The curtains are about falling on the controversial statement by President Muhammadu Buhari’s influential nephew after the number-one citizen dissociated himself from what was said by his confidant. But before that thoroughly criticized assertion is buried, there is a lesson that must be highlighted for the benefit of one revered Nigerian whose sight is apparently set again on the country’s prime job.
In plain language, the greatest beneficiary of Mamman Daura’s recent repudiation of power shift and rotation for the 2023 presidential election is former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar. This should be obvious to every discerning reader of Nigerian politics given that it has since achieved what flying a kite or tasting the waters, as it were, could not tell.
Malam Daura last week granted a rare interview to the BBC Hausa Service where he essentially said the 2023 presidential race should be open to aspirants from all parts of the country, and not be reserved for aspirants from a section of the country in the name of power shift. He maintained that Nigerians should now set competence as the standard for determining his uncle’s successor considering that zoning was used in three previous instances to decide who should be President.
“This turn by turn, it was done once, it was done twice, it was done thrice… It is better for this country to be one… it should be for the most competent and not for someone who comes from somewhere,” that’s the transcription of what Daura said in the interview which let the gates of hell loose.
One may ask how this assertion helps Atiku other than the fact that it clears the way for him to again throw his hat in the ring? While Daura’s statement may have launched Atiku to Cloud 9, the concomitant whirlwind reactions abruptly returned the unrelenting presidential hopeful to Ground Zero where he can better smell the coffee.
It is public knowledge that as far as the 2023 presidential race goes, no other aspirant from the North has indicated interest like the Wazirin Adamawa. Even Kaduna Governor, Nasir El-Rufai who many believe had his eyes on the ball, had publicly declared that power should shift to the South post Buhari. Same cannot be said of Atiku whose son, Adamu once told all who cared to listen that his father will contest the presidency again in 2023. I will return to this presently.
By his several reactions to Buhari government’s policies (and he’s doing Nigerians a great service for being a voice of reason as the veritable elder statesman that he is) which are believed to put him in the consciousness of Nigerians; his role in ensuring safe-landing for Governor Godwin Obaseki in the People’s Democratic Party and activation of his political machinery in Edo State to work for the Governor’s re-election, political watchers see Atiku as warming up for the next presidential race. His recent intervention in Edo politics smacks of a political IOU which Obaseki will have to repay by delivering Edo State for Atiku when the next presidential election comes.
“Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with my father contesting for the presidency. In 2023, my father will be aspiring to the number one office in the land because he has been an astute, strategic, master politician for almost four decades,” said Adamu Atiku-Abubakar, who is the Commissioner for Works and Energy in Adamawa State. Now, while this may even be more poignant than Daura’s recent assertion, it’s rather surprising why Adamu’s statement didn’t ruffle feathers nor get any attention close to the loads of reactions to Daura’s tongue in cheek comment. Perhaps, it’s because of his fame as a power broker who Southern bigwigs believe may be echoing the position of the North regarding 2023.
But with the near silence that greeted Adamu’s comment since it was reported on June 8, 2020, the father must have concluded that no eyebrow would be raised when he declares to run for presidency after the North’s eight straight years in power. With the tornado that have followed the postulation of Buhari’s nephew, Atiku will surely be having a second thought. No, I’m not exaggerating for describing the reactions as tornado, I should have even used tsunami. Imagine the presidency being forced to react Saturday night, confessing that they have been inundated with “numerous requests for comments” after Mamman Daura’s interview.
Atiku will get a better sense of what he will be up against by vying for the 2023 presidency when he considers how criticisms of Daura’s reasoning saw President Buhari declared through his spokesman that “Malam Mamman’s Views Are His Own”. Reactions from Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere, PANDEF, which majorly reminded Daura that his uncle is a product and beneficiary of power rotation, make the mood of Southern Nigeria, which was Atiku’s political base in the 2019 polls, even more palpable ahead of the next presidential election.
In view of the foregoing, the former Vice-President will be well advised not to swim against the tide. In fairness, Atiku has not come out publicly to declare his aspiration. Of course, it’s still too early for that. The closest we’ve got is Adamu’s statement. Granted that Nigerian breed of politicians are the most incurable optimists, the former Vice-President can resort to grooming someone to replace him in politics. Who says he can’t support Adamu to be Vice-President? After all, the son is a politician who already said, “if I am called by the people back home to run for the Senate, I don’t see anything wrong with that”. I’m sure he will even be more willing if called to become Vice President.
Meantime, the point needs to be made that it is well within Atiku’s constitutional rights to stand for the next presidential election, as no one can debar him from running for any office. It’s just that the mood of the country doesn’t favour his candidacy in 2023. The former Vice-President therefore had better been paying attention to how Mamman Daura’s anti-rotation submission was ferociously shot down, for the sake of his resources, time, energy and legacy.
Ugochukwu writes from Lagos and can be reached via @sylvesugwuanyi