The hunt for the replacement of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 is on daily basis getting much interested as actions and reactions across party lines are beginning to send cold shivers in the spine of some political stake holders in Nigeria.
Whilst the governors’ demand may be innocently driven given the fact that the South had been bottled out of power hold for 6 years with the total culmination of 8 years at the expiration of President Buhari’s administration in early 2023, the South seems to be strong-willed and more than united to negotiate their way into 2023.
It however dealt a big blow on several politicians from the Northern divide who have before now cemented their plans to run for the office of the number one citizen of the country.
The governors under the aegis of the Southern Governors Forum (SGF) made their stance known after a closed-door meeting which lasted for about five hours in Lagos.
The 17 southern states Chief Executives have unanimously agreed that the next President of Nigeria should emerge from their region, puncturing the ambition of prominent politicians from the North.
Their insistence on producing the next President is birthed upon the spirit of justice, equity and fairness.
One of the prominent politicians that may have been badly hit by this action is His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of Adamawa State since both the PDP and APC governors from the southern region are hell bent on having their zone produce the next president of the country in 2023.
A concise review of Alhaji Abubakar Atiku’s political journey to the presidency began in the third republic.
His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku has been trying to be president as far back as 1992.
His long-time presidential ambition dates back to 1992 during the botched Third Republic. In 1992, he contested the presidential primary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), one of the two parties decreed into existence by military president, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida rtd., and came third in the primary behind late Chief Moshood Abiola.
However, because Abiola, the winner, had won by only about 400 votes, a run-off was due. Atiku, however, stepped down for Abiola, asking his supporters to cast their votes for him, with an unwritten agreement that Abiola would announce Atiku as his running mate. Abiola won the SDP ticket but announced Alhaji Babagana Kingibe, the runner-up, as his running mate.
In his quest to fulfil his burning desire to rule the country, on 25th November 2006, Atiku announced that he would run for president, and on 20th December 2006, he was chosen as the presidential candidate of the Action Congress (AC).
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on 14th March, 2007, released the final list of 24 aspirants for the April 21 presidential election. Atiku’s name was missing from the ballot. INEC issued a statement, stating that Atiku’s name was missing because he was on a list of persons indicted for corruption by a panel set up by the government. The former vice president headed to the court to have his disqualification overturned.
The Supreme Court unanimously ruled on 16th April that INEC had no power to disqualify candidates. The ruling, therefore, allowed Atiku to contest the election. Though, official results revealed that Atiku came third with 2.8 million votes behind PDP candidate, Umaru Yar’Adua, and All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP) candidate, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Atiku again contested for the Presidential ticket of his party in 2011 alongside President Jonathan and Sarah Jibril, and lost the primary, garnering 805 votes to President Jonathan’s 3,542.
The never say die Atiku again in 2015 gave a shot at the number one position by contesting the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The incumbent President, Mohammadu Buhari, won the ticket, Kwankwaso came second while Atiku emerged third.
In 2017, Atiku was on the move again when he dumped the ruling APC for PDP. Prior to the Port Harcourt convention, the former vice president had alleged that the conspiracy of the political elite has been thwarting his presidential ambition.
However, the Port Harcourt convention has proven that Atiku is a cat with nine lives. While Atiku appeared to be the most prepared, also having a network of friends across the divides, wider acceptability, his age initially appeared to be a stumbling block but he overcame all hurdles.
After all these failed attempt, he seemed to be interested at shooting his final shot to the presidency again and anything short of victory this time around signals the end to his aspiration.
Unfortunately, the resolution of the southern presidency clamor if it stands might be a cog in the wheel of Atiku’s political progress of clinching the PDP ticket for the last time except he adopts a new political party to drive home his course.