(By Austen Young)- FInally , the national convention of the Peoples Democratic Party , PDP has come to an end in Port Harcourt with some play makers biting their thumbs while others screamed , EUREKAAAAA, for the emergence of Atiku Abubakar as the standard flag bearer .Flanged by 11 other contestants , Atiku accepted his victory and said it was victory for the PDP and enlisted every party member to join hands in the battle ahead .
The Senate President , Bukola Saraki , an Atiku crony who spoke for the other contestants assured the Turaki Adamawa of maximum support.
As much as I believed in his immense capacity to provide the needed good leadership for Nigeria , Atiku was the last person I expected to emerge from that contest. All the signs were there that Tambuwal , Sokoto state governor ,and the youngest of the candidates will be helped to win despite his lack of sufficient home base support . Tambuwal came a distant second .
My other reasons for believing Atiku would not make it , were his propensity for jumping ship when his quest did not materialize .I felt it will work against him . I also held the strong view that he had lost two great opportunities when he should have picked his ticket on a platter of gold . Atiku proved me wrong , as well as other pundits whose crystal balls did not see the present . He proved to be an old fox at the game . He knew the odds against him and worked to checkmate them. He had obviously learnt some lessons from the things that grounded him in the past . Atiku proved me wrong when I said , he doesn’t have the Abraham Lincolnic streak . He is after all , a cat with nine lives . He has ,with dogged determination snatched the coveted trophy will qualify him for the epic battle into Aso Rock in 2019.
Having dispensed with my poor reading of Atiku , I also had kind words for him which have been reinforced with his victory . I had noted that :
” This Adamawa Fulani Prince has the largest war chest in the pack . He is very experienced , wealthy and has tremendous outreach across the country. Atiku is the only presidential aspirant among the lot that is very coherent about his direction , especially on the economy . He has been consistent on the issue of restructuring and true federalism , which is the most burning issue in Nigeria today .I believe that if he has the opportunity of leading Nigeria , he will address several ills .”
Atiku has picked the PDP ticket and is set to slug it out with PMB , of the ruling APC.
APC has 23 out of 36 states , and is in firm control of the FCT . PDP has 13 states but I still consider them as having 10 states until they win Benue , Kwara and Sokoto in the next contests . Kwara could be considered a sure bet, but not so for Benue and Sokoto . Anyway , election is like a game of gambling , sometimes what you expect , is not what you see . And this is where PDP will be mightily helped by some of the lessons from its own convention .
LESSONS FROM PDP CONVENTION
(1) TRANSPARENCY OF THE PROCESS
It doesn’t matter what transpired behind the scene and who rolled out more dollars among the aspirants , the process of voting was very transparent thus producing a very credible and infallible result . If PDP will march on in this stead , Nigerians will see and have sympathy .For now even Nigerians suffering from amnesia will not forget in a hurry , all of the humongous billions of Naira and dollars carted from government coffers from the OBJ to GEJ era . We can’t just wave this off with the back of the hand . The only thing that can give PDP a berthing in 2019 is the improved scientific stealing of the APC and the gross hardship and sufferings in the land . Transparency in party and government , if it wins should be the new hallmark of PDP . This it never had .
(2) UNITY OF THE
When Atiku was called to the podium for his acceptance speech , all the other 11 candidates were with him . This was unprecedented . In the past we saw aspirants shouting foul and breathing brimstone . In the end some will leave the party , others will will remain but work against the party . This new sense of unity is needed if the PDP must make a strong showing or win in next year election.
(3) WATCH OUT FOR MOLES
Adams Oshiomhole was quoted as saying , “We know they will produce a sitting governor as presidential candidate , we will go to his state and ask his people to show us his achievements .”
Oshiomhole was definitely referring to Tambuwal . The APC had gotten feelers that the Sokoto state first term governor was the popular choice of some powerful bloc within the PDP. As it turned out , they overestimated their powers and importance . But how was APC able to hit the hammer on the head ? Through a highly placed mole , or perhaps an aggrieved contestant . All the same , PDP should fumigate its house . Charles De Gualle, one time French President escaped 41 assassination attempts because he was damn lucky and God was with him . The mole that was giving information on his movements was one of his most trusted cabinet ministers . A word is enough for the wise .
(4) EARLY PREPARATION
Most athletes who win in the Olympics did not start preparing in the year of the games. Atiku picked the ticket , not because he was the most favoured but because of all the candidates , he was the best prepared . He started early ,tightened all the loopholes that would have made
him fail , and kept a plan B , in the Kitty , which was his trump card . PDP should learn from this .
(5) OPENNESS OF THE PDP
I must commend the national chairman of the PDP , Prince Uche Secondus , its NEC and NWC for their openness in giving equal chance to those I call prodigal PDP members, to contest with the loyal members . Notice that Atiku and the three runner ups were the same people that helped sink the PDP boat in 2014/2015. They returned to mess up their brethren who remained and worked faithfully for the party. It is left for them to repeat in PDP what they did for APC in 2015.
Finally, love him or hate him , Atiku has what it takes to prosecute his warfare . But he needs every hand on deck . I see him as another Abiola but pray he doesn’t get betrayed like Abiola.
Austen Young is a Public Affairs analyst based in Port Harcourt.