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Phantom Coup: The battle line between Atiku and his boss

Posted by ROTIMI AJAYI, Abuja on 2005/12/11 | Views: 661 |

Phantom Coup: The battle line between Atiku and his boss

THE country was woken to a very bad tale last week. The Vice President, Atiku Abubakar told Nigerians on Tuesday that he had uncovered plots to rope him and a number of his political associates into an imaginary coup.

THE country was woken to a very bad tale last week. The Vice President, Atiku Abubakar told Nigerians on Tuesday that he had uncovered plots to rope him and a number of his political associates into an imaginary coup. Of course, going by the history of the country especially in dying days of military rule in Nigeria, claims that some forces were out to rope one into phantom coup would not particularly surprise one. What would particularly be surprising is that a democratically elected vice president of the country is making the claim. Perhaps before going any further, a repeat of his entire statement would suffice at this juncture.

He said, “my attention has been drawn to some documents circulating in the country about a purported plan to rope me and some of my associates into certain unconstitutional acts with grave consequences for the stability of our country and my personal safety. For the avoidance of doubt, I wish to state unequivocally, that by my antecedents and democratic convictions, I will never be involved in any plot to derail our hard-earned democratic system of government, having uncovered and frustrated a coup plot whose masterminds are already facing legal trial. I remain committed and faithful to my oath of office to defend and uphold the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In this regard, anyone purporting to drag my name or office into anything contrary to this oath should be regarded as mischief-makers who do not wish our country well. I will also use this opportunity to react to insinuations about my continued role in the present administration.

I am committed to serving out our entire term of office as mandated by the Nigerian people when they re-elected President Olusegun Obasanjo and I in 2003, in spite of false insinuations about my imminent resignation. Finally, I wish to appeal to Nigerians to remain steadfast and loyal to the government and constitution of Nigeria and avoid any acts that could derail our cherished democracy.” A careful reading of the statement of the vice president and a study of the manner in which previous similar phantom coups arose would show that both the vice president and his boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo have reached the point of irreconcilable differences.

After the vice president’s speech was published last Tuesday, sources in the Presidency revealed that the President was totally incensed by it. According to one of the sources, the vice president action was seen as totally disgraceful and an act that was meant to undermine the integrity of the President within and outside Nigeria.

Said the source, “you will be very surprised that we knew nothing about the statement before it was issued. I mean if indeed the vice president was being truthful and he had actually uncovered what he said he uncovered, it is expected that he would go to the President and inform him about it and if he was going to issue a statement over this, he should have told the President that he intended to do so. “When the statement came out and talked about attempts to frame him up, everybody of course knows whom he was talking about and there is no way such a person can still conscientiously claim to be loyal to the president.

With that statement I can tell you that it was a final straw between him and the President.” Perhaps, the Tuesday statement and the feeling it elicited in the President must have been responsible for the manner in which the President treated the vice president in the hierarchy of protocol last Wednesday at the 2006 budget session. The President had in opening his speech at the joint session acknowledged the presence of the Senate President, that of the Speaker of the House of Representatives and so on without any acknowledgement of the presence of the vice president who was sitted at the event. Of course, the vice president was at the event on the invitation of the National Assembly. But could the President have done otherwise? Hardly not.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, a full-star general of the Nigerian Army, former military head of state, prominent member of the Eminent Persons Group and a stickler for respect, is a man that brooks no form of disloyalty or insubordination from any officer under him notwithstanding his status. So after having uncovered previous acts of disloyalty on the part of the vice president, he would certainly not take the allegation of the attempt to frame phantom coup as a bowl of pounded yam which he relishes so well.

The disposition of the President to the allegation from the vice president would have been further sharpened by the fact that the President himself is a victim of similar phantom coup under the infamous regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, another military ruler who seized Nigeria by the jugular. But for the grace of God, the President would have been consumed by the Abacha phantom coup as he was meant to be executed before a divine intervention got him freed.

So it is very curious that such a man could also want to frame another for similar offence from which God delivered him from and even rewarded him with the highest office in the land. Making such an allegation against him would certainly mean foreclosing every possible means of rapprochement with the President by the vice, however. Does this mean the vice president cried wolf where there was none?

By his placement within the hierarchy of commands of military in the country, the Vice President is in no position to uncover such a plot if indeed there was one against him as the statement pointed out. However, he could still get the information about such a plot if one takes into consideration the person that he is. Atiku Abubakar, in his capacity as the vice president, Atiku Abubakar has been the chairman, National Economic Council, National Council on Privatization, National Planning Commission, National Boundary Commission, Presidential Committee on 8th All African Games, Chairman National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) among others.

These positions and responsibilities enabled him to display what appears to be an inherent virtue in him as he manifested and multiplied himself variously through hospitality and generosity all the time he had effective control of his responsibilities within government.

Therefore, it would be doubtful if such a man could find it difficult getting information of possible plot to frame him up as coup plotter. Again, that he got it and told Nigerians about it, still raises the question of whether indeed there was such a plot. Confronted with this information, the pubic affairs assistant to the president, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, denied the knowledge of the presidency in such a claim. According to him, “the response I gave to your colleagues when they asked about this during the week was that we know nothing about it and I still stand by that.”

A close aide of the vice president however dismissed the ignorance claim of Mr Fani-Kayode, nay that of the Presidency as balderdash. According to the aide, “this is a plan that was real and we had to cry out before they can go ahead to implement it because you know that nothing can be taken for granted now. Their passion for third term could force them to do anything at this moment.”

The Federal Government has the responsibility of actually investigating the claim of the vice president. A man of his position should know what he is talking about when he talks. If he has claimed that there are such plots, Nigerians would like to know those involved.

On whose orders were they plotting? When is the coup really expected to be hatched and in which way was it to be hatched? These are the questions that must be answered in the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians.

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