How Atiku embraced the Buhari experience at Supreme Court
•Examining issues in presidential litigations
Shortly after the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), as winner of the February 23, 2019 presidential election, ‘Atiku is coming’, became the singsong among the supporters of his closest rival, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Yesterday, courtesy of the ruling delivered on PDP and Atiku’s appeal against the September 11, 2019 Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) judgment by the apex court, it was evident that Atiku has come to a deadend in his quest to be President. And going by the four hours delivery by the seven Supreme Court justices, which put a full stop to the ‘Atiku is coming’ momentum, it could be said that the fourth republic Vice President was welcomed to a similar path traveled, by the incumbent, President Buhari.
President Buhari has always referred to his unsuccessful attempts at clinching the presidential trophy for a record three times before victory smiled for him on the fourth try, as a kind solace to other political gladiators in the electoral competition. Although the former Vice President has been a constant feature in presidential contests since 1992, when he participated in the endless transition programme of former military President Ibrahim Babangida, it is on record that apart from the 2007 election cycle and the recent 2019 experience, he has never gone the whole hug to appear on the ballot.
Prior to his participation in the 2007 presidential election on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (A.C.N), Alhaji Atiku had been wearied by his intermittent visits to the courts to save his skin and mandate as Vice President due to some political differences with his principal, former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Perhaps wizened by the pre-election stress, the former Vice President did not bother to challenge the outcome of the 2007 presidential at the PEPT, even though he based his action on the fact of longstanding political association with the Yar’Adua family, from which the eventual beneficiary of the flawed election hailed.
Months before the 2011 election cycle, Turaki of Adamawa, as he then was, returned to PDP from his brief political sojourn in the ACN, which he undoubtedly embraced as a special purpose vehicle strictly for the presidential election.However, despite the prodigious political schematics, especially the strategic design for a consensus northern presidential candidate in the PDP, Atiku’s efforts to displace the rookie presidential aspirant in the person of then President Goodluck Jonathan did not yield positive outcome.
As the former Vice President watched Nigerians from all walks of life bask in the euphoria of President Jonathan’s ‘Fresh air’ mantra, he bided his time, with eyes set on the 2015 election cycle, when he must have thought the incumbent would demure from seeking a second term in office. Nonetheless, barely two years in office as President, the signs became unmistakable that the rookie politician from Bayelsa State was keen on going for a second helping on the high horse.
Frustrated by that obvious, but surprising turn of events, Atiku joined other PDP stakeholders, including five state governors in a political excursion to the inchoate APC.Yet again, as if history was bent on repeating itself, barely two years in the ruling party, which he assisted to defeat his former party, Atiku noticed that much like Jonathan, President Buhari was prepared to congratulate himself from previous electoral reversals by going for a second term.
And just as he did after the AC.N brief stay, the Waziri of Adamawa decided to retreat his steps to his first love, PDP, whereupon the deployment of swift political foot walks, he was able to clinch the party’s presidential ticket for the 2019 election cycle. All the way, before, during and after the elections, Atiku proved that indeed, he was prepared to do electoral battle with the incumbent President Buhari.
But, on Wednesday October 30, 2019, the court of final arbitration put a lid to the former Vice President’s political gyrations, at least for the mean time. The summary of the apex court judgment, which used four hours to erase Atiku’s search for a four-year mandate, was that most of the issues canvassed did not perforate the votes garnered by the winner, as declared by INEC.Would Atiku live to smile at last like President Muhammadu Buhari? Time alone, as they say, would tell!