Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has not declared his presidential ambition yet. His Media Office has said that any stories of such declaration are categorical fake news. The Media Office is saying that the video now in circulation to that effect “is a bad job of bad people with bad intentions”. According to Atiku, some mischief makers are using a video clip extracted from his 2011 presidential declaration to create a false impression that he has formally declared for the 2019 presidential elections.
The Media Office is putting that to propaganda being promoted by his political opponents in order to create acrimony, advising the Nigerian press to be wary of uncritically lapping up fake news materials from groups that it says does not care about their own credibility. Its advise to those involved in what the Media Office calls “laughable and unintelligent propaganda of lies and intentional mischief” is to find something useful to do with their time instead of using his name to achieve their political objectives.
The reaction Atiku’s Media Office would indicate the tension already building up regarding the former Vice-President’s candidature. Like 2011, an Atiku candidature in 2019, in whichever party, is feared to raise the stakes quite high, putting incumbency rather than the contender, on the defensive. Although that does not mean an incumbent may not regain the throne, it also means incumbency could be escorted out of power, courtesy of a precarious balance. In that sense, this video affair becomes part of a feared Atiku versus Buhari contest by implication.
Somehow, Atiku Abubakar who was Vice-President from 1999 – 2007 under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration which inaugurated Nigeria’s Fourth Republic remains a big masquerade in Nigerian politics. In the build up to 2019, many analysts admit that a lot of people and decisions will depend on how he moves. It has nothing to do with whether the players like or do not like him. It has everything to do with the social context of politics in Nigeria today. The balance of forces is such that the winner will be the player or set of players who makes the next most fatal mistake(s).
All the signals point to an incumbent keen on a second term but there are still nothing beyond loud ‘silence’ yet. May Nigeria be the winner!