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From ‘Akintola Taku’ to ‘Atiku is adamant’ and the politics of fight to finish


Presidential candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party Atiku Abubakar

The presidential elections have brought forth a spate of creative responses from imaginative Nigerians. Two are of particular resonance in the creative nature of Nigerians to their politics. The first is a folkloric narrative which creates a modern day proverb and backs it up with a cautionary tale which is entitled “The Thing That Was the Death of the Poultry Owner Should Not Be the Death of the Goat Owner.” The other response is a newspaper headline that recalls another headline which forms the title of this piece today. Both headlines and the stories behind the headlines are recalled.

THE FOLKLORE: Once upon a time, the wife of the poultry owner was having an affair with the Goat owner. The affair became so passionate that the Goat owner and his secret lover decided to kill the Poultry owner so that the two lovers could live in conjugal bliss for the rest of their lives.

The wife of the Poultry owner asked the Goat owner to come after midnight and disturb the chicken in the poultry. Once the husband heard the cackling of the chicken he would get up and come out to check what was going on. Once he was out the Goat owner can take him out and they could live their lives in peace.


So planned, so executed. The Goat owner came after midnight, disturbed the chicken. The poultry owner, like he was switched on, came out and the Goat owner killed him and married his wife.

Time passes and the wife of the Goat owner secretly fell in love with the Cow owner and started an affair with him. How can this new love bloom and bear fruit as long as the Goat owner exists? He must go. The wife advised that the Cow owner must come after midnight and disturb the goats. Thereafter the Goat owner would come out. Then the Cow owner could do away with him.

On the chosen night the Cow owner came and stirred trouble in the pen of the goats. The goats began to bleat. They went on bleating so much that the wife shook her husband awake to let him know that the goats were bleating. The Goat owner said: “Don’t mind them,” and went back to sleep. After some more bleating of the goats, the wife got up to ask the Cow owner to go home while they thought of another strategy with which to get the Goat owner. As soon as she came out she was shot by the sharp shooter the Cow owner had hired because she was mistaken for her husband.

Who is who in this zoo? Poultry owner is Goodluck Jonathan. Goat owner is Muhammadu Buhari. The Cow owner is Atiku Abubakar. And the wife is Bukola Saraki.

In 1962, a terrible rift occurred in the Action Group, the political party of Obafemi Awolowo and Ladoke Akintola. It was an ideological rift that pitched one group supporters of democratic socialism against the other group that could only be defined by their opposition to democratic socialism. The first group was led by the leader of the party Awolowo and those opposed were led by the deputy leader of the party Akintola. At the party’s 8th Annual Congress held at the at the African Sports Club in Jos, things fell apart. The socialist demanded that Akintola should resign his position as deputy leader of the party and consequently as the Premier of the Western Region.

The Governor of the region Oba Adesoji Aderemi removed Akintola as Premier of the Western Region consequent on a vote of no confidence passed on Akintola. He was replaced by Alhajji Adegbenro, the newly appointed deputy leader to Awolowo. The premier’s offices were locked and the house of Assembly was to meet to ratify the action of the Governor.

“Chief Lekan Salami, personally in the full glare of the public and the press, broke down the door of the office of the Premier, to allow the Premier access to the office.”

The vote of no confidence was passed on 27 May 1962. The Daily Times carried the headline “Akintola Taku” (Akintola refuses to go the following day. On 29 May 1962 the Federal government dissolved the Western House of Assembly, imposed an emergency rule on the region and appointed the Prime Minister’s personal doctor and friend and the then federal Minister of Health Dr. Moses Adekoyejo Majekodunmi as Administrator of Western Region until December 31 1962 when Chief Ladoke Akintola returned as Premier of the Western Region.

Last week INEC announced the winner of the presidential election. One of the 71 losers in the election Atiku Abubakar decided to challenge the result in the tribunal that exists for that exercise. His party the PDP had sought a few days into the vote counting had urged INEC to declare their candidate the winner of the election. Even when counting had not finished? When INEC did not obey the party directive, the party rejected the election. Just like that. If our candidate is not declared the winner, then we reject the election.

Anyway, the candidate would rather go to court to contest the outcome of the election. A few legal minds appealed to Atiku Abubakar not to go to law but to recognise the winner and wait for another day. After all this is a democracy and another opportunity shall come round for the contest to take place again. And the chance would come for him to go for it. Another legal mind argued that, given the lack of electoral reform and previous decisions of the court, Atiku Abubakar could not win and get his prayer answered that the elections be re-run.

“Atiku is adamant” was the headline in the Sunday Tribune of last Sunday. For those old enough or barring age, are well read enough in Nigerian political and newspaper history, the headline recalled the Akintola Taku headline of fifty-five or so years ago. Even more interesting is the fact that the newspaper which carried the headline was founded by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the principal contestant in that historic headline.

Unlike that fight to finish, this time, we shall fight, go away, and come back to fight again. Because why? Because we have become a democracy.


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