Rain that beats the eagle makes it glow
One lesson that history teaches mankind is to look before leaping. When extrapolated in real terms, it means that a person or group should think, strategize and review strategy, test-run before acting or implementing. The whole idea is to avoid mistakes of the past as well as avoid being a victim of effort in futility. This inference explains the why people had a good laugh when they read a story published in some dailies and social media in the second week of July 2018. The story read: Federal Government plans to frame Atiku for Herdsmen attacks. The name Atiku in the publications refers to the former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Waziri Adamawa and presidential hopeful of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar.
Analysts who have been watching Atiku Abubakar’s political antecedents had a good laugh after reading the publications on grounds that he has survived worse political ordeals, including a corruption toga which took some time to clear through favourable court judgments that gave him a clean bill. Atiku has been a victim of herdsmen, having lost over 50 heads of cattle to their rampaging activities. After searching for the cows up to Cameroun, he gave up. The sad experience remains fresh in his mind. According to him, ownership of cattle has serious traditional implications because it is used to assess the worth of a man. No wonder he has promised to deal decisively with the issue of insecurity if he becomes President in 2019. The Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Chief Osita Okechukwu even advised Atiku to join in efforts to stop herdsmen from operating in Nigeria. He is in a subtle way making Atiku look bad even when it is common knowledge that the present government will never listen to him. Maybe, he wants Atiku to deploy his resources to shoulder the responsibilities of government. That will be unfortunate.
To reinforce the court judgments and his confidence as a clean politician, he has several times asked anybody who has evidence of corruption against him to tender it or keep quiet. He even went further to accuse the present administration of running the most corrupt regime in Nigeria. Up till now, nobody has raised a finger. It was a vuvuzela who replied from the Presidency, saying that if Atiku is not corrupt he should travel to the U.S., another laughable response. The response reminds one of how Adam responded to God when he asked him where he was after eating the forbidden fruit in the garden that opened his eyes to the realisation that he was naked.
Instead of saying where he was, Adam responded saying he was naked. What has going to U.S. got to do with corruption or does it mean that Nigerians and Nigerian government lack the skills to identify corrupt citizens. Does Atiku need to travel to the U.S. for him to become Nigeria’s President? Since he frustrated efforts at perpetuation in office by making sure that the third term agenda flopped, all manner of blackmail, framing, allegations and mischievous claims have been deployed to pull him down as a political giant.
Journalists who covered him when he was Vice President always tell the story of how he was invited by his boss to explain how he spent money released to him for his trips abroad. This was based on observation that many of those who accompanied him on trips always came back with new shoes and clothes that made them look smarter than those working with his boss. Unknown to his boss, the Waziri Adamawa who is an outstanding philanthropist takes delight in seeing those around him looking smart and happy and that travelling out gives him an opportunity to have closure on his team as well as an opportunity to kit them better.
The reporters will also tell you that the matter died the day Atiku and his boss compared notes on how much each of them spent on foreign trips. The point is that aside from funds from the Presidential Villa, he gave out of pocket expenditure to his team. It is on record that there was a time Atiku was accused of buying most of the government-owned companies that were privatised. The allegation went viral until it was observed that nothing like that happened. The allegation came handy simply because he was the chairman of National Economic Council and that he midwifed the privatisation of government owned companies. The allegation naturally fizzled out because it was found out that it lacked substance. As a man who has assumed the posture of the proverbial cat with nine lives, Atiku squared up with government when it tried to mess with Intels logistics company which he co-founded with an Italian-Nigerian. The whole idea was to cripple his financial base. The company, which was developed from scratch over 30 years ago, is worth over seven billion U.S. dollars. Financing the commencement of the company saw him and his co-owner raise money through loans from banks.
The irony of the futile effort targeted at Atiku is that the lives of the 17,000 workforce of Intels were being put on the line. There is the other allegation that he used government funds to set up the American University of Nigeria. The allegation shows emptiness in thinking in the sense that people who orchestrated this never did any investigation to find out that the establishment of the institution as well as its primary and secondary school units pre-dated his tenure as the Vice President of the country.
So much fuss has been made about Atiku’s return to the PDP. How many politicians in Nigeria, including the present President, have remained in a single party from the beginning of their political career to the end? As long as Nigerian political parties are not formed based on ideology, cross-carpeting will continue to be the feature of alliances and coalitions. The advice to those who wish to venture into framing Atiku is that they should speak to the issues raised by the former Vice President and avoid discussing his person. He has seen and felt it all just as Nigerians are no longer gullible to cheap blackmail. He is interested in seeking ways to solve the myriad of problems plaguing Nigeria. He does not fancy discussing personalities but prefers to keep his eyes on the ball. The issues of insecurity, high unemployment and poverty rates, restructuring, unity and economy which form highlights of his campaigns and lectures should be of concern to all well-meaning Nigerians, especially former leaders who failed in their bid to pull Nigeria out of the woods. All the efforts at blackmailing and framing him has turned him into the eagle which, according to the wise, the rain that beats the bird ends up washing its body and making it glow.
• Ugoji, a public affairs Analyst, wrote from Abuja.