By Elijah Afolabi
A majority of Nigerians have come to terms with the unfortunate reality of bad governance and lack of leadership that has been our lot in the past six years of the misadventure called All Progressives Congress (APC). Having tested two proverbial “husbands”, Nigerians now know that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) offers a better hope for the ordinary citizens of our country.
The PDP is widely perceived as the Biblical “Ark of Noah” on a rescue mission to bail our country out of despondency, despair, poverty, insecurity, and polarization along religious, tribal and primordial divisive tendencies. It is on record that since independence, Nigeria, as a nation, has never been this divided and disillusioned.
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It is in view of the above and much more that the PDP needs to get it right this time, in order to rise up to the high expectations of Nigerians, who are earnestly looking forward to it to present a Moses that will rescue them from slavery that this present administration has subjected them to. The first step towards getting it right is to jettison all personal, sectional and regional considerations in the national interest by looking beyond all the above sentiments in her quest to present its very best to earn the confidence of the people at the polls.
If the PDP is to play the above role that destiny has bestowed on the party, then its presidential flag bearer must, among other qualities, possess a cross-cutting personality, good understanding of issues, be it economic, political or social. He must also be endowed with the ability to harness the great potentials of the country’s greatness, and be a good manager of men/women and materials. The envisaged personality must possess the prerequisite capacity to deploy his skills to properly utilize the strength of the nation’s diversities in the overall interest of the Nigerian people. He or she must also have a national perspective that would earn him/her the trust of all Nigerians irrespective of tribal and religious persuasions. All these are unfortunately missing in the current leadership of our dear country.
The politics, personality and times of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of Nigeria, cannot be wished away in the history of our country. He stands positively tall among his peers. He is a man who combines the rare attributes of a heart of humility, vast network of associates across the length and breadth of Nigeria, highly cerebral, a great and deep thinker, a unifier and a bridge builder. He has over the years emerged as a rallying point, man who can be trusted, not bigoted, a believer in equity, justice and fairness, highly experienced in governance (private and public), and a man who is truly trusted, bold and courageous and whose love and passion for our country is undeniable.
Does he fit into what the PDP and Nigeria needs at this critical juncture in our nation? The answer is unarguably Yes.
Nigeria has never been this divided. Ours has become a country without citizens. We have only regional, tribal, and religious leaders, bereft of statesmen. Atiku belongs to an endangered species of statesmen who can unite our country and move us forward. His personality is cross-cutting, having built political, economic and personal relationships with many people across the length and breadth of Nigeria, irrespective of their differences. He can deploy the same to birth a new united, diverse and progressive tribe of leaders. He commands the love of many; he is “trustable”, relatable and reliable. The former Vice President is a peacemaker. He is endowed with a divine ability to resolve issues, the latest being the great role he and others played in establishing and helping the PDP to weather the storms before and during its last convention. He is cool (so cool that his children nicknamed him “Daddy Cool), calm and dependable. He commands the respect of various segments of the Nigerian society – youths, women, elders etc.
Atiku is mentally and physically sound. He is imbued with an uncommon grasp of issues, in-depth knowledge of economic matters and is a grand master in the art of politicking. (a combination of attributes for good leadership). He is also blessed with sound health uncommon for his age.
No one can accuse the Adamawa born politician of tribal and religious bigotry. These twin divisive tendencies have been our bane over the years as a nation. They are the main reasons for our current stagnation, underdevelopment, lack of unity and progress. Atiku is shoulder high above his contemporaries in this regard. His circle of close associates proves this. The key appointments he made while in government and even in his private life is a great pointer to his detribalized nature and personality. Truth is he perceives Nigeria as his constituency and relates with people based on merit and their humanity.
Atiku Abubakar has against all odds supported a restructured Nigeria. Being a believer in justice and fairness, he has continually fought for a Nigeria where no one would be discriminated against based on gender, religion and tribe. He believes in equal opportunity for all.
There’s a common saying that “you can’t give what you don’t have”. The former Vice President has a pedigree of humongous success in his personal business endeavours. He presides over a Group which he painstakingly built over the years. These are positive factors (patience, focus, determination, and drive) required for modern day progressive leadership.
Atiku has never given up on Nigeria, little wonder he keeps aspiring to lead the country. He believes in the human and material resources that abound here and that under sound leadership such as he represents, we can be the best that God created and designed us to be.
The former Vice President is an unrepentant believer in the unity and progress of our country. His comments, body language, disposition to issues, business and personal investments clearly point in this direction. He keeps working tirelessly and assiduously towards building bridges of unity, understanding and trust required for a united and progressive country.
In view of the above, the PDP must rise above partisanship and regional interest to rally around Atiku Abubakar as a consensus candidate in the forthcoming primaries. He is certainly our best choice (this is not to take down or diminish the quality of other aspirants.)
The quality of the PDP candidate will go a long way to assist the electorate in earning the trust of the electorate at the general polls come 2023. The leading opposition party cannot afford to disappoint Nigerians. Only its best is good enough for Nigeria. This time, the PDP cannot afford the acrimony and rancour that is often generated from party primaries. Ahead of the general election, a divided house will not be in its best interest and neither will it be in the interest of a nation earnestly yearning for a rescue from socio-economic abyss.
Deacon Elijah Afolabi is a political analyst and wrote from Lagos.