2023 Elections: Atiku’s presidential ambition hits brickwall
Nigeria’s former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar’s presidential ambition hits brick-wall as fresh facts have just emerged that the closed-door meeting with his boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo has ended abruptly.
A highly-dependable source close to Obasanjo at the venue of the meeting with Atiku (the Abeokuta Presidential Library) said it ended abruptly, as the former President told his erstwhile VP that he had already told the world that 2023 should be time for young people to take over the democratic space. Obasanjo, according to the source, told Atiku that he could not go back on his call for older politicians to play advisory role and leave the stage for younger ones.
Indications that the 2023 journey would be tough for the Wazirin Adamawa first emerged when former President Ibrahim Babangida hosted Atiku at his Minna residence and refused to even comment on the former VP’s 2023 ambition. Babangida had earlier declared in a viral interview with Arise TV that he had identified about four “young” Nigerian politicians with better potentials of becoming Nigerian president. He then rejected the recircling of old, aged Nigerians as leaders of modern day Nigeria.
A few weeks after Atiku’s visit to former President Babangida’s residence, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Waziri’s presidential campaign director met Afenifere leaders to seek their blessings for his principal’s 2023 ambition. A topshot of the Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo reportedly told Dokpesi openly, that he would not support Atiku’s ambition, saying ” I won’t endorse Atiku because of his( Atiku’s) use-and-dump style of politics”.
Shortly after the Adebanjo’s reported rejection, the political terrain was heated by a floodgate of protests against Atiku’s 2023 ambition, simultaneously by almost all the Atiku 2019 support groups across the nation. The Southwest States of Lagos, Oyo, Ondo and Ogun protesters asked Atiku to jettison his ambition. This was shortly followed by another street protest from Atiku support groups in the South, which went by the name of Southwest Development Frontier (SDF), with huge placards bearing slogans like “Waziri please leave 2023 for a younger person”, meant to get him to back down on his ambition.
Up North, support groups started by shutting down Atiku’s immediate constituency of Adamawa, then other States – notably Kaduna – by a group which went by the name of Coalition of Civil Society for Good Governance and other 2019 Pro-Atiku groups in Plateau and Benue States.
Also the Northern Elders Forum(NEF) set out its criteria, which spelt out the quality of leadership that would befit the successor of incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, showing NEF’s preference for “more vibrant, leadership”, that is well-grounded in all ramifications.
On their part, the Coalition of Northern Groups(CNG) and Arewa Youth Consultative Forum(AYCF) earlier advocated for generational power shift in separate public engagements with the nation’s media. The CNG has issued a number of public statements in support of the emergence of young people as leaders in 2023 and beyond, while it took the campaign to all universities in the region and it stepped up the campaign during the Late Yusuf Maitama Sule Memorial Lectures Series, where it created a critical mass of young men as advocates and potential leaders of the near future, in terms representative democracy, entrepreneurship and engineering among others.
At a recent meeting of the Northern elders and opinion leaders at Arewa House in Kaduna sometime in January 2022, the position of the participants was that the young ones should be allowed to take centre-stage on the democratic space, to end the worrisome culture of producing leaders above 60 years of age.
Analysts have expressed shock at the dwindling political fortunes of Atiku, seeing how prominent Nigerians who massively supported him in 2019 are now back-tracking in droves, signposting an internal rebellion – though most of leaders of the mass protests alleged being used and dumped by the Waziri. Some went so far as to state that the Waziri seldom spend six months in the country as he junkets round the globe doing other things and paying less attention to his political foot soldiers.
Also the 13 PDP governors have taken a stand that is in sharp contrast to that of the former Vice President, who had to secure a court order to affirm he is qualified to even contest in 2023.
There is the growing consensus that the dominant quest for young people to take over Nigeria’s democratic space in 2023 and beyond has finally nailed Atiku’s latest presidential ambition. But pundits think the Atiku support groups’ backtracking would compel the former VP to take a new look at his politics in general and review his strategy that now seems to be slowly failing.