What Has Atiku Got To Offer?


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What Has Atiku Got To Offer?




Ladi Ibrahim





December 01, 2006


There has been much hoopla and brouhaha about the eligibility of vice president Atiku Abubakar to contest for the highest office in the land. More than any other candidate he has been severally vilified. And, without mincing words, General Olusegun Obasanjo does not want Atiku to contest at all for the 2007 presidential elections. The reason for the presidential arrogance and unconstitutionality is that, one, Atiku attempt to contest against him in the 2003 elections, as well as forced the president to pick him as his running mate, and secondly, is the patriotic and nationalistic role played to put paid to the illegal tenure elongation agenda of President Obasanjo. It  is as a result of these that the President concocted both the EFCC and administrative panel report to indict Atiku, but curiously in the report, there is no where it was said that any money was missing and there is also no place where it was said that, Atiku benefited directed or indirectly from the PTDF. In fact, Atiku has said variously that it is Obasanjo that has benefited from the PTDF. In any case, all the reports and the gazetting have been set aside by the law courts. So, what is it with Atiku that Obasanjo does not want him to contest at all?

The first point that must be made here is that, it is not for Obasanjo to choose who to succeed him, to do that will amount to foisting a particular candidate on the people, and will not be democracy at all, but some sort of autocratic regime. It is indeed the people of Nigeria that should at any given point in determine the person that should preside over the affairs of the country. It is in this regard that Segun Adeniyi, for instance reasoned that, “President Olusegun Obasanjo evidently does not want Vice Atiku Abubakar to succeed him. He may have good reasons for that. But it not in his place to determine who rules Nigeria at any point in time, including after him in May 2007. That is why the Lagos High Court ruling which voided the EFCC report and that of the Administrative Panel which indicted Otunba Johnson Fasawe and Atiku is a landmark decision worthy of commendation. While no one should condone corruption, I have always argued that there is no greater corruption than an abuse of process to achieve a predetermined end which was exactly what happened in the case of Atiku. In what was a throwback to the military era, the whole indictment was conceived and executed in a manner that revealed clearly that it was not to serve the end of justice but to exert vengeance on a disloyal deputy. Such rascality should have no place in a democracy”.

It therefore goes without saying that Atiku can contest for the 2007 presidential election in country without any inhibition. This means that he can effectively exercise his fundamental human rights without any presidential orchestrations from any quarters. Vice President Atiku Abubakar has all the rights to vote and be voted for, and this is very good for democracy, political vendetta and unbridled manipulation have no place in a credible democratic setting. Again, it is gratifying to note know that, of all the political gladiators jostling for the presidential slot, it is only Atiku that organized a policy retreat to systematically articulate the various problems confronting the Nigerian economy with a view of putting together a comprehensive plan of action in the long and short term, to guide Atiku when he assume the mantle of leadership in the country.

Atiku Abubakars’ policy direction is informed by his convictions as a social democratic, as well as an objective assessment of the needs and yearnings of Nigerians. Atiku is convinced that the private sector is the main engine of the economy, with government as the catalyst and enabler, however, government also has the responsibility to protect and enhance the dignity and well being of its citizens, while providing social safety nets and services as a public good. The overall objective of his policy direction is to evolve a workable development agenda owned by the people of this nation, and based on their need for sustainable social-economic reforms, political stability, the strengthening of democratic institutions and improvement of the quality of life for all Nigeria.

Atiku identifies five key areas as national emergencies; these are issues that will have significant and long-lasting impact on the lives of Nigerians. Various initiatives have also been identified to address the five areas. The national emergencies are, (!)Employment generation, wealth creation and agriculture (2) security, war against corruption, democracy and good governance (3) energy and infrastructural development (4) education and social services and (5) the Niger Delta.

In addition, some key priorities have also been identified to feed into and engaged the resolution of national emergencies (1) reforming the reforms-Marco-economic stability and consolidation (2) ICT and (3) Housing. The philosophical underpinning of the policy direction is that the federal government can drive national development through various strategies of partnership between the three levels of government (the 3G partnership) as well as the public private sector partnership (PPP). All these are anchored on a bottom-up policy formation and implementation strategy in which the Nigerian private and corporate citizenry own the policies, projects and programmes to guarantee execution with clear bench-makes, targets for monitoring and for ensuring compliance.

It is important to note that, Atiku was elected vice president of the federal Republic of Nigeria and sworn in on May 29, 1999, he was re-elected for a second four-year term as vice president and sworn in on May 29, 2003. As the vice president, Atiku performed several tasks, such as, Chairman, National Economic Council, Chairman, National Council on Privatization, Chairman, National Planning Commission, Chairman, National Boundary Commission, Chairman, Presidential Committee on the 8th All African Games, Chairman, Presidential task force on the visit of Queen Elizabeth 11 during the Commonwealth Summit, in Abuja 2004, Chairman, Presidential Committee on Desertification and Deforestation, Chairman, National Emergency Management Agency, Chairman, Border Development Agency and Chairman, Nigerian Institute of International Affairs to mention but a very few. He has vast experience about how to positively and genuinely move the country forward.

It is also imperative to underscore the fact that, he spent 20 years in the Customs Service, which exposed him to the dynamics of a modern economy; he went into private business after his retirement, with interest in oil services, agriculture, food and beverages, print media, insurance and pharmaceuticals. He went into politics in 1989 and has always stood on the side of the people of Nigeria. It is in this connection that Segun Adeniyi reasoned that, “by behaving like a military tribunal where members usually dance to the tune of the commander-in-chief, the Bayo Ojo-administrative panel and the FEC resolution lack credibility. What’s more, the whole saga assumes interesting dimension against the background that the man central to the whole scam, United States Congressman William Jefferson, an eight-term House Democrat, early this month led the polls in his re-election bid”.

Obasanjo has demonstrated beyond all reason limits that he has no respect for the rule of law, due process, transparency, equity and justice. He has bent all the rules to favour himself and his numerous political contraptions. He thinks without him the country will disintegrate. He deludes himself that he is the Lord of Manor of the Nigeria State. He has presided over the affairs of the country since 1999 like a military dictator; he has consistently foisted a reign of terror on the people. Nigeria has be turned upside down and Nigeria has now become a country of anything is possible. It is also on record that, for most part of the second term of four years, that Atiku was sidelined from the scheme of things generally in the country.

It is for this reason that, Nigeria needs a thorough-bred democrat, a person that truly knows and truly understands the needs and aspirations of the people to come on board to genuinely take Nigeria to the Promised Land. He has what it takes to govern the country, he has got the wealth of experience, he has human feelings and the milk of human kindness, and he has the necessary democratic credentials to lead Nigeria aright. The main reason why Obasanjo wants to stop Atiku at all cost from contesting for the 2007 presidency, is that, he knows that Atiku is a man of the people and a winner any day, hence, he must be stopped by the powers that be. But Obasanjo has no such powers; it is only God and the people of Nigeria that can determine the political future of Atiku, and more than any other contestant now, Atiku has all what it takes to positively move the country forward.



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