Ahead of the 2023 Presidential election, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar continues to enjoy support in his home State, Adamawa.
DAILY POST correspondent interacted with a number of residents of the State on Atiku’s possible presidential ambition in 2023.
The Adamawa State Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Barrister Tahir Shehu, believes that Atiku Abubakar is a Messiah who would rescue Nigeria from under-development.
He noted that the support for Atiku by Adamawa people was solid.
“Adamawa State is sealed for Atiku Abubakar. He has helped the people in many aspects of life,” the PDP State chairman said.
The party chief added that Atiku Abubakar would win the 2023 election if the PDP gives him the presidential ticket.
President of Adamawa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bala Hammanjoda, sees Atiku as a natural choice for the presidency.
Speaking on behalf of Northeast Business Community for Atiku, Hammanjoda said the business community in Adamawa State was so committed to Atiku’s presidential project that they would purchase nomination form for him.
“We will back him first by getting his nomination form and then supporting him with all we have and he will win,” Hammanjoda said.
For a lawyer in private practice in Adamawa State, Barrister Sunday Wugira, “We in Adamawa solidly support his Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. We have in him the experience and personality that this country needs.”
Wugira also told DAILY POST that “we, as a country needs a unifier in the mold of Atiku Abubakar. Nigeria is today a fragmented country requiring a true Nigerian who believes in one strong and united country.
“In this Adamawa State, he stands out as the one with clearly the biggest investments even as he may not be the richest. Go to Faro, Rico Gado, Gotel Communications, America University of Nigeria and other establishments in and outside Yola and you will find people from all areas of Nigeria earning their living. All he is after is capacity to contribute.
“This is the kind of person we need to lead and to give service, and of course his chances are huge. I don’t see anyone to beat him at the presidential poll.”
A sales girl in Yola, Pwamundi Tamado said Atiku has no rival and will achieve victory in 2023.
“Atiku will win the presidential election if sincerely conducted,” Pwamundi asserted, saying Atiku had done it before.
“Atiku won the 2019 election, they just gave it to Buhari because they wanted Buhari to be President at all costs,” she said.
A worker in the Adamawa Civil Service, Mrs Grace Monday said she wholeheartedly wants Atiku to win and that he has the goodwill to win.
“Me, I want him to win. He is a good man. People will enjoy it if he wins. Look at how he is giving people work. His companies here in Yola alone have thousands of people working and catering for their families. People will vote for him,” Mrs Monday said.
For a trader in Jimeta Modern Market, Yola, Malam Abubakar Sani, Atiku should ‘carry go’ as he will have no obstacles.
And for Adamawa State Governor, Rt Hon Ahmadu Fintiri, Atiku is the man who will be difficult to beat come 2023.
Despite being in a delicate position because of the leadership role he has come to assume in the PDP at the national level, as well as his romance with Rivers Governor, Nyesom Wike and other PDP governors who have interest in the presidency, Fintiri is still a firm believer in the Atiku project.
And when a national committee marketing the Atiku Presidency visited Adamawa State earlier this month, Fintiri was unavailable, but his deputy, Chief Crowther Seth, who said he spoke for him, asserted that Nigeria would vote Atiku into power because he is the answer to Nigeria’s problems.
The APC in Adamawa State would not say a word about Atiku. Its spokesman, Comrade Abdullahi Mohammed was categorical that the leadership had nothing to say.
Even the party’s former Organizing Secretary, Ahmed Lawan, who was the vocal one among the last, chose to say nothing.
If history is a reliable guide, however, the APC in Adamawa State would go for its own candidate rather than their son, Atiku.
They did it towards the 2019 elections and during the presidential election proper. The State chapter of the APC had declared its support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election.
The State party chairman at the time, Alhaji Ibrahim Bilal, who returned as the Chairman, had said during a briefing in Yola, that his executive members took the decision to avoid losing the 2019 polls.
Whether an APC candidate who will not be Buhari will make the difference in APC’s thinking towards Atiku or not remains to be seen. Meanwhile, there exists an Adamawa APC stakeholder who openly supports Atiku and believes in his presidential ambition. He is Hon Abdulmumuni Hong.
Abdulmumuni Hong, who is a former House of Representatives member for Hong/Gombi Federal constituency and aspires to return to the House of Representatives via the coming 2023 elections, said Adamawa people of different political divides welcome Atiku’s political aspirations.
“Although we belong to different parties, I know that his chances in the PDP are enormous. If he gets the PDP ticket, there is every possibility that he will win the presidential election,” he told our correspondent.
He added, “I know for sure that people in Adamawa will vote for Atiku. I believe that the entire North will vote for him, although this may depend to some extent on who becomes the candidate of the APC.”
He added that Atiku has deep personal experience gained in his years as vice president, and that since leaving power, Atiku has learnt valuable lessons from succeeding presidents: Umaru Yar’adua, Goodluck Jonathan and now Muhammadu Buhari, which will stand him in good stead if he becomes president.
Against all the praises, however, there have been the view of some people that outside his numerous private investments providing livelihoods to thousands of Adamawa indigenes and people from other parts of the country, Atiku has done less than expected to improve conditions of living for the general public.
Critics who hold this view usually point to the many bad roads around the State, including the Cham-Numan Road which links Yola with Gombe, and the Mayo Belwa to Toungo Road.
The roads, and of course many other intercity federal roads across the State, were in deplorable conditions while Atiku held sway as Nigeria’s Vice President.
Of particular interest to critics is the Mayo Belwa – Toungo Road which passes through his birthplace, Jada.
The 112-km Mayo Belwa-Toungo federal highway was in a very bad state until work started on it about three years ago.
Atiku Abubakar reportedly came under fire from his paramount ruler, allegedly for neglecting the road when he was in position of authority.
According to a news report, the Gangwari Ganye, the first class King of Ganye Kingdom where Atiku hails from, Alhaji Umaru Adamu Sanda, said during the flag-off of the construction of the Mayo Belwa-Jada-Ganye-Toungo road that many sons of the Ganye Kingdom, including Atiku, neglected the area when they were in position only for Buhari to intervene after more than 20 years.
A House of Representatives member from the Mayo Belwa/Jada/Ganye/Toungo Federal constituency, Namdas Abdulrazak, also reportedly blamed the bad state of the road on prominent people from the place.
“So many women have aborted hundreds of babies prematurely because of this horrible road which the people of the area neglected when they were in position of authority,” Namdas reportedly lamented during the flag-off of the Mayo Belwa – Toungo Road construction.
The criticism had mounted so much that a loyalist of Atiku penned a reaction absolving Atiku of blame.
The loyalist, Ibrahim Gaguda who demonstrated deep knowledge of happenings during Atiku’s stewardship as Vice President in relation to the Mayo Belwa – Toungo Road said he felt compelled to dispel the impression that Atiku did nothing to improve the condition of the road.
Ibrahim said the road was under construction when Atiku became vice president over 20 years ago, but that the contract did not provide for bridges and Atiku had to influence a fresh contract which widened available bridges and provided for new ones.
Malam Ladan Shehu, a Keke NAPEP rider, said Atiku is too old to be president.
“The emphasis is on young people now. Imagine what I heard the other day, that Buhari is complaining that at his age, he is having too much to do. We don’t want another president who is going to be impaired by old age,” Ladan said.
Atiku Abubakar, a businessman and politician, who was Vice President from 1999 to 2007, was born on 25 November 1946 in Jada, an Adamawa community about 110 kilometres south of the State capital, Yola.
He ran for Governor of Adamawa State in 1990, 1997 and 1998, and was governor-elect after that third attempt in 1998 when he became Olusegun Obasanjo’s running mate towards the 1999 presidential election, which he and Olusegun Obasanjo won to become Vice President and President, respectively.
Since 1993, Atiku Abubakar has contested for the office of President five times: 1992, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. In 1993, he contested at the Social Democratic Party presidential primaries, losing to Moshood Abiola and Babangana Kingibe.
He was a presidential candidate of the Action Congress in the 2007 election. He contested in the presidential primaries of the PDP in 2011 but lost to incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan.
In 2014, he joined the APC ahead of the 2015 presidential election and contested in the presidential primaries, losing to Muhammadu Buhari. In 2017, he returned to the PDP and was the party’s presidential candidate during the 2019 election, again losing to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
2023 Presidency: Adamawa residents weigh Atiku’s chances