Atiku’s Dance With National Interest

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The 2019 presidential polls have come and gone, pulling the ‘rug’ of political ambition from beneath Atiku’s feet, probably removing his shoes along with it. This was the last chance he had to become Nigeria’s president, running from way back in 1990 from the old SDP days, through to 2007 as Vice-President, and in 2011 also under the ACN, eventually losing the APC primaries in 2015. In a recent interview on the hausa service of the VOA (voice of America), I did attest to the fact that Nigeria has not seen a more dexterous politician, with clout and political structure, as it has seen in the person of Atiku. He has a very robust and articulate followership from all the 6 geo-political zones of the federation; and from both the most popular religions of Islam and Christianity in the country. I had also highlighted that if Atiku had any misfortune in the elections, it was simply coming up against “The Hurricane’ of modern day Nigerian politics. Contesting against Buhari, the darling of over 12 million voting masses who have consistently been by his side was always going to be Atiku’s albatross.

The credibility and peacefulness of the elections has been buttressed by the Foreign community which Atiku and the PDP have so fondly called upon over the last few months. The United Nations have indeed congratulated President Buhari, and so did the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS. The British Prime Minister also congratulated Mr. President. According to her, she had witnessed first-hand the importance of the UK – Nigeria relationship during her trip last year. She said she looked forward to continuing the close partnership and strengthening the shared prosperity and security.

The Human Rights Watch also said that, “This is our goal. To guarantee that most of the nations in the world take part in the democratic process. Nigeria is no different. The Human Rights Watch held a delegation with the support of the EOM Mission (European Union Election Observation) to Nigeria to assist the local elections. The result of the democratic process itself and the engagement of the Nigerian people were impressive”. The New York times reported that “Nigeria’s election was in many ways a referendum On honesty, as voters once again embraced a candidate who held up a broom at rallies, declaring to sweep away the graft that has given the nation a bad reputation worldwide”. The UK Minister of State for Africa, Harriet Baldwin also congratulated Mr. President. She said that Nigerians had shown a resilience and commitment to democracy. In a long statement, she stated that the results declared by the nation’s electoral commission was consistent with the results obtained through the civil society parallel vote regulation process along with their International partners. Therefore, the Nigerian people can have confidence in the results. President Buhari also received congratulatory calls from quite a number of African Presidents including Ghana  Mozambique, Zimbabwe and South Africa. There were calls from the King of Saudi Arabia and messages from the Russian and Chinese Presidents. International elections observers’ endorsements have been plenty, and so have foreign governments congratulatory messages. To the International community, Buhari did win fair and square.

Atiku in a world press conference refused to accept the results of the election. Some of his arguments have been hinged on questions on the percentage turnout of voters in war ravaged areas like Yobe. Statistics from INEC databases show that the increased percentage has been just 5%, rising from 71% in 2015, when the region was in turmoil; to 76% in 2019. So the increase is minimal which can be attributed to the improved conditions in the North East. He also argued that votes were lower from his strongholds like Akwa Ibom, not considering that over 2 million voters did not turn out in 2019, as total votes cast were just a little over 27 million compared to the 29 million that voted in 2015. So there was a lower turnout in some areas. The use of card reader was enforced this time as opposed to 2015 where over 2 million votes were obtained without the card reader. These votes were mostly from the South south states. In 2015, PDP with a sitting President recorded just over 12 million votes while Buhari, the opposition candidate polled over 15 million votes. Atiku celebrated this victory. In this year’s election, Buhari again polled just over 15 million votes as against Atiku’s 11 to 12 million votes. While Buhari won his region which has the highest votes percentage in the country, Atiku lost his woefully. Buhari’s running mate, Prof. Osibanjo won his region too and his opposing candidate Peter Obi did win his region as well. The battle ground in the North Central states of Plateau, Niger, Benue etc where Atiku could have surprised Buhari was where Buhari did quite well, winning Nassarawa state for the first time. The highest number of votes Atiku won in previous polls was a mere 2 million plus. So his present tall ambition and great outing was graced by the support of the OBJs, the Sarakis, the Tambuwals and the Wikes to name a few. So also the Atikulate’s well organised and well oiled campaign and propaganda machinery that did as well as finally getting Atiku to America after over 11 years. 2019 polls was also very polarised by ethnicity and religion, which accounts for so much of Atiku’s votes tally.

Wazirin Fombina, has toiled and worked arduosly to realise his ambition of becoming Nigeria’s President for over 20 years and whoever thinks that being an ‘Atiku’ let alone a Buhari,is a day’s job, or even a decade’s; has lost his mind. Frankly, he has had an occultic following with the youths, the elites, the IT savvy new-age generation, and most of our cosmopolitan citizenry. Coming to terms with a seal on his fate as the President that never was, is damning and unbearable to live with. Not after so long, so much effort and such great promise of an ambition that achieved pardon, over and over again, from OBJ, even after so many books and interviews of condemnation. Its almost a miracle that it is not happening. An even higher miracle has truncated this dream. I have seen a video before now, of Atiku crying, wiping tears from his eyes during the early days of the 2019 campaigns. I have had cause to look at it again and it has pushed me to reason and analyse that: If really Atiku was crying not for himself, but for the love of God and country, he will reconsider, for the sake of national Interest, and accept his defeat like a man. That he will write his name in gold on the sands of our time and leave a similar legacy to President Jonathan’s, which the PDP so much prides itself about. I pray he shuns the SANs that want to make business of his woes, and listens to SANs like Alisa Agbakoba, as well as Abdulsalam Abubakar, who are talking sense to him. I pray he avoids the masters of ‘common sense’ and embrace the rare sense of patriotism for the sake of us all.

By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir Talban Bauchi

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