By the prognosis of political pundits in Nigeria, the 2023 presidential election may yet be the defining moment and the year for total electoral victory for a former Vice President of Nigeria and Waziri of Adamawa, Atiku Abubakar. As Winston Churchill succinctly espoused: “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another without loss of enthusiasm.”
No Nigerian politician understands this secret of success than the boy from Jada, who has grown to be the man for Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar. God Almighty gives perseverance to very few of his chosen servants. I daresay that Atiku is one of those few chosen and lucky servants of God. He has grasped this special gift and uses it in his political struggles to his advantage.
I cannot see the future but can make predictions based on the unfolding political events in the country. There is the likelihood that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, will emerge as the party’s flag bearer in 2023. The Peoples Democratic Party will most likely field Atiku to lead the party to victory in 2023. Atiku has proven his mettle by sending shivers to the nerves of APC in the 2019 presidential election. He is the only PDP candidate who can wrestle power from the APC. Indeed, the current preoccupation of the ruling party is how to surmount the challenges of an Atiku candidacy in 2023.
If what is happening in the two major political parties in the country is anything to go by, then we can understand that the battleground for the contest of president of Nigeria in 2023 will be between the two heavyweight politicians.
With all his popularity, influence and power in APC, Tinubu is practically a political nonentity outside his political base – his comfort zone and native South West geopolitical region. He is not known to the Igbo people of the South East and to the South South.
Atiku has for a long time built a strong political fortress in the South South and South East of Nigeria. He will leverage on his wide political, social and business network to edge out his opponent in 2023. Unfortunately for Tinubu, these zones are his weak spots in politics. They have always been PDP stronghold. Voters from this part of the country will probably continue in this pattern and vote for the PDP in 2023.
Another advantage which PDP and Atiku have over Tinubu is in the choice of a running mate. The Waziri’s running mate will undoubtedly emerge from the South East or South South. Tinubu must pick his running mate from the North. The APC is in the cauldron over whom to pair with Tinubu in the 2023 presidential election.
There have been rumours that Yakubu Dogara, the immediate past Speaker of the House of Representatives, or Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, will be the running mate to Tinubu. The APC is perhaps looking at this option to forestall the divisive clamour for Muslim-Muslim ticket by some members of the party. Nobody disputes the fact that the duo of Boss and Dogara are prominent politicians in Nigeria. The question is: in what ways could they help Tinubu garner the support of the majority but conservative Muslim population in Northern Nigeria? They may be popular among the Christians, but they don’t have the political clout to influence the vote in the North.
From my observation, Atiku will sweep South South and South East in the south, leaving only the South West to Tinubu. The North, as usual, will be the major battleground for 2023 presidential election. With Muhammadu Buhari out of the power equation in the next election, it is obvious that Atiku will be the only and most popular brand on everybody’s lips in the North. This mass appeal and acceptability will be the magic wand for Atiku to the detriment of Tinubu. The northern electorates will naturally gravitate towards Atiku. The region will be the political burial ground for Tinubu in 2023.
From this brief explication, we can deduce that the road to 2023 will be smooth to Atiku than to his opponent. For a self-monitoring and self-controlled businessman cum politician, this time is the peak productive window for Atiku Abubakar. It is the opportune time to focus and get prepared for the upcoming challenges in 2023.
May we live to witness that special moment of glory and critical juncture for the former Vice President and Wazirin Adamawa.
. Balogun, a political analyst, writes from Ibadan, Oyo State.