2023: Nigeria’s hope rekindles with Atiku

In less than two years, Nigerians would go to the polls to elect the next president of Africa’s most populous black nation.

It’s pellucid and incontrovertible fact that in the upcoming election, to say Nigeria needs to be rescued and unshackled is a brazen understatement. With what is happening everywhere, if we are not careful, the present administration won’t bequeath to us something we would call a nation.

In fact, the grievous mistakes made and moral lessons learned from the previous elections should be the determinants of the voting patterns in the 2023 general election. The security challenges, economic crisis, chaos and widening disunity in the country require serious consciousness in choosing the right person to lead us out of the woods.

Down history lane, in the late 1998, some patriotic Nigerians took advantage of the death of General Sani Abacha, the then military head of state, and subsequent emergence of his successor, General Abdulsalam Abubakar, to return the country to democracy.

The idea to fight for the return of democracy was long conceived by the country’s strong political blocks coming together from all parts of the nation devoid of religious, ethnic or political leanings.

It started with the formation of the group of nine persons (G9), namely, Sule Lamido, Professor Jerry Gana, Sen. Ella, late Abubakar Rimi, late Adamu Chiroma, late Solomon Lar, Sen. Iyorchia Ayu, late Bola Ige, and late Alex Ekwueme. The group was expanded to G18 and later 34; it formerly became the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Prior to this, the country was sharply divided along religious, regional and political lines with so much disaffection, estrangement, wounds from the civil war, and lots more. These were attributes of the then military leadership encapsulated with tactical marginalisation, rebelion, favouritism, massive corruption, coups and counter-coups.

But the hope for a better and united country reignited in 1998. General Abdulsalam Abubakar, who took over the leadership of the country as the new head of state after the sudden death of General Sani Abacha, began preparation for the transition to democratic rule.

Also, to douse the rising tension, heal the wounds, unite the country and give everyone a sense of belonging in running the affairs of Nigeria, in 2009, the PDP gave its presidential ticket to the former military head of state, General Olusegun Obasanjo, a Southerner, who was unconditionally released from jail as part of the deal.

The Obasanjo administration had a great start by building strong institutions, selection of the finest and most competent team of ministers, heads of agencies and parastatals cut across all the states and zones – to deal with corruption which was the major problem of the country. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related iffences Commission (ICPC) were established resulting in prosecution and jailing of many corrupt public and private officers.

To show commitment to the unity, peace and progress of Nigeria, Obasanjo declared a state of emergency in Plateau state during the administration of Joshua Dariye when the religious crisis was ceaseless.

Unfortunately, enmeshed in self-ego and political sentiments, Obasanjo later derailed from the genuine part upon which he was originally brought to power. He conceived an unthoughtful idea of tenure elongation which was profoundly fought and won by a lone person, his Vice, Atiku Abubakar.

Indeed, apart from the struggle that returned the country to democracy in 1999, there was nothing that saved the system other than the doggednes and bravery of the then Vice President Atiku Abubakar; thisbwas his only crime upon which Obasanjo conspicuously blocked him from succeeding him in 2007.

Equally, the cloudy choice of the late Umar Musa Yar’Adua to succeed Obasanjo and the inordinate desperation exhibited by President Jonathan who took over after the death of Yar’Adua, plunged the country into political chaos again, paving the way for General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) to become president in 2015 – the election was PDP against itself.

Regrettable, either not well prepared to lead, or not having what it takes to be the president of Nigeria, the Buhari government has woefully failed Nigerians. Today, the most lucrative venture by the teeming unemployed youth, and even some aged, is kidnapping and banditry while the cost of living is expensive than ever before.

The rising ethnic profiling, IPOB and Oduduwa secessionists agitations and killing of innocent people and the wanton destruction of property are clear indicators of a failed state under the watch of the APC led government.

However, 2019 offered a great opportunity for us to right our wrongs by electing the saviour of democracy, Atiku Abubakar. Unfortunately, we lost it and not long into the journey, we began endless lamentations. Today, approximately, 400 innocent children are captives to bandits in the bush, many Nigerians are living below poverty line, farmers can no longer afford to farm, businesses are crippled, and the list goes on.

It’s now left for us – Atiku will still present himself to contest in 2023 and his contest is the only seeming life line for a prosperous Nigeria.

Muhammad writes from Abuja.