Editor's note: Shitta Hakeem Ajibola, in this piece, writes on the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), detailing the former vice president’s unsuccessful efforts since 1992.
It appears that the only hurdle before former vice president Atiku Abubakar and the presidency is President Muhammadu Buhari. The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) held their presidential primaries in Port Harcourt, Rivers state and Abubakar emerged the winner of the star-studded election defeating 11 other aspirants. He polled a total of 1,532 votes while his closest rival Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto state governor, polled 693 votes.
Recall that this will be Abubakar’s fourth presidential run. In 1992, Abubakar placed third in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) presidential primaries after MKO Abiola and Babagana Kingibe.
In 1999, after emerging governor-elect of Adamawa state Abubakar was nominated as vice president by former president Olusegun Obasanjo. The duo went on to win the presidential election.
In 2007, Abubakar ran on the platform of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (CAN) after exiting the PDP due to a frosty relationship between himself and his boss, Obasanjo.
In 2011, the former vice president returned to the PDP to run for president. He lost to former president Goodluck Jonathan at the PDP presidential primaries by a wide margin.
On 2nd February 2014, Abubakar left the PDP again to join the All Progressives Congress (APC). Again, on 24 November 2017, Abubakar exited the APC, a party he helped to form. Abubakar later announced his return to the PDP on 3rd December 2017 on the grounds that the issues that made him leave the party have been resolved.
On the 7th of October, 2018, Abubakar emerged the presidential flag-bearer of the PDP. This is a watershed victory for Abubakar as this is the first time he will be winning presidential primaries. Abubakar is credited to have a deep pocket and has gained a lot of experience when it comes to aspiring for the highest office in the land. He is also known to have significant tentacles across the six geopolitical zones.
However, the greatest challenge Abubakar might have to contend with is the perception that he might not be as clean as he portrays himself before the eyes of the law.
Abubakar has once been investigated by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) following an alert from the United States of America. His former boss Obasanjo quoted in 2013 as sayings Nigerians should ask Abubakar why he has not visited the United States since he left office if he has no case to answer. He said Abubakar has avoided going to the United States because of the alleged corruption. However, Abubakar till date has not been charged to court or found guilty of corruption in any court of competent jurisdiction in Nigeria.
Some critics of Abubakar within the party said his emergence as the presidential flag-bearer of the PDP might affect the party’s chances adversely during the presidential election come 2019 because of the controversial corruption allegations surrounding him.
Also, his emergence undermines party loyalty as some presidential aspirants and party members who have never left the party at any point in time allegedly felt betrayed.
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It is said in some quarters that Aminu Tambuwal would have been a better candidate because he has never been investigated; he is much younger and will appeal more to the youth. He will be seen as a digital presidential candidate as compared to the APC presidential candidate.
Everything seems to be going right for Atiku Abubakar at the moment. One of the many questions is will his story be a better bestseller than his major contestant President Muhammadu Buhari of the APC, who ran thrice before eventually becoming president?
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