By Igboeli Arinze
After eight years spent as Vice President of the Federation, Atiku Abubakar also known as Turaki Adamawa is set to declare that he would again run as he did in 1993, 2007 and 2011, to lead Africa’s largest democracy as president.
On face value, Atiku is naturally not the typical Nigerian politician and has the determined will of an activist when faced with odds that would make even steel bend, I remember his strong showing when President Obasanjo sought to confine him to political oblivion and used every strong arm tactics in the book, tactics which enabled him to see the backs of even fiercer politicians. Many deemed Atiku as a goner and a few Nigerians were even jostling to be appointed as Vice President the moment his seat was declared vacant. Looking back, many would have taken the soft landing, resigned, begged or fled the country citing threats to their lives as reason for their self-imposed exile, but not Atiku, he fought like the democrat that he is, sought redress in the courts and rubbed the nose of Obasanjo’s goons and their contrived machinations in the dust despite the billions of Naira spent on the Pull Atiku Down Project!
Again, in 2011, Atiku again made attempts to be president, but he first had to scale the hurdle of the Northern Political Leaders Forum, led by the ‘Zoning Proclaiming Prophet ‘in Adamu Ciroma. Atiku had the likes of the political maradonas, top spooks and the baby face governor who demystified his father as fellow contenders. Again against all odds, Atiku shocked and awed the other three contenders emerging as the NPLF’s candidate and although he was defeated in the primaries by a lesser political weight in the person of the President Goodluck Jonathan in the primaries, Nigerians know that it was more of “The more you look the less you see!”, as stories of how delegates lists were transformed overnight or bribed with hard currencies were rife after the primary. In a free and fair primary, Atiku would have made mincemeat of the incumbent, sadly the leaders of the PDP preferred a pliable Jonathan to the veteran in Atiku and as they say the rest is history.
As it stands today, Atiku has pitched his tent with the progressives in the APC, a party set to take on the PDP and end her sixteen year rule of misery, misfortune and misdirection. The party like the beautiful bride of Nigerian politics is bristling with many presidential aspirants, men with the name, the clout and the deep pockets to govern Nigeria.
While some of these candidates bear the unfair branding of religious extremists, others are inexperienced or perhaps not serious to be treated as worthy contenders, all the same all are willing to be aspirants and will likely jostle for the ticket, the moment the party announces guidelines for the primaries.
But will Atiku jump? Will he join the fray? Many a reader may be marveled at my question and deem it as rhetorical or mischievous, but the question is potent and aims at the rational frame of our present day politics. I asked the question because there are quite a few, I call them the vocal minority who believe that Atiku will not run and even if he does, will not stand a chance against the incumbent that is if he even wins the primaries.
This vocal minority hired by the presidency have already identified Atiku as the biggest threat to handing out a second term to President Jonathan, even with rigging. They are disturbed by the man’s political structure which has remained intact and grown stronger by the day; his dalliances with the youths and elders, his friendship with the Nigerian media and his penchant for bridge building across the country.
So to prevent the man, pages will soon be taken to accuse him of one charge after another, taxpayers money in dire need of proper prosecution will be doled out to twitter voltrons and Facebook godzillas to smother the looming image of Atiku.
They will first attempt to link him with Boko Haram, now this is not new as it is the penchant of this government to link everyone opposed to it as sponsors of Boko Haram, but here is some food for thought. If Boko Haram were Atiku’s baby or adopted baby would it strike at Adamawa his home state? Would he bring terror upon his people scattered all over the North? Does Atiku cut the picture of a blood sucking ogre who would drain the blood of his countrymen just to be president? A closer looker at the past will show that even in 2007, when he was been unfairly persecuted, Alhaji Atiku did not resort to violence, why would he resort to such now. But if the government believes that he has links with Boko Haram then what are the security agencies doing about it? Surely if Atiku had links with the sect there would be ample evidence to nail him, so what are they waiting for?
This is the same Atiku that offered various solutions to ending the insurgency, timeless pieces of advice gotten from his years as a VP. They will use his borrowed statement from JFK in the runoff to the 2011 elections out of context, that those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable and link it to Boko Haram and her activities, yet they forget that Boko Haram began rearing its head on July 26, 2009.
They will again look to the last days of the Obasanjo -Atiku administration and accuse him of dipping his hands in the public till(PTDF, Privatisation, Nitel etc) as Obasanjo and his boo boys would have wanted us to believe. Yet even in the heat of the smear campaign then, it was Obasanjo who came out scathed and not Atiku.
So where does this leave Atiku? Though his attackers would persevere, I do trust that the Shehu Musa Yar’adua disciple and a veteran of such battles would not wobble or dither on this road but jump at it because what Nigeria needs now is a detribalized leader with experience and sagacity, not one without a clue of how to govern. An Atiku presidency will bring vim and vigour to a weary and divided nation that we presently are, even his distress faced as the VP during the Obasanjo years have marks on him, making him a better and more compassionate leader.
So will Atiku jump? The answer will be yes and like the soldiers were told in the movie, the Wild Geese we want him to answer, how high?
Igboeli Arinze writes from Awka.