Former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, 75, has vowed to hand over to a younger citizen if he becomes the President of Nigeria, a job he is bidding for yet again.
In view of the health challenges experienced by President Muhammadu Buhari, who will be 80 in December, age has become a significant factor in the build up to the 2023 elections.
While declaring his interest in the presidential ticket of the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday in Abuja, Atiku did not say if he would go for another term of office if he wins the 2023 poll. But he said he would work towards having a younger person step into his shoes when he is done.
If he runs the constitutionally guaranteed two terms, Atiku would be 83 then.
This will be his fourth time of giving the No 1 office a shot. In 2007, while serving as President Olusegun Obasanjo’s deputy under a PDP administration, Atiku contested under the banner of the now defunct Action Congress of Nigeria. He lost to PDP’s Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua. He quickly returned to the PDP following that electoral defeat.
He defected from that party to contest the presidential primary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015, but lost to Buhari. He returned to the PDP thereafter and became its candidate in the 2019 presidential election, which he lost.
For this new bid, Atiku is focusing his programme on five key areas – the unity of Nigeria, security, economy, education and devolving more resources and powers to the federating units.
‘Since the civil war, the unity of Nigeria has never been threatened as it is today. Nigerians are losing hope in the oneness of this country. My fellow Nigerians, I am the unifier that is coming to bond the broken union,’ he said at the declaration event hosted by the Adamawa State Governor Umaru Fintiri.
‘We will open doors for dialogue to hear the grieving voices of all Nigerians. Under my Presidency, there will be a new Nigeria, where everybody has an equal voice and is heard.
‘Throughout my life, I have never looked at Nigerians as divided people. In my eyes, all Nigerians are the same. When I see you, I don’t see Yoruba or Hausa or Igbo or Fulani or a northerner or southerner; when I see you, I only see a Nigerian, and I expect the best from you.
‘All Nigerians are equal and should be seen and treated equally. There is no unity without justice and fairness. That is why I will deliver leadership of justice and fairness’.
He accused the governing APC of failing to live up to its responsibilities of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians which he said would be his top priorities.
He further said: ’The APC administration has failed in its fundamental responsibility of protecting the lives and property of Nigerians. The most significant human right is the right to life, which has not been protected under the APC administration.
‘Our military forces are fighting on the front lines without equipment and morale. That is not fair.
‘If we get into power, we will increase the welfare of all security forces. We will use modern technology and intelligence to combat insecurity.
‘We will also increase the number of personnel for our security agencies’.
He also vowed to secure the rural communities to boost agricultural activities.
Within the PDP, Atiku’s aspiration is being challenged by Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, his counterparts I’m Rivers and Bauchi States Nyesom Wike and Bala Mohammed, as well as former Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, among other.