Atiku Abubakar and His Bag of Problems – OpEd – Eurasia Review

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You don’t need a clairvoyant to tell you that if the election scheduled for February 2023 is held, I don’t think it will, Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate, as on many other occasions in the past, will not win. It’s not that he’s a serial loser as some have said, but that the gods know he may not come out better than anyone who has ruled the nation, more than Mohammadu Buhari, the worst so far. In 1999, when Olusegun Obasanjo received the ticket, he chose Abubakar Atiku as his running mate, on a platter of gold. The future looked so bright in the presidency for Atiku, he had so much to do because Obasanjo trusted him. He was to sell many national assets as part of a privatization program, but as many say, many assets would have ended up in the pocket of Atiku and his cronies.

Don’t call a humble man, my friend Dare Babarinsa, seasoned journalist, taught me, until you gave him money and power. Atiku within a few years of handing over national assets became so wealthy that his character began to show. He thought he could be president immediately. And he organized his choristers to fill the press with cries of “Mandela option”. Nelson Mandela was the President of South Africa who left office after one term. So at that time, Atiku and his team of praise singers wanted Obasanjo gone after just one term. This exposed Atiku’s pride and unbridled love for power to Obasanjo and to keen observers of power politics in the presidency. Atiku couldn’t wait, he had to be president at all costs. Obasanjo deployed his own tactics against his deputy, including the Nuhu Ribadu, chairman of the EFCC, the agency Obasanjo had created to cleanse the nation of corruption. Atiku fought back in court and was able to retain his position, but his reputation was badly damaged. From then on, it was so clear that Atiku’s ambition to succeed Obasanjo had gone with the wind. Instead of Atiku, Obasanjo went to Umaru Yaradua, then Governor of Katsina State, to run as the PDP presidential candidate. Atiku had to seek his ambition on the platform of another party. He didn’t win.

Atiku is no stranger to money from government coffers; at that time he could boast of having a degree although he had recently obtained a master’s degree from a university in the UK, but at the time the country’s system of incompetence favored him, he was recruited to the Customs Department, an agency notorious for its sleaze. Many say customs was Atiku’s first encounter with wealth. Bola Tinubu, the presidential candidate of APC, who himself has so much to do to convince Nigerians that his colossal wealth is clean, is now one of those asking Atiku to tell Nigerians the source of his wealth. Atiku said he was selling cars, but Tinubu and his media team say Atiku couldn’t have indulged in car selling because as a public official he wasn’t supposed to, the rules of the civil service are against it. They haven’t said it openly, but Nigerians read between the lines that the allegation is that Atiku made deals with the Customs Department. And they know that you don’t have to be smart to do business with customs, you just have to be cunning and daring.

Atiku is ambitious, very ambitious. People say his ambition doesn’t come with tougher stuff. Atiku said that after he rose to the post of deputy director of the customs department, his restless mind decided that if he was not promoted immediately, he would find something else to do. And he did, he resigned to join politics and was elected governor of his state of Adamawa. But before taking the oath, Obasanjo invited him to become vice president. Few wealthy Nigerians are truly smart, their wealth is questionable. They get their wealth through dubious means. Atiku used his wealth to make many friends. He is a free giver, his friends say. He gives money and thus retains their loyalty. The same goes for Atiku’s main opponent in the current election cycle, APC’s Bola Tinubu. Observers also say Tinubu allows his followers to take the crumbs while he sits on the big money. Atiku has taken wives from all over Nigeria, his first wife is Yoruba and the last is Igbo with whom she currently has a dispute. To marry his Igbo wife, it is said that he had to divorce one of his northern wives. Atiku is Muslim and it is so easy to divorce in religion. The man has the ace, all he has to do is repeat “I’m divorcing” three times, and that’s it, this marriage is over, the unfortunate wife must return to her father’s house. Atiku did this and brought the Igbo woman. As a Muslim, Atiku could only marry four wives. He divorced one and brought another in order to maintain the prescription of the four wives of his religion.

With his wives spread across the country, Atiku comes across as a unifier and a derailed Nigerian. Atiku has contested every presidency since 2007. The only person who has come close to him in the number of presidential contest entries is the current president, Mohammadu Buhari, who contested three times before winning in 2015. In 2011, when Buhari lost, he openly cried at a ceremony in Abuja making it look like he missed something terribly. What Buhari missed was given to Nigerians in seven years of mismanagement thus far as president. Buhari gave Nigeria the reigning nepostism only for its Fulani people and inflicted on Nigerians the most ruinous economic policies. As of October 27, the naira was trading at 780 to the US dollar on the parallel market. Nigerians should watch Atiku, he is a Fulani like Buhari and his desire to be president at all costs should he be held in suspicion. Atiku’s secret agenda was exposed at Arewa House in Kaduna a few weeks ago when he told the emirs and others present that the North needed a northerner to be president and not a Yoruba or Igbo. The “unifier” Atiku clearly brought out his tribal bigotry in this statement. Atiku is a tribalist and he won’t unify anything. Buhari was touted as smart, disciplined and a unifier but Nigerians now know he is not one.

It is very clear that with all the problems that Atiku is facing, especially with Governor Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State who together with Seyi Makinde of Oyo State, Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State and Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, all of whom are fighting Atiku for lack of diversity in the high hierarchy of the PDP since he is a northerner and chairman of the party, Iyorchia Ayu is also a northerner. They say it’s against the party constitution. They allege that the south of the country is excluded from the electric loop. They will not support his campaign and election in their states. With four clear states beyond Atiku’s reach, he will need some magic to win. Atiku foresees the North controlling both the party and the presidency. This gives teeth to his call for a Northern president. Atiku certainly has an ethnic agenda and most likely will be worse than Buhari when it comes to ethnic bigotry. Nigeria is in dire straits. Buhari only praises and blames himself. He ruined Nigeria’s currency which is worth no more than the paper it is printed on. Nigeria needs an intelligent man or woman who can think through the nation’s many problems. He must be a true unifier as Buhari’s ethnic politics and hatred for the south, especially the southeast, must be healed for peace to reign in the nation. Without peace, there can be no economic progress.

Atiku, like Bola Tinubu, has recruited and assembled very brilliant journalists around him and they deploy fallacies to cover up his flaws like they did for Buahri in 2015. Atiku doesn’t seem to possess the we, the mental breadth and the character to take Nigeria out of the woods and he must not win. Granted, he has more problems than his schemes can overcome.

Tunde Akande is both a journalist and a pastor. He earned a Masters in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos.

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