan by the PDP governors to dump Sheriff initially met stiff opposition from governor Fayose who openly fought Governor Wike at the government house, Port Harcourt, Ali modu Sheriff later addressed a press conference where he announced the cancellation of the Port Harcourt convention citing court cases stopping it. He said he remains the National Chairman of the PDP.
It is true that Atiku Abubakar is in APC but there are rumours that most of them who were founding fathers of the PDP but are now in APC are planning to make a come back to the PDP. Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu stated this fact recently at a meeting of the PDP in the South East that some APC members will soon join the PDP.
Even the constitution of the new care taker committee of the PDP at the Port Harcourt convention had Atiku Abubakar loyalists. The Secretary of the committee Senator Ben Obi is a well known Atiku loyalist. He was in fact a running mate to Atiku in the 2007 Presidential election on the platform of the then Action Congress of Nigeria [ACN].
The founding fathers of the party have now intervened to settle the rift in the party. The intervention of the former Vice President Dr Alex Ekwueme and Alhaji Adamu Ciroma is already seeing the crisis been resolved as the two factions have decided to come together and organize a joint convention to zone party offices. The intervention of the founding fathers of the party at the instance of Chief Ben Obi working for Atiku will certainly favour Atiku.
First Adamu Ciroma an open Atiku loyalist was the leader of the Arewa Elders that endorsed Atiku to lead the North against former Military President General Ibrahim Babangida in the 2011 PDP primaries. Atiku however lost the primaries to Dr Goodluck Jonathan who eventually won the election. Adamu Ciroma is still with Atiku.
Ekwueme on the other hand will also support Atiku. In 2003 PDP primaries Atiku rallied round some PDP governors to support Alex Ekwueme against his principal Olusegun Obasanjo. The PDP governors that aligned with Atiku for Ekwueme against Obasanjo included former governor of Delta state James Ibori, former governor of Bayelsa state Dr Alameiseigha etc. after he won the election Obasanjo punished all of them. This is pay back time for Ekwueme to reciprocate. While Atiku group is thinking of reconciling the various groups in the party for the election he still has Olusegun Obasanjo to contend with. Though Obasanjo tore his PDP member card prior to the 2015 Presidential election he still has his eyes on the party. Obasanjo is supporting the candidacy of the former governor of Jigawa state Sule Lamido for the 2019 Presidential election.
The crisis in the All Progressives Party is also a test of strength and kariability between Atiku Abubakar and leader of the party Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Before the 2015 Presidential election Bola Tinubu was the strongest individual in the APC. This is because he controlled the party in South West which at that time produced all the APC governors. He determined the Presidential candidate of the party which produced Muhammadu Buhari during the primaries, he determined the Vice Presidential candidate in the person of Professor Yemi Osibanjo beating former Rivers State governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi who was the candidate of Olusegun Obasanjo, he singlehandedly produced John Odigie Oyegun as the National Chairman of the party. But after the election in 2015 which was won by the APC, Bola Tinubu no longer has the influence he used to wield in the party. This is because almost all the governors in the North are APC and they cannot be said to be loyal to a Yoruba or a South west chieftain. Majority of them are loyal to Atiku.
The first sign to show that Atiku is now the leader of the APC was the defeat of the Tinubu candidates in the choice of the principal leaders of the National Assembly. Both the President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Dogara were both Atiku boys, no wonder after their election in alliance with the PDP members they went to Atiku’s house in Abuja to thank him.
HISTORY OF ATIKU PRESIDENTIAL RACE.
The history of Atiku Abubakar Presidential ambition dates back to 1992 wwhen the then Military President Ibrahim Babangida banned old politicians from contesting future future elections, Atiku’s political godfather former Chief of staff Supreme Headquarters General Shehu Yar Adua was one of the casualties of the ban.
Yar Adua then decided to push forward his anointed son to run. They both belonged to the Social Democratic Party [SDP]. Among the people that contested the SDP primaries included Chief Moshood Abiola, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Sarah Jubril etc. after the SDP part primaries chief MKO won. But Abiola needed Yar Adua structures to make an impact in the general election of june 12, 1993. Yar Adua gave Abiola conditions for his support which included which included picking Atiku his running mate. Abiola agreed, but state governors on the platform of the SDP warned Abiola not to take their support for granted, they preferred Babagana Kingibe as their candidate for the Vice President and they won. That was how Atiku presidential ambition started. Wwith the death of General Shehu YarAdua, Atiku became the Natural and National leader of his political machine the PDM.
IN 1999 Atiku Abubakar contested the governorship election in Adamawa state, won the election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party but ended up been the running mate to Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. OBASANJO/ATIKU won the presidential election in 1999.
In 2003 fearing that Obasanjo will not pick him as his running mate for the 2003 re election Atiku tried to run against his boss, that was how their crisis started. Obasanjo picked Atiku as his running mate to prevent him from contesting the poll, but Obasanjo never forgave him for making him to postrate.
In 2007 Atiku contested Presidential election on the platform of the Action Congress. He contested the 2011 PDP primaries against Goodluck Jonathan and also contested the 2015 APC primaries against Muhammadu Buhari.
ATIKU THE RACE OF MY LIFE
Atiku Abubakar once described his journey towards the presidency as the race of his life calling on all Nigerians to join hands with him to bring the needed change of change. He actually started the ‘Change Champaign’ he said the contest was about uplifting the lives of the forgotten millions of Nigerians who work very hard but get very little. ‘it is a contest for and about the millions of our people who have no work at all, it is a contest for and about millions of hardworking middle class families in Nigeria whose standard of living is progressively been eroded, it is a contest for and about the transformation of the socio economic landscape of Nigeria. It is a contest for and about enthronement of a more just and equitable society’.
The former Vice President said ‘the advent of democracy in 1999 brought with it great expectations of a dramatic improvement of the living standard of our people. But as you know the vast majority of our people still wallow in abject poverty and misery while unemployment and under employment remain unacceptably high, for instance, despite the huge increase in our foreign exchange earnings and external reserves and our vast human and natural resources, approximately 15million Nigerians continue to live in abject , one in five children died after reaching the age of five, over 12 million children are not in school, our schools and hospitals lack necessary facilities and millions of our people die of HIV/AIDS, Malaria and othewt preventable disease’.
He continued ‘in spite of our rich natural endowments, Nigeria remains a net importer of food products, our country is one of the least industrialized countries in the world and our country’s infrastructure is grossly inadequate and embarrassingly dilapidated’.
Atiku Abubakar also listed key areas of National emergency that requires his immediate attention if he becomes the President of Nigeria.
[a] Employment generation, wealth creation and Agriculture
[b] Security, War against corruption and good governance
[c] Energy and Infrastructural development
[d] Education and Social Services
[e] Niger Delta among others which include Macro Economic stability and consolidation, ICT and housing.
[a] Turaki Adamawa
[b] Sardauna Ganye
[c] Mayedero of Lagos
[d] Ekwueme of Anambra
[e] Atayese of Ijeshaland
[f] Zanna Zentelma of Borno.
[g] Zege Mule U Tiv
[h] Shettima Biu
[i] Suka of Ogoniland
[j] Otun Balogun of Mopaland.