By Louis Okoroma
It is a good development that the former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has come back to reckoning. This is a party that was founded to promote the unity of Nigeria under a pan-Nigeria platform. The party that is home to great Nigerians like Olusegun Obasanjo, late Solomon Lar, late Abubakar Rimi, former Governor of Kano State, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and other notables like late Dr. Alex Ekwueme, General Ibrahim Babangida, and most of the top members of today’s ruling All Progressives Congress.
It is equally a good sign for Nigerians who have had a rough time under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari that a humane and detribalized Nigerian, in the person of Atiku Abubakar, a good economic manager is the presidential candidate of the resurgent PDP. The good thing about Atiku’s candidacy is that at last, an alternative to the Buhari brand of leadership has emerged in the person of a man who is many things rolled into one, and in whom Nigerians will find the qualities they are looking for, in management and leadership.
Before it lost the 2015 presidential election, the PDP was a party that did not lack capable men and women to engage in a presidential contest. In fact, it could be said that the PDP has always been star-studded. Today, however the situation is slightly different as a political party might have star personalities but only a few would have the leadership quality to lead a country like Nigeria that has clearly faltered in many aspects of development.
Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri of Adamawa and a Nigerian of fine credentials comes in as a breath of fresh air both from the resurgent PDP and from the Northern part of the country that has been poorly represented by the clannish administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
For the APC’s change of duplicity to be replaced by a real change under a man ready, eager and yearning for service to be actualized, the APC has to run the incompetent and divisive government it has been running under Buhari since May 2015, which openly denied responsibility for the promises it made to Nigerians during the campaign for the 2015 election.
There are many reasons why Atiku Abubakar is the right person for the people of Nigeria at this time following the uninspiring leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari.
First, Atiku Abubakar has a blueprint of governance. The former Vice President who enjoys the company of educated people and is an intellectual in his own right has prepared a policy document with his vision encapsulated in JOBS – Jobs, Opportunity, Being United and Security. In it, he set out his vision of the developmental challenges facing the country and how he will tackle them, sector by sector when he becomes president.
Second, and related to the above, on the 25th of April 2018, Atiku Abubakar outlined his governance and political agenda to a select and distinguished international audience of foreign diplomats, Nigerians, politicians, academics and leading businessmen at the international think tank, Chatham House in London, the UK. In the lecture titled, ‘’The Importance of strengthening States’ Economic Management Systems’, Atiku presented an outline of a cooperative and all-inclusive type of democratic government in which the states and the Federal Government would be partners in a transparent system built on prudent economic management, as against the present situation of master-servant relationship where the states get monthly handouts from the central government! According to Atiku and experts who have reviewed the lecture, this system of national economic management will liberate the creative energies of the States and encourage them to mobilize and better utilize resources for development in areas where they have comparative advantages.
Third, through his anti-corruption crusade for which Nigerians are grateful but which has unfairly targeted mostly opposition politicians nationwide, the APC government has worked hard to taint most PDP members. On this score, Atiku Abubakar has been vindicated by no less a person than Prof Itse Sagay, czar of the president’s anti graft panel. On the contrary, the corruption and scandals of person we have today appears to be Muhammadu Buhari, going by the many corruption scandals involving many members of his close circle of trusted aides and functionaries and the fact that in most cases, he has failed to discipline and sanction them.
On the issue of corruption, the former Vice President is only a victim of allegations, hearsay and suspicion because of his wealth and investment. These allegations are trite as none has been proven in any Court of Law, even when Atiku himself has gone to Court to challenge the allegations. And when one talks of Atiku’s immense wealth, one has not seen the name of the Waziri Adamawa among Africa’s richest men or even the list of the World’s wealthiest rather Atiku could make the short list of those who have impacted humanity the most.
Atiku’s investments are the Atiku Group of Schools in Yola, capital of Adamawa State and the development institution known as the American University of Nigeria (AUN), also in Yola. The AUN is the first development-oriented institution of higher learning in Africa. Atiku also established Adama Beverages Limited in Yola, which makes potable water and fruit drinks, as well as Rico Gado Animal Nutrition which makes feed for all classes of livestock. The common trend that runs through all of these investments of the former Vice President is that they provide employment to thousands of Nigerians directly and indirectly, provides quality education, and provides skills and entrepreneurship as well as innovation, which is the catalyst of development.
Fourth, Atiku aside from being a foremost investor and entrepreneur is a good economic manager. As Vice President under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku was the Chairman of the National Economic Council which started a revolution of sorts in the management of the national economy.
Under the Obasanjo/Abubakar administration, Nigeria did well in introducing measures and implementing policies that gave the entire national economy a lease of life and breath of fresh air and created jobs and regular income for the majority of Nigerians. Several industries and companies, both local and foreign started business in Nigeria while those who had been in the country before 1999, expanded their businesses, and modernized their production processes.
If we reflect on the fact that the PDP left office in 2015, for Muhammadu Buhari of the APC to takeover, and since then, 13 million jobs have been lost and hundreds of businesses collapsed or relocated outside the country, it would be clear what a disaster the Buhari government has been. It is therefore a matter of urgency for Nigerians to elect in the February 16 presidential elections, a man used to business and entrepreneurship and who gets things to work to replace Muhammadu Buhari, who clearly has failed to get his thoughts and bearing together since May 2015.
Finally, a unique quality which sets Atiku apart from Buhari and which shows that Atiku is better for Nigeria in 2019 going forward, in view of the present sorry state of national integration in Nigeria, is that in Atiku’s thinking, there is only One Nigeria; whose citizens without exception deserves equal access to the good things of life. The way the former Vice President runs his businesses and his large family is such that there is no place for tribalism, no ethnicity, no nepotism, no exclusion or 97 versus 5 per cent! No one near him is made to feel unwanted, a stranger or an outsider which are all hallmarks of the persona and government of Muhammadu Buhari.
Louis Okoroma writes from Abuja.