The rate at which mudsling is being thrown at the person of Nigeria’s Vice-President (1999-2007) Atiku Abubakar in recent weeks has cleared any doubts that political idleness and lack of creativity in leadership circles have caused feelings of frustration among those with responsibility to lead the country out of the woods and their foot soldiers. This is more so as the Nigerian people demand for results on mandates given, and fulfillment of promises made.
As the clock ticks, scapegoats have to be created overnight and the blame game sustained, all in an attempt to justify failure. Fear has taken the place of ingenuity in statecraft and the blackmail of imaginary or real opponents is now the order of the day. This game is patronized by people who for fear of what may happen tomorrow have failed to enjoy or take full advantage of their today.
I am writing to appeal to politicians of this school of blackmail and name-calling to desist from this trade as it never deterred Atiku Abubakar in the past. It will not succeed this time, nor would it succeed in future in discouraging him from fulfilling his commitment and obligations to the Nigerian nation and her people. For their information, the best of Atiku is yet to come. Whoever was there as he wound up his Presidential campaign last year must have heard him say, “I am not a quitter.”
Atiku has paid his dues very well in defense of democracy; of the Nigerian nation; and therefore deserves every right and privilege that is due to a citizen who has served his country well. His politics so far has been influenced and driven by principles of love and loyalty: first to Nigeria, above self. These principles are more important to him than submitting to the dictates of earthly rulers and their inordinate ambitions. These modern day Napoleons have fought Atiku with all the might, they could muster, particularly state machinery and public resources but in the end, God and the goodwill of Nigerian people did not allow Atiku to kiss the dust.
Atiku’s only weapon of these political wars, mainly in defense of the constitution of the country and the constitution of the Peoples Democratic Party, a party he contributed immensely to its formation and growth, is the rule of law. Atiku has never been recorded to have used violence as an instrument of politics anywhere, anytime. Atiku and his family members have never been found guilty of corruption by any probe. He was the most investigated, vilified and harassed political office holder, but he came out unscathed.
Before joining the murky waters of Nigerian politics, he had a successful career and rose to the rank of Deputy Director in the Nigerian Customs (Deputy Comptroller-General) before his voluntary retirement over twenty years ago. Atiku was in full time business before his relationship with General Shehu Musa-Yar’dua blossomed. The brotherly love between them was a show of the mutual reciprocity that constituted the main texture of their interface. Atiku is a self-made man, if anyone would be described as such. He learnt to do things for himself quite early in life, that is why these “stones” hauled at him by those who are afraid of his God-given clout serve as nothing but stepping stones.
It is also regrettable that Atiku’s accusers have very short memory span, otherwise, they ought to recall that Atiku was already a Governor-elect in Adamawa State in 1999 before the invitation to be a Vice-Presidential candidate. Atiku settled Obasanjo’s debts with banks, which were in hundreds of millions to relieve him of the legal impediments to being a candidate for election in 1999, fresh from prison. In case anyone has forgotten, it was Atiku, who put down money to procure the Wadata House, which continues till today to serve as the official headquarters of the PDP. So, he did not come to the vice-presidency a pauper. So, the whole idea of being made a Vice-Presidential candidate of the PDP was Obasanjo’s way of paying his financial and political IOUs to the generous Turaki Adamawa.
If his God gives him (Atiku) the grace and strength, he will not hesitate to offer himself in service of the nation even at the highest level in the land. This resolve will not be determined by the feelings and caprices of these political fortune-tellers and their masters who have transformed Nigeria’s leadership position as a political workshop for the training of all manner of political apprentices. Nigeria’s leadership problem is that no individual from 1960 to date, who has ever ruled Nigeria, prepared to lead Nigeria. Those who prepared were not given the chance to offer purposeful, detailed and well articulated development policies in the interest of the country and welfare of her citizens.
Atiku Abubakar is looking forward to breaking this jinx. He will offer himself as a willing and prepared leader in the service of the country as a way of bringing to a halt these series of emergency and visionless political order. Those who are opposed to this view are welcome! This is an era that calls for the competition of ideas in leadership and measurable performance in the interest of the people. Blackmail won’t work here. It is an idea which time has come and no one can kill it!
Mr. Abubakar, of 61 Ebitu Ukiwe Street, Abuja, wrote in response to the piece published on Premium Times titled “Why Atiku is politically finished” by Maijama’a Sule Tankarkar