I should say very quickly, that I’m not an Atiku lover. He or anybody close to him has not paid me to write this (as you’ll soon find out) and even if there was to be any occasion where I should hold brief for him, I doubt if I would. But please, don’t be deceived by the title of this essay. This is because, as I was quick to say that I’m not an Atiku lover, I should also be quick to say that I’m not an Atiku hater as well. If for anything, I should admire his guts at running against a party and government of which he was a financier and second in command. I believe that the case between Obasanjo and Atiku in the PTDFgate scandal is one that is comparable to the kettle calling the pot, and the pot calling the kettle black. I sincerely believe that both men were in the know concerning the monies that were stolen from the PTDF and from my backyard and I said so in Let Obasanjo and Atiku Fight, published in Daily Independent of October 4, 2006. In that write-up, you’d see that my argument was a bit meaningful than all my other arguments: with that epic battle between Obasanjo and Atiku raging on, it would be the tonic that our fledging democracy would need to be strengthened and spiced up. From that fight, we were witnesses to the very refreshing role that the Judiciary played in bringing in some sanity in a polity that was the playground for retired but war-hungry Generals.
A lot of us hardly took Atiku seriously even when he apologized to the nation for assisting President Obasanjo put us through some very harrowing reformatory experiences. The questions on the minds of Nigerians were: if the PTDFgate had not exposed the conspiracy between the duo, would Atiku have come out so strongly to challenge the behemoth of his former party the way he did? Why did he wait this long for the political pendulum of his former party to sway against him before he began to kick? Why did he wait until he realized that he didn’t enjoy the support of his former party to contest as president before he began to do some of the things that Ken Nnamani is doing in the Senate now? This entire crisis of credibility cast a shadow of doubt on the integrity of both the President and Vice President and the only thing that saved the Vice President from being ripped to shreds and utterly humiliated by his former bedfellows has been the Judiciary. At every step of the way, the Judiciary has remained steadfast and rather than being the last hope of the common man, has prevented the Vice-President, a big man, from sinking in the political quicksand arranged for him by the PDP.
Despite this long shadow of doubt cast on his person as someone who cannot be trusted with our purse, the Vice President hung on, nearly like that cat with the nine proverbial lives. For me, I preferred to stay at the sidelines and enjoy myself watch two persons we should arrogate a lot of respect to, throw mud at one another in the market place with just their boxers on. But the Vice-President hung on giving the impression that he did no wrong with the handling of the PTDF. A lot of his antics, and statements credited to him had the character of a drowning man who was determined to drag others in with him. For instance, do you remember that bland and unsubstantiated assertion of his, that the Federal government was procuring arms with which to finish off our brothers in the Niger-Delta? Much later, during the April 14th governorship shame across the length and breadth of this nation, Atiku was said to have expressed a lack of confidence in the police, INEC and the army. Didn’t this sound a little untidy and appalling a thing for a man who was second in command to the C-in-C to say? Wasn’t this the same police, army and INEC that he used in 2003 to usher in the man who’s turned against him and his ambition to be president? If he eventually became president someday, how did he think he would enjoy the loyalty of these organs of state he’s passed a vote of no confidence on?
Well, I just wondered. I didn’t think anybody would ever take Mr. Vice President any seriously anymore but this was until he began to warn us of the implications of PDP’s so-called landslide victory at the just concluded polls. According to Atiku, with the way the (s)elections went, we would soon be up for grabs to the highest bidder, and as a one-party state. And I think we should take the Vice President seriously on this one because from Edo to Anambra; from Ebonyi to Bayelsa; from Ekiti to Plateau; from Adamawa to Oyo, from Enugu to Rivers to Delta to Osun to Ogun to Kwara to Kaduna, it was a pidipi-ish pattern of government that accounted for 90% of under-achievement in the past eight years. The President nearly spent his entire second tenure chasing after very corrupt governors from his own party, the PDP. Consequently, there was hardly any time for any meaningful attention to the business of government. So how was it that even with the record of under-achievement credited to the PDP, they still swept the polls? Or is this about the Papa Igbinedion formula of asking that his son, Lucky be given a chance to repeat the class he had failed? I wouldn’t know but all the indexes of that sham of an election point in only two directions: mediocrity and one-partyship! Now, isn’t a one-party state another synonym for rule by force? Wasn’t that what the Soviet Union under Vladimir Lenin and under the man of steel, Joseph Stalin became? Is that what we’ve endured all these years of hardship under a reform agenda of President Obasanjo to be foisted with? Oh, dear!