New Telegraph

2023: Atiku, Tinubu’s loyalists in war of words

CLEMENT EKONG reports on the exchange of brickbats by supporters of former Vice- President Atiku Abubakar and the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, ahead of the 2023 presidential election


The expectation that the 2023 general election will afford former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar another opportunity to take a shot at the presidency seems to be to dimming by the day as more political groups and leaders of thought keep clamouring for power to shift to the southern part of the country.


However, some political gladiators believe that all things being equal, the 2023 presidential election is Atiku’s last chance to contest for the exalted seat despite the clamour for the southern presidency project gaining momentum.


But given how opinion leaders across regional divides have muffled democratic voices in support of the move, a coalition of political groups led by an Adamawa indigene, Hamisu Njobdi, last week, called on Atiku to shelve the 2023 ambition in favour of power shift to the South.


The coalition said the country’s unity and corporate existence hinges on North/South power rotation. Similarly, various Atiku support groups across the country recently in Abuja and other cities urged the former vice president to bow to the forces of unity and support the zoning arrangement.


Also, about 100 political leaders, including serving and ex-governors were said to have met in Lagos recently to “rescue Nigeria” and map out a new consensus for national rebirth.


In anticipation of the imminent North to South power swing, a coalition, comprising political mobilizing blocs is said to planning to institute a legal action against a former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu to have him contest the next presidential election in Nigeria.


The group said it will seek a court order to compel the APC national leader to vie for the 2023 presidency on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). Meanwhile, the group that was credited with the success of youth mobilization for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, issued a statement recently in Yola, the Adamawa State capital, urging the President to remember Tinubu’s role in his emergence as APC candidate in 2014.


Pursuant to the Tinubu project, the group vowed to mobilize young people against any northern candidate seeking to succeed Buhari, saying the “decision is in national interest.”


They argued that Tinubu’s credential “stands him out among all those jostling for the nation’s top job, including but not limited to Atiku, It added that any scheming against power shift to the South, particularly against a Tinubu presidency will fail.


But in a sharp reaction, the Arewa Youth Forum came down hard on the Coalition of Civil Society for Good Governance for asking the former vice-president to shelve his 2023 presidential aspiration, describing the call as undemocratic.


“Ordinarily, we would not have joined issues with the so-called coalition over their undemocratic rant, but for the importance of exposing the narrow mindedness of these charlatans, who seem not to know what to do with their access to the media,” AYF leader, Barr. Abubakar Naabba said.


He noted that no sane civil society organisaton will support the emergence of any president through the backdoor in a contraption called zoning. He maintained that Atiku has all the backing of the Nigerian constitution and the Electoral Act to run for any office of his choice in this country.


“We don’t have the time to lecture the coalition on the well-known fact that in a democracy, it is the voters who decide at the polling units. It is obviously not the duty of a coalition to decide on the pages of newspapers, who should be the next president before 2023.


“If the coalition wants a southern president, let their candidate come forward and challenge Atiku in a free and fair contest, because that is the only justice available under any democratic system.


If it was easy to just shout zoning and automatically become president, the PDP would not have given a level playing field for both northern and southern presidential aspirants for 2023,” Naabba said.


He claimed that for 216 years, it was the northern part of the United State that produced presidents with only Lyndon B. Johnson ( from the south) breaking the jinx and even then by default, because he became president when John Kennedy was assassinated.


“We call on this so-called coalition to take their undemocratic, primitive political agenda elsewhere and stop dragging the father of modern Nigerian politics, a highly committed democrat, popularly known as Atiku.


He is not by any stretch of the imagination someone you can use the undemocratic, cheap zoning campaign in order to circumvent his ambition, this nation needs Atiku and no backdoor campaign of the misnomer called Zoning can ever change that truth,” he said.


In another development, the North-East Alliance for Democratic Change, a political pressure group has described the proposal by some PDP and APC presidential aspirants for them and Atiku to meet and discuss their presidential aspirations as an exercise in futility.


The zonal chairman of the alliance, Lawal Mukhtar Ladan, noted that even if such a platform is provided for all the presidential aspirants within PDP and APC, Atiku will far overshadow them given his experience on governance.


Ladan said based on antecedents, the former vice-president is more qualified to fly the PDP flag ahead in the 2023 presidential poll when compared to Tinubu, who is leading the pack in the APC.


Ladan therefore advised the national leadership of the PDP that unless Atiku is fielded as the standard bearer of the party, it is bound to lose the 2023 poll.

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