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Zest or Desperation: Atiku Abubakar and His Presidential Ambitions

Atiku Abubakar

Atiku Abubakar

24 years on, since Atiku first declared his presidential ambitions to the masses. He was a candidate of the Socialist Democratic Party where he stepped down for MKO Abiola. He has gone to contest for the governorship of Adamawa state, where he won but later chose as the running mate of former president, Olusegun Obasanjo. In 2006, his presidential ambitions became known to Nigerians. He engaged the then president in various political wars and he was justified in the court. His action meant that he was vilified by the Peoples Democratic Party. In his bid to control the Aso-Rock albeit the hand-picked candidate of Mr Obasanjo winning the election, he decided to contest under the political auspices of Tinubu and Action Congress. His decisions to swap political parties at interval has changed and shaped his political outlook amongst Nigerians.

Beginning of a Political Career

After his retirement from the Nigeria Customs Services in 1989, Atiku took up full-time business and also ventured into politics. With the introduction of a new constitution and the lifting of ban on political activities, he ran as the governor of the then Gongola State (now Adamawa and Taraba States). The breaking of the state into two affected his ambition and was later disqualified by the government from contesting the governorship elections. However, his first shot at the most coveted position in Nigerian politics was in the 1993 elections and this came as a result of the disqualification by the military that befall Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. Yar’ Adua, would later present Atiku as his candidate. Though as the candidate of Late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, he placed third in the Social Democratic Party presidential primaries behind Abiola and Kingibe.

In 1998 Atiku launched a bid for the governorship of Adamawa State on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party. He won, but before he could be sworn in, he was tapped as the running mate of former Head of State and the PDP presidential candidate, Olusegun Obasanjo. The Obasanjo-Atiku ticket won the February 27, 1999 presidential election and subsequently resumed office on May 29, 1999.

Desperation or Zest

In 2006, Atiku Abubakar vehemently opposed his boss’ ambition for a third term bid. His zest for the rule of law and the supremacy of the constitution was seen by all in his stand against Obasanjo’s third term agenda. However, his desperation to take over the mantle of leadership soon overshadowed his commitment to the PDP and Nigeria as a whole. In his attempt to battle his boss for a third term bid, he crossed his path and soon after, various political wars between the two ensued. This led to the withdrawal of Atiku’s aides and security details until the court intervened and ordered the security details of the vice-president to be restored. This incident and other political propaganda malign Atiku’s position in the party. While he eyed the presidency with one eyes, the brother of his political godfather was handpicked by Obasanjo as his successor in a bid to destroy Atiku’s presidential ambitions.

Out of desperation, Atiku Abubakar sought to take his pounds of flesh by ditching the PDP for the Action Congress where he contested election as the presidential candidate. He placed third behind Buhari’s ANPP and Yar’ Adua’s PDP. Tinubu was never going to allow Atiku to take over the mantle of the party leadership after the election and this did not go well with the latter. Hence in 2010, he returned to the Peoples Democratic Party with an intention to run as the presidential candidate. Conversely, a new party leader has emerged in Goodluck Jonathan. With much taunting before the party’s primary, Jonathan won a majority landslide in the primary while Tinubu’s Action Congress of Nigeria was scrambling for a presidential candidate until Nuhu Ribadu was handpicked. Atiku’s desperation soon played out after the 2011 election, he returned to the All Progressives Party, a party he left for PDP.

His permutations for the 2015 elections were cut short, he lost yet another primary election to Buhari and he was forced to play a marginal role in the party’s organization. His influences were limited and knowing fully that he might not be able to gain a foot holding, he has moved to join the PDP once again. Where this will lead is left to be seen in the coming days. Will the PDP feed him in the presidential elections? Can he even win the presidential election in Nigeria? Only time will tell if this move will be the beginning of the presidency he had wanted or the beginning of the decline of his political career. One thing is however sure in the case of Atiku Abubakar, his zest for service has far been overshadowed by his desperation to dump one major political party for another in other to get his hand on governance.


-Written  by Oluwasegun Ajetunmobi

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