The election of a former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as the presidential standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for 2023 election has once again thrown him in the ring to battle for the presidency.
He polled 371 votes to defeat 11 other aspirants, including his closest opponent, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who scored 237 at the party’s presidential primary held on Saturday in Abuja.
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Former Senate President Bukola Saraki came a distant third with 70 votes, followed by Akwa Ibom State Governor Udom Emmanuel with 38 votes, Bauchi State Governor Bala Mohammed, 20 votes and a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Pius Anyim, 14 votes.
Others were Nwachukwu Anakwenze, who scored two votes, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa one vote and Mrs Tariele Diana Oliver one vote.
Former Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose; Ovation Magazine publisher, Chief Dele Momodu; Mr Charles Ugwu and Chikwendu Kalu recorded zero vote.
Atiku, in a speech after clinching the party’s top ticket, called his election historic and vowed to wrest power from the ruling APC.
He promised to deal decisively with the country’s security and economic challenges once he becomes president.
“The APC came and wiped out all the gains made by the PDP. It is an opportunity to reverse mis-governance by the APC government,” he said.
Atiku urged all the aspirants to join hands with him in working for the victory of the party in 2023.
He urged aggrieved members to return to the party, adding that they should explore available internal mechanisms in resolving their grievances rather than going to courts.
Daily Trust looks at some factors that worked in Atiku’s favour.
Atiku is considered as one of the most experienced politicians, with five previous failed shots at Nigeria’s presidency.
In 1993, he contested the Social Democratic Party presidential ticket but lost to Moshood Abiola and Babagana Kingibe.
In the 2007 poll, he got the ticket of the defunct Action Congress (AC) and polled only 2.6 million votes, coming third to Umaru Yar’Adua of the PDP and Muhammadu Buhari of the ANPP.
He contested PDP presidential ticket for the 2011 election. He, however, lost to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2014, he joined the All Progressives Congress ahead of the 2015 presidential election and contested the presidential primary losing to Muhammadu Buhari.
He returned to the PDP and got the party’s presidential ticket for 2019 election but was defeated by President Muhammadu Buhari, in a hotly-contested election.
In that election, he posted his best result, garnering 11.2 million votes and winning in 17 states namely, Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Benue, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Edo, Enugu, FCT, Imo, Ondo, Oyo, Plateau, Rivers, Taraba and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Now, the 75-year-old retired customs officer is back again in the presidential race, hoping that his perennial electoral contests will end with a befitting victory like that of Hakainde Hichilema of Zambia, who lost in 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015 and 2016, before eventually winning the 2021 presidential election at the age of 59.
Atiku has become a household name in the politics of the country. The former vice president is reputed to have a wide network across the country and is well respected within political circles having mentored many who ended up becoming governors and ministers.
His political career dates back to the two-party system of the military era. Atiku is a scion of the Yar’Adua political dynasty, which founded the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), which fused into the PDP in 1998.
He is also known to keep one of the best think tanks in the country. Recently, he launched “The Atiku Formula”, a policy document that details his development agenda if elected president.
Atiku’s vast political network had helped greatly while crisscrossing the country to seek the support of party leaders and delegates.
His credentials as a seasoned political operator with foot soldiers across the length and breadth of the country, and serial entrepreneur gave him an edge over other aspirants, many of whom are seen as regional politicians with no national spread, mileage and popularity capable of winning the presidential election.
Atiku Abubakar has been a top civil servant, a vice president, and a prominent businessman and philanthropist, making his fortune in different sectors and giving some of it away to charity.
The Adamawa-born politician possesses the financial war chest, which places him in a vintage position to get the PDP ticket in a contest dogged by widespread inducement of ad hoc delegates to sway their votes.
There were reports that the top contenders doled out thousands of dollars to the delegates.
Unlike other aspirants, the former vice president is also seen in many quarters as capable of mustering the financial war chest that can give the ruling party a serious fight.
He also has the financial capacity to prosecute presidential campaigns without seeking sponsorship.
The last minute withdrawal of Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal from the race paved the way for Atiku to win the party’s ticket.
Tambuwal had stepped down and asked his supporters to cast their votes for Atiku.
He said: “In view of the situation of our country and the need for us in our party to minimise rancour and jostling for power, in any case, it is not always about an individual; it must always be about our country.
“I have come to the conclusion that to the glory of God Almighty, and from the results of what we are seeing throughout the country – millions of Nigerians suffering, and the need for us to close ranks in the party, and as one of the leaders of this party – I have come to a patriotic conclusion to step down my aspiration.
“Not only that, I would appeal to my supporters to take this in good strides and in the interest of national unity and patriotism, and not only that, those who are delegates here should vote for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.”
His withdrawal followed last minute realignment engineered by some northern power brokers, who also reached out to Saraki and Bala Mohammed to quit for Atiku but they insisted on going ahead with their ambition.
The 11th-hour realignment deepened the division among PDP stalwarts from the South, who expressed shock at the action of the Sokoto State governor.
The former vice president took to his Twitter handle to thank Tambuwal for his gesture.
“Thank you, H.E @AWTambuwal, for your spirited campaign. I look forward to working with you as we unite our party and our country,” he said.