With the turn of the recent presidential elections held in February 2023, Nigerians have continued to wonder whether one of the leading candidates on the ballot would still remain in politics. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the former vice president of Nigeria and PDP presidential candidate, has been in politics for a while, serving as former president Obasanjo’s vice president. However, he has announced that he will continue to fight for the nation’s democracy. Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on October 30, 2023, he hinted that he will remain active in politics.
Atiku has unsuccessfully aspired to be Nigeria’s president multiple times. He was on the ballot three times — 2007, 2019 and 2023. By the next general election in 2027, Atiku will be 81 years old. Many Nigerians had concluded that this would be the end of the road for Atiku. This assumption is quite safe, seeing that he and Labour Party presidential candidate (Peter Obi) had put up one of the fiercest fights at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) and at the Supreme Court.
Young Nigerians were shockingly interested in election petition in droves.
Immediately the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced Bola Tinubu (APC presidential candidate) as the president-elect, the other leading candidates in the election (Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi) gave a press conference rejecting the results. They headed to the election tribunal where for several weeks, each of these parties submitted and argued for their petitions. In the end, the appeal court threw out the cases and affirmed Tinubu as the winner of the election, to the dismay of the petitioners.
Dissatisfied with the court ruling, both of them proceeded to the Supreme Court where the judges also ruled according to the lower court. This period was one of the most intense in the country. The matter gained traction both on social media and online. Rumours, assumptions, conspiracies and the like took over social media. The traditional media tried to give an objective platform to these issues as they occurred. In the end, the engagements resulted in the presidency of Tinubu being affirmed by the courts.
Default assumption is that Atiku would take a breather.
Because of this, it is the default assumption that Atiku had spent a huge chunk of his strength and momentum on the court cases and would want to take a breather. “As for me and my party, this phase of our work is done. However, I am not going away,” he said at the press conference. He said that he will continue to struggle, with other Nigerians, to deepen our democracy and rule of law and for the kind of political and economic restructuring the country needs to reach its true potential.
He also said that the struggle should now be led by the younger generation of Nigerians who have even more at stake than his generation. This is consistent with the fact that at one of his press conferences, Atiku acknowledged David Hundeyin, one of the brilliant young journalists that Nigeria has to offer, for his significant part in ensuring that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agree to release its files on Bola Tinubu. Basically, Atiku is calling for young Nigerians who have the skillset and passion to carry on the mantle.
Proposed new ways of handling electoral matters in the country.
As well, the PDP candidate proposed several ways that the nation can improve its electoral system. He said that there is a need to “urgently make constitutional amendments that will prevent any court or tribunal from hiding behind technicalities and legal sophistry to affirm electoral heists and undermine the will of the people.” He said that the country must make electronic voting and collation of results mandatory, insisting that they are key to free and fair elections. Finally, he said that all litigation arising from a disputed election must be concluded before the inauguration of a winner.