By Austin Johnson
Less than two and half years to the 2019 polls, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has commenced early preparations to confront President Muhammadu Buhari, if the president eventually caves to pressure from his kitchen cabinet to seek re-election. As a sign that the future may witness yet another presidential contest involving the former number two man under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Adamawa State government recently, through its Chief of Staff, Abdulrahman Abba Jimeta, declared support for the presidential ambition of the former Vice President.
Speaking at the flag-off of the construction of Girei-Wuro Bokki road by Governor Muhammad Jibrilla recently, the Chief of Staff said the state was firmly behind the former Vice President .where ever he (Atiku) goes, the state government is behind him”.
“From the Governor to the Deputy governor, the Secretary to the state government , the Commissioners ,the special advisers and special assistants and all other political appointees and members of the State House of Assembly are behind Atiku Abubakar”, he stated.
Describing Atiku as a selfless politician who had never paved way for his children or close relation to gain political office, the top official of the Adamawa State government declared: “Such an important figure in Adamawa State, we as a government, have nothing to pay him back, than to support all his, political ambitions and to give him our support if he declares to run for any political office”.
In his speech, Governor Jibrilla commended Buhari for his commitment to maintain security in the North-East, calling for public support for federal government agencies working in the state.
It is now becoming clear that the current President Buhari is not taking chances concerning the next coming elections in 2019. The confirmation came a day after a former Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) member, Malam Buba Galadima, a loyalist of former Vice President, Atiku, who said that Buhari would be abandoned by the people if he decides to contest in 2019. However, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, that the suggestions that the masses will desert him in 2019 was unfounded and utterly ridiculous.
Reacting to Buba’s view, Shehu said that ordinary Nigerians are the backbone of Buhari’s mandate and the only reason he ran for the office is to protect them against the rapacious merchants of corruption, who have held Nigeria back for decades.
In the words of Shehu, “Galadima’s calculation and prediction are utterly confused and misleading. President’s enormous goodwill remains ever strong because the people are convinced the President is acting in their best interest, despite the temporary unintended consequences of reforms.”
Going by the current hardship in the country, some people tend to agree with Galadima that most of the masses are angry with not only Mr. President but even the All Progressives Congress (APC) administration. Many Nigerians are beginning to question the APC over fulfilments of its campaign promises as a failure. However, the truth must be told that the administration has tried in curtailing the activities of the Boko Haram in the country and the transformation in the Judiciary.
The Presidency is of the opinion that President Buhari is far from being isolated politically. That he enjoys a very strategic relationship with ordinary Nigerians and that this relationship is as solid as the proverbial rock. But, how strong this relationship is will soon be tested come 2019, starting from the party’s primaries to the presidential national election.
The recent balkanization within the party with counter accusations and maneuvers by former Vice President Atiku’s camp and Gov. Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai of Kaduna State and Senator Bola Tunubu’s alleged founding of another political party should be a thing of concern to the Presidency. The president should be careful, because the same people that shouted vote for baba can also shout do not vote for Baba.
Many like Galadima, cannot said to speak for the masses as far as their steadfast loyalty to Buhari is concerned. According to Shehu, “While acknowledging that Galadima was entitled to advance his own political agenda, Galadima didn’t have the right to decide for ordinary voters. Buba Galadima’s disagreement with President Buhari was based on principle. President Buhari is committed to level playing field and would not want anyone to link his name to injustice.” “Galadima’s disagreement with Buhari started in 2011 when a group within the party, orchestrated an organizational mess by which the CPC embarked on the imposition and substitution of candidates for cash payments at the expense of those duly and democratically elected.
“Muhammadu Buhari was embarrassed by the incidents and complaints about the imposition and substitution of candidates, adding that he, as a democrat, would not suppress the will of the people to please selfish interests. “Consequently he dispensed with the service, such as they are, of Buba Galadima; ran and won the 2015 Elections without them.
“Let Buba Galadima go to his constituency, stand for election and see what will happen to him”, Shehu stressed.
However, Buba’s allegation should not be swept under the carpet because many political gladiators are already gearing up in most states of the country. So, whether Buhari will contest or not is not the issue at hand. Many Nigerians are out of jobs. Families are disintegrating. Feeding three square meal a day is now memorial. The prayer of most Nigerians is that the government should get things right before 2019 general elections.