December 16, 2013 | Opinion/Feature
LET ATIKU SPEAK FOR HIMSELF
'Obasanjo Bombs Jonathan' was the run-away caption in most of the national dailies on Thursday December 12, 2013. It was all about the 18-page December 2 letter written by the former president, General Olusegun Obasanjo to President Goodluck Jonathan. In the letter, Obasanjo made several allegations against President Jonathan verging on misrule and other moral questions. As it is now, it is not only journalists and opposition politicians that are celebrating the letter, which the Presidency has rightfully described as 'malicious'. Strangely, the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, is also doing a veiled victory dance over the letter. You can even picture him grinning and chuckling away in self- satisfaction. Atiku has been widely reported to have called on all other elders that Obasanjo had copied the letter to respond. According to him, all the elders have a moral duty to speak up on what he regarded as 'weighty allegations' against Jonathan in the letter. First and foremost, the former vice president, in inviting General Ibrahim Babangida, General Abdulsalam Abubakar - two former military leaders - and Dr. Alex Ekwueme, former vice president, to speak up on the controversial letter is not interested in any peace making as statesmen do. Instead, Atiku Abubakar is at his mischievous best of stoking the fire to escalate an already bad situation. As a former vice president and a serial presidential candidate, Atiku ought to be experienced enough to know that a quarrel between a sitting president and a former president (especially in the mould of Obasanjo) is potentially threatening to the polity. To invite two former military leaders to join in the quarrel cannot be an act borne out of wisdom and patriotism. Already, the fissures, bad blood and incendiary remarks coming out from the different camps of the two protagonists in the famous quarrel is heating up the polity and any wise counsel will be such to calm frayed nerves and put out the conflagrations. But unfortunately, Atiku's desperation for power, particularly his ambition to be president, seems to have gotten the better part of him thus robbing him of all his nationalistic values. What he seeks now at every turn is an opportunity to push through his ambition. Whereas many other well-meaning Nigerians are seeing in the quarrel an opportunity to improve governance in the land and bring prosperity to our people, the former vice president and his team have their eyes permanently fixed on what an opportunity there might be in the brewing controversy to sell to Nigerians the Atiku brand, which they have consistently rejected at the polls. This perhaps explains why the former vice president quickly issued a statement in support of Obasanjo, calling his allegations against Jonathan 'weighty' when other leaders and elder statesmen and women are still analysing the situation. Not satisfied with his own jumpy and rash conclusions on the Obasanjo letter, Atiku is also inviting other leaders who obviously know better than he does to join in his reckless indiscretion. Well, that is what unbridled ambition can do to any man or woman! It is very unfortunate and sad indeed that our former vice president who received and even continues to receive more accusations bordering on corruption by a man who probably knows him better than anyone else is now giving credence to Obasanjo's allegations because another person is now at the receiving end. It is a shame that Atiku who has constantly called Obasanjo a liar is now willing to change his position and regard his former boss now as a truth bearer simply because Jonathan is the victim here. If Atiku has conveniently forgotten in his selective amnesia, Nigerians are still consciously aware that Obasanjo has made several allegations of corruption against his deputy in and out of office. In fact Obasanjo has fallen short of calling Atiku a thief! For the better part of his remaining career, Atiku's greatest obstacle in realising his political ambition of becoming Nigeria's president perhaps is shedding the beautiful garland of corruption that Obasanjo has put on his thick neck. And rightly so, the focus of the former vice president's campaigns has been laundering this public perception that Obasanjo has rightly or wrongly created for him. He has gone to the courts; he has made denials; he has called Obasanjo a liar; what has Atiku not done to counter Obasanjo's claims? The question now is: if Atiku believes Obasanjo's allegations against him were fabricated, why is he now seeing the allegations against President Jonathan as weighty? If there is one person that Nigerians have expected to rise in defence of Goodluck Jonathan in these wild accusations against him from his former benefactor, it is Atiku Abubakar. This is so because what Atiku now calls 'weighty' allegations, which he now seems to corroborate for his own selfish interest is nothing compared to what Obasanjo has said about the former vice president. But what Atiku does not realise or has conveniently forgotten is that Obasanjo has said the same things against the people Atiku is now inviting to speak up, and they know it. He maligned Babangida and Abacha when they were in power; he criticised Abdulsalami Abubakar and all former military leaders; he ridiculed Umaru Musa Yar'Adua when he was in office; and he would do so to Gbenga, his son, were he to be elected. There is nothing really new in the Obasanjo letter, which is being celebrated in the media. If anything, it is vintage Obasanjo. But it is sad that the Atikus of this world, now drunk, with presidential ambition have forgotten so quickly. Atiku should please leave Babangida, Abubakar and Ekwueme alone. These leaders, unlike him, put the nation first. Let Atiku speak for himself! Written By Paschal Owolabi
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