L – R: Atiku and Okowa
The case of the former Vice-President of Nigeria, His Excellency Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is worse than that of Tinubu in a million ways. In Atiku, we are likely to have another government of vengeance. Atiku has been vying for president for a very long time, just like Buhari. Atiku must and will hold some people or institutions responsible for his defeats in the past. The emergence of Atiku as the candidate of the PDP has presented a dilemma that should not be allowed to fester. Whether in or out of power, the North remains the North and thus we cannot ignore the presidency of Buhari to invent the selfish argument that PDP cannot apply the rotation principle because it is in the opposition. This cannot engender national unity and cohesion which Nigeria needs urgently. The desperation for power should not close the eyes to truth, equity and fairness. What story is Atiku seeking to tell the people of Southern Nigeria with his candidature? That they should endure the marginalization for another eight years? And this is why the stand of Governor Nyesom Wike to ignore the PDP is very commendable, even though Wike himself is another story altogether.
Furthermore, Atiku’s candidature is a big slap upon the plurality and unity of Nigeria. An Atiku presidency will translate to sixteen years of unbroken presidency of the North, which will lead to more agitations and may snowball into disintegration. An Atiku presidency will translate to sixteen years of Muslim-Muslim presidency, in a nation where there are two dominant religions. Is it possible that this may encourage the terrorists and bandits to seek to further their violent agenda against Nigeria?
Atiku as the Vice-President of General Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd) was in charge of the economy. Under his tenure, Nigeria suffered loss of its national assets, due to the IMF/World Bank-inspired privatization policy. This led to job losses and indeed the pauperization of the masses of our people. What will then happen when Atiku becomes the president?
There are also concerns about Atiku’s health, his true origin and his loyalty to Nigeria. Atiku is almost always in Dubai, which has become more like a haven for many political leaders who go there to spend quality time but are unable to replicate good governance and development for the benefit of their country. Unlike Tinubu, Atiku is already showing signs of civilian dictatorship, by jettisoning the decision of the Committee set up by his party to choose his vice presidential candidate. Whereas this should have counted in his favour as a man of his own, the failure of Atiku to consult with those to be affected by his decision is a bad omen for the presidency that he seeks to occupy. Atiku is yet to dismantle the toga of corruption hung on him by his former boss and his businesses are also tied to the government.
Sensing the anger, frustration and apathy of Nigerian youths, the political class quickly picked the former governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi to raise false hopes of a revolutionary change. This has worked to some extent because in Nigeria presently, the youths have come to embrace the leprous transition programme of Buhari and they have been cajoled to join the 2023 bandwagon through Obi. I have always advocated for an end to the marginalization of the South East by the ‘owners’ of Nigeria. So if we say that Obi should be president in order to give the Igbos a sense of belonging, I will gladly accept and support that venture. But to portray Obi as the new face of any transformation agenda for Nigeria, please perish the thought. This was the same way that Buhari was paraded as the messiah for Nigeria in 2015. Buhari even presented a ‘progressive’ manifesto to us with fantastic promises only to turn around to disown it after his election. Obi snatched the ticket of the Labour Party that is meant for the genuine representatives of the working class and he is cashing in on the boiling anger of the youths and other Nigerians to project himself as a friend of the masses when he is indeed part of their problems. Obi has jumped from the All Progressive Grand Alliance which gave him the platform to be governor, to the PDP and now to the Labour Party. With the way Nigeria is presently structured, a million Obis will end up worse than Buhari.
There is an urgent need to restructure Nigeria and if we keep recycling politicians every four years, there will be nothing for the masses except lamentations. The 1999 Constitution of Nigeria is itself the enemy of our development and progress. It is time to discard it and enact a new Constitution that will reflect the will of the people, instead of jumping around with politicians every four years with no mission in focus. That is the 2023 dilemma. Restructuring is the answer, after all.
Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)