Nigerian Politicians and the Spirit of Unforgiveness: Obasanjo-Atiku Case Study
Written by Obinna Akukwe
Politicians of Nigerian extraction have the penchant to run down enemies until they have been crushed by a moving trailer, ciourtesy of their spirit of unforgiveness. Unforgiveness, by my observation, is a spirit which keeps reminding one of the wrong, injury done by the other party even when it is illogical, unreasonable or untenable to hold on to such grievances. The person therefore, prays for opportunity to seek revenge.
One of the hallmarks of Nigerian politician is their ability to extract a pound of flesh from a perceived political opponent even at the expense of national development. In this essay I would limit the discussion to two prominent personalities, Former president Olusegun Obasanjo who fought his erstwhile deputy, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and another case of Governor of Enugu State Sullivan Chime who fought a former governor and immediate past National Chairman of the ruling PDP until the later was disgraced out of office at the peak of his career.
Atiku became Vice President of Nigeria, having secured the ticket to run for the governorship of Adamawa State under the platform of PDP in 1999. Obasanjo actually gave him 24 hours to decide whether he wanted to be his deputy, an offer Atiku gladly accepted.
During Obasanjo’s first tenure, he handed over the economy to Atiku to manage while he gallivanted all over the world seeking direct foreign investments into Nigeria. While Obasanjo managed the diplomatic front, Atiku had some influence on the home front. The diplomatic disposition of Atiku made him lots of friends while the brashness and bluntness of Obasanjo bought him enemies. Atiku managed the governors, ministers and other government functionaries like an elder brother while Obasanjo saw them as foremen appended to his territorial conquest.
Soon re-election year appeared again in 2003 and the mother of all battles ensued. Some state governors led by Ibori and Alameseigha plotted the downfall of Obasanjo due to his disrespect to the office of governors. They supported the candidacy of former Vice President Alex Ekwueme, who was about to win the PDP primary elections until a proud Obasanjo realized that political flood is about to carry him to oblivion. To broker peace with the governors, Obasanjo sought the help of an unwilling Atiku , who himself was interested in either replacing his boss or teaming up with Alex Ekwueme. Though the governors jettisoned Ekwueme at the last moments, Otta High Chief, Olusegun Matthew Akikiola Aremu Obasanjo had to kneel down before Atiku and some PDP governors, pledging to turn a good leaf, before his Vice President reluctantly convinced them to give him second chance.
Immediately Obasanjo won the re-election, he started the process of teaching Atiku lessons for letting a whole Pastor Matthew Obasanjo kneel before corrupt governors. Atiku was accused of corruption with the PTDF Funds, and another one involving an American congress man. EFCC was sent to scrutinize him and when they failed to find any incriminating document, Obasanjo tried to remove him as Vice President. The courts rejected the idea and ruled that Obasanjo-Atiku ticket is a joint presidency. His ADC was removed and a spy was attached to him to leak all his secrets.
Funds to run the office of the Vice President were withheld, all his security escorts and details were removed and a campaign of calumny was orchestrated against him. His aides were sacked and the plot to impeach him was snubbed by the National Assembly.
Obasanjo also unleashed the likes of El-Rufai and co on Atiku and were short of calling him a big thief. During the PDP re validating exercise, Atiku was denied registration as a PDP member by his state chapter, local government and ward on the orders of Obasanjo. Frustrated, he ran to ACN where he was offered the presidential candidacy of the party. An administrative report also kept Atiku in the court until three days to the presidential election before the Supreme Court cleared to contest. At the end Atiku lost bid to become the president.
The same scenario was re-enacted in Enugu State when a sitting governor was engaged in a battle with the National Chairman of the ruling party and former Governor of Enugu State, Okwy Nwodo, until the later was disgraced out at the Eagle Square venue of PDP primaries through a kangaroo court ruling which stated that the party helmsman was not registered in his ward. The problem between Sullivan and Nwodo will be discussed in the part 2.
At the end of the day, democracy was trampled upon by Obasanjo, a do-or die election was introduced into Nigeria to stop Atiku. Lots of people used the guise of mobilizing funds to stop Atiku and embezzled billions of dollars belonging to the Nigerian state.
This same method used to stop Atiku Abubakar was re-enacted when Alameseigha was imprisoned by Obasanjo. The same strategy was used by incumbent President Jonathan to stop his Bayelsa Home state governor , Timipre Sylva ,from re-contesting as governor. Bamanga Tukur used the same strategy to Sack Rivers and Sokoto State Governors from the PDP. The court ruling which stopped Oyinlola from becoming the PDP National secretary was all the same tricks unsuccessfully tried on Atiku.
All over Nigeria, politicians are emulating Obasanjo and displaying unforgiveness. Political opponents must be run aground, killed, defamed, and disenfranchised. EFCC must work only on the head of opponents while aligned and loyal thieves are not investigated.
All these spirits of unforgiveness is dragging Nigeria backwards. Business of state is abandoned to channel time, funds and energies towards fighting and revenging perceived opponents. While billions of dollars is spent to fight opponents, poverty is ravaging Nigerians. The bank accounts of fuelers of the enemity continue to grow while the nation lies in depravity. Awolowo never forgave Abiola for betraying him. Azikiwe never forgave Okadigbo. Ekwueme never forgave Jim Nwobodo. Tukur is at war with Murtala Nyako. It is war, unforgiveness all over.
Nigerian politicians must shun this spirit of unforgiveness. The future generation is learning that unforgiveness is a part of the system. They are sowing evil seed all over the nation. One day, the citizenry will become unforgiving and descend on all these feasters over their common wealth. Let the politicians jettison unforgiveness, embrace forgiveness ,which is a gift of God and requirement in godliness and all these tensions in the Nigerian polity will reduce.