Thursday, February 1, 2018

Who Says Atiku Is Too Old?

By Tai Emeka Obasi

Let me keep aside the fact that the most powerful president in the world, talking about United States’ Donald Trump is of same age with HE Atiku Abubkar – 71, Trump is about four months older. Or the fact that if the tough-talking American President had lost that it would have been to Hilary Clinton, who is just a year younger.

Let me also fight to ignore talking about it that one of the worst-performing governors in Nigeria, His Excellency Yahaya Bello became Kogi State’s number one citizen at just 40.

Let me rather concentrate on how easy(!) it would be to find a man under 60 that could effectively prosecute a presidential election in Nigeria, especially if he will be fighting the incumbent to get to power. Of course, Chief MKO Abiola was 58 when he reportedly won the June 12, 1993 election. But significantly he wasn’t fighting any incumbent. His opponent on a level-playing field was a certain Alhaji Bashir Torfa, who was by centuries not as financially assured as the billionaire from Abaokuta.

Also Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa, is 60. He can, of course, finance any election but he’s no politician and not interested in using his money to make any younger man president. These days no one would easily ever take such risks in Nigeria since political godsons end up betraying their godfathers big time. Chief Mike Adenuga is another, who can go the whole hog. But for the records he is already 64 and no politician either.

Of the young wealthy politicians we have, let’s look at Ifeanyi Ubah. He is quite young at 46, keenly interested but can he effectively prosecute a successful presidential campaign and oust a seating president? Your guess is as good as mine.
So what choices are we left with? Who would guess the amount of money the People’s Democratic Party, PDP would spend from now till general election in February 2019 to stand a chance of retiring President Muhammadu Buhari? If you ask me, the party should be sourcing for nothing less than N150 billion to stand a chance. Now, don’t start telling me that the PDP have 11 governors, who will provide the funds. Almost all of them will be fighting for re-election or installing their own candidates same time to barely have extra funds to spare for the presidential election. So will be all NASS members. Every man on his own. Don’t tell me either that PDP have wealthy party big wigs. They’ve lost power and spending personal money besides those from government contracts for campaigns is never easy and few Nigerians do that.

So, financing a successful campaign for an opposition party is no child’s play. APC were lucky they challenged and got power from a man who is neither power-drunk nor ruthless. This present incumbent is proving to have both tendencies. Where can we raise a Sabastain Kurz, who at 31, is Austria’s Prime Minister, the youngest in Europe or Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron, the 40-year old French President? These youngsters are coming from a different environment. In our climes, President Goodluck Jonathan was a miracle. Such miracles happen once in a millennium.

So who is that young in Nigeria, a politician who knows everything about democratic rule, that has been in national governance and aptly understands the cliché, ‘hit the ground running’? Who is that youthful man or woman who will not only successfully prosecute PDP’s primaries, but also have enough to throw into the main ring without going bankrupt? Who has the connections and the ability to see ahead and understand games nations play at the international arena? Who is that youth who truly sees Nigeria as one indivisible entity, is not tribally or religiously handicapped and understands the economics of all rudiments of nation building? Who is that man who understands that education is the basic necessity for a developing nation and would yield appropriate chunk in the budget to this very vital sector?

I see only one man that fits all the indices.

Atiku Abubarkar, GCON.

They say he's no youth. But wait for it!  He tweets daily,  posts on Facebook,  Instagram,  Whatsapp, is appreciably very youth-friendly. Do these look like granpa's attitudes?

Any man below 50, as the youths clamour for, that will have the wherewithal to successfully prosecute a presidential election to oust an incumbent is nowhere in present Nigeria.

Besides, the youths had their chance in the just conducted Anambra Guber Election. A 43-year old Dr. Tony Nwoye was presented to them. They ran a robust campaign, made all the noise but when the time came to elect their own, they succumbed to the APGA largesse, and endorsed a man 17 years older. So much for youth take-over! Such pattern will repeat in 2019 if PDP present a candidate without the requisite capability in the name of fielding a youth.

The Waziri Adamawa is one of the very few Nigerians who look younger than his age. There is no sign in his carriage, reasoning, delivery and involvement to suggest the Jada-born politician has just joined that golden club referred to as septuagenarians. The PDP know the task before them. Unlike Jonathan, President Buhari will use every known government apparatus at the reach of the incumbency to prosecute 2019 election.

Who is that politician in Nigeria who knows all the tracks and commands enough pedigree outside a seating government to give Buhari real run for his money? I do believe that if PDP is truly interested in getting power back from APC, they have two options 1. Start immediately to work from this moment like they have never worked before. 2. Hold a transparent primary, which I’m certain would produce Turaki Adamawa.

If they fail in either then it’s good-bye.

And before PDP gambles it away, let them understand very well that Buhari has provided the biggest invitation to an opposition to take over power since independence. The year 2023 may not be this inviting. If APC had delivered on their promises PDP do not stand any chance in 2019. They, PDP, stayed in power for 16 years. Failure to oust this very vulnerable president may be a mistake they’d never have the opportunity to amend in the lives of present stakeholders.

What Nigeria needs at this perilous time is a man, who is youth-friendly, that can appoint many vibrant young men and women within his government. Turaki Adamawa has such progressive policy all over his business establishments. How old or young is no issue.  After all,  there is no marked difference in governance between the Buhari of 1983 -85 and the Buhari of today... over there decades later!

Therefore whoever says PDP should look beyond a completely capable man in the former Vice President for a youthful candidate without appropriate capability is expressly endorsing Buhari to continue at 76 for a tenure that would officially end at 80! An age most believe is even heavily flawed.

If Trump isn’t too old then neither is Atiku.


Tai is Director of Media,  Anambra Turaki Vanguard,  Youth and Women Mobilisation.

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