Hardly has any week passed in the last six months that Atiku Abubakar, Waziri Adamawa has not been in the news. There is no doubt as stated in a previous article that he is the most outspoken high ranking politician against our present system of government. As a matter of fact, Atiku made the restructuring debate much more popular. For those who follow social media, arguments for and against him are usually rife. Only recently, a serving minister openly declared her support for the former vice president. While I understand that it would have been more polite if the minister either kept her thoughts to herself or at least not say it in public, I shall maintain that to be able to speak truth to power is a virtue and he who chooses country over party or person is a patriot.
As 2019 gets closer and the issues are debated, it is only normal for persons and groups to take positions on their preferred candidates. The issues that determine the choices of groups and persons are many and differ from strata to strata. I spoke to a career politician and a local government council chairmanship aspirant in one of the south-south states a few weeks ago and he made it clear at the meeting that why my preferred candidate for president in the 2019 election was same choice as his, our reasons for the preference was different. He simplified thus by saying we are going via different routes to the same destination. The Nigeria citizenry can be divided into two broad groups; the political class and the masses.
My politician ally made it clear that his reason for supporting a particular candidate firstly and primarily was for continuation of his political relevance and self perpetuation. The masses want growth and development genuinely. Despite these above facts, in most cases, we still depend on politicians to determine who we support and vote for. Not so surprising though, after all only politicians will aspire to elective positions. Nigeria’s needs are numerous and so are her problems. Every election season, whilst the issues are discussed, there is one key problem that has been a recurring decimal and that is corruption. It is on record that since 1983, every government of Nigeria has rode to power on the back of fighting corruption and yet we are where we are. The promise to fight corruption by aspiring leaders now seems like a façade. It has always been a case of telling the people what they want to hear. It is demagoguery. We have now been reduced to a society that believes the only thing government is elected to do is to fight corruption. Our populist stance takes its root from this perception. In my book “The Man Atiku Abubakar: Contemplating a new Nigeria”, I stated clearly that like every strand of fabric that makes clothing, so is corruption in Nigeria. Yes, it needs to be fought. We have seen that corruption cannot be fought by electing one man who is perceived by many as incorruptible. There is no incorruptible man in Nigeria, who is willing to take up power. We must not be deceived to think again that anyone who has been politically exposed or in organized private sector or even career civil servants can pass the test of “incorruptibility”. For all have sinned and fallen short of God’s Glory. And in the language of Tuface Idibia, I will say “As you dey for there dey claim you holy so ooo, I hope you holy pass Elijah sha, you holy pass the prophet sha”. I do not intend to downplay the significance of fighting corruption. I am saying the greatest threat our country faces today is the division that have been created internally and is deepening. The problems should determine the solutions we seek. I have shown support for a better United Nigeria at every opportunity because I do not believe that secession solves our problems. In my opinion, Nigeria’s urgent priority is healing the divides that presently exist.
Our support should go to the candidate we perceive would be able to achieve this. Even as ordinary citizens, words matter. As candidates and as leaders, words will matter even more. As it stands presently, Atiku Abubakar by his utterances and disposition, exudes the characteristics of such a leader. With the unity of Nigeria being seriously threatened, a leader with minimal ethnic bias and a clear knowledge of the significance of our unity is desirable. Despite his seeming suitability, there is already so much opposition to his possible emergence. And there seem to be no limit to which his adversaries are willing to go to pull him down.
There shall be smear campaigns aimed at fueling a speculation of a corrupt individual. But where then is the holy one? As stated earlier, it is clear that the purpose of the political class is hardly in tandem with that of the masses. The political class wants self perpetuation and continuous relevance. The masses want the basic needs of life. It is therefore unreasonable that we continue to listen to this same political class because their desire most time is at a crossroad with that of the masses. We must be wiser now.
The present administration is only being in denial to continue to say that the unity of Nigeria is not under threat and such denial goes a long way to explain why the divisions may be widening. The posturing by the present administration that all is well with our unity will also mean nothing is deliberately being done either by way of action or inaction to strengthen the bonds that keeps us together other than the apparent show of force. Understanding a problem is the first step towards proffering a solution. Atiku Abubakar has shown great understanding of the issues and has not shied away from saying them even to the audience whose opinion is in variant with his. I learnt on the AIT morning programme, Kakaaki the African voice on 11th September, 2017 how our present monolithic, totalitarian and hegemonic system of government has continued to prevent us from maximizing the benefits of even our natural water resources. It further buttresses the fact that our present form affects the functioning of all facets of our existence adversely. Yet some persons already speculated to be interested in the 2019 presidency still do not think we need a change of form.
My greatest worry is that if they succeed, they eventually may get forced to change the form by doing some tinkering. Since they never believed in restructuring, it shall be so maliciously done, that it shall make no real meaning and we may be sold another dummy again. Atiku has shown a mix of both political and economic skills which in my opinion and in the opinion of a lot of people put him in good stead to be able to bring political and economic stability to our nation. It is only when this is achievable that we can really talk about development.
As part of the politicking by Atiku’s adversaries, a lot of aspersions are being cast on him. More hurdles shall be created. Can all these really be mere rivalry amongst competitors? The rage is on and only time will tell. To us as a people, through the entire hullabaloo, may we quietly discern what really matters at a critical time like this.
Dr Emenena Bright is a Medical practitioner in Warri, Delta state and can be reached on 08033806017 or firstname.lastname@example.org