What If Atiku Becomes President?

by Bob MajiriOghene Etemiku

How dreadful knowledge of truth can be,

When there is no help in truth.

Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex

Whatever it is that led to the altercations ascribable to the person and office of the Vice president of the federal republic concerning President Obasanjo’s hunger to rule us for life lie clearly in the fact that that fact is the bulwark in the vice president’s ambition to become president. Of course everyone knows the implications for the vice president to come out that openly to criticize his constitutional boss-he most likely committed political hara-kiri with that diatribe of his and detractors have started a sustained canticle on the expediency of his exit from Aso Rock precincts. A lot of this is especially against the universally accepted role and position of Vice presidents in democratically elected governments.

Vice presidents are usually presidents-in-training and in-waiting and how they conduct themselves is one hell of a factor that determines whether they become president or not. In the context of American history, this office is one which Encarta Encyclopedia describes as having few duties-one in which the constitution surrogacy, ceremony, visibility rather than an articulate mien on the part of the incumbent. It could either be a position of opportunity or one of frustrated ambitions as Al Gore found out. Most of the time, presidential advisers have done very well to advise the president to keep tabs on their vices mostly because they are known for all manner of intentions and ambitions to preside over the dent as well. For instance, before President Reagan chose President George Walker Bush as his running mate for the presidential elections in the eighties, there was a long drawn conflict between the duo for nomination on the platform of the Republicans. In the melee before the calm, George Bush often referred to Reagan’s proposed economic plans as ‘voodoo economics’. That economic plan, fancifully dubbed ‘Reaganomics’, was said to have failed in theory as well as in application but a sensible Bush did not go yap it from the mountaintop that his boss’s economic plan was a flop. He kept his mouth shut and later went on to clinch the presidency (though not really because he was discreet).

The incumbent Vice president’s position today should be no different to that of Nigeria’s first president, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe in the parliamentary government of the first republic. We make this assertion boldly and without prejudice and mostly because the constitution arrogates very few powers to that office. At best, the constitution recognizes the vice president as the dejure president only of the Senate. In this position, the Vice-president is a glorified errand boy to the president and a flamboyant image maker who derives a lot of relevance from his boss. The chap who runs the show take it or leave it is President Obasanjo, at least for now. Let us still use the Reagan-Bush administration as yet another instance. Because President Reagan recognized very well the antecedents of his ebullient deputy and because it was his constitutional right to do so to avoid a head-on collision, Reagan assigned Bush the onerous task of chasing after Colombian drug lords who exploited the ready American market to their advantage. To a large extent, this took the winds off the sails of a Bush who bided his time, dodged the Iran-Contra arms scandal and survived to tell the story. If the Nigerian president has relegated his political assistant to the background of this administration, that is not what the veepee should blow his top on. That is a normal thing for a president to do. The President is President while the vice- president is vice-president. The concept of parliamentary primus inter pares is not tenable here. It goes without saying that much of what the president has been accused of doing with his vice is a keeping with the Machiavellian methodology of maintaining a hold on the instruments of power at whatever cost and no matter whose ambition is in the line of fire.

The constitution is silent concerning whether or not the Vice president can contest the office of president at the expiration of the tenure of the incumbent. This code of silence says a lot concerning the fact that that office is an immensely powerful one and with the enormous political clout that he may have amassed, it would be a shame indeed if the Vice president is deemed unfit for the presidency. In that political incubator, fourteen American vice presidents have emerged as presidents on their own merit and without the influence of their predecessors. This was not the case however with the Clinton-Gore administration. Though both men enjoyed an excellent work relationship, Gore wanted nothing to do with his predecessor maybe as a result of the Monica-Lewinsky stigma that led to Clinton’s impeachment. As matters stand here and now, there is obviously no love lost between the President and his deputy. You would agree with me that the direction the political pendulum shifts may depend on a lot of miscellaneous factors. One of them is the theory that states that since the PDP is a bye product of late Shehu Yar’Adua’s PDM, and since the Vice president is a political sire of that arrangement, it should as a matter of course give the vice president a chance to fulfill the political destiny of his mentor. It is this sort of specious reasoning that seemingly clashes with the minds and hearts of the Mantus of the day, who would stop at nothing to prolong the tenure of their patron.

However, a lot of us are interested in the power play that is beginning to jar th

e nerves and jolt the sensibilities of the vice presidential camp particularly with respect to the presidential aspiration and ambition of their principal. Some hold on to the view that the vice-president was a little out of line to come out this openly and openly criticize an administration of which he is an integral part. The best he should have done, they suggest, is work assiduously behind the scenes to truncate this obnoxious agenda and promote his own. It either cut him out as a fool or that he is somebody fully aware of his rights, privileges as a duly elected vice-president who committed no serious, impeachable sin by blowing the whistle on the third term-cum-life president agenda of his boss. Whatever way you look at it, it takes a lot of guts to sing a swan a song in the manner of a Prima Donna as the vice-president just did. Ideally, they say he should resign and throw whatever stones needed be thrown from without. Operating from without, the way his detractors insist veritably makes him another kind of a fool we know he is not, to be mercilessly hacked down and disgraced in the market place.

Most of us from the Niger-Delta do not see much difference between the president and his deputy in terms of the political-cum-economic misfortunes of that region. Their fight has nothing to do with the betterment of our lot and the implication for us is already obvious-whether or not Mr. Obasanjo gets a third-term or not; whether the deputy gets to be the next president or not, the handwriting that I see decipherable on the wall is that no Niger-Deltan will get a chance to control the destiny of a nation his region feeds if either Obasanjo or his vice have their way. We want to use this opportunity to admonish the feuding parties to sheath their swords and let the temperament of the nation be the determining factor in the choice of who rules next (in this wise, we refer not to a third term but a fresh one).

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Mustafa September 21, 2008 - 4:11 am

Zainab, you don't know what you are saying. If you talk about Adamawa then no one is like Atiku. Just tell me how many people he has employed from Adamawa to work in his companies? Do you think he gains any sh*t from this companies? Atiku built primary,secondary schools even a university. Atiku built a printing press,Conoil, Faro water(now leading almost everywhere in the country),radio station,now coming a Tv station and another textile company. What are you talking about? Is there any place you can go and work in adamawa that is better than those places. A sweeper in the radio station is paid 50,000 naira. What are you saying ? utter rubbish Zainab. Atiku has done so much for adamawa state even for the fact that Boni wasn't good. You people from Yola have no heart.

Greedy people. What else do you want from a person who is making this from his personal funds.Zainab please get out

Zainab Mohammed Ali September 10, 2006 - 8:10 am

I want to provide a simple answer to the question asked, "What if Atiku becomes the President?"

Atiku will use public funds to build world-class multi-billion Naira corporations for himself and employ Americans including very few Africans in diaspora. The only justification for his action will be creating employment. Again, Atiku will emerge the sinle and biggest Proprietor.

The rest of us in Nigeria may die of hunger and heart related diseases, because Atiku does not care for the masses. Do you have an idea of what is happening in Adamawa state, his state of origin? That is a simple example of how Nigeria will be if Atiku becomes the President.

Anonymous April 20, 2006 - 7:14 am


The rather unguarded pronouncements of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Nigerias Vice-President, at the Niger State Governors lodge, came as a surprise to many. For a particular reason amongst many, the Vice-President had never been known to be garrulous, neither had he been so obviously associated with such pettiness. It was therefore unbelievable, when without restraint, he flew off the handle, throwing caution to the wind and stimulating a number of mixed reactions a couple of days back, from the general public. It was much unlike Atiku; he spoke with so much bitterness, vehemence and frustration, baring open what he had hitherto been hiding from public knowledge. Atiku showed that the battle line between him and his boss, who apparently is the leader of the apex of affairs at the presidency, had been drawn. What more, he spoke with the confidence of his supporters, some of them failed and aggrieved politicians who thought it was just the right time to pay back their greatest nemesis, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

To say the least, this falls short of the expectations of the public and of course those who had expected the Vice-President and his cohorts to exercise a measure of maturity in the game of politics. It is on record that the ill-fated meeting had the attendance of two past Heads-of-State, who themselves are gunners for the countrys number one position. But how very much better it would have been to act as a group who had the interest of the nation at heart, than one whose major concern was to seize political power at all cost, even to the detriment of the entire nation and her citizens. How much better would it have been for men of such calibre to have towed the line of a more positive judgement, than to have followed the instincts of political selfishness and greed. There absolutely was no reason for that sort of gathering, and if there was, there surely was no need for such unpatriotic utterances by past Heads-of-State, and the countrys number two man, who himself knows the principle of collective responsibility in governance.

According to Powell Whitmans, one of Americas renowned politicians, you cannot be in government and fight the government. If you wish to do so, then get out first. I am sure vice-president Atiku Abubakar had not heard of this common practice before. It is amazing how a man of Atikus standing could make such a tactical mistake. As the Vice-President, was there sufficient reason criticising the policies of a government, which he is part of? Not even the worst politicians, I am certain, could design to make such a fatal error. Atiku is trying to pose the holier-than-thou saint. Together with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, they have been in the saddle since 1999. One would not be far from the truth to posit that the successes and failures of this administration would rub off prominently on the vice-president. How then, could he try to rubbish his own integrity by criticising the policies whose formation he and his office are part of?

His reasons, I must be frank, are not cogent enough to win his argument. Atiku called for support, but could not state why he claimed to have fallen out with his boss. For one, we know the president as a liberal individual, for Atiku to have declared enmity with such a man was typical of the tale of no smoke without fire. The vice-president also claimed to have suffered in the past three years in the hands of his boss. The case surely, had not been so in the past. On account of this, it is difficult to tell if his sufferings existed in a vacuum. Besides, there was no explanation as to what the sufferings were. His claim that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had been hijacked was a testimony of the stuff of politician the vice-president is made of. There is still much to be understood in this statement. However, it is understood that every blame is shifted to Mr. President. This makes the whole claim of this group fit for only the trash can. For all some of us know, Mr. President has kept dignified silence over the years, despite the myriad of accusations and abuses that have trailed his actions and person. He has shown enormous maturity and political sportsmanship.

A case of gross disloyalty hangs before Atiku Abubakar. One begins to imagine how myopic a vice-president could be. For now, Atiku has no case to make. He has laid his cards open, and has displayed the level of his uncooperativeness. To openly challenge his boss in the biggest form of irresponsibility and political amateurishness ever displayed by a political personality of such calibre. Without much-ado therefore, he needs no prophet to remind him that he has to resign. It is of public opinion that the attacks of the vice-president are better thrown from outside. So much surprise therefore, why he has chosen to remain in government. His political permutations have no roots in political sagacity. His arithmetic lack savvy and precision. He has failed both as a vice-president and a presidential hopeful. His intension to attract sympathy from the larger public has hit the rocks. Atiku has proven to be a political disaster and waste to his generation.

As for the rest of the other people, what can we say? We know their antecedents. For those who have ruled Nigeria before, we know where they are coming from. We are therefore not taken aback. Their rantings are like those of drowning men fighting to clutch at a straw. They are men whose political life-span is non-existent, so we understand their grudges. They had all the opportunity in the world to turn things around, but they chose to display laxity. Now we have seen them making mistakes hitherto never made. The basis of their opposition is understood. They want back power, and tussle for it as though it were their birth right. The antecedents of their non-performance does not bother them. It is a wonder to many, how loved they think they are by the Nigerians public, to want to return to the echelon of power. Their continuous agitations have turned them mere pawns in the indescribable game of power.

The issue of third term is so ephemeral a thing to begin to brood about. To many Nigerians, the Obasanjo administration has performed wonders. What had taken many past heads of state so long to achieve, had taken Mr. President too little time to accomplish. Majority of Nigerians are indebted to the novel leadership which he has brought to the nation. When a few paid groups begin to fume and fuss therefore, about the proposed third term, the question arises, does the president not deserve it after-all? can any past leader thump his chest confidently to say: in my regime, I achieved much more than what Obasanjo has done? Obasanjo has brought a new lease of life to the Nigerian situation. His reform is unmatched. Besides, policy continuity is what we need most at the moment. We have no time to begin to look at faces. The will of the people will always stand. Nigerians are comfortable with Obasanjos style of ruler-ship, and there simply is nothing a disgruntled set of individuals can do about this.

As a final message to Atiku and his group of malicious politicians, the song of a dumb cannot be heard in a quiet room, let alone in the hustles and bustles of a market place. We, as Nigerians, are totally disappointed in the antics of Mr. Vice-president. We urge that he leaves the saddle to enable him fight better, and to project his intensions easier, He is at the moment a minus in the projections of the present administrations policies. The position of the vice-president cannot continue to remain ostensibly vacant, thereby taking its huge toll on the nation at large. We need a more significant impact at that level. Now that Atiku has goofed, he should do the most honourable thing to quit the stage, and let the government and the people of Nigeria move ahead.


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