“One For The Road” as an expression or phrase first appeared in the early 1900s. It originated from traveling salesmen, who, after a night of drinking (often in a bar) or dealing with customers, sought one last drink (usually alcohol) before a journey, departure, going home or back to their hotels. Atiku Abubakar is a Nigerian politician, businessman and philanthropist who served as the second elected Vice-President of Nigeria (1999-2007) on the platform of the PDP. Atiku is a known teetotaler.
However, in 2017 traveling to 2019, is Atiku drinking one for the road? In December 11, 2014, while seeking nomination as the APC presidential candidate for the 2015 presidential poll, former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar presented his manifesto at the APC party convention in Lagos. In a throwback to Atiku’s political history in September 2014, during an interactive session with journalists, the politician said that the APC is his last bus stop. According to him, having defected from PDP to APC, he would not be leaving the party for any other one.
Like the traveling salesmen in the 1900s, did Atiku in 2014 take one last drink? Did the business mogul-turned politician reach his final bus stop when he said unequivocally that the APC is his last bus stop? A history of Atiku’s political travels in Nigeria includes the following: first governorship run (1990); first presidential run (1992); second governorship run (1998); Vice Presidency (1999-2007); second presidential run (2006-2007); third presidential run (2011); Atiku’s formation and registration of the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) with INEC as a back-up plan in case he failed to fulfill his presidential ambition on the PDP platform (2013); Atiku left the PDP to join the APC (2014); and Atiku is campaigning for True Federalism and the need to Restructure Nigeria (2017).
It is now obvious that in 2014, Atiku was not drinking his last one for the road – again! On Friday morning November 23 2017, the former vice president announced his resignation from the APC. Atiku Abubakar, a leading ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, quit the “governing APC” on Friday. Is Atiku’s another one for the road a blow to government unity ahead of 2019? Atiku alleged a draconian clampdown of democracy in the APC, a derailment of its set objectives in governance and the abandonment of the Nigerian youth.
In a statement issued on Friday November 23, Atiku cited a leaked memo from Kaduna Governor Nasir El-Rufai to President Muhammadu Buhari in which El-Rufai cited fault lines in the APC which he urged the president to urgently repair. He noted that more than a year after the said memo, no action was taken to repair the breach. Atiku said the situation has worsened leaving him with no option than to leave the APC. He did not state his next intention, but there are reports of arrangements for him to register for his old party, PDP, in his hometown Kojoli, Jada LGA of Adamawa State.
Atiku reeled out reasons for jettisoning APC: APC “has failed and continues to fail our people . . . a regime of a draconian clampdown on all forms of democracy within the party and the government it produced”. It will be recalled that the APC was brought together chiefly to elect Major Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.), who campaigned on a platform of reviving Nigeria’s flagging economy, wiping out the country’s endemic corruption and defeating Islamist insurgency of Boko Haram in the northeast.
In Atiku’s political mindset, the APC failed to purge themselves of arbitrariness and unconstitutionality that led to fractionalization and failed to stop the institution of a draconian clampdown on democracy. Are these and his other reasons for leaving the APC credible reasons for leaving a party? What about exerting his influence within the APC to convince the party apparatchik, government policy makers and the presidency to stick to their mandate to the Nigerian people?
Considering Atiku’s antecedents as a political turncoat whenever it suits his political expediency, is he playing a game of political chess? Chess is a board game of strategic skill for two players, played on a checkered board. It appears Atiku considers Nigeria as a board game of chess, to be played whenever one is seeking political office, especially the Nigerian presidency. The reality is that Atiku’s presidential ambition within any party is always thwarted by bigger fish seeking the same position as Atiku whenever his ambition is kindled.
Was it just happenstance that Atiku was aspiring to become PDP presidential candidate when Olusegun Obasanjo was the anointed PDP candidate in 2003? Was it an untoward happenstance for Atiku when Buhari was the anointed APC candidate in 2014? If Atiku is thinking of running under his “new party”, the PDP, he must know, if he is a chess player, that they will be very big entrenched fishes in the PDP: Sen. Ahmed Makarfi, Sule Lamido, and others who will emerge. While Atiku may not be fearful of Ayo Fayose’s presidential aspiration in the PDP, it is on record that there was always happenstance in any party where Atiku chose to fulfill his ambition of ruling Nigeria.
The PDP BoT Chairman, Sen. Walid Jibrin, said in 2016 that the party will not welcome “professional presidential aspirants” and “political harlots” who will aspire under PDP to run for the presidency in 2019. The party said it will stop those who are only interested in seeking positions and had been moving from one party to the other to realise their ambition. Atiku Abubakar has traveled and sold his politics to these parties, in this order: PDP, AC, PDP, APC and PDP. He is now expected to travel to the PDP presidential primary for 2019 polls, to sell to the delegates what they didn’t buy from him in 2011. Like the traveling salesmen in the 1900s, is the Waziri Adamawa seeking one last drink – again? Or, is this just another Atiku’s one for the road?