By Remi Oyeyemi
Now that we are discussing politics of 2019, my desire for the birth of
Oòduà Republic is not going to hold me back from knocking in some nails
into their appropriate holes.
Many, some of them uninformed, some of them mischievous, are prancing all
over, yelling why Atiku Abubakar cannot be PRESIDENT. I think many of
those voices are not WELL reasoned and to my mind, it is important to
derobe such unreasonabilities lest they continue to contaminate the
As a matter of integrity, it is important that I make disclosures that the
former Vice President is my former boss. I must also disclose that I have
publicly criticized him several times. My many public criticisms of him
were considered so hurtful that some in his camp asked him to institute
legal actions against me. Omoyele Sowore, the publisher of Saharareporters
may be be able to attest to this, because he got the “briefs.” All the
proofs on the above are in the public space for those who care to
investigate my claims.
Now, that being said, the TRUTH must be told. Today, the only person who
has what it takes to save Nigeria from messy disintegration is ABUBAKAR
ATIKU. I used the word “messy” advisedly because I don’t think anyone can
stop Nigeria’s disintegration. As the trajectory of Nigeria proceeds
towards its destiny of Balkanization, the more innocent lives of women,
children and the weak we can save and preserve, the better. Atiku is the
only one who can get this done.
Atiku, I know, will NEVER preside over the dismemberment of Nigeria. But
he is best placed and prepared to create the requisite mutual
understanding of the issues that would elicit positive discussion among
the constituent units to bring everyone to the table and prevent a
possible war of attrition for Balkanization. The task to prevent shedding
of blood is a fundamental one that we must strive to accomplish. Atiku is
the best anchor of and for this.
The first variable of a functioning intellect is to assume you don’t know.
The second variable is to be skeptical of any idea or a concept until it
has been properly looked at in critical manner and flushed of all
irrelevances that could shortchange the goal for which it was intended to
improve. The third variable which is very important in leaders is to be
able to appreciate the value of those around you and be able to
appropriately deploy them for maximum results.
Abubakar Atiku as a politician and a leader has been able to manifest the
above variables in his style. Unlike many of his friends, he is a man of
ideas who is always ready to learn.
I will give a couple of examples and former President Olusegun Obasanjo is
my number one witness on this first example among many other respectable
In 1999, after they had been sworn in, President Obasanjo requested of
Vice President Atiku to bring in the list of his staff. When he complied,
Obasanjo had a complaint – “How come almost everyone on this list is a
Doctorate degree holder?” Atiku’s response which later became “the talk of
Aso Rock” was “No one is an expert in everything. You need those who know
around you so that you can learn and improve.” That is the mindset of a
Still speaking about ideas, Atiku has prepared a position paper for
Federal Government on RESTRUCTURING as far back as 2003. He is not new to
this idea or concept of RESTRUCTURING. He presented this to Obasanjo who
pretended he was open to the idea. President Obasanjo was later to use his
kangaroo National Conference to undercut and undermine this noble idea, in
a diabolical move to ensure his third term as President.
Despite this Atiku never gave up on RESTRUCTURING. He has been meeting
with all the Northern leaders trying to convince them on the need for
RESTRUCTURING in the interest of Nigeria. He has met many Yoruba leaders.
He has met many leaders of Ndi’igbo. He has met many concerned minority
group leaders from the Middlebelt. Obviously, he has not been able to
convince everyone of them, especially, some of the staunch members in the
Arewa block. But Alhaji Lawal Kaita told me that Atiku was the one who
brought him around to accept the concept of RESTRUCTURING. If you are
conversant with Nigerian politics, you would know who Alhaji Kaita is in
the scheme of Northern politics, and appreciate what that means.
More often than not, people of means are not always enamoured by the
travails of the needy. At times, it is not because they are wicked, mean
or cruel, it is because they have never lacked. And, whether we like it or
not, everyone is a product of his experience. Hence, when you come across
a few men of means who give of what they have to elevate the needy, it has
to be appreciated.
Atiku is in this mode. He is not a revolutionary by any means. But he is
just a reformer who sees the need to shake up and reform the status quo
for enlightened self interest. Enlightened self interest is what
Capitalism is all about. Our own brand of Capitalism is yet to understand
this concept. It is this lack of understanding of this concept that is
regrettably acting as a catalyst for the political elites noxious
indifference to the social, religious and economic decadence in the
polity. But Atiku does understand. It is part of what drives him.
Thus, it wasn’t a surprised when in a conversation recently, Vice
President Atiku was quoting John F. Kennedy to buttress his point of the
need to reform the system. The famous quote that he used is as follows:
“Any Nation that is not able to provide for the many that are poor will
not be able to protect the few that are rich.”
In this quote is an urgent message which only a thinking leader, a caring
leader and a selfless leader could grasp. And Atiku, obviously, does.
As a man of ideas, Atiku is also a good manager of men and resources. You
don’t have to take my word, check out his businesses. They are success
stories. Why? This is because he knows how to put round pegs in round
holes and square pegs in square holes. He rewards competence generously.
He also is always learning and improving himself.
Still as a man of ideas, if you give Atiku a proposal about any subject,
you better be sure of what you have put down. Atiku would take the
proposal and ask you to see him at an appointed date usually between two
weeks. During this, he would go through your proposal meticulously, write
out his questions, his disagreements and agreements. Your next appointment
is meant to discuss these concerns and observations. You must be able to
defend your ideas convincingly before he would buy into it. That is a
proof of a thinking leader. He knows where he wants to lead the country,
but ideas and contributions are welcome.
Atiku is a human being. What do I mean by such a statement that seems self
evident and obvious? He is caring. He is loyal. He is compassionate. He is
considerate. He believes in taking care of anyone who crosses his path
without expecting anything in return. He had blood of kindness flowing in
his veins. He has a big heart. You can always count on him in distress if
you can get his ears, which is not difficult. It is an added bonus if you
are his friend and or his staff.
Atiku is a cosmopolitan politician. His marriages are attestation to this
fact. He sees beyond his immediate environment. While he is fiercely loyal
to his people and community, he would fight to the last to ensure that a
third party’s entitlement is not taken away from him or her. He is willing
to see from the perspective of the others and seek a common ground. Some
think this is inconsistency. But the primary responsibility of a leader is
to listen and create a vision to lead accordingly. I see this as a virtue
rather than vice. He knows how to bring people together.
Atiku, unlike some of his political friends, believes in the rule of law.
What is my proof? Throughout his disagreements with President Obasanjo,
Atiku was always resorting to court to resolve the disagreements. If I
remember correctly, he took OBJ to court about eleven times and won every
time. This further embittered Obasanjo against him and soured their
relationship more. Nigeria needs a leader who believes in and respect the
Atiku is always willing to give up on his ambition for the greater good of
all. His good heart and the unquenchable desire for the greater good has
made him vulnerable to the political hawks around. As a result of this, he
has ended up being the most betrayed politician in this era. My brother,
Barrister Ayo Turton succinctly put it on his page on Facebook as follows:
“It was a 3-way run between him, MKO and Kingibe for SDP primaries in
1993. No clear winner, so MKO appealed to him through Yar’Adua to step
down with a promise to make him the Vice President. He agreed. Along the
line he was schemed out, Kingibe became the VP. The rest is history.
In 2003, he was the most powerful politicians in Nigeria, he had most of
the delegates and PDP Governors urging him to run against Baba Obasanjo,
he could have won easily. Baba cajoled and appealed to him to wait till
2007 when he will hand over to him. He agreed. As 2007 approaches, Baba
started scheming for a third term in defiance of that promise. Atiku
screamed and kicked. That signal the beginning of their fight. Baba lost
third term bid, Atiku lost Presidential bid. The rest is history.
After APC primaries in 2015, he put everything in to support Baba Buhari
after he lost the primary to him. He is now complaining that he has been
sidelined again. Even Asiwaju Tinubu got sidelined. I hate betrayal, maybe
that’s why I have sympathy for Atiku.”
On the last paragraph in Barrister Turton’s statement, I will make this
comment. Many Buharists or Buharideens who are vilifying Atiku are
uninformed. They should be showing gratitude to Atiku for being there for
President Buhari at difficult times. I do understand that they may not
know a lot of things that transpire behind the curtains, but Atiku has
been there for President Buhari despite being sidelined by the
Administration. And Buhari himself knows.
More so, President Mohammadu Buhari should remember the day he sat in a
particular place in Abuja, with his head in both his hands, confused,
unhappy and sad, pleading with Vice President Atiku in the days leading to
the general elections in 2015. This was shortly after the party primaries
and he was in the process of picking his running mate. It was a “one on
one” private meeting.
At this point again, another perfidy against Atiku had taken place. But
that would be a story for another day. But Atiku still gave his words to
Buhari and cheered him up not to worry too much, assuring Buhari of his
support. Buhari left the place of the meeting, feeling better but still
About five hours later after Buhari had left, a delegation arrived at the
same place to see Atiku. The delegation was led by Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Pa
Bisi Akande and Rauf Aregbesola were in that delegation. Buhari did not
tell them before he met Atiku but brought their attention to the fact that
they had to meet him (Atiku) and plead with him before things could move
At this meeting, Atiku was very blunt. He reminded Tinubu of their
agreement and the conditions they both agreed on before Atiku joined APC.
He pointed out that once again, he has been betrayed. At the appropriate
time, some of the details might be made public if necessary. Tinubu and
the members of that delegation pleaded with Atiku to forgive. They
appealed to the importance of “collective good”.
He did. He forgave.
And as Barrister Turton quipped on his Facebook page, “The rest is now
Nigeria is in dire straits. One’s concern is the gradual descent into
anarchy because of incompetence, nepotism, injustice and imbalance of this
current administration. Nigeria and Nigerians need a rescuer. And Atiku is
it. Buharists and Buharideens would not be able to stop Nigerians who want
a good manager which Atiku represents. The bus is moving away. They are
being left behind at the station.
The demonization of Abubakar Atiku, the Man, must cease. He has been
betrayed over and over because of his trusting nature. He has been
victimized over and over because of his willingness to accommodate. Good
nature is a virtue not a vice. It is not a sign of weakness in a leader
but that of strength that could and should be positively appropriated for
the good of all. His ambition is not a crime. And it is not morbid either.
If his ambition was morbid, Obasanjo would not have had a second term. He
(Atiku) would have been President in 2003.
As for me, I am resolved about my desire for an Oòduà Nation. It is an
inevitable goal that is destined to materialize. And it is a matter of
time before it becomes a reality. But while we are still here, in this
contraption called Nigeria, as our people eke out survival, it is
important to be alert to what is happening around us. We can’t and we are
not operating in a cocoon. Our arms should not and must not remain akimbo
as social, religious and economic damages are being done to our polity.
Hence, to this end, we must derobe ourselves of blinding sentiments and
emotion as we tackle and navigate the vicissitudes of the Nigerian
politics, with our eyes fixated on the ultimate goal. There is no gain
saying the fact that ABUBAKAR ATIKU is THE MAN. His are capable hands,
tested and proven in its being stable, knowledgeable, accommodating,
considerate and able.
It is time to get serious.
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