Who Is Afraid of Atiku Abubakar?
By Gozie Irogboli
A cursory assessment of the current electioneering campaign indicates that the campaigns especially from the ruling APC show no marked improvement or deviation from what is characteristic of our politics. We heard ramblings, rumours, unsubstantiated allegations, mudslinging, footless claims, and character assassination. The campaigns were bereft of real issues, no defined stakeholders’ engagements; promises were made as heretofore without commitment and feasible means or processes of accomplishing them. Elsewhere except in the social media, the main stream media appear strangely neutral albeit subtly partisan.
It was speculated that the ruling party was not campaigning as they should because they are banking on rigging and more so as they have no visible achievement or programmes to brandish. In particular, rather than focus on relevant issues affecting the nation, the campaign of the APC were obtrusively centered on the personality of the opposition PDP’s presidential standard bearer, Atiku Abubakar fueling speculations that they are afraid of him.
Of course, it is not out of place to state that the ruling party APC is afraid of the person of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Wazirin of Adamawa. It was obvious ab initio. Right from the time he left APC and moved back to PDP they became apprehensive and the fear became more pronounced when he won the PDP presidential primary. The first exhibition of the fear was the unwarranted searching of his private jet on his return from his party’s strategic meeting in Dubai by the agents of the government. The second was the alleged searching of his son’s house by the state security operatives and the alleged freezing of Peter Obi’s accounts by the EFCC. Furthermore, there are reports about denying Atiku Abubakar campaign venues and advert spaces in Lagos and part of FCT. It was also reported that Atiku Abubakar’s running mate Dr. Peter Obi and Jimi Agbaje the PDP gubernatorial candidate for Lagos State were locked out of the Lagos International Trade Fair Complex on the orders from above.
By far, the worst display of fear by the APC was the spreading of damaging rumours about the person of Atiku Abubakar. They said Atiku is corrupt, Atiku is a thief and yet they could not produce any scintilla of evidence to prove it. They said he could not travel to USA and when he did travel they came up with other stories to disparage him. Later, they accuse him of working with America, the same America they claimed he dared not travel to, to sabotage the country. Again, there was overt and covert campaign classifying the two major presidential contenders as the same by the paid agents and hirelings in the media, the purpose of this unwholesome categorization, being to fuel voters’ apathy in areas where the Waziri is expected to have his strongholds. The statements from some APC stalwarts like Adams Oshiomole and The panic warning of foreign electoral observers clearly indicate that they are afraid and may be planning to rig and subvert the will of the electorates.
But why should an incumbent be so apprehensive of the emergence of a rival like the cruel Herod being afraid of the birth of a new born king? Is it really the Herod phenomenon?
No doubt the reasons are luminous. The APC people have enough reasons to fear the personality of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar the Wazirin of Adamawa. The Wazirin is unarguably one of the most experienced politicians alive in Nigeria today. Atiku’s towering political stature, his pedigree and experience as a political strategist are a serious cause for concern in the camp of the ruling party APC. He has the got wherewithal, the clout, the charisma and the sagacity to navigate through our turbulent political waters. Atiku was the leader of PDM the most dominant political structure in Nigeria prior to coming of our nascent democracy in 1999. Atiku has friends, business associates and strong political networks locally and internationally. In business Atiku is goal-getter, and in politics, he is like a bulldozer. He is a tsunami and an object of bugaboo to his political opponents. Moreover, he has always been on the side of the people, empowering and touching lives; a reason he worked against OBJ’s Third Term Agenda even when he would have been a beneficiary of it. He is a business man, a humanist and a philanthropist. And true to his avowal commitment to the service of the common man, he left APC when he discovered that the party was anti-people and tyrannical.
He has paid his dues and made serious personal sacrifices for democracy to thrive in Nigeria. In 1993, against his wish and in the interest of national unity and cohesion, he stepped down for M.K.O. Abiola in the prelude to the June 12, 1993 elections on the advice of his political mentor, Shehu Musa Yara’dua. In 1996, he survived assassination attempt on his life by the then ruling military junta that forced him into exile. And while he continued the fight for the enthronement of Democracy in Nigeria against Sani Abacha, the incumbent president, PMB, served Abacha whom he claimed was not corrupt even the face of evidence to the contrary, as the chairman of the Petroleum Trust Funds (PTF).
Another glaring reason behind APC’s fear of Atiku is the poor performance of the APC government. APC failed woefully on its campaign promises. They promised change but brought misery to the people and the masses are disenchanted with the kind of toxic leadership foisted on them by the APC-led administration. The government has no clear-cut programmes or policies to move the country forward neither has it the will power nor the conceptual skills to design any to advance the interest of the citizens of the country. It is not out of place to say that a performing government does not need to get feisty about an individual and does not need to invest lavishly on propaganda or campaign of calumny against the opposition. A good government allows its achievements to speak for itself.
The APC campaign attitude and umbrage against Atiku Abubakar have far-reaching implications on the polity. First, it shows an act of desperation; desperation to hang on to power when they know that they have betrayed the people. It is a subtle admission of failure. Lying, character assassination and footless claims by APC campaign team portray them as unscrupulous men without integrity. They are also showing false precedence by their conduct. The privileges they enjoyed when they were in opposition they denied Atiku Abubakar thereby showing that they are people of double standards. It was case of lack of fairness and abuse of office also. This was their words of eulogy about Atiku through their official tweet on the 12th of November, 2014, while he was in their camp: “Special thanks to Atiku who has been a special gift to our party. He did everything politically acceptable and possible. He’s truly an asset.” And now the same Atiku who was a patriot and a saint has suddenly become a thief just because he has left them.
Another implication of the attack on the person of Atiku Abubakar by APC is that it exhibits those in APC as mischievous and insincere bunch of people. How can a government that claims to be fighting anti-corruption war be accusing one of corruption and yet cannot produce any iota of evidence to prosecute him. It clearly means that their utterances against the person of Atiku are pure hate speech and yet the same people profess to be against hate speech. This is absurd and contradictory.
Over and above that, the leadership of APC has shown unsavoury signs of intolerance and crass inability to imbibe democratic tenets by their attitude towards Atiku Abubakar. Their attitude has been oppressive and tyrannical and portends ominous signs of conspiracy and danger to democracy in Nigeria.
However, it is indeed commendable that despite the attack and provocation by members of the ruling party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has carried on his campaign with maturity and equanimity, in order not to hit up the polity and create chaos. I therefore urge Nigerians to exercise their civic duty in the forthcoming election with maturity and patriotic zeal and not give room for mischief-makers to subvert our will. May God bless our country!
Gozie Irogboli email@example.com, (an economist and a public policy analyst)