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Atiku, Tambuwal, Bindow visit Buhari

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday visited former President Muhammadu Buhari in his hometown, Daura, Katsina State, where the two held a closed door meeting…

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar yesterday visited former President Muhammadu Buhari in his hometown, Daura, Katsina State, where the two held a closed door meeting in the company of some associates, including the immediate past governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, now senator representing Sokoto South.

Details of the discussions between the two eminent citizens were not known yesterday, but some analysts see the visit as a strategic move by Atiku towards realising his 2027 presidential election.

But in a statement last night, Atiku’s Media Adviser, Mr Paul Ibe said the former vice president was on a condolence visit to Katsina State.

The statement said, “former Vice President of Nigeria and presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 presidential election, Atiku Abubakar led other stakeholders of the party to the Daura residence of former late governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Lawan Kaita on a condolence visit over the loss of the matriarch of the family.

“The visit, which was greeted with warm reception of Atiku across major townships of the Daura Emirate, also saw the former vice president paying similar courtesy visits to the Emir of Daura, HRH Alhaji Farouk Umar Farouk and former President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The meeting of HE Atiku Abubakar to Katsina State today is essentially a continuation of his courtesy visits since the end of Sallah celebrations and, especially to condole with the family of his late old friend, Mallam Lawan Kaita,” he said.

The statement added that Atiku also visited the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumini Kabir Usman.

Similar visits

Barely five days before his trip to Daura, the former vice president paid separate visits to former military leaders, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar in their respective homes, which are within the same neighbourhood in Minna, the Niger State capital.

An aide of the former VP, AbdulRasheed Shehu, also said the visit to Buhari was part of Atiku’s Sallah homage to elder statesmen, following his visit earlier to the two former heads of state.

“H.E. Atiku Abubakar, accompanied by key stakeholders of the main opposition, the PDP, visited the Daura residence of former President Muhammadu Buhari to pay a courtesy call and offer Sallah homage,” Shehu said in a short message to Daily Trust.

This is the first official courtesy from Atiku to Buhari since the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 and 2023 general elections left the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Both leaders had teamed up in the 2015 elections to unseat then president, Goodluck Jonathan after Atiku challenged Buhari for the APC presidential ticket in 2014. But the romance only lasted for the first two years of Buhari’s administration, as the former vice president announced his departure from the party in November 2017.

“The party we put in place has failed and continues to fail our people, especially our young people. How can we have a federal cabinet without even one single youth?” Atiku had said as part of his reasons for dumping Buhari and the APC.

He would then contest and lose the 2019 presidential election against Buhari with more scathing remarks against Buhari’s administration before and after the election.

Thus, his visit to the former president on yesterday had been heralded as “historic”, especially as it was coming for the first time since they fell out in 2017. The other occasion on which both leaders were seen together in public was during the wedding of Buhari’s son, Yusuf, in 2021.

Yesterday’s visit to the immediate past president has also been described as “a strategic political move by Atiku”, especially coming on the heels of his push for a coalition of opposition parties to unseat the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led APC government in 2027.

His push had garnered more attention last month when the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in last year’s election, Peter Obi, paid him a courtesy visit. Obi was Atiku’s running mate in the 2019 presidential election against Buhari.

An associate of Atiku, who was part of the Daura visit but asked not to be named, told Daily Trust that the visit, beyond being a Sallah homage, was “strategic”, as there were discussions on the last election and the next one.

“What I can tell you is that this is a strategic move. Without giving you too many details, I can tell you that they discussed current situations in the country, the economic realities, as well as the last election and the one coming in 2027. It’s not like they reached any resolution because you know it’s not like they are really close,” the associate said.

“Historically, this is the first time they will be meeting officially because you can’t consider their meeting during Yusuf’s wedding as a formal meeting. Oga was in the company of former Sokoto State governor, Senator Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and former Adamawa State governor, Bindow Jibrilla, among others,” he added.

Like Atiku, Tambuwal is also not a close associate of former President Buhari, especially having also left the APC in 2018, about a year after Atiku’s exit. But he is believed to have played a critical role in Atiku’s emergence as the PDP presidential candidate for the 2023 election. His decision to throw his weight behind Atiku against his known ally, Nyesom Wike, then Rivers State governor, had tipped the PDP presidential primary elections in the former VP’s favour.

Calling it a Sallah homage just a ruse – Prof. Fage

Commenting on the development, renowned political analyst, Professor Kamilu Sani Fage, told Daily Trust Sunday that Atiku and his handlers calling the visit to Buhari a Sallah homage “may be a camouflage with the real motive being the 2027 presidential election”.

Fage, a former Vice President of the Nigeria Political Science Association (NPSA), said ideally, politics ought not to be bitter, regardless of the differences between the players; they should be able to maintain some form of relationship.

“In the First Republic, the Sardauna (Sir Ahmadu Bello) and Aminu Kano, as much as they had political differences, still had mutual respect for each other and even agreed on some issues that affected the northern region or the country in general.

“But now that Atiku is visiting elders—remember he visited Ibrahim Babangida and Abdulsalami Abubakar earlier in the week—it may be part of his agenda to become president. He is eager to become president, and I think he holds the record as the person who has contested the presidential election the most. So, all these may be camouflages, with the real motive being the 2027 presidential election”, said the professor.

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