Ex-Vice President is best-prepared candidate for President, writes Zayyad I. Muhammad
On Wednesday, March 23, 2022, Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, Waziri Adamawa will formally declare his intention to run for President of Nigeria in 2023. This is Atiku’s 6and attempt at the presidency: 1992, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019 and 2023. The 2019 presidential election was Atiku’s best outing in his 27+ year quest to become president of Nigeria. Atiku fought the battle of 2019 with everything at his disposal. From the start, Atiku had been on the offensive knowing full well that this was his best time to seize the presidency.
Luckily for Atiku, current events and situations in the country have turned the battle for the 2023 presidency into another big moment for him and many people have high hopes for him. Atiku started early ahead of other candidates for the PDP presidential ticket, he had several months of consultations across the country and abroad,
Undoubtedly, Atiku’s decision to contest will elicit various reactions from many quarters. For example, his opponents will soon describe him as a serial presidential candidate. His followers will rebut by describing the decision as sheer stubbornness and a clear sign of Atiku’s passion to serve his country. Whichever way one decides to view it, one thing that cannot be denied about Atiku is that he is the most prepared candidate for the position of President. Atiku Abubakar has a well-drafted policy document loaded with quality policies, programs and projects, including what many observers have dubbed “the Atiku Abubakar formula”. Atiku promised, if elected, that his medium-term strategy would be to ensure that recurrent spending would be funded entirely by non-oil revenue, while all oil revenue would be invested in infrastructure, security, education and health.
In the PDP, there is no doubt that Atiku is the most firmly entrenched candidate in the 2023 presidential elections. However, the odds are stacked against him, as there are many in his favor given the current realities of the diet. A critical factor that would help Atiku have an edge over any other candidate, especially from the north, is that he is already ahead of them in terms of political structure and deep understanding of the politics of greater Nigeria. Again, out of all the possible candidates for the PDP presidency, Atiku is the only one who can freely decide whether to run or not, while the decision of the others is entirely centered on many things, the most important – the treasure of war and political structures. On the other hand, if the PDP really wants to challenge the APC in the 2023 presidential election, Atiku is the party’s best bet. For example, Atiku Vs Tinubu will be an interesting big game, a really big one. Two similar people with similar treats, similar playstyles and an I-know-you, you-know-me scenario will come to play. Both have well-established political structures that can easily scare off an opponent. They pay their own bills, so the contest would be 100% political, political. It will be a fascinating zero-sum game.
Atiku’s official declaration is a sign that he has fully started his participation in the race for the PDP presidential ticket. One thing is certain, Atiku would fight wholeheartedly for the PDP presidential ticket. With a huge war chest that easily frightens his opponents, an extensive political network and connection, Atiku can comfortably compete for the PDP presidential ticket. When the North East Business Community (NEBC) presented the PDP nomination and expression of interest forms to Atiku, it sent a strong signal that the Atiku political family is planning ahead of other presidential candidates. .
It was not luck that kept Atiku highly relevant in presidential election politics for roughly three decades. But from the beginning, he was not only focused on the “end game”, but also on building a strong political organization and collaborating with brilliant people.
The battle for the presidential election of 2023 will be very interesting. As this writer has always maintained, the PDP will be on the offensive, while the ruling APC will be on the defensive. Besides the political calculations, many observers believe that this time around Atiku will also use science in his political strategies. For example, when it comes to selecting a running mate, Atiku will not only look for a candidate who will bring in massive votes from his core constituency, but also someone who is acceptable across Nigeria. Political observers also believe that Atiku will massively market his well-researched policy document to Nigerians while putting youth, women and new ideas at the center of his concerns.
Muhammad writes from Abuja