By Isuma Mark
Following opposition to another northern president in 2023, former vice president Atiku Abubakar will “in due course” give up his presidential bid and anoint a southern candidate, report said.
A reliable source who has been promoting Atiku’s 2023 bid just as he did in 2019 said he had cancelled fund raising ceremony and scheduled meetings across the world following feelers that the former vice President may have chicken out of the race.
He said he had also called off other arrangements like printing of posters, record of jingles and call back funds he had partly made on a popular FM station in Abuja and Lagos respectively.
Speaking with our correspondent on phone, after enquiries on how far he had gone with creating structure for Atiku and when the former number two man will formally declare, he said, “My brother, it’s not happening. To the best of my knowledge it’s not happening again.
“Are you not aware of the opposition the man (Atiku) is facing? He has been isolated from the People’s Democratic Party. He no longer have a say in the scheme of things.
“Beyond not having a say in the PDP, his usual bases especially the South South and South East have abandoned him. Even the South West has done so because various groups in the zone have insisted that major political parties must zone their presidential tickets to the south East.
“What can the man do? He spent so much in 2019 right from the primaries in Port Harcourt. Sure, this is his last chance but one doesn’t need to keep spending just for the sake of it.”
Atiku is a serial contestant, who has sought to be President since 2007 after serving as Vp from 1999 to 2007.
He’s considered a stupendously rich man but his critics say he became rich through corruption.
While the Vp during the privatisation of key underperforming government enterprises, he was accused of registering a company in the Netherlands and using it to acquire NITEL, then Nigeria’s only telecommunication company owned and operated by the government.
As chairman of the privatisation agency, he allegedly used his position to enrich himself.
However, Atiku has always refuted these allegation.
Shortly after the end of his tenure in 2007 as Vp, President Olusegun Obasanjo forwarded a report of a descret investigation of Atiku by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFFC, to the Nigerian Senate.
After careful study by the senate committee and a subsequent report presented on the floor of the upper house, the senate called for prosecution of Atiku for diverting $145m from Nigeria government accounts to private bank accounts.
His campaign group denied the report but Atiku did not deny or respond to enquiries.
Atiku may have seen clear signs of failure in the presidential primary scheduled for this year, unlike 2019 when he held the aces before the primary of the PDP.
A stiff opposition to his ambition by one of his trusted aides and spokespersons in the 2019 presidential election, Mr Kassim Afegbua, may have also sent shock waves across the Atiku camp.
Afegbua, a former Commissioner for Information in Edo State called Atiku ‘Methuselah’, and advised that he anoint a young southern candidate rather than contesting since it is not his birth right.
Also, an influential group within the PDP led by the former Deputy Majority Whip of the House of Representatives, Mr Ahmed Muktar, also said, “While it is undemocratic to ask a qualified Nigerian not to contest for presidency, we agree substantially that Atiku Abubakar has had his time and opportunities.
“He (Atiku) was presented in 2018/2019 as the only one with the capacity, the financial muscle and experience to beat President Buhari. He fluffed the chance given to him by PDP. Age is also not on his side in 2023.
“Nigerians have become weary of his perpetual candidature. It may be time for him to give a younger person a chance.”
These influential voices and groups joined collective southern agitation against a presidency of northern extraction in 2023.
The southern and middle belt forum has also advised all major political parties to zone their presidential tickets to the south or risks losing votes from these four regions.
That position has boosted the agitation by the South East that it’s the only zone since 1999 that has not held the post of the president.
Atiku has not confirmed his interest openly but a campaign group headed by Mr Raymond Dokpesi, owner of DAAR Communication, has been on the campaign trail for Atiku.
Dokpesi may have also gathered intelligence suggesting that Atiku would be an unpopular candidate for president in 2023.
In the last month, the number of groups that have adopted Atiku has reduced drastically, giving substance to the revelation that he has no more interest in the 2023 presidential election.
Credits | The Whistler