Editorial: Atiku’s Incredible Appetite for Pursuit of Power.


Finally, he has addressed his world press conference.  The issue here has more to do with himself than with the moral rectification of the country. There may never be another instance where he is known to have pursued a legitimate course with no benefit to himself. He said categorically that unless the courts say otherwise, he would not stop this line of action. When it comes to fighting personal ambition, Atiku is very dogged and at his best.   But the environment he finds himself is not the United States; neither is it the United Kingdom. If President Tinubu lived in the United States, by now he would have been a goner.

America operates a watertight system; you break the law, and you are punished. Unfortunately for Atiku, this is Nigeria where things are upside down, where black is white and white is green—depending on which side you are. This is Nigeria where a certain Ahmed Lawan, former senate president is in the senate today even without contesting as a senator; the Supreme Court put him there, so also Godswill Akpabio, the current senate president. Look around and tell me which public officer has resigned because of any shady deals or being convicted. Orji Kalu, currently in the senate, was in Jail, while his position was kept for him. He returned after several months and reclaimed his seat.

This is Nigeria where a certain Abba Kyari, a police officer was caught on tape for an alleged drug offense and was to be extradited to the United States; they did the normal magic and the matter has fizzled out.  Former President Buhari had no certificate, but no one including Atiku raised a finger; he served for eight horrific years during which Nigerians prayed for survival. In the end, those who escaped the pogrom hugged themselves and congratulated themselves for escaping the purge. Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON, himself has incurred the wrath of politicians for monopolizing the PDP “ticket” whenever he liked. Unknown to him, they are aggrieved that by his inordinate ambition, PDP, one of the most thriving parties Banaba’s Gemade boasted would rule for 60 years, crumbled under selfish and unbridled nepotism.

The nation said power should return to the South for fairness and harmonious reasons. Atiku and Iyorchia Ayu twisted logic and plunged the party into turmoil. Truly, Atiku Abubakar is well-known and generally liked for his close affinity with southern politicians. His beloved wife Hajia Titi Abubakar is from the south as confirmation of that belief. But due to his excessive ambition, when it mattered most, he fell flat on expectation. Today, the PDP would have won the last election. And there would have been no world press conference which definitely is an exercise in futility. Atiku’s greatest asset is his ability to have a specific vision and pursue same to its logical conclusion. Not many people of his genre have that gift.

That is the taproot from which he built his financial empire. Someone joked the other day that he has more money than 20 state governors. With such a heavy war chest, the belief is that all things are possible. For Atiku, this is a statement of fact. His almost bottomless supply of money– call him a cash cow and you are right—has made him aspire for anything possible on this earth. Nothing is too big for him to undertake. For instance, as a Customs officer in his youthful days, he braved the odds and set up a haulage firm to cart all manner of goods, maybe, excluding contraband. He was that fearless; while his mates waited till dusk to count their stipends from the day’s hard work, Atiku’s trucks brought in ‘solid’ cash. It is very possible that from there onwards he began to nurse a bigger vision, one of which was to become the president of a nation.

The remarkable thing is that he did not have to wait until he clocked the proverbial 60 years of age to retire like his unfortunate visionless colleagues. Pronto, he delved into politics and took a shot at the governorship ticket of his home state, Adamawa. Four times he tried, 1990, 1996, 1998, and eventually got it in 1999! But destiny—this destiny—which he never reckoned with—had something else stored for him. He was instead catapulted to Abuja to become the running mate to Olusegun Obasanjo, a.k.a. Obj as vice president. Years later, Adams Oshiomole another gadfly of Nigeria’s politics would tell him a bitter truth about this destiny. Nevertheless, while he served as Vice President to Obj, his voluptuous ambition boiled over and in 2003, after barely four years, he boldly challenged his boss for the throne.

He was brimming with cash having spearheaded Nigeria’s privatization exercise which many say was heavily compromised. Then, NITEL, a once thriving government enterprise was sold at a giveaway prize.  They were said to have exploited the situation to enrich themselves. The truth has not been ascertained to this day. Going further, according to those who knew the story, Obj had to go on his knees to “beg” Atiku before he got the ‘ticket’ for his second term. Atiku had the governors under his armpit and wanted to be the president in 2003 and he told Obasanjo who stomached the “insult”. After that election, Obj, who was now wiser, stripped Atiku of all his “appurtenances” and proceeded to fight him to the bitter end.

Both of them hauled insults at each other and Obj, smarting from his wartime experience during the Nigeria-Biafra war resorted to guerrilla tactics and drove Atiku out of the government house. With no lesson learned from that experience, Atiku was to contest for the same presidency six times! 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019, and now 2023! During this period, he moved back and forth from PDP to APC, and back to PDP. His best chance of clinching the presidency would have been 2023 but for that same thing called destiny! Yes, they said money answers all things; truly; but not this one—the craze for power! When Atiku returned from Dubai, his alleged second home, he manipulated the PDP constitution, installed a protégé in the person of Iyorchia Ayu, and got the “ticket” of a party that had every chance to win but neglected the pulse of the nation.

It has been agreed that power should return to the south after eight destructive years of Buhari, a northerner like Atiku. So, all Atiku had to do was to support a southern candidate with himself as a power broker! This was what Tinubu did for several years. He read the mood of the nation correctly unlike Atiku who hoped to ride on the wave of northern fervor and lost. Born November 25, 1946, Atiku is today after the throat of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the man his party could have defeated easily—just the same way APC defeated former president Jonathan! It is so easy to see why the fury of the Chicago State University saga, only that it is a bit late in the day.

Tinubu has come to stay. Too bad for those wishing him otherwise. Atiku should channel his strong appetite and lust for power to other avenues. There is more to life than being a president of a nation. Certificate or not, how many Nigerians with qualified certificates are employed? President Joe Biden at 80 is planning to contest for a second term. Would Nigerians ever learn? 2027 is around the corner; let Atiku and Obi go back to their trenches and re-strategize; with teamwork—not individualism—they may be able to unseat Tinubu. For now, that dream should be buried.