Theme: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to…
By Henry Omunu
As the race to succeed the misfiring President Muhammadu Buhari hots up ahead of the 2019 general elections, the question begging for answer is who among the many contenders jostling to emerge as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential flag bearer in the forthcoming polls will the delegates of the party nominate that can ultimately dislodge the incumbent from Aso Villa?
That candidate must in the interest of our national survival as a united and indivisible entity possess the requisite pedigree, followership, experience, capability to restore PDP to power and the capacity to govern for the interests of the vast majority who are currently, groaning under the economic hardship, hunger, insecurity, ethno- religious tensions and killings that have made the country tether on a precipice.
Only one choice readily comes to mind. Having assessed all the aspirants in the race for the PDP presidential ticket, my humble choice is the Wazirin Adamawa and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar. Any other choice by the delegates to the PDP national convention in my candid estimation will spell doom for the party and will be interpreted as a betrayal of the Nigerian electorate who a truly yearning for the true and authentic change from the misadventure called the APC.
Most importantly, it will be seen as handing the presidency to Buhari and his band of APC fellow travelers on a platter in 2019. Since his sojourn into politics after leaving the Nigerian Customs, Atiku under the tutelage of the late political maestro, Shehu Musa Yar’adua, has shown that he’s a man who understands the dynamics of politics and power under a democracy. Rather than being a regional political heavyweight, the Waziri Adamawa saw the imperative to have associates, allies and friends across the length and breadth of the country, irrespective of their ethnic, religious and social background.
In summary, he has the latent political machinery that if awakened can match and is capable ultimately, of driving the APC usurpers and pretenders from power at the federal level.
Apart from being an astute and successful businessman, Atiku is an avid listener, someone who believes in the youth, women, talent, a visionary and a true democrat, whose vision of restructuring the country and divesting the unnecessary baggage that is weighing down the government at the centre from delivering on the huge expectations of the populace in terms of infrastructural growth and socio-economic development and progress.
The Waziri acknowledges that only a vibrant private sector can be an engine for economic growth, stability and job creation to address the endemic high unemployment and under employment prevalent in the nation. Instead of being an import dependent country.
An Atiku as the PDP presidential candidate will be a rallying point for millions of voters, especially the young disenchanted with the unfulfilled promises of Buhari and the APC. Based on his antecedents, he stands a better chance galvanizing the electorate in rejecting the APC at the polls and dragging the nation from the clutches of nepotism, religious and ethnic bigotry, and the promotion of mediocrity that the present administration has made a national trademark and pastime.
He will restore confidence in government and public institutions devoid of vindictiveness, cluelessness, religious and ethnic intolerance, parochialism and the enthronement of a siege mentality.
Speaking at a consultative forum with PDP stakeholders in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, the Waziri said thus: “The country is in its worse state today. I have never seen it since the civil war. Ethnic divisions; north against south, this is very dangerous for our survival as a country. We must do all we can to address this situation. We have to unite together to arrest this, otherwise you would one day wake up and find we don’t have a country”.
Admonishing Nigerians on the urgency to free the nation from the shackles of the APC, he declared that the political restructuring of the country is inevitable, insisting that resources and powers must be devolved and deployed to the federation units because if “states and local governments are given more powers, the people would hold them accountable”. A truism that resonates with the thinking of millions of Nigerians, including former leaders of the country and elder statesmen.
For three years, the country under Buhari has witnessed incompetence on national display under the guise of governance. It’s been a spectacle of one gaffe to another; from the handling of the attacks by bloodletting herdsmen, the reemergence of the disgraced chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension, Abdulrasheed Maina, the uncomplimentary remarks about women and the now famous tagging of Nigerian youth as lazy.
To all this display of crass incompetence, Atiku has this to say. “When a president is incompetent, he blames the opposition. When he is intellectually lazy, he blames the youth. When he fails in securing Nigerians, he blames Libyans. A man who appoints the dead will always disappoint the living”.
Very apt, l dare to say. And the PDP cannot and must not repeat the same mistake of the APC by in 2015 by nominating someone who cannot function to the optimum required of the number one citizen of the country, mentally, physically and intellectually, a man who is true believer of democratic norms and the sanctity of the electoral and judicial process.
As an advocate of justice, equity and fairness in governance, Atiku speaking at Chatham House, has condemned the decision by Buhari to reward states willing to give land to herdsmen for grazing with N50 billion while offering a paltry N10 billion for the rehabilitation of internally displaced persons in more than five states.
Courage is another virtue that Atiku possesses in abundance. He displayed this when he stood against the inglorious third term bid of former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He also successfully legally challenged in court, efforts by Obasanjo to ridicule his office as Vice President and unconstitutionally whittle down the powers of the office.
As head of the economic team then, the Waziri was responsible for the banking consolidation exercise, oversaw the revolution in the telecommunications sector and attracted young and renowned professionals, and technocrats back home to contribute their quota to national development as against the dead woods that now constitute the majority in government.
In choosing a presidential candidate, PDP delegates should put into consideration aspirants who do not carry any baggage that can become ammunition for the APC. Therefore, they must cast their ballot for someone not tainted by corruption allegations like someone as Atiku, who hasn’t been accused or linked to any acts of corruption. Importantly, he has never been charged before any court in relation to corruption charges and not been investigated by any of the anti-graft agencies in the country.
The PDP must field a clean candidate who can speak truth to the incumbent administration without fear of intimidation and someone who can stand up to public scrutiny.
Atiku fits this bill and the choice of the PDP of the challenger to face Buhari in the 2019 general elections will amount to a watershed in the annals of democratic governance in Nigeria of the 21st century. It will further cement to a large extent how the electorate can trust the party of learning from the mistakes of the past The ball is in the court of the PDP delegates, whatever music they decide to dance to will become the fad for voters disenchanted with the current administration.
We hope and pray that they choose wisely and in the national interest as election fever gathers momentum.