Editor's note: PDP delegates are at the thresh-hold of making the decision of selecting the candidate to represent them in the 2019 presidential election.
In this opinion by political commentator, Damilare Odueso, he points out that the democracy and future of Nigerians is in the hands of the delegates and choosing Atiku Abubakar as their flag bearer may ruin their chances in 2019 and further affect the country's democratic practice and participation.
Let us for a while allow ourselves to dream and imagine that for whatever wild or weird reason, the delegates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chose Atiku Abubakar as the party’s presidential candidate: two things are very likely to happen; the PDP would lose the 2019 presidential election and Nigeria’s democracy will be in jeopardy. The party will look back in the next 10 years to the decision they made and wonder why they did not seize their chance to put the country on the path of development.
Some people may wonder why there seems to be a very pessimistic ring to the possibility of the PDP making Atiku its presidential candidate. After all, he served as vice president of the country from 1999 to 2007. He is supposed to be very experienced and well positioned to govern the country. Sadly, the reality points to the contrary.
Without sounding too condescending, Atiku has too much baggage to convince millions of Nigeria’s electorates that he is the best person to flag the fly of the PDP. A lot of Nigerian electorates have consciously disenfranchised themselves and the only thing that will revive their political interest for the opposition to first show seriousness. The integrity of Atiku lies on a shaky threshold. In an interview with Dele Momodu published on The Boss newspaper, Atiku responded to why he has not visited the US: “I applied, but wasn’t issued a visa. However, they did not decline me categorically either. They’ve only said my application is going through administrative process.”
While it is true that the US should not be the moral standard to adjudge the competency or otherwise of a candidate, it casts a shadow of doubt as to why a two-term former vice president is facing restriction in vising the US in spite of the fact that he owns the American University of Nigeria.
Atiku has continually described himself as an experienced job creator and thus would be able to provide jobs for the teeming Nigerian youths. While this may sound wonderful, it highlights one of the biggest challenges that the country is facing. The job of providing jobs for Nigerian youths should not be the job of the president. Rather, an enabling environment to allow the youths create their own jobs and become employers of labour is what they need. This is where Governor Aminu Tambuwal has excelled. In just one year as governor, Tambuwal apart from recruitment into the civil service boosted the agricultural and mining sector by providing fertiliser to allow farmers do well.
By creating opportunities, Nigerian youths have advantage of putting their skills and expertise into use making and creating their own wealth. This also reduces the burden on the government as the creator of jobs.
Positing that an Atiku candidacy is a threat to Nigeria’s democracy is not an exaggeration. This is because Nigerians would rather stick to a Muhammadu Buhari albeit grudgingly than voting for Atiku as seen in several public opinions and online votes. A lopsided contest with a sure victory for Buhari in 2019 has the terrible result of making more Nigerian electorate disinterested in future elections. What the PDP needs is to field a tested and tried leader with verifiable integrity in order to revive the waning democratic landscape.
The position of the president of the federal republic of Nigeria should not be the gain of an elitist contribution and this is what an Atiku candidacy brings to mind. It seems his interest in the highest position in the country in based on a desire to fulfil a long life dream rather than a call to service. The average Nigerian is suspicious of his interest because his interest conveys a notion of: “I have been vice president once and the expected thing to do is to be president.” It seems he is more interested in achieving a megalomaniac interest to sum up all his involvement in politics and this has increased distrust in the mind of many Nigerians.
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The PDP has the option of losing the 2019 presidency from its convention or providing the people with a candidate whose leadership track record coveys a strong sense of altruistic sense of service. Tambuwal represents the latter. His rise from the House of Representatives where he eventually headed arguably the best assembly to his performance in his first term as Sokoto governor equips him with ‘contemporary experience’ to deal with the country’s problems.
While Atiku has served as vice president till 2007, a lot has changed and is still changing and only someone who is in a leadership position and whose decisions directly affect the people has the best wealth of knowledge to know what Nigerians want now.
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