Why Atiku is My Second Choice

By Jude Atupulazi

In Peter Obi, God has given Nigerians a viable option in next year’s presidential election; but that is for Nigerians who are genuinely desirous of a positive change at this very critical moment of our national life.

Indeed, Nigeria has never been so low and Nigerians have never been so disillusioned. Many are finely poised on the edge of depression and the Nigerian skies are looking ever so bleak. It is very much like a situation in a heavy rain storm where one searches the skies to see if there are any signs of the storm abating without seeing any.

In Nigeria today, while Obi offers Nigerians some glimmer of hope that the storm will be over, I will like to look at another scenario if it happens that we do not have the person we want which is Obi. In that case, we will be left with a choice of two candidates in the persons of Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC; and Atiku Abubakar of the major opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

To many, these two choices are one and the same, or better still, two sides of the same coin. Together they represent the people who have ruined this country over the past years.

Yet, should I be forced to choose between them, I will readily choose Atiku and here’s why.

While both cannot extricate themselves from corruption and all that is bad in the country’s politics, Atiku is known as a more moderate Muslim. Why the religious angle? It is not so difficult. Today, under Buhari, Nigeria is extremely divided along religious lines, apart from ethnic, and that’s no thanks to the brand of leadership introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In almost all he does, he does not pretend about his religious bias. It is this bias in favour of his own religion, Islam, that has made him unable to prosecute just one killer Fulani herdsman. It is for same reason that he has refused to brand those killer herders terrorists, despite the many communities they have pilloried and ravaged; despite the many people they have raped, maimed and killed and still maiming, raping and killing.

But he would quickly go on to brand members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, terrorists. (This is not making any excuses for the later activities of perceived IPOB members). But the argument remains that if the herdsmen are doing clearly more than what IPOB has done, why not also declare them terrorists?

Buhari has been treating herdsmen with kid gloves to the extent that they have since turned to full blown kidnappers, knowing that they have a father in Abraham, so to say.

It is also out of same bias that Buhari had appointed people of same religious faith to the headship of virtually all the armed forces of the country, as well as other top positions in government.

Because of the clear bias Buhari has against other religions, there has been a growing hatred for those he protects by other Nigerians and who can blame them? Buhari has made the terrorists to believe that Nigeria belongs to them. But their activities are bringing the nation to its knees.

Just last week reports emerged about an impending terror attack in the nation’s capital, Abuja, following security reports that emanated from the United States and British Governments that led to the evacuation of their non-essential staff members.

This is all because of the way Buhari has handled things. He just does not care, even if Nigerians weep from January to December. In fact, this is the first time any Nigerian leader has displayed this kind of religious insensitivity and this is why in parts of the North, some Muslims can kill ”non-believers” at the slightest provocation and nothing will happen to them.

We are still as a matter of fact waiting for the prosecution of those who took part in the killing of Miss Deborah Samuel in a College of Education in Sokoto. So, tell me why they would not kill again after knowing that nothing would happen?

Even in the time of the nation’s worst dictator, Sani Abacha, things were not this bad. Abacha wasn’t interested in religion, per se, but in looting. As long as he found anyone compliant, he didn’t care where they came from. Many believe that if it were under Abacha, Boko Haram would not have reared its head as he would have brutally dealt with the monster.

But under Buhari, one who was supposed to use his military experience to deal with terrorism, the nation has virtually been overwhelmed by all manner of terrorists and the so-called bandits.

But as for Atiku, he has proved to be a liberal Muslim. This can be seen in his marriage to an Igbo woman. Also not long ago, he had chosen Peter Obi as his running mate for the last presidential poll, again showing a kind of likeness for us.

Even now, he has chosen another Southerner, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate. Then again, the constitution of those who are going to work for him in his campaign council has shown his open nature.

Same cannot be said about Tinubu who seems to care less about the people of the Southeast in particular. I cannot in fact remember the last time Tinubu visited the Southeast. Even now, the constitution of his campaign team shows what appears to be his disdain for the people of the Southeast. Let’s not forget his decision to fly a double Muslim ticket at a time the country has been torn to shreds by religious differences.

But the chief reason why I’m going for Atiku over Tinubu is this. Over the years, the Western part of Nigeria has refused to side with other parts of the country to wrestle power from the North which has ruled the country for 47 out of her 62 years of existence. It is also a fact that the North has more respect, if not more fear, of the West.

The reason for this is not exactly clear, but they can easily acquiesce to the demands of the West than to those of other zones. That was why they appeased the Yorubas by first giving them Ernest Shonekan as the country’s interim president, and later, Olusegun Obasanjo, as substantive president. Only the Yoruba West would have been so considered.

Today, after many years of power oscillating largely between the North and the West (in both military and civilian regimes), it is now indisputably the turn of the Southeast to have a shot at the presidency. All these years, I had been waiting for just this moment to see how the North and the West would react when the Southeast would lay a genuine claim to the presidency.

I was waiting to see the excuses that would be given to deny the Southeast its turn. But, alas, when the time came, the North predictably pretended to be unaware of the political Arithmetic on ground and the West which should have acknowledged the truth, is also pretending.

It is true that the Pan-Yoruba Socio-Cultural Organisation, Afenifere, is throwing its weight behind the Southeast (a very commendable and heartwarming decision), but some elements of the West are joining the North to work against the emergence of a Southeasterner as the president.

They do this as though the people of the Southeast Zone are merely to be seen and not to be heard; as though the Southeast has no political clout or is incapable of producing a worthy president. This is why those elements in the West have thrown up an ancestor to preside over the nation’s affairs on the platform of the ruling party.

That this man could win the party’s ticket ahead of some credible Southeasterners in the APC Primary Election could only mean that they are working in cahoots with some Northern cabal to keep the Southeast perpetually subjugated.

Now, in view of this obvious conspiracy, I have decided that since the rogue elements in the West do not want to see an Igbo mount the seat in Aso Rock, let the North continue and who is better in the North among those contesting than Atiku to take over from Buhari?

If you look at the APC ticket, apart from being a double Muslim one, the pair of Tinubu and his running mate, Shettima, is difficult to differentiate. One can even suspect a ploy to replace Tinubu with Shettima should Tinubu succumb to old age or even die.

After all didn’t Yar’Adua die in office and was replaced by a Southerner, Goodluck Jonathan? Could that not have been the reason for a double Muslim ticket so that the North would still remain in power for another eight years or slightly less, depending on when Tinubu gets out of the way?

If this permutation is untrue, why hasn’t the North rallied round Atiku who is also not just a Northerner but a Fulani? But they see Atiku as too liberal a Muslim to perpetuate whatever agenda they may have.

This could be same reason he was rejected in 2019 when he was a better fit than Buhari. The fact that Atiku had chosen Obi, a core Easterner, as his running mate then must have further convinced those cabal in the North that Atiku could not be trusted. And even now, Atiku has also chosen a Southerner of Igbo stock, Okowa, as his running mate

You can now see why I’m disposed to Atiku being the next president? Even if he may have contributed to getting us where we are today as a nation, he is clearly a lesser evil and has shown us more care than Buhari.

Besides, it will be difficult to get anyone that will be as disastrous as Buhari and his APC. Yes, Atiku is my second choice, but only just.