One week after former Vice President Atiku Abubakar dumped the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the presidency has commenced a well choreographed propaganda, hauling insults at him, all aimed at diminishing his chances at the 2019 presidential polls.
Atiku is certainly not a saint but not many will agree with the desperate attempt by his opponents to disparage him. Most philosophers believe politics taint noble people. So it is with Atiku.
After serving Nigeria for more than four decades, his impeccable record speaks volume about his public spiritedness and his support for worthy causes.
At an age when his mates prattled, Atiku had already reached the zenith of a distinguished career in the Nigeria Customs Service.
From being a Deputy Director at the then Department of Customs, Atiku has gone through the drudgery of grassroots politics to etch his name as the most influential Vice President the country has so far produced. The question remains, if he were not good, how has he been able to garner all these achievements that have turned the people’s adversity upside-down as pronounced by his record of service over the years?
Like a quintessential colossus, he has dished out goodwill, service and altruism. These are undeniable.
There is no lying that Atiku’s role in the last two decades has become a reference point for others. Except for cynics, the former Vice President’s intellect and contributions to the return to democratic rule is incontrovertible.
Essentially, governance is not about loud noise. It has little to do with pretentions to some high moral standing. It has more to do with competence, sensitivity and responsiveness to the plight of the governed. On these scores, Atiku stands tall among equals. In and out of public office, Atiku exemplifies excellence. His mission, as he shared with me at a very privileged meeting recently has a huge trunk to do with making Nigeria a better place for all.
It is therefore understandable that the mouths of those that cannot match his achievements would be filled with sour grapes.
But there is an interesting dimension to Atiku’s latest defection to the PDP. The former Vice President’s campaigners are his critics. They unwittingly push his candidature to the front burner. Since they say he is unelectable, then why waste time and energy on him? You don’t throw sticks at a tree that bears no fruits.
It would be better for his critics, mostly Buhari supporters, to concentrate on Buhari’s achievements that would earn him re-election instead of throwing darts at Atiku. El Rufai in 2012 said Buhari was unelectable but what happened? The same El-Rufai campaigned for Buhari in 2015!
Also, APC is currently exhibiting the kind of arrogance that led to the defeat of the PDP in the 2015 general elections. When a number of its governors also left the party before Atiku made his move, the leadership of the party, and its arrogant Presidency, was also dismissive of those gentlemen, literally insulting them and saying that the PDP would be better without them!
It is thus clear that the ruling party never was a democratic party in the real sense of the word and existed on the whims and caprices of Buhari, a few friends and nephews.
Contrary to the description of Atiku Abubakar as a serial contestant like Nasir El-Rufai, Atiku’s political activities and actions have always been measured, strategic and democratic.
It is disheartening therefore that some critics have a short memory and have forgotten that Atiku was only on the ballot once! That was in 2007 when he went into the race less than a week before the polls after the Supreme Court ruled that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had no power to disqualify the former VP, thereby vindicating his struggle to regain a spot on the ballot.
Suffice it to say that many politicians have benefited and are still benefitting from that landmark judgement which has now become a reference point in the nation’s political landscape. But these hard facts mean nothing to a ruling party that is gradually becoming dictatorial.
Anyway, as a founder and leader of the PDP, Atiku, like those other leading politicians who have just returned to the party, love it and would do anything to reposition it to take leadership at the centre.
One uncanny resemblance between today’s APC and the attitude that characterized the PDP in the run up to the 2015 general election is the inability of the ruling party to put in place a level- playing field for all its members for democracy and fair play to thrive, thereby turning the rest members to mere onlookers and passengers.
A political party which behaves like a military formation has no place in a true or aspiring democratic society.
As Alhaji Atiku put it last Sunday, he was forced out of the APC he helped to build by the attitude of the leadership of the party towards him and when he realized, like others who left the party before him, that the once darling party of Nigerians have also abandoned the people of Nigeria, he knew it was time to leave.
The PDP is coming handy bearing in mind that the party is now committed to get the APC out of power and arrest the dehumanization of the Nigerian people through unbridled corruption, impunity, insensitivity and arrogance of its leaders.
All said, the ball is in the court of the Nigerian voter who will be the judge in this matter. The electorate will go to the polls in 2019 to judge which of the parties can take Nigeria to the Promised Land.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) is beatable, and Atiku, by his humility, democratic credentials and his belief in wide consultations which has endeared him to a majority of Nigerians, stand a good chance of winning in 2019.
Shaibu, a Public Communication Consultant writes from Abuja