AFTER six unsuccessful attempts, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar becomes the only politician in Nigeria who has sought the presidency the most times and has yet to win it.
He has had two more shots at the country’s most exalted office than incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, who ran four times before winning it.
Atiku, 76, has contested for the top office for 31 years and has had his hope dashed.
He vied for the presidency on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) platform in the election conducted on February 25, 2023.
Atiku came second with 6,984,520 votes, trailing the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Bola Tinubu, who polled 8,794,726.
He was one of the 18 presidential candidates in the election.
On Thursday, March 2, he vowed to challenge Tinubu’s victory declared by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on March 1 in court.
While Atiku has failed in all six times he has contested for the seat since 1992, Tinubu only contested once and won.
The ICIR reports that Atiku came into politics about the same time as Tinubu.
Both politicians cut their teeth in national politics through the late Shehu Musa Y’Adua-led Social Democratic Party (SDP) after former military leader Ibrahim Babangida created the SDP and National Republican Convention (NRC) in 1989, preparatory to a planned democratic transition.
Two options that can make Atiku become Nigeria’s President
Two options can now make the Adamawa State-born politician achieve his life-long ambition. The first is to challenge Tinubu in court as he vowed and get the court to reverse Tinubu’s victory or order the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to conduct a fresh election, which he must win.
The second option is for the Waziri of Adamawa to recontest in 2027 for the seventh time. Running for the seventh time for the presidency could be a wild goose chase for him because he would be 80 years by 2027. Many Nigerians now desire a young President, as reflected in the massive support the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Peter Obi, enjoyed in the last election. Obi, 61, came third with 6,101,533 votes.
How rift with Rivers State Governor thwarted Atiku’s presidential dream
Atiku’s loss in the last election arguably stemmed from his rift with five aggrieved governors in his party.
The ICIR reported how the wrangle lingered days before the poll.
Nyesom Wike of Rivers State leads the G-5 governors, namely Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia), Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo) and Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu).
Atiku’s emergence as the PDP flagbearer angered Wike’s group because the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari hails from the North like Atiku. Buhari and Atiku are from the Fulani tribe. The G-5 governors see Atiku succeeding Buhari as an injustice to the multi-ethnic Nigerian nation.
Wike had contested for the PDP’s presidential ticket and lost to Atiku in May 2022.
Many Nigerians hoped Atiku would settle for Wike as his running mate. The former Vice President opted for Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa.
After many appeals by the party stalwarts, Wike agreed to work with Atiku, but on the condition that the party’s chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, who is also from the North, resigns for a party member from the South to lead the party.
The G-5 governors insisted they would not support the PDP, which ruled Nigeria between May 29, 1999, to May 29, 2015, when it lost the presidency from the then incumbent Goodluck Jonathan, who was seeking re-election to Buhari, a retired Army General, who led Nigeria through a putsch between December 31, 1983, to August 27, 1985.
Buhari’s two-term of four years apiece ends on May 29, 2023.
The ICIR reports that only Wike and Makinde could be adjudged to have made good their threat not to support Atiku. They supported the APC, which won in their states.
The Labour Party trounced Ortom, Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu, who were seeking election into the Senate. The Labour Party won in Ugwanyi and Ikpeazu states, while APC took Ortom’s. Ortom had endorsed the Labour Party, which failed in his state.
For information about Atiku’s childhood, education, work experience in the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), his previous six shots at the presidency, including his leadership roles as Vice President during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s era, family and philanthropic lifestyle, check here and here.
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