Nseobong Okon-Ekong and Lanre Alfred examine some of the personalities who played some key roles in the emergence of former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party
While former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar only acknowledged the party leadership, his co-contestants, delegates and former boss, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on his emergence as the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP,), there are a string of noteworthy individuals who have not only taken ownership of the victory, but are positioned to play key roles in the event Abubakar becomes President of Nigeria.
The contest was a fitting test of Abubakar’s sagacity. His triumph showed he had learnt the ropes and cemented important relationships across the country in a chequered political career spanning over 40 years. During this period, he participated in five primary elections. He acknowledged that “some of the outcomes were successful, when others were not so successful. While political pundits may have given a chance at the presidential primary, he performed by far above many expectation. Triumphing with over 800 votes over his closet rival and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal announced Abubakar’s mastery of Nigerian politics in definite terms.
Though are quick to point out that he was simply ‘highest paymaster’, allegedly disbursing USD2,500 to each delegate, his supporters argue that Tambuwal got the support of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and others under his influence to gift delegates the same amount of USD2,500, bottom line, Abubakar’s longstanding friendships from all parts of Nigeria and his personality paid off. Of course, the amounts disbursed to ‘super delegates’was more than 100 percent of the monetary entitlement to ‘ordinary ‘ delegates. One of the consideration for the choice of Abubakar was the understanding that he had (or could command) the war chest to match President Muhammadu Buhari. To be sure, Atiku started his campaign for the PDP presidential ticket, about two years when he dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC) and he was not tip-toeing on his ambition. While some of the personalities like Senate President Dr Bukola Saraki, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso and Tambuwal who would later give him a fight for the PDP presidential ticket prevaricated, Abubakar took the bold step of quitting the APC. Thereafter, he made himself an unrelenting critic of the APC policies and actions, which conferred on him the position of the arrowhead of the opposition.
A few of the co-contenders thought they taint Abubakar by harping on his frequent exit and return to the PDP, but the truth is that the former Vice President is one of those who founded the PDP. ounding member of the PDP and former and the majority understand the circumstances of his temporary leave from the party and we’re not willing to judge him on that score.
Having failed to reach a consensus, Abubakar must have gone into the race believing his chances were as good as the likes of Kwankwaso, Saraki, Lamido and Tambuwal who were also routed as front-runner in the race for the PDP’s presidential ticket.
For a chequered political career spanning over four decades, during which he first sought the presidential ticket of his party, the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, in 1993, but was prevailed upon to step down for the flambouyant businessman, late Chief MKO Abiola; Atiku has shown class and experience by presenting the most exhaustive and extensive blueprint to transforming Nigeria.
For many, the Abubakar bid for the presidential ticket was an emotional trip. A good number of supporters are standing with Abubakar because they think he has been victimised too many times. He is easily one of the most vilified Nigerian politicians. From being harassed by his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, who gleefully spread tales about his alleged hunt by the American government, among other politically devastating tales, Atiku has stayed above the fray, surmounting every obstacle in his way.
Like a phoenix that takes a new life from the ashes of its demise, Abubakar bounces back from adversities and adversaries with unmatched vigour . Instructively, he knows he hasn’t come this far on his own strength or skills; he has had the good fortune of having dependable and savvy lieutenants around him,.
Credited for being nationalistic in outlook, Abubakar has some of Nigeria’s best brains in his corner and they cut across varying pedigree and profession, sex and ethnic groups.
Otunba Gbenga Daniel
As the Director General of his Atiku Abubakar campaign, this former Governor of Ogun State may see Abubakar’s victory as a personal triumph. Many thought it couldn’t be achieved, but OGD combined his brilliance with Abubakar’s charisma to score a resounding goal. While contesting for the chairmanship position of the PDP last year, Daniel openly showed his loyalty to Atiku which did not go down too well with some power brokers. He lost the seat; then, Atiku appointed him Director-General of the Atiku Campaign Organisation. OGD crisscrossed the length and breadth of Nigeria; embracing and corralling different socio-political interests; propagating the ideals and vision of his principal. Though he worked very hard, he could not deliver the South-west as a bloc. In fact, his home state was badly fragmented and came to the convention with the smallest contingent of 21 delegates.
Time will tell of the former governor of Anambra State will evenually become Abubakar’s running mate, since the odds favour an Igbo man. Such arrangememt is not strange to Abubakar who had previously entered the presidential battle with Senator Ben Obi as his running mate. Peter Obi is believed to be one of the eggs heads in the intellectual engine room of Abubakar. There is a high expectation for an Atiku-Obi ticket.
Like the late MKO agboola, polygamy may prove to be a good thing in this case. Abubakar has a wife or concubines from the major ethnic groups in Nigeria. One of his wives, Jennifer, an Ignorant woman is known to have sacrificed a lot to protect her man. In the past, the former NTA newscaster had suffered persecution for being Abubakar’s wife. But her steadfastness, education and beauty have added a good measure of shine on the Abubakar brand.
Atiku has this enviable distinction for head-hunting brilliant brains across the world. Uyiekpen Giwa-Osagie is one of them. Uyi’s faith He is one loyalist whose strong resolve about Atiku is time-tested. Uyi has played pivotal roles in cementing a significant number of business deals across various business sectors.
A very successful woman in her own right, Oyin Adeyemi, the Group Managing Director of StillEarth Group, believes Abubakar is the only one who can move Nigeria forward at this time. She pulls a lot of strings behind the scene for the Atiku campaign organisation. Oyin Adeyemi has often told the story of her rise to the pinnacle of her career in construction, building and engineering, and real estate, central to which is Atiku Abubakar. Oyin’s path crossed with Atiku’s when she had the opportunity to be a member of the policy and strategy team of his campaign years back.
Akin Kekere-Ekun, a Director of Caverton Offshore Support Group Plc, is an expert in relationship and portfolio management, financial advisory and bank management with over 30 years contribution to national financial issues. An alumnus of the Oklahoma State University, Long Island University and Harvard Business School, Kekere-Ekun has a long standing relationship with Atiku, which has culminated in his appointment as Chairman of the American University of Nigeria in Adamawa State, an institution founded by Atiku.
Tunde Ayeni’s believe in Abubakar has come a long way. His admiration is largely on account of the business acumen that he credits the former Vice President with.
From being business buddies, Peter Okocha and Abubakar have extended their relationship into politics. Peter, Chairman at Woodgrant Limited, has had almost four decades of association with Atiku without regrets. Even when local politics of Okocha’s domain dictated otherwise, the Delta State born billionaire philanthropist has always been under the same umbrella with Atiku.
One of the most articulate public affairs analysts around, Segun Sowunmi has been a very vocal crusader of the Turaki Adamawa aspiration; thus, his appointment as the official spokesperson of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Organisation. However, the mileage that Abubakar gets in the media cannot be attributed to Sowunmi who hardly fraternises with the media. Rather it is Abubakar’s enigma and eminence that recommends him and not taciturn nature.
Yomi Edu is a Lagos-born politician and astute businessman. He was a Minister of Special Duties under President Olusegun Obasanjo. He was one of those who were favoured in that administration because of Atiku. When the former Vice President fell out with Obasanjo, the likes of Education also lost out.
Mustafa Chike-Obi is Executive Vice Chairman at Alpha African Advisory. He has over 25 years of investment banking experience working with reputable global investment banking and asset management firms. He provides overall leadership at Alpha African Advisory and has direct oversight over the capital raising division. Prior to joining Alpha African Advisory, he was the inaugural CEO of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), a government-backed institution established to resolve the problem of non-performing loan assets of Nigerian banks after the 2008 global financial crisis.