Buhari and Atiku: What counts most in 2019

Atiku Abubakar

It is becoming apparent that Abubakar Atiku’s defection from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, is not good riddance to bad rubbish after all. Governor Nasir El Rufai and a few APC stalwarts had sought to downplay Atiku’s exit as of no consequence – he is a serial contester, they said, and a serial loser to boot.

And if somebody has been vice president for eight years and he is still ambitious for a political office, he can only be eyeing the next job, the president of the country, not local government chairman or councillor, or for that matter, governor of Adamawa State which he contested for and won in 1999 until good fortune elevated him to the position of vice president of the country, second only to President Olusegun Obasanjo. You must be kidding to say such a man has no followers, he is of no consequences. Whatever he contributed to the fortunes of APC, and to the election of President Muhammadu Buhari, so they reasoned, did not amount to anything. Haba!

Since  Friday last week when Atiku called on man and God to come witness his solemn departure from President Muhammadu Buhari’s APC, there have been some mixed reactions, some obviously comic and others, like the one of El Rufai, panic enveloped in denial and some bit of arrogance – what the man on the street would graciously describe as  bold face.

Even by El Rufai’s own standard, I think his hasty dismissal of Atiku’s action as a desperate act of an ambitious serial defector and serial contester, was crude and certainly unbecoming of his exalted office.  He could have left this ritual to the APC men and women at the party headquarter to say how much Atiku would not be missed and how his departure would not affect the fortunes of the great APC in 2019, how they would clear all the polls in a landslide victory. Such self-confidence booster. But no.

Said the governor: “Well, I won’t even say we were in the APC together. Some of us formed the APC, some of them joined because they thought that the APC was a platform for which they would contest the elections, but when they didn’t get the opportunity, they started looking around.

“I have heard what the former Vice President said about leaving the APC in December but he has left in November, which is good because the earlier he left for where he belonged the better.”

Since then, many people seeking fortune and succour have turned to the social media for some comic relief in the midst of the current gut wrenching poverty and suffering. Atiku has become the butt of cruel jokes. He is likened to professional football players who recently returned to their respective clubs; the likes of Rooney (from Everton to Manchester United or Man U and back to Everton), Goetze (Dortmund – Bayern –Dortmund), Pogba (ManU – Juve – ManU and last but the least David Luiz from Chelsea to PSG back to Chelsea.

But Atiku, obviously not on loan from PDP, has simply done what his politically pragmatic mind told him was in his best interest do – go seek political fortune elsewhere.  He was not the first and he would not be the last to do so.

No Nigerian politician dead or alive has ever had any qualms in changing parties and crossing carpets in search of opportunities. Similarly, political jobbers and hangers and other assorted political prostitutes have never had any sense of guilt when they chop from left and right, trafficking in rumours and fake news from one political camp to another. They belong to everybody and they belong to nobody in particular.

They are after money and they see nothing wrong in killing for it; they see nothing wrong with their conscience betraying and stabbing others to prove loyalty.  It is in the nature of Nigerian politics to smile and smile while they carry daggers in their smiles. They can defame even God for power. And to bite the fingers that fed them when it mattered.

So what has Atiku done that is in conflict with loyalty which, in any case, ought to be reciprocal. Atiku said he left APC because he found that his optimism was misplaced and he confessed his fallibility when he accepted the plea of those who persuaded him to join the party after he had left the PDP. Wherever he chooses to berth his ship is entirely his political prerogative and a personal choice guaranteed by the constitution in a democratic dispensation.

Instead of making Atiku the issue, El Rufai and others who care for orderliness and the restoration of sanity instead of chaos in the Buhari presidency, must move fast to stop the rot that is threatening to rubbish all the noble efforts and the good work done so far by the Buhari administration.

I don’t have any illusion if I say that El Rufai, like many other men and women of good will, is fully aware of the embarrassing scandals that keep oozing out of the Buhari government as if there is a deliberate programme to drive into the mud the impeccable image of Buhari as a man of integrity, probity and accountability.

The Maina scandal gets murkier and messier by the day and there seems to be no way out of the rot. As if oddity has become part of the derivative principle of state policy,  two  security agencies, the DSS and the EFCC, both of them agents of the same Buhari administration, are eternally  engaged in mortal struggle for supremacy and nobody seems to have the nerves to call them to order. As this show of shame continues, the nation continues to be scandalised and our image in the international arena gets more bruised.

Inexplicably, our president seems handicapped as if he has fallen victim of his new found love for a democracy that is not built on any decent respect for human rights and the rule of law. Somehow it looks like he has been persuaded to read the wrong rules and the diktat of democratic practice and all its nuances, a constitutional equivalent of the Satanic Verses.

Truth be told, there is absolutely nothing in the so-called due process architecture that allows the president’s appointees to scandalise his name and bring odium to the presidency and go scot free. He has the power to hire and to fire. But will he do so?

No.  They won’t allow him to do so. The easiest way to persuade him not to do so, I can imagine, is to remind him of the military days of the draconian decrees. But those days have gone and an appreciative nation, desirous of good governance, security of lives and limbs and a sound economy, has since forgiven the past and moved on. Need anybody remind the President that the people voted him into office in 2015 to fix the nation and heal the wounds inflicted by corruption.

I want to believe that he realises that in 2019, what will count more than most will not be the personal popularity that brought him to office in 2015 but the content of his performance and his achievements up to 2019.



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