2019 : Atiku Versus Arewa Agenda, By Zubairu Jakara

So just who is Arewa’s most suitable candidate for the 2019 elections? This question may seem premature or even unnecessary depending on your concern for Arewa 2019. But when we observe the alarming level of discord within the region, especially since the outbreak of Biafran belligerence fuelled the embers of geo-ethnic intolerance across Nigeria, the prospects for Arewa getting a smooth and easy transition to a second tenure in 2019 get beclouded. It is now not so heretical to doubt or even rule out another presidential bid by ailing President Buhari, whether the so-called cabalists like it or not. The combination of dashed hopes for “change”, progressive disintegration of the APC and Buhari’s diminishing stamina for the stress and rigour of electioneering is just too forbidding. A change of candidate is therefore beyond contention if Arewa 2019 is to be a realistic venture!

Another necessary change in Arewa’s agenda for retaining its secured second term entitlement must be the immediate and uncompromising dumping of all “old brigades” from consideration as potential flag-bearers. The sentimental obsession with “elders” and allied political patrons in the search for presidential candidates has become a liability for Arewa. Even without Baba Buhari’s age-inflicted political mishap , the profile of post-Sardauna Arewa politicians in terms of following the legacies of selflessness, popular father-figure leadership style and tangible development strides has been utterly repelling. Unfortunately, the domineering presence of the old brigade politicians on the Arewa arena has constituted a stumbling block against younger and more credible politicians moving onto the national scene. This is a major issue that must be confronted and resolved in the interest of the region’s future.

The die-hard presidential ambition of former VP Atiku Abubakar is today regarded as the next liability for Arewa’s stake in 2019 elections because since 2007 when it was the region’s turn to produce a president under the unofficial rotational arrangement, we have been bedeviled by serious dilemma linked to the age and health status of our candidates. Both Yaradua and Buhari have afflicted Arewa’s legendary political resilience in national leadership with a debilitating deficit. While Yaradua’s age was not cause for concern definitely his health status effectively crippled the North’s power expectancy with ripples of rancor across the nation triggered by the hanky-panky handling of his last days. President Buhari has added to the Arewa baggage of bungled presidencies with his age and health hang-ups, not to mention the queer paralysis of power that eclipsed his “tsunami” election victory.

For the avoidance of doubt Atiku will be in the mid-seventies by 2019 and there is nothing else about his presidential ambition to mitigate the ominous implications of this on Arewa’s 2019 secured entitlement to a second tenure in Aso Villa. It is worth recalling that Atiku Abubakar himself never thought of being a presidential politician in the first instance, limiting his horizon to the governorship gamble in his native Adamawa State. Even with a fortunate twist of political fate, he ended up as a Vice President in 1999. If that unexpected elevation also raised his ambition level, he was incapable of tailoring it to suit the terms of transition, especially under Obasanjo, the father of presidential ambition. Thus Atiku ambitiously succumbed to the vice of presidential politics by heedlessly seeking to hound his benefactor out of the Villa, getting his babbanriga burnt in the process.

Not surprisingly, since then he has been changing his political costumes to reflect the resilience of his presidential ambition as well as the varieties of guise at his disposal, waltzing from right-wing conservatism to “progressive” posturing with chameleonic chicanery. Predictably, every failed bid has fuelled his ambition further, all the while obsessed more with his own tortuous trajectory than the political misfortunes of Arewa. Surely Atiku must be living under the illusion of thousand-year lifespan of the days of Prophet Noah, not our70-year expectancy, for him to be seriously warming up for Nigeria’s Presidency, when he should be retreating into terminal thanksgiving for a life well spent in self-advancement as Baba Atiku!

When you consider the jinx of age and ill-health that has been haunting Arewa’s presidential tenures since 2007 with Atiku Abubakar’s uncompromising determination to be the next septuagenarian northern President in 2019, you don’t have to be a sadist to anticipate another round of national hysteria over elderly northern leaders and outright rejection of a third encounter with an ailing president, a cabal and a “coordinating” vice-president. Rather than trying to dissuade an uncompromisingly determined veteran presidential bidder like Atiku Abubakar, it is far more realistic for Arewa youths and selfless political leaders to be proactive, pragmatic and persistent in promoting and empowering a new generation political leader-like Right Honourable Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwak- to break the jinx of old age, ill-health and truncated tenures that has almost turned northern presidency into political abomination in Nigeria. Shikenan !

Zubairu Jakara,Zaria City.

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