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Atiku: The chickens come home to roost

Posted by SALEH ABUBAKAR on 2005/10/01 | Views: 489 |

Atiku: The chickens come home to roost

THESE are very troubled times in the camp of Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

THESE are very troubled times in the camp of Vice President Atiku Abubakar. At home in Adamawa State, his base is being threatened by Buba Marwa, Senator Jibril Aminu and others who recently called for the dissolution of the state executive council of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Everywhere else on the nationís political terrain, the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM), his much vaunted "inheritance" from Shehu YaríAdua, is in rapid retreat, assailed on all fronts by the new dominant forces in the PDP in whose folds it has made a home in the last seven years.

Some weeks ago in Abuja, President Olusegun Obasanjo clearly signaled that the vice president was out of favour with him and mostly unlikely to get his backing for the 2007 presidential campaign.

Farther away from home, in Maryland, USA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) provided another serious threat to his ambitions to succeed Obasanjo when it raided his home as part of ongoing anti-corruption investigations.

With all these to contend with, Atiku and his acolytes have been flying about in desperation to prevent their plans to inherit Aso Rock from going up in smoke before their very eyes.

They have regrettably resorted to all sorts of deplorable subterfuges in their bid to reverse the trend of events which are clearly going against the Vice president. The most insufferable of their underhand strategies is their unfortunate attempt to ethnicise the Atikuís self-made troubles by surreptitiously dropping hints in what they regard as receptive circles that his self-inflicted troubles are a plot against the North.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The average Nigerian from the North or from the South of the country knows that the FBI is well above manipulation by foreign political interests and can be expected to deal with any erring Nigerian or American without regard for his region of origin, ethnicity, race, creed or colour. And here at home, Obasanjo has shown over the years that his zero tolerance for corruption in all its ramifications is absolutely without any ethnic colouration. The presidentís falling out with his once powerful deputy is clearly traceable to the talk that began to make the rounds soon after their inauguration in May 1999 of the Turakiís not too serious commitment to the war against corruption and the declared objectives of the Obasanjo administration.

The vice presidentís defence against the allegation that he corruptly enriched himself and his cronies through his headship of the privatization programme, according to critics, has not been completely convincing.

Back when the going was so good between the duo, and the president reposed so much trust in the vice president that when he described their partnership as "auren zobe", Hausa for an indissoluble wedlock, there was no talk of ethnic bias against the Turaki.

Before he immersed himself in the murky waters of FBI investigation, there was also no such talk.

In their laughable paranoia, it has obviously escaped the minds of Atiku and his supporters that some of the key victims of Obasanjoís war against corruption thus far have been his own kinsmen: Tafa Balogun, Sunday Afolabi, Mobolaji Osomo et al and others from the South such as Senator Adolphus Wabara and Fabian Osuji.

With his present heap of troubles, the future certainly looks very bleak for the vice presidentís 2007 presidential ambition and he would not be helping matters for himself if he persists in believing the continuing media hype about the strength of his PDM bloc within the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and talk about his being certain to win a free and fair presidential primaries within the party.

The truth is that the media created the myth of Atikuís powers to make and unmake people within the PDP and has fostered that myth through the partyís 2002 primaries and uptil the present.

In perpetuating this myth, which has no clear foundation, in fact, the media has never paused to ask why, if the Vice President was so powerful in 2002, that Obasanjo was beholden to him for his re-nomination as the PDP presidential flag bearer, he did not just take the plunge and submit his already filled nomination paper to contest against the president.

The truth is that real-politiks in Nigeria and within the PDP is very different from what the media imagines it to be, even more so at present than previously.

The media has happily now come to the realization that whatever the case may have been before now, Obasanjo now bestrides his party like a veritable colossus and is now very much the LEADER of the party in fact and in deed. And that is as it should be for any human organization and institution Ė the leader must be known to all, and the leader must lead effectively.

As things stand, it should be pretty obvious to the vice president and his supporters that they have as much chance of confronting the President within the PDP and being victorious as that of a snow-flake in hell.

Perhaps it is with this realization in mind, that the Atiku group has lately inundated the media with daily threats of abandoning the PDP and seeking a fresh platform to pursue his presidential ambition.

Be that as it may, the vice president may very well find that come 2007, his primary needs will not include any partyís presidential ticket.

Desperate need

With the way things are shaping up for him at present, he may find that he is in more desperate need of astute lawyers to clear his name from alleged corrupt deals.

The chickens, as they say, are certainly coming home to roost for him. While his office continues to avoid confronting alleged corruption and conflict of interest involved in his dealings within Congressman William Jefferson, the FBI is forging ahead with its investigations into that case and Nigerians are eagerly awaiting the report on its findings.

Atikuís supporters may shout until they are hoarse that his troubles in America were orchestrated from Abuja, but no objective observer will be swayed by such pointless and baseless allegation.

It is oneís hope that when the FBI finally turns in its report, the president will seize the opportunity to show once, and for all time, that there are truly no sacred cows in his war against corruption.

But one day will surely be one day. And if the FBI report on its investigations of the Vice President is as is being speculated, then may be that day is near. In their inordinate lust for power in 2003, Atiku and his supporters put about suggestions that Obasanjo should adopt the Mandela Option and leave office for his deputy after just one term, forgetting that the Mandela Option was exercised when the venerable elder statesman was close to 80 years of age.

The boot is now on the other foot and the talk now in the domestic media is of the Zuma Option for the vice president. For those who may not know, Jacob Zuma was the sacked South African vice president.

*Saleh Abubakar, a policy commentator, lives in Maitama, Abuja

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