As part of his manifesto for the 2007 presidential elections, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar advocated the creation of a Ministry of Niger Delta to fast-track development in the troubled Niger Delta region.
He lost that presidential bid but late President Yar’Adua went on to adopt that idea as a key content of his seven-point agenda in creating the Ministry of Niger Delta after he was sworn in as President in May 2007.
While many of us agree that the Ministry of Niger Delta has not lived up to expectations, we also know that the strategy and delivery template designed by Atiku Abubakar for the efficient running of that ministry was not followed.
As Vice President and head of the Obasanjo Economic Team, Atiku Abubakar almost single-handedly headhunted the members of what eventually became an efficient economic team that designed and deployed mission-sensitive economic management policies and processes that enlivened the Obasanjo presidency and pushed Nigeria into the frontiers of continental and global leadership.
Nigeria, which had hitherto been a pariah nation, suddenly became the cynosure of the many eyes of the international community.
Members of that team have continued to remain visible and enjoy national and international relevance.
Until something went wrong with the politics and chemistry between himself and his principal Obasanjo, the Adamawa born politician showed that he had capacity to manage the affairs of men.
Many things stand out about Atiku Abubakar.
One is his ability to identify and recognize talent, competence and ability. Another is his consistency on key national issues. Another is his ability to sense the rhythm of the nation and apply the required wit and grit to address the situation and proffer solutions.
Atiku Abubakar seems to understand Nigeria but somehow, Nigeria has not been able to understand Atiku. It is this narrative that this article seeks to address.
It seems to me that in all these years, Atiku Abubakar, unlike many other politicians, has faithfully kept his operations room active and working, consistently sensing the mood of the nation and addressing it through critical and strategic media engagements.
In addition, the Atiku machinery has maintained an active social media presence raising awareness and enlightening Nigerians to the many challenges that today confront Nigerians and proffering solutions at the same time.
No other Nigerian politician has shown this measure of consistency and process savvy.
It is become clear to many of us that Atiku Abubakar is truly concerned about Nigeria and believes that he has what it takes to redeem Nigeria or whatever is left of it.
The question is, will Nigerians believe him?
As we stand today, no other politician looks as prepared as Atiku Abubakar is. He has been consistent in proffering solutions to the many challenges that confront Nigeria and Nigerians. He has continued to air his views and make propositions on the various areas of contentions even with respect to all the geopolitical zones within the Nigerian state.
From the state of the economy, job creation, employment generation, ethics and values, education, state of infrastructure, insecurity in the North East, agitation in the Niger Delta, fiscal federalism and many other areas, Atiku Abubakar has always shown that somewhere he has an idea of what needs to be done.
This is one area where he is so different from General Muhammadu Buhari, who became President after three serial efforts and attempts at the Presidency of Nigeria. Atiku Abubakar made sure he enlightened Nigerians on what he thought could be done to fix Nigeria. I think that is a good thing.
There are those who say that it would be difficult for Atiku Abubakar to be President because Obasanjo would oppose him.
I find that position ludicrous and insensitive. Obasanjo is first a Nigerian. He represents his own views. His views cannot supersede or override the views of other Nigerians.
My view is that Atiku Abubakar is smart, detribalized, intellectually sensitive, exposed, competent and prepared.
Nigerians have witnessed and experienced the Presidents that Obasanjo sanctioned as okay for Nigeria. They have seen Yar’Adua. They have seen Jonathan. And now, they know Muhammadu Buhari.
Maybe it is time to try someone who Obasanjo did not sanction. While we cannot set out to ignore the counsels of elders, it is dangerous and irresponsible to allow Obasanjo to play ‘God’ over the affairs of Nigerians.
This is the same Obasanjo who fought Tinubu to a standstill and starved Lagos of funds. Yet Lagos did not die.
Instead Lagos fought against the tide and developed for itself ingenious methods of increasing internally generated revenue to sustain its economy and drive growth.
Months ago, it was the same Obasanjo who testified that Lagos State would be a global economy in his lifetime. Talk about resilience.
It is now time for Nigerians to keep sentiments away and look for a leader who understands the challenges of Nigerians, is sensitive to the aspirations of the common man and so will first address those core issues even as he puts a capable team together to make Nigeria great again.
Since its creation, Nigeria has never been this divided. Even friends of the current government agree that Nigeria is failing.
A group of strange political bedfellows came together to oust a sitting government in a manner never before seen in democratic Black Africa.
More than two years after, they are yet to find that rhythm in governance. There is strong intra-party conflict within the ruling party. There is discordance in government. The Executive, the judiciary and the legislature are in a cold war. There is a quiet rebellion against the tyrannical influence of the executive on the other arms of government.
For more than seven months, President Muhammadu Buhari was unable to functionally preside over the affairs of a troubled nation because of his troubled health.
The economy nose-dived. There has been no significant progress in the state of infrastructure across the country.
A neophyte economic team remains confused and continues to jump from one post to another seeking solutions to fix a wobbling economy.
None was experienced enough to man the post of economic leadership and provide direction. In exasperation and for lack of great ideas, and in refusing to own up to their failures, they have all suddenly found solace in blaming past administrations for the current failure that Nigeria has become.
For me, that was their greatest undoing because it was at that moment that they confessed that they did not know what to do.
It is time for Nigerians to begin to consider Atiku Abubakar once again.
I would advise Atiku Abubakar to begin a new conversation with Nigerians.
This will afford Nigerians the opportunity to honestly and concretely interrogate him.
In doing so, Nigerians will avoid the mistake they made with Muhammadu Buhari.
Our problems have become too confounding. Someone has to start the talking.
It should go beyond politics. It should be about fixing Nigeria.