In the current struggle to clinch the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket for the 2015 general elections, too many odds seem to be balancing in favour of former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. He has gone ahead of the pack by being the first to declare his interest, collect the nomination form and even submit the required document while others were still struggling to take a decision.
While other frontline aspirants like General Muhammadu Buhari, Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, Kano State Governor, Engineer Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso and Sam Ndah Isaiah appear undecided on how to frontally attack the presidential ticket, Atiku looks more than prepared for the 2015 race if the steps he has taken so far are counted in his favour.
Interestingly, while former Vice President Atiku Abubakar declared his intention to vie for the ticket in September at the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Centre in Abuja, former Military Head of State, General Muhamadu Buhari took the centre stage at the Eagle Square also in Abuja on Wednesday, October 15. Another strong contender and Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso also confirmed his intention. Atiku had documented a policy position as the main thrust of his campaign and what will set them apart as the transformation agenda.
He feels that the document is the explicit bid to modify the way the machinery of Federal Government works by clarifying and streamlining ministries, departments and agencies and the responsibilities of removing overlaps and operational redundancies by systematically devolving and delegating operational responsibilities to states and local governments, and private sector organisations.
This document which his team led by former Education Minister, Professor Babalola Borishade addressed habits and practices that currently compromise policy implementation and enshrining good governance as the hallmark of his administration.
The idea which Atiku has brought to the table and which was subjected to a retreat and debate is that the Federal Government would be most effective by concentrating on a few priority areas like Employment Generation& Wealth Creation, Infrastructure & Power, Education & Skills Acquisition, Security, Citizenship and Governance, Agriculture & Food Security, Niger Delta and the North East Re-integration
The fact according to the document is that the policies are linked and can be tackled holistically and effectively through public private partnership. There is a recognition that the private sector is best suited to do certain things and on others the public sector will deliver optimally with significant social benefits. On the other hand, appropriate government to government (G2G) cooperation and co-ordination at all tiers will deliver an optimal solution. Grassroots challenges are best dealt with at local or state levels rather than being lumbered on distant Federal Government.
The most proposed solutions simply outline what his team need do to address unmet needs and which agency, currently believed should be in charge of its implementation and also facilitate implementation.
According to the paper, each policy area provides an insight into a narrow set of challenges, which are framed in hopes, expectations and aspirations. The needs inspire the lead questions that organise possible policy solutions to these challenges. It is assumed that high level of unemployment, crushing poverty and unequal access to education must not only be tackled in their own right, but also to help improve security across the country. It will also target infrastructure investments which will serve as the foundation and incentives for investments in education and training, job creation and increased private sector investments in various sectors of our economy.
On the current state of affairs, the policy believes that whilst the elites live pampered lives, the vast majority of the population is trapped in poverty and destitution. The middle class has crumbled under the weight of rent-seeking. Interestingly, it is believed that too many Nigerians live in fear of violent crime, communal clashes, and savage acts of terrorism. Most feel betrayed by corrupt and self-serving politicians.
The issue of ethno-religious tensions and disputes over titles and entitlements have eroded social cohesion, undermining democratic consolidation and – more recently – threatening national unity and security. Today, Nigeria and Nigerians suffer from terrorist attacks in the north, an insurgency in the Delta, communal violence in the middle belt, cult wars in the south, and kidnappings, armed robberies, and common acts of thuggery throughout the country, hence the debate in Abeokuta is expected to exhaustively discuss the issue accordingly.
When weighed against all the other aspirants the former Vice President may not be enmeshed in the financial quagmire that seems to be the greatest challenge of General Muhammudu Buhari still struggling to convince his backers for funds to prosecute his primaries. Buhari has never hidden the fact that he lacks the financial muscle to pull the strings while the two other aspirants, Kwankwaso and Rochas Okorocha are still serving state Governors who may be scrutinised properly if their source of funds becomes doubtful. Atiku has made his mark financially and has employed more than 20,000 people in his various business outfits ranging from hospitality, logistics, production and education. He is comfortable enough to prosecute the party’s primaries and if he emerges victorious as the flag bearer of APC. No doubt, he is the richest amongst all the aspirants and can take care of all the logistics involved with the candidates for the primaries.
His followership cuts across all the states and he has empowered so many people in business and politics which has no doubt given him an edge. Atiku was one of the pioneer members of the PDM which was led by the late General Shehu YarAdua where he cut his teeth after his retirement from the Nigerian Customs Service.
He joined the People’s Democratic Party PDP at the dawn of the present political dispensation and even won the Governorship election of Adamawa state before the former President Olusegun Obasanjo picked him as his Vice Presidential candidate. For 8 years, he was the Vice President of the country under the PDP. And despite pressures on him to contest the 2003 Presidential race, he stood by Obasanjo.
In fact General Buhari who looks like his closest rival in the forthcoming APC primaries has never won any election since he left office as the Military Head of State which brought him into power through a coup d’état in 1983.
He may not also have the followership in the nooks and crannies of the country. During his last attempt in 2011 under the CPC he could not go round the country to campaign. The retired General could not muster enough support. It is also likely that the leaders of the APC who had earlier convinced him to come out with promises of financial support to enable him realise his ambition may have left him in the lurch. -SunNews