Atiku Abubakar: PDP’s only realistic path to Aso Rock
This assertion somewhat sounds blunt, unapologetic and arrogant coming from an APC stalwart. Sadly, it is the plain truth, given the moment, times and seasons we are in. The stakes are high, the country is polarized and the optics are unpredictable. There are questions agitating the minds of not only the members of PDP coming from the southern extractions, but even the moderates and millennials; questions that bother on equality, equity, unity, polarization and insecurity. If you sent a questionnaire to millions of Nigerians about where should the next PDP president come from, you are likely to have the greater number of the answers in favour of the south, given that PMB although an APC president but hails from the north; yet just like in law we grapple with the question of law and morality, PDP is confronted with the same sad reality of opportunity over equity, success over argument. Even the question of equity in terms of their quote in quote zoning formula is debatable and we can argue until the cows come home. There are those who still hold the strong firm beliefs that in PDP the north has not exhausted its quota especially when you consider that strictly from the partisan point of view. There are those who would on the other hand tell you that partisan or not the North is the North and would equate PMB’s administration as one and done. However PDP must not pretend about the realities of the time and need to take advantage of advantage. Either it insist on power shift to the south or allow free contest in the hope that if the Northern politician wins the chances are that PDP would win the elections and take back power to re-set whatever they believe is the political equilibrium. There are dynamics that would shape how PDP wins the Aso Rock. The factors are numbers, message, personalities and movement.
The winner of any election must be someone who scores the highest, majority of the lawful votes cast. This is the key to determining elections and election petitions. Therefore PDP has to worry about how and what best strategy to adopt to win the majority of the lawful votes cast. There is strength in numbers. This also speaks to the need for PDP to rally around who would best bring the numbers.
Again what accounted for the failed attempt by PDP to win the 2019 elections was largely the messaging. There were mixed messages, there appeared to be contrary messaging or conflicting messaging. In one breathe they preach unity and unifying the country and in another breathe they preach full blown capitalism without recourse to the downtrodden Nigerians who must first be rescued from hunger and death. There were times they didn’t even convey any message but continued to say it was time for PDP to takeover. They also didn’t have a reply message to the hauling and scathing allegations by APC about corruption, Mal-administration and instigators of insecurity. Messaging is vital in buildup or during the electioneering campaign. Messaging that’s why all religious faiths teach proclamation, evangelism and messaging. Salesmen can tell you too. Why do you think advertorials in both print and electronic media cost the biggest budget. In America 77 percent of the spending during elections are on advertising and messaging. In contrast because of loss of confidence in the process, Nigerian politicians spend more on hiring of thugs, or using undemocratic approach to winning the elections. PDP needs to reinvent itself with a renewed message that will promise hope or any sense of survival and progress.
In Africa, personalities win elections, not so much of party. APC won 2015 elections because of PMB, not necessarily the party. The party helped to a large extent in mobilizing support, funds, ideas and consolidation, but no doubt PMB brought the numbers. There is a common cliché in APC that Buhari has the vote-bank. Whatever messaging he used to acquire the numbers, no doubt he has the vote bank. He consistently brought about 8 million votes in all his elections attempts, that was what informed APC to go for he who has the numbers. His personality was the product that APC sold to cash in to power. If PDP must win, they would need the personality or personalities that will bring in the numbers. The undecided or millennials always lean or gravitate towards the character or personality of the person they would eventually vote for.
- Political Movement
To take back the power, PDP would need in addition to the above, a movement. That means PDP must reinvent itself and mobilize all bases. “A political movement is a collective attempt by a group of people to change government policy or social values. Political movements are usually in opposition to an element of the status quo and are often associated with a certain ideology”. PDP must reinvent and develop a broad based ideology. An ideology is an identity; right now PDP doesn’t seem to have a well defined ideology that one can take and run with it. What helped APC win the 2015 elections wasn’t just that Nigerians were tired of PDP, it was also that APC developed a well defined ideological message and ran with it. The message was “Change.” Change is a major element of a progressive ideology. It meant creating equal opportunities, it meant representing the interests of the ordinary people through political change and the support of government actions. Whether APC lived to its fullest ideals is another debate for another day, but that was the message and it resonated with the masses especially the middle class, low class, no class, market women class and boy it created the movement. PDP needs that, more than just paying lips service to catch-phrases.
Right now in PDP there is no personality with the requisite pedigree and reach to bring in the numbers more than ATIKU ABUBAKAR. It is a sad truth, but he is the only realistic path for the PDP to the Aso Villa. Sometime around 2017 or 2018 when PDP wasn’t even considering ATIKU ABUBAKAR in their discourse, when Saraki, Tambuwal and others were running the show with the solid support of HE Nyesom Wike, I recall in an interview on Channels TV I said, the only candidate in PDP that would give PMB a run for his money is ATIKU Abubakar; boy didn’t he? PMB with his voting bank and with the united efforts of all the APC juggernauts could only secure a little over two million against Atiku. 2023 PMB would not be on the ballot, APC may not likely have the compact common front as was the case in 2019, what opportunity do you think this likely suggests to PDP? But Atiku needs Nyesom Wike as a necessary party to win the 2023 elections. Atiku’s capacity and reach with Wike’s sagacity and energy, 2023 would be an interesting event. Atiku’ s chances has further broadened by the defection of Rabiu Kwankwaso from PDP.
No doubt Gov Wike has over the years created a rising profile by his political opposition activism and governance achievement. He has won many hearts and was the voice of the opposition, but that is as far as it can get, when the chips are down, he can’t bring in the numbers beyond South South. My apologies but my humble opinion is South South politicians most often than not have adopted the militant approach even in politics and it will not help in bringing in the numbers beyond the south south. Simply put, Wike is a regional political war lord. He has not consciously and conspicuously expanded his political engagements beyond the south south and it is too late to achieve that now going into 2023 elections. He has fought with virtually every governor in the south east or most governors. He has at least picked a governor in each geopolitical zone as a political prisoner in order to establish his political sagacity. Gov Wike has to tone down the rhetoric and fights, and accept reality to be Atiku’s running mate. That’s their realistic path
Pius Anyim having served as senate president and SGF has attained a level of conversation, but unfortunately his lack of active politics since 2015 has only helped to diminish his influence and marketability. He has not been active politically after leaving office as SGF. He also did not assume any role in public affairs that would keep his name, fame and message in the public space or even his political party. The only news that trended his leaving office was his EFCC’ case and that helped to create a ceiling for him. It is too late to build a movement, support base or even secure the follower ship of party faithfuls. He is even grappling with local resistance politically, hence cannot command national support. I doubt if PDP would ever consider taking such risk by giving him the ticket of the party.
The 8th Senate boosted the profile of Bukola Saraki immensely in the PDP. He was to PDP in the 8th senate what Wike is to PDP in the 2019-to date politics. They were both considered as champions for their party. Saraki no doubt has built his structure and support base beyond his geopolitical zone. He is one politician who was careful and strategic in building a base across all the geopolitical zones of the country. He used the 8th Senate to create a structure, but sadly he can’t bring in the numbers as much as Atiku ABUBAKAR would heading to 2023 elections. Again Atiku needs him as campaign director general because of the structure he’s got and can deploy as well as his political affiliations and reach .
He is energetic, has ideas and international connections, himself being a journalist and writing has an advantage, but uses wrong narrative and messaging. He has consistently preached that his greatest strength lies in his business acumen, having run a successful business for decades and therefore can translate into good governance. That right there, is a counter productive narrative because running an entertaining print media company is not in anyway indicative of possessing the qualities to govern a country. If he maintains the same narrative he might be out of the race before it starts because there are those who would tell you that what his Ovation magazine did in Africa was to promote a culture of corruption, ostentatious lifestyle and vain glory. Because if you take a look at personalities he profiled their achievements, lavish parties, weddings, anniversaries majority of those individuals either have been convicted, tried or are being investigated for criminal misappropriation of public funds. No doubt there were very successful businesspeople, sports and music moguls etc who made their monies in a transparent and legitimate manner, but people often times reckon with the negatives to assess character and integrity. Therefore success in publishing Ovation magazine should never be part of his talking points. Secondly, he appears not to have developed political structure anywhere in the country, but heavily relies on social medial influence and presence, unfortunately the electoral act does not recognize social media voting and does not attribute social media influence to majority of the lawful votes cast.
Makinde is gradually building an image and structure in the south west. He is young and progressive. He has carefully avoided political controversy to build a marketable image. This means hope especially to the youth in PDP that you can rise to prominence by sheer determination and Gods help. But Makinde isn’t built for 2023, maybe in the future when the image he is building will assume a stature needed for national politics. His challenge is that most south west PDP generals have refused to accept him as the leader of the party in the south west and this would militate against his possible bid for presidency come 2023.
No has a rising profile for national politics. He seems to have proved capacity to collaborate and engage during his time as speaker of the federal House of Representatives. He successfully led a revolt against the same PDP then to prove he has capacity for movement. But pundits believe he has not done enough in his state to show capacity for national politics. Others even view him as a politician that ducks and dodges when needed to rise and speak for the party as Nyesom Wike. Mr. Tambuwal’s biggest challenge is Atiku ABUBAKAR; he surely cannot upstage Atiku from the North. He has also not expanded his political base beyond the North West talk-less other regions of the country. He therefore cannot bring in the numbers nor generate the movement needed to challenge APC whoever the candidate eventually is.
IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS
Who will rally the business community and engage their support more in PDP? Atiku Abubakar, who will harvest the large votes in all the geopolitical zones more for PDP? Atiku ABUBAKAR. Who has the financial capacity or capacity to generate the funds to run the elections for PDP? Atiku ABUBAKAR and Nyesom Wike. Who has the national experience of the Aso Vila and in fact laid the foundation for establishment of modern institutions in the country? Atiku ABUBAKAR. Who can rally the international community in this global quest for a secured future for PDP? Atiku ABUBAKAR. Who has proven to be more nationalistic and unifying than others in PDP? Atiku ABUBAKAR. In the final analysis any politician that ran for office more than three times and still remains relevant has the greater chances of winning elections, e.g Buhari, Abraham Lincoln, etc.
In my next issue, I will be analyzing the All Progressives Congress (APC) and who in APC is likely to be the MVP and win the 2023 elections.
Dr Daniel Bwala
Legal Practitioner and Barrister Lincolns in (NP)