Nigerian politics got some hypes over the week with the resignation of former Vice President Atiku Abuka from the All Progressives Congress (APC). A moment ago, he returned to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Earlier, he received serious clapback from Governor Nasir El-Rufai, who signposted him in a bad light and addressed him by his proper name: political prostitute!
Atiku's reentrance into the presidential race for the umpteenth times speaks ill of a nation in trauma. This is tellingly so because of the recent polls conducted by newspapers in Nigeria on who is better suited to be president of Nigeria between President Muhammadu Buhari; Atiku Abubakar, former President Goodluck Jonathan and Rabiu Kwankwaso in 2029.
While the Vanguard Newspaper poll cast has it thus: Goodluck Jonathan 24%; Atiku Abubakar 54%, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso 1%, Muhammadu Buhari 21%; Sahara Reporters poll conducted for the same purpose, almost at the same time, saw 49 % Nigerians saying they would vote for Muhammadu Buhari; 26% elected to vote for Atiku Abubakar, while the remaining 25% said they would vote for neither candidate.
The country has been put between the devil and the deep blue sea since the return to democratic rule in 1999. The lackluster government of late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua was severely plagued by lack of vision and mission, therefore failed to arrest former President Olusegun Obasanjo's destructive policy and barefaced looting that attended his government. Some say President Yar'Adua failure to demonstrate leadership was due to his delicate heath, which ultimately led to his demise.
The actual collapse of Nigerian state architecture was the entrance of President Goodluck Jonathan by accident; a minimal and miniaturist leader, who allowed powerful women like Diezani Alison-Madueke, Stella Oduah and his wife to ruin his presidency. Goodluck was the luckless President and an epigone of an aborted attempt to remake Nigeria and to reset the clock of Nigerian progress towards genuine efforts at nation building. Till now, we're still trapped in the abyss of mindless looting and unremitting poverty that was the name of his government.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar's blind ambition or constant quest for power has been invalidated by President Buhari's failure: persistent hunt for power is no yardstick to one's preparedness to governance. Besides, Nigerians seem tired of recycled political elements whose pasts have been responsible for the chaotic politics, utter wretchedness, sub-human poverty and retrogression.
Mr. Atiku's duplicity and style of politics is archaic and retrogressive. Nigerians are yet to believe that a single political individual is capable of becoming a conservative republican, at the same time, a progressive democrat. Who can convince the people that two such competing ideological convictions could emerge from the same source? "A little to the left….a little to the right of IBB's fame! That is a product that is neither fish, meat, nor vegetable." You may have to ask yourself - does the manufacturer of such mutation in the person of Alhaji Abubakar pretend to the possession of two brains, not complementary but at war with each other?
How are we sure that he believes in them before he keeps floating between the two political parties of supposed variant ideological propositions? Of a truth, it's not possible from any single mind except of a kind that despises the people to whom it dictates. Speaking from both sides of the mouth at the same time is a trick politicians employ to gain and retain power. When such become the summation of a people’s political foundation, it is nothing but grand larceny, and the bastardization of the very principles of political parties' formation and failure of governance process.
Atiku Abubakar has been trying to extricate himself from the crutches of corruption which he's firmly welded, not knowing that perception is everything in politics. Confronted recently of his refusal to visit the United States of America, Atiku quipped: “I applied, but wasn’t issued a visa. However, they did not decline me categorically either. They’ve only said my application is going through administrative process. It is the sole prerogative of America to determine who they want in their country or not. I’m not running away from America."
Mr. Atiku further added that such administrative denials were not unique to him, saying President Muhammadu Buhari could not also enter the country for years due to his religious views. Two of a kind? Yes! History will not forget them simply because we forget it. But it might just be polite to mention ancient bones when an old woman is passing!
It's on record that the U.S. government is hostile to criminal credentials of Mr. Atiku Abubakar and President Buhari grandstanding as an Islamic bigot. For Atiku, his trouble with the U.S. authorities stemmed from a broadband contract award to iGate, an America company which William Jefferson, then U.S. federal lawmaker from Louisiana, had interest in. Mr. Jefferson was said to have used his political influence and friendship with Mr. Abubakar to ensure that the contract went smoothly in Nigeria with intentions to pay some kickbacks to Nigerian officials, including the former vice president.
Mr. Jefferson revealed in a secretly recorded conversation with the FBI that Mr. Abubakar stood to benefit up to $500,000 for helping influence the broadband deal in Nigeria at the time. Although Mr. Jefferson lost his representative seat and served jail term in America for the deal, Mr. Abubakar was never prosecuted in Nigeria. It is clear that Mr. Atiku is seen by the U.S. government as an unwanted bad influence in America society.
Strictly speaking, Nigeria has been a victim of serial rape by her primitive leaders, which has become agonizingly worse under the President Muhammadu Buhari government. Ever since Buhari took office in 2015, unprecedented affliction has seized every corner of the economy with its viral imperative. The staying power of the naira has crashed beyond what has been witnessed since Independence; jobs loss and relocation of companies from Nigeria to other African countries hitting the roof top, internationalization of slavery of Nigerian citizens is replete in Libya and elsewhere, the unviable states of the Nigerian State, repressive tactics of Buhari government as a bulwark against constitutional rightness, northernization of political appointments, the rise of Fulani herdsmen fundamentalism, prosecution of perceived political enemies, and the faded sloganeering on anti-corruption deceit.
Mr. Buhari's Presidency was substantially premised on war against corruption, curbing the security crisis, power generation and job creation. The number of deaths recorded in the last two and half years is well over 10,000 citizens in the hands of Boko Haram militia and Fulani herdsmen. Buhari's monumental failure in this respect is due largely to his inability to rally the economy to stability and take political decision. While prices of goods and services skyrocketed astronomically, minimum wage of civil servants remained stagnantly at N18,000!
Clearly, President Buhari made mockery of his anti-corruption preachment with the disclosure on how Mr. Maina made his way back into the civil service and all the allegation that he choreographed Mr. Maina reinstatement. Mr. Maina's saga is just one of the many individuals who exploited Buhari's nepotistic penchant for sectionalism. And this has darkened his presidency, ultimately. Buhari's failure is premeditated as an end to ideological zealot, a known closed minded character and an unyielding Islamic irredentist.
The horrors of the Buhari Presidency and the unimaginable privation in the last two and a half years is debasing. For whatever it's worth, his total failure should redefine Nigerians resolve to either remain destitute or slaves in their own country under Buhari's leadership or allow Atiku Abubakar's criminal credentials to envelop our collective destinies. We will be worse off, if by stroke of ill-luck, Goodluck Jonathan resurfaced in Aso Rock with his childish naivety.
The 25% Nigerians who would refuse to vote Buhari, Atiku or Jonathan can't be wrong as we move towards 2019. The number can only increase as long as injustice, Fulani herdsmen destroying people's crops on the farm, killing and raping women, prosecution of known political enemies, banal oppression, pretenses on anti- corruption deception remain parts of our daily experiences, the urge to revolt will also remain a primal imperative for Nigerians in anyway possible. Call it revolution, if you like. Nigerians need to break free from the evil crutches of the likes of President Buhari, Atiku or Jonathan if we ever hope for a better future.
Erasmus, a public affairs analyst, writes from Lagos. You can reach him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @ikhide_erasmus1.