Atiku: Beyond Politics, By Udenna Orji

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Nigeria is at a crossroads. We have, in the last three years, witnessed a horrendous descent to the fringes of anarchy and a failed state.

Collectively, our hopes for a better life have given way to horror as hunger, poverty, joblessness, rising crime, economic doldrums, insecurity and indeed, hopelessness increasingly ravage millions of Nigerians like cancer.

Worse, still, is the persistent flow of blood and tears. Our cities and villages have turned into killing fields, with human life metamorphosing into an item of little value in today’s Nigeria.  Ethnic agitations for freedom and equity have become bloody, and our religious divide, ominously wider. The judiciary, the last hope of the common man, has been intimidated and significantly emasculated, while the legislature, the symbol of democracy, has been rendered near-impotent and a toothless bulldog.

With the routing of the legislature and the judiciary, the rule of law has now been thrown to the dogs. The executive now usurps legislative and judicial powers. The executive spends without appropriation by the legislature. It also interprets the constitution and decides which court order to obey and which to throw into the trash bin. Never in the history of our nation has our unity been so thinly stretched to a breaking point,

Beyond politics, there is now an urgent need to rescue Nigerians from hunger, poverty, joblessness, economic doldrums, rising crime, blood-letting, clannishness, divisiveness and imminent anarchy.

What is needed now is a coalition of political parties and patriotic Nigerians to unite, rally round and elect a courageous, visionary and cosmopolitan democrat as the new President of Nigeria in 2019. This is a national service that is beyond politics.

One error Nigerians must not make in choosing our next president is to gloss over the track record of the aspirants.  It is time to begin to assess the suitability of candidates for political office, based on certain clear-cut leadership qualities exhibited by them in their personal and public lives. For if lack of good leadership is our bane as a nation, no effort should be spared in ensuring that we get it right next time around.

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Some of the leadership virtues we must demand from aspirants to the office of the president include a track-record of foresightedness, of being good democrats, having proven economic management skills, honesty, courage and acceptability to the religious and ethnic divides that make up Nigeria. Known ethnic and religious bigots must no longer be allowed to come to power to disunite us.

Among those we know to be interested in running for the presidency, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri Adamawa, possesses these critical leadership virtues in the largest measure.

In his decades-old involvement in politics, Atiku has always come out tops as the leader with the brightest ideas on governance and policy.

His views always resonate with the wishes of the people. His policy documents are the best articulated and that Nigeria continues to grapple with poor electric power supply is because the Atiku plan has not been implemented in Nigeria.

Atiku’s power strategy is the construction of smaller power generating plants all over Nigeria to serve clusters of people in the areas where these plants are located. Nigeria’s current power strategy has continued to invest and waste billions of dollars on white-elephant power infrastructure that have continued to produce darkness, decade after decades.

Atiku’s economic management dexterity has seen him founding and sitting atop some of the most successfully managed companies in Nigeria and overseas, which cut across several sectors including education, logistics, agriculture, oil and gas, media, hospitality, maritime, beverages, etc. He pioneered the call for ranching in Nigeria long before the farmers/herdsmen bloody clashes began.

His passion for, and understanding of qualitative education as the most important need of our youths to ensure a great future for our nation led him to found the American University in Nigeria (AUN), located in Yola, Adamawa State. One of Nigeria’s earliest private universities, AUN is listed among the best universities in Africa.

As a democrat, Atiku’s credentials are without parallel. Since his entry into politics in 1989 till he left office in 2007 after two successful terms as Nigeria’s Vice President, Nigerians have come to know Atiku as the politician who plays by the rule and is always on the side of truth and the constitution, hence the large followership he enjoys across all ethnic, religious and social divides in Nigeria.

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In honouring Atiku with the prestigious Harris Wofford Global Citizen Award in 2011, at the 50th anniversary celebration of the U.S Peace Corps, the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) said of Atiku: “No private businessman in Africa has worked harder for democracy or contributed more to the progress of higher education than Atiku Abubakar.”

A famously detribalized man, the Waziri Adamawa has over the decades positively impacted on the lives of millions of Nigerians, regardless of their religion, tribe, gender or social status. He is adept at creating opportunities for others and genuinely wants to help people to succeed in life.

None of those angling to become the president of Nigeria has Atiku’s job creation and economic management credentials; attributes critically necessary to be possessed by any aspirant to that office, especially in the light of our present sorry pass.

Atiku’s consistent call for restructuring has now been accepted by a majority of Nigerians as the only condition for sustainable peace, unity and progress in Nigeria.

Atiku is the only presidential aspirant that has a verifiable track-record of canvassing the need to alter the status quo in order for Nigeria to achieve sustainable peace, unity and progress. All other presidential aspirants are committed to the sustenance of the failed status quo.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) delegates or any coalition of parties that want to present a joint presidential candidate must not be mistaken over the awesome electoral value of the Waziri Adamawa and his capacity to crush President Muhammadu Buhari and cause an upset in the 2019 general elections. If we are serious about sending Buhari packing from Aso Villa in 2019, we must rally round Atiku and hand him the mandate to confront Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.

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If Atiku is denied the ticket, it will be very unfortunate for all Nigerians because besides Atiku, there is nobody from the North that can beat Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.

There is no northern politician that can divide the north and pull a large chunk of votes from Buhari’s stronghold more than Atiku. Also, there is no northern politician that can beat Atiku in garnering votes from South-south, South-east, and to some extent North-central.

Atiku has the capacity to massively crush Buhari in the South-east, South-south, North Central and share votes with him in the North-east, North-west and South-west. Even the South-west may yield to Atiku as the vast majority of the Yoruba will vote for a candidate that is known to be genuinely committed to restructuring Nigeria, one of Atiku’s major promises.

As PDP delegates weigh the options before them, and discussions grow among political parties for an alliance to present a joint presidential candidate against Buhari; party leaders, delegates and Nigerians will do well to appreciate that our best option to defeat Buhari and build the Nigeria of our dreams clearly remains Atiku Abubakar. Electing Atiku is a national service. It is beyond politics. Nigeria needs the Atiku touch now.

•Orji, writer and political analyst and wrote from Abuja and can be reached via [email protected]

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