By: Ike Abonyi
“In the end, it is our defiance that redeems us. – if there was a religion of the wolf – that is what it would tell us.” ― Mark Rowlands
When the story of this civil era (1999-2023) is told, ex-Vice President Atiku Abubakar will get a generous mention for enriching our jurisprudence through litigations.
Between 2003 and 2007, Vice President Abubakar was frequently in court to wedge the menacing anger of his principal, President Olusegun Obasanjo for alleged vaulting ambition. His lawsuits then led to several legal precedents that have helped to strengthen the nation’s democracy.
Abubakar’s current legal sparring in and outside Nigeria, unraveling the reeky past of the incumbent president’s long-known, sordid story has further positioned Nigeria’s most recurrent presidential candidate in history. But there is something about his litigations that makes them intriguing. He always starts off as a loner, a political orphan, without the political class who ends up as the ultimate beneficiary of his legal actions.
Between 2003 and 2007 [his second term as Vice President], he sued his own. The President then, Olusegun Obasanjo and the Peoples Democratic Party were indeed his traducers and the mud-slingers. His fellow wayfarers, the political class, of course, could not afford to seem opposed to the government and or the PDP national leader and President.
Atiku Abubakar won in court and frustrated Obasanjo’s term elongation agenda. In concert with other forces cost the vice president his presidential aspiration. His ambition to succeed the president was stalled. So we’re other deputies across the federation who nursed similar ambitions. Repeatedly since then, Atiku Abubakar has remained on every presidential ballot. Five different times!
In his latest quest for the Aso Rock Villa, Abubakar, as usual, is fighting solo [even in opposition]. Ordinarily, being in opposition could have made his current fight easier and swifter. Not at all, for he is still in it almost alone.
Atiku Abubakar is the PDP standard bearer, the banner of the legal tussle. But the party is heart and mind with the man whose mandate(?) he is calling to question, despite being a possible corporate reaper of the fruit of his success. Largely driven by material interests, his sabotaging associates are not keen on the legal tango, notwithstanding the popularity and justness of the project. Abubakar’s recent press conference exposed these glaring contradictions in the opposition camp. This is when it should form a united front.
During the press conference, some leaders of his party, acting as moles, ridiculed the struggle as a wild goose chase. Under normal conditions, a presidential flag bearer, especially of the opposition, should enjoy massive support in the struggle to retrieve a snatched mandate. But the lone ranger won’t get that from the PDP. Instead, the party leadership would be sabotaging his efforts, dining and winning with the ruling APC and their collaborators. His appeal for two other opposition leaders, Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Rabiu Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, to team up with him can be traced to the apparent weakness of his current platform.
Imagine a high-profile press conference by a presidential candidate where none of the 12 PDP governors found time to join him. Instead, the Akwa Ibom governor issued repeated press releases denying joy over Atiku Abubakar’s landmark judicial victory.
Since the Buhari era, the Bauchi helmsman has learned to serve god and mammon and hopes to benefit from both. The Enugu governor’s case is understandable, battling to scale a forgery hurdle on his way. So he could not afford to endorse anybody fighting forgery even from his family.
The helmsman in Rivers State is wearing PDP clothes and working full-time for APC. The Bayelsa governor’s case is unsurprising and excusable; he has a tough second-term battle ahead in November.
Even Governor Umaru Finriri of Adamawa, the home of Atiku Abubakar is still entrenched in the payment of reparations to Rivers and hoping for more favours and cannot risk losing the pecuniary gain of not openly identifying with Atiku.
The Osun State Governor Adeleke is being cautious not to be seen undermining Tinubu whose umbilical cord is traceable to Iragbiji in Osun.
Edo, Delta, Zamfara, Taraba and Plateau governors, who seem to be the only sincere PDP to heart and mind, possibly got swayed by the indifference of the majority.
In the past, mere PDP NEC or BOT meetings in Abuja, the city always quakes, but now, they are all hiding, not wanting to identify with their party to avoid losing the largesse that accrues those who stay aloof and remain apathetic.
The orphan status of Atiku extends beyond party and leaders to geopolitical and religious interests. His geopolitical north is not interested in huge discoveries about Tinubu, no matter how well they may mean to the country and the larger society. To agree with Atiku would mean that the North blundered in their seeming support for the no-certificate President who doled out dollars and appropriated the region.
For the South West, identifying openly with Atiku means abandoning their son even with his shrouded credentials. For the South East and South South, supporting Atiku means working against power coming to the South.
Even Muslim leaders supporting Atiku means going against the same-faith ticket that they prayed for with former Kaduna State Governor Nasiru El Rufai as Chief Imam who led the prayer.
For Christians, backing Atiku means endorsing a Muslim after Buhari, a Muslim, just ruled for eight years. Even the Atiku hangers-on are not available; their commitment is dependent on the availability of cash. In the PDP tradition, it is “money for hand, back for ground”.
All the hullabaloo about this CSU thing that Atiku is enjoying is coming from the Obidients and the ordinary Nigerians of conscience. Their dream for a new Nigeria is strong and they believe that Atiku’s fight can bring it to fruition. People like Peter Obi believe in work first, and rewards later. That fuels their doggedness and zeal. To the Obidient movement, if the wrong person is bringing a good message, don’t ignore the message. Zoning or no zoning, religion, or political party affiliations should not be allowed to create an avenue for the legitimizing of fraud because its effect will be catastrophic and far-reaching.
If Nigeria allows this fraud to pass, through the seeming indifference of the judiciary and the legislators who are constitutionally empowered to stem it, they would be laying a regrettable precedent. The certificate thing is no longer about a political party or a geopolitical interest. It’s about the entire fabric of society to have the number one citizen in such a mess and with some senseless and selfish rationalizing going on.
The question on the lips of not a few is, where are all those PDP big guns, those godfathers who assemble in groups in Legacy House, Maitama, and Tom Ikimi House, former this, former that, during electioneering to collect money from presidential aspirants? Why can’t they speak out now and avert this danger?
If they keep mum and allow the country to drift to a dyke where democracy would be disrupted, posterity will hold this generation of the political class liable. But more shame would go to double-faced PDP leaders because as the scripture teaches, righteousness belongs to God and confusion of face to the hypocrites.
What is however encouraging is that Atiku as a warrior for justice has chosen to suffer his pain silently and be careful to avoid a broken spirit. The Wazirin Adamawa may have also resolved to go it alone. In the words of Korean activist, Lee Min-ho, “Those who give up cannot gain victory and it’s not the victory that is so important, but the fighting spirit. Even in failing, the attitude of not giving in is beautiful in itself.”
What is striking is that even as Atiku may seem like a lone wolf, he is not alone, the majority of Nigerians of good conscience who abhor evil and call it by its name are with him. The God of justice always ensures that no crusader for justice walks alone. But which justice is Atiku’s, the true winner of the election?