Amongst all those running for president in Nigeria’s 2023 election, only Atiku Abubakar is running to retrieve some things he forgot in Aso Rock since he left the seat of government in 2007. For those who had not come of age then, Atiku was Olusegun Obasanjo’s Vice President from 1999 to 2007. During this period, Atiku accomplished a lot. He was so powerful that in 2003, Atiku made President Olusegun Obasanjo kneel and beg just to be allowed to run for a second term. Atiku and his group had wanted to “ambode” Obasanjo before Bola Tinubu even dreamed of it. But after the Ogun-State-born retired general knelt and begged, Atiku relented and allowed Obasanjo to go for a second time. At the end of Obasanjo’s second term, just after Obasanjo’s Third Term effort failed, Obasanjo called Atiku a thief and swore that he would never be alive and see Atiku as the president of Nigeria.
That was how Obasanjo sidelined Atiku and handpicked Umaru Musa Yar’Adua to succeed him in 2007. Since then, Atiku has been trying to get back to Aso Rock. Election 2023 will be the 6th time he is putting himself out there to run for president. Not even Abraham Lincoln tried this much. All efforts to convince Atiku that there are other ways to serve Nigeria besides being president have failed.
In the past, I had told Atiku of how in 1936, Edsel Ford, the son of Henry Ford, the founder of Ford Motor Company, started the Ford Foundation with an initial gift of $25,000. The Ford family ran the foundation until the 1940s when they decided to expand it into international philanthropy. They did it by following the recommendation of the Gaither Study Committee, which wanted the foundation to dedicate itself to “the advancement of human welfare through reducing poverty and promoting democratic values, peace and educational opportunity.” Today, the foundation has a $16 billion endowment and gives out $500 million every year in grants. It has left a legacy that will endure longer than the legacy of a majority of the men that have become US presidents.
In a 2003 National Population Commission’s Demographic and Health Survey of Nigeria handed over to the then Vice President Atiku, it stated that primary school attendance in Atiku’s North-East was 49.5% for males and 39.1% for females. In the South-South, it was 83.2 %…