ATIKUlating A National Irritant

by Michael Egbejumi-David

About four years ago I was at the Transcorp Hilton in Abuja. Early afternoon, my partner wanted to get her hair done in the saloon and asked me to come with her. I didn’t want to go but I went only after I saw an opportunity therein to check out the local female talents. Once there, I was pretending I was reading a newspaper whilst actually checking out everything around me when Atiku busted into the saloon with a large security entourage. He had come for a pedicure!

While I was quite circumspect in checking out the local talents, Atiku had no such restraint. In the end, I had to spend some of my time and energies blocking the man from pushing up on my own woman like an exercise. I tell you, it wasn’t easy. Anyway, the man has been in my bad books ever since.

I vaguely remember Atiku Abubakar’s name during the incidence of the infamous 53 suitcases belonging to one Emir that were allowed into the country after Idiagbon/Buhari had closed the border. I think Atiku had tried to prevent those suitcases from coming-in but he was overruled by the Army men. Several years later, thanks to Obasanjo and his politics of compensation, Atiku became Nigeria’s Vice President.

In December 2006 after Obasanjo put the clampers firmly around him, Atiku dumped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for another Party, the Action Congress (AC). Whilst in the AC, this man did absolutely nothing for that Party. He tried and used the AC as a platform to further his presidential dream but failed so he moved on. On 6 April 2010, he formally dumped the AC and returned to the PDP. On that occasion, he said that he had “decided to embrace the PDP’s policy of reconciliation.” He added that “the values and ideals of the party (PDP) were deliberately trampled upon by anti-democratic forces…Despite being a founding member, I was treated shabbily and eventually forced out of the party. I had no choice therefore but to team up with others to found the AC.” This is rich because those anti-democratic forces are still in the PDP actively practicing their trade. He ended by stating that, “Sadly, my efforts to help build a strong national opposition party have been frustrated by factionalisation, intrigues and divided loyalties to particular individuals.” So he returned to the PDP and to his vomit in a clumsy manner. Political prostitution on a real grand scale.

Preparatory to all that, back on 19 January 2009, Atiku went all the way to Ota on all fours to beg and reconcile with Obasanjo. I supposed OBJ must have counselled him to wait for a suitable interregnum before returning to the PDP. In any event, after his re-admittance to the PDP, the man immediately began acting as if the PDP and Nigeria owe him a presidency or something. He began practicing a bizarre and unsavoury politics of entitlement. His campaign theme was exclusively that the PDP had a rotational agreement and that that in fact meant he should be conferred the Party’s presidential ticket. He neglected to mention that despite this same apparent rotation arrangement, he was the first person to tell Obasanjo back in early 2003 to adopt the “Mandela option” and not seek a second term as President. He didn’t just stop there, he then mobilised some corrupt State governors to help him unseat Obasanjo so that he (Atiku) could be President in 2003.

Atiku’s politics of entitlement saw him in Port Harcourt just over a week ago where, as a parting shot, he told the folks there that, “We are trying to stop the culture of eight year term in the country, but the North is bent on finishing the remaining years of late Umaru Yar’Adua.” This was after he had reminded the people that the power sharing policy of the PDP made it possible for an Ijawman to be president of Nigeria. He further remarked that, “I was telling Bayelsa delegates that do you know that the whole of you are not up to one senatorial district in Kano? Let us be very thoughtful of what we are doing. I was telling some people last night that you want to abandon zoning, not so. You want to abandon zoning. As of today, 61% of PDP delegates are from the North. I don’t need to come here and talk to you.” Then he added, “All I need is to mobilise all the northern delegates to vote for me, even if I take 55% of that 61 per cent, I am okay. You have only 31% here in the South. The entire number of delegates from the South-South are not half of that of the North West. Tell me when it comes to numbers how you are going to win this election?” Clearly, arithmetic is not his strong suit. Just the month before, he was talking about inevitable violent change if peaceful change is unachievable. I mean, what is all this?

After all his bravura and bluster, the PDP presidential primary came and the man who is reputed to be very fond of his akamu and akara got a different dish served him in the early hours of January 14. Atiku only managed to secure 805 votes compared to Jonathan’s 2,736. He even lost to Jonathan by 31 to 76 votes in Adamawa, his own home State! In fact, Jonathan beat Atiku in 14 of the 19 northern States and in every State south of the Niger. A very complete rout and a very needed reminder for Atiku of where he truly slots-in in the scheme of things in Nigeria.

Even in a gubernatorial tussle in Adamawa, the man who fancies himself the boss up there could not carry his home State. But he goes to others and reminds them that he doesn’t really need their vote. Well, they didn’t give it to him. Look where he is now.

I don’t particularly care for the PDP but I admired the way the Party first used Atiku to block Babangida, and then how they drained some of our billions off his pocket before kicking him in the family jewels.

So what was the source of Atiku’s empty arrogance? I guess he needed to be bent over double for his very public flogging and I was glad he got one. Lord knows that he has been spoiling for this kind of beating for a while.

Here was a man who has been dying to be firmly put in his place. A proven political lightweight blessed with an uncanning talent for misjudgement and missteps. You would think he would have learnt by now, but noooo. At the start of the PDP primaries he was offered an opportunity to sell himself. But what did Atiku do? He only went and dropped another clanger. He rose up and delivered a completely negative speech that was ungentlemanly, abrasive and lacking in grace. All he did was mostly push his personal born-to-rule, turn-by-turn agenda and told delegates that voting for him was “the right thing to do.” Haba Alhaji? How so?

Let us just tell him: That negative sermon was further proof that Atiku is not a bona fide leader and certainly not an astute politician. In fact, his whole political odyssey is littered with errors and poor decisions. He comes across as too desperate and that is very off-putting. He has been harping on about rotational agreement; but for a sitting, powerful and very visible Vice President who apparently understood that power may likely return to his side of town next time around, why did he not diligently serve his principal – the President, the country and his Party. Rather, he instigated a bunch of governors to help him unseat his principal after just one term in office. That singular incident irreparably wounded his political career. Perhaps if he had served faithfully for eight years as a loyal and credible Vice, the PDP’s presidential ticket would have been his for the taking in 2007. Instead, he took a loaded bazooka to his own greedy foot. Now he continues to struggle, grope and blame other people for his own shortcomings.

Atiku’s unravelling has been a long time coming. It’s turned out that his vaunted political mastery is completely overblown. Similarly, his crayon-written PR is hugely exaggerated. Turns

out he’s no master of anything at all. His only national acclamation is that he married women from all nook and cranny of Nigeria. As for credible leadership credentials; not even close. I’m not enamoured by OBJ, but like him, me too I dey laugh o.

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