Obasanjo and Atiku should fight!

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

Our political stratosphere once more is awash with the expectation that because two clumsy elephants are fighting, it is either that the grass would suffer a lot of loss or that the heavens will fall. I don’t share that fear of yours and I encourage you to adopt a no-shaking mentality. The one animal that we were told in nursery school that was afraid that the heavens will fall at the slightest gale of wind was Chicken Little and I do not think that we are that chicken and that little.

I cannot help but be amused at the thinking that because Obasanjo and Atiku are engaged in a political fisticuff that that would portend danger for what has been sometimes aptly dubbed our ‘nascent democracy’. I am also very amused at that call made by several people within and outside the PDP calling on the duo to sheath their swords. Some of this just goes to show to the extent to which we understand the under currents and dynamics of democracy especially the way it is conducted here.

Now here and hear my argument. As far as I am concerned, a lot of the people who occupy those sensitive offices of government mostly got there by unnatural selection, Obasanjo and Atiku inclusive. While there, they do not seem to have any other interest but to recoup and quadruple the funds they invested in the selection process. While there now, there has not been much to show in seven years, apart from the GSM boom and a repudiated debt that was incurred and spent on mansions by former military rulers. If you look at what is going on in some government circles, you would discover that the only progress so far made is in the areas of the development of the pockets of greedy politicians and how much money they have made from us. There are still no good roads. We still sleep with only one eye. NEPA or PHCN is still moribund. You cannot turn the taps in your home and get water from your faucet. We are still eating zero-one-zero. Undergraduates are selling recharge cards to make ends meet. Nigerians in droves go abroad (‘abroad’ to mean little countries like Ghana) to get university education. Get to Tejuosho flea market and you still see our women fight to buy second-hand clothes. Our sea and airports have not been totally revamped. But one must be objective and concede that if there was no Dora Akunyili or a Nasir El Rufai or a Ribadu, this administration may just have gone down the drain like the others. In all, what seemed to have been happening in seven years and more is a situation where those who are there behaved as though they are there to fight with us and that they have an assignment to make life very difficult for us.

So what happened next? Because we seem to have understood that those people are really the enemy, the real people like Asari Dokubo, the Massob republic, and the Odua Congress had arisen to express the angst of the broad spectrum of the Nigerian people. And what was the response of the two clumsy elephants that are fighting each other now? What was their response? They (both of them) branded a people who ask and aspire to be given a fair share in the proceeds that accrue from their backyards criminals and terrorists. And just recently, Mr President ordered a shoot on sight on those he perceived to be these terrorists and so-called criminals even though for now, I cannot tell whether or not he has recanted that terrible order. And now that both of them are quarrelling mostly because of the monies they stole from my backyard, you expect me to say, ‘Ah sofri-sofri o, make una no fight?’

Every Nigerian today should siddon look and pick an interest in the fight between Obasanjo and Atiku. Both of them know that the game they have chosen to play is a dirty one and they understand each other perfectly. They have worked together as colleagues against us for about eight years now and if they begin to fight all of a sudden, we should be happy at least to know that they are no longer in a league to further diminish our worth and value. We should be happy that all the skeletons that were hidden in those cupboards will at last come to fore. We should behave like the Bedouin Arabs who see the friend of an enemy as an enemy. My father used to tell me that when a fish begins to decay, the decay usually begins from the head before it gets downwards. Now if that is indeed true, why are we so afraid that the system is passing through a normal democratic process of purgation that should introduce a gust of fresh air in Nigeria? Why are we afraid that the EFCC cart that was put before the ICPC horse is dragging in some sanity in a system?

Let me take you down memory lane to tell you why we should siddon look and encourage Obasanjo and Atiku to fight on. In the very early stages of the IBB regime, he had a deputy, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, an officer and a gentleman. Ukiwe saw the coming profligacy and the arrangee system and culture of settlement that IBB cultivated but he did not keep mum like Atiku did and benefit from the arrangee on ground. He fought IBB and the only thing that made him lose out was that that system was a military system where the head of state could hire and fire at will. So Commodore Ukiwe was fired and what happened next? Should I tell you? Okay, what happened was that the guy who was head of state then failed successfully and so woefully to the extent that he is now itching to come back and to ‘do more’. But this dispensation is a democratic one. You just cannot hire and fire your deputy just the same way you should not take us for granted. And the deputy too began to cry out too late against the system that he with his own hands, nurtured and groomed. He should have adopted the same principled stance that Na’abba adopted in the very early days of this nascent democratic experience. That way, he would not have been a hard to sell commodity for the presidency. There would have been no way anybody would see him today as a fellow conspirator with the guys that murdered Caesar if he truly had our interest at heart. For now though, I like the initial stance that the Senate took to siddon look and allow the Executive fight and purge itself.

Obasanjo and Atiku should fight. Obasanjo and Atiku MUST fight. Their fight is what guarantees that Democracy would survive. If they do not fight, we will lose out in a power game that will not leave any space to accommodate accountability and true federalism.

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