By Kabiru Muhammad Gwangwazo
To conclude RIPPLES from last week on Mr. Atiku Abubakar decamping back to PDP again, we were on about him preferring to be addressed as “Mr”, rather than “Alhaji”, the title he sported to get elected governor and get promoted Vice-President to Obasanjo.
This was as Deputy to the same Obasanjo who used to fast and break the fast with Muslims, the same Obasanjo who was to enrol for a course in Christian Theology at the National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN). The essence of Atiku adopting the title of “Mr.” was to send a signal that he was not the typical Northern Hausa Fulani Muslim for whom religion is always an issue.
As Vice President, Mr. Atiku Abubakar was to twice more prove his self-imposed distance from the core Muslim North and indeed its allies, in the Muslim majority Yoruba South-West. At the infancy of the Obasanjo/Atiku Government he dressed up in a fancy tee-shirt, a jauntily perked facing cap and slacks and as he danced to the tunes of the day at a trendy social spot in Lagos, “The Dome”, he cheekily claimed, he “wasn’t Shari’ah compliant”. At that time the wind of Shariah was sweeping across the North. By 2003, all majority Muslim state governors who publicly backed Shariah lost their second terms.
The Mr. Atiku tag was to gain favour with non-Muslims of Nigeria that elites of his type had always bent over backwards to please. He’d earlier merrily handed over the mandate majority Muslims of Adamawa gave him in 1998/99 to Christian minority sidekick, Mr. Bonnie Haruna. To cap it, he abused Northern Elders to curry favour with Obasanjo. He told reporters he was a mere handbag of Obasanjo’s. That did not stop him leading the battle of his life against the owner of the handbag, a battle that is still on since it began in 2003.
The image he succesfully projected by his acts of deliberate social engineering was to unfortunately nail the coffin on his politics in the North. He was asked by his boss, Obasanjo to tell Nigerians that the National Council of States (NCS) had agreed to undo the Shariah of then Zamfara Governor, Ahmad Sani.
Thank God the peace and stability of the Nigerian nation was saved when Atiku was countered by GMB who was at the meeting as a former Head of State. He said it was not true that it had been discussed or agreed to. That earned GMB the title of “Mai Gaskiya” (The Trusted, The Truthful One).
General Buhari’s bold statement marked the beginning of his race for President as a civilian politician. It sealed the bond between GMB and the downtrodden of Nigeria who saw in him an uncommon champion willing to call the bluff of power, saying it as it is, not as Shariah advocate many saw in that courageous setting of the records that he did.
For Mr. Atiku that was the seal that capped his troubles with the mass of the people up north. His many battles with his erstwhile boss Obasanjo were a lot less trouble. In fact they are some of the redeeming features for him, along with the stupendous war chest that has kept him going thus far.
By 2007, Mr. Atiku had been all he could be in the PDP. His boss had dumped him. That was the first time he had to decamp from the party. He went into AC and got its ticket for President with Asiwaju Tinubu as that party’s core owner. Later, he returned and he was to dump it for the APC. Now he is back where he started.
Whatever the case, Mr. Atiku was not to get the Presidency despite his non-Sharia stance; and GMB despite the Sharia label kept getting the votes, finally getting it in APC.
Be that as it may, Mr. Atiku’s departure from APC to PDP is not as much of a non-issue as many of us in APC would portray. Why? Because, Mr. Atiku leaves as APC suffers from body blows in its safe states, where APC got its most votes.
For Kano, a two-day presidential state visit that ended yesterday has somewhat leavened the worries of those of us who feel 2019 may be tougher than it has ever been for Buhari and his support base.
It however gives cause for worry that cracks in the party will be papered over, leaving them to grow and shatter any cosmetic serenity now enjoyed by 2018/19.
With a desperate Mr. Atiku, if he gets the PDP ticket, which in the circumstance, appears the best choice for the PDP, the fault lines in politically volatile APC states will be traced and manipulated. If the APC refuses to do a surgical operation to excise and cauterize wounds in such states that have a need for it, the party will have itself to blame when the PDP, despite all its renowned “evil” and “impunity” along with other newer parties pick from its lacerated innards.
This may or may not deny GMB the second term we covet. But it’d certainly have a significant bearing on who or which party wins at state level. The SAK bandwagon and the deliberate effort to squeeze out all who are not in the good books of state governors who act the demi-god is sure not to be repeated.
Mr. Atiku in PDP will be fighting his last ditch battle. It is “do-or-die” for him since he’ll be almost 75 by 2019. It is worth noting that GMB and age have been a harrowing combination that Nigerians are not likely to repeat in a “Mr.” Atiku.