2019: Atiku on the march again
BY KEN UGBECHIE
Predictably, Atiku Abubakar, the man from Jada, a rustic community in Adamawa State, has jumped off the All Progressives Congress (APC) boat. He was always going to do so. Not because he is a habitual lecherous politician as some persons have tagged him. Atiku, more popularly addressed by his first name, believes he is a big fish in the nation’s political waters. No big fish survives in shallow waters. Besides, a big fish usually lives up to its name. They do big things. They don’t like to be overlooked, neglected or treated with scorn. A whale for instance will always fancy its place in the ocean, not in a lagoon, stream or lake.
Those demonizing Atiku for defecting from APC to yet an unknown party should spare a moment. Has Atiku flouted any law? No! Has he committed political hara-kiri? Not quite! He has only done what Nigerian politicians are good at: schizophrenic pursuit of self-interest, not ideology. Atiku’s chief critic is Nasir el-Rufai. But the same el-Rufai defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to APC to become the Governor of Kaduna State. El-Rufai was brought into the PDP by Atiku as Head of the Bureau for Public Enterprises under Olusegun Obasanjo regime. The same el-Rufai allied with Obasanjo to fight Atiku when both Obasanjo and Atiku fell apart and publicly fought each other like inebriated wrestlers brawling in a marketplace.
So, an Atiku flirting with different political parties is a Nigerian syndrome; nothing strange here. It is not clear if his defection will weaken the APC, but what is certain is that all is not well within the ruling party. Atiku just happened to be the biggest fish to have quit. Many other politicians have defected from the APC to the PDP in different states and at different times to suit their parochial and largely selfish interests. Same way, many PDP faithful had ditched the umbrella, which now appears torn with many political tailors showing their skill as they try to mend it, for the broom.
Either way, Nigerians should not lose sleep over the defections. More are on the cards especially with a strong hint of the emergence of another mega party next year. Instead, Nigerians should worry about how politicians play ping-pong with their destiny. They should worry that what drives the politicians is not an inclination to serve but a propensity to be served from the nation’s till. It does not matter whether they are in APC or PDP or any other party, what matters to them is their pocket, their interest, their often puffy ego. Atiku merely mirrors the Nigerian politician.
Muhammadu Buhari, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, it’s a long list, are all defectors; flirtatious politicians who moved from one party to another just to achieve their interests. It has nothing to do with service delivery, good governance or political ideology. It has all to do with power. The politician knows that he who has power in Nigeria has everything. He who has power is above the law. Power confers on the holder some sort of immunity and to an extent a badge of impunity. Is it any surprise that those in the opposition who were standing trial for alleged fiscal malfeasance got reprieve as soon as they ditch the opposition party and join the ruling party? Is it a surprise that President Buhari had to ask (direct) Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to head a panel that probed former Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Lawal David Babachir and ex-NIA boss, Ayo Oke, in the face of overwhelming evidence against them? Because they were in power and with power, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) looked away; did not pounce on them to arrest them and completely forgot they ever have handcuffs as part of their armoury. Yet, for being accused of ‘stealing’ a lesser amount, former PDP spokesperson, Olisa Metuh, was paraded in handcuff and herded into the courtroom in chains like a compulsive jail breaker or habitual bail jumper. Are you surprised that when Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai ( a great military man, in my opinion) was accused of owning houses in Dubai, it was the Presidency that cleared him; not EFCC, not a court of law. That’s the edge you have in Nigeria when you have power or in the good books of those who wield the lever of power.
It is this quest for power that drives Nigerian politicians not the desire to serve the people. Unfortunately, with all their desperation to grab power, they become absolutely clueless as to what to do with such power for the good of humanity when they get it. Buhari ceaselessly sought power four times through the ballot, you would think he was prepared for the office he passionately pursued. You’re wrong. He became even more clueless than the man who once held the title of ‘President Clueless’ Goodluck Jonathan. Obasanjo who had the historical fortune of being begged to ‘come and rule us’ was in power for eight years and succeeded more in hounding those who opposed him including Atiku.
In Nigeria, power is an elixir, a cure all. Politicians who seek power do so with a tinge of militancy. Nothing stands, or should stand, in their way. This, most certainly, is the sin of Atiku. He stood in the way of Obasanjo when the latter attempted to do a Mugabe in Nigeria. It was the same Atiku that allied with Governors ahead of the 2003 Presidential election to deny Obasanjo his legitimate second term ticket. That liaison with Governors made Obasanjo, a retired General, to beg a motely crowd of bloody civilians including Atiku himself. That was the beginning of Atiku’s problem with Obasanjo.
Till this day, Obasanjo is yet to forgive Atiku. He says Atiku can never be President for as long as Obasanjo is alive. The mere imagination of an Obasanjo hunching over to plead with Atiku and his governor friends and the unimaginable gumption and derring-do of Atiku to stop the third term bid of Obasanjo marked him out as enemy number one of the former Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. This is why Obasanjo and his loyalists would continue to make a mockery of the former Vice President jumping ship.
But mock him, hate his guts, Atiku is only a mirror through which Nigerians should deconstruct the mind of the politician. They are the same, all of them. The parties are not emblems of ideologies but vehicles through which politicians must reach their destination. In matters of defection, the electorate can do little to stop it. But they can take charge of their tomorrow by arming themselves with their voter’s card and taking active part not only in who governs them but also how they are governed. That’s what Nigerians should do rather than bemoan the fate of political prostitutes.