Atiku’s drumbeaters & the sound of their talking drum
Before Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President Federal Republic of Nigeria emerged the Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Mallam Adamu Ciroma consensus candidate, indications were utmost that the northern part of Nigeria which has been in the scuttle for power to return to the region in 2011 after President Musa Yar'Adua died, may lose its agitation.
This was followed due to the deadlock that was gathered that met the plan by the group to handpick a consensus presidential candidate from its four top contenders from the north. Nigerians were told that the rest three candidates were not pleased with the candidature of the anointed one. Mallam Ciroma led the screening team that settled for the candidate and if not for the disagreement that erupted in the forum, the candidate was billed to be announced to the public before the date that Atiku was announced as the anointed one.
While Atiku may be rejoicing by now for the through he had scaled in the forum's screening, he should as well be remembering the days he narrowly escaped the PDP's waiver magnet during the period he defected from the Action Congress (AC) to the PDP for this task of presidential ambition. The damage of the billboard erected by the Atiku Campaign Organisation in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, was one of Atiku's challenges.
The Turaki Vanguard expressed dissatisfaction over that. The group described the act as despicable and an outright violation of the right to association and free speech of its principal, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, his supporters and other stakeholders. It pained the Director, Directorate of Media and Public Affairs of Turaki Vanguard, Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze to the marrow, and he noted that the vandalizing of the group's principal billboard was very bad. In his own words: “We note with utmost dismay the vandalisation of one of the billboards erected by the Atiku Campaign Organisation in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.”
This was the same way the Turaki Vanguard threw its weight behind Atiku during his waiver trying days, and described the waiver granted him by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the best Ramadan gift from the party to Nigerians.
A statement signed by Eze, said the step is a sign that PDP is a democratic political party with evidence of internal democracy. Eze said that with the waiver, 'Nigerians now have a choice between experience and inexperience, and vision against lack of purpose and direction,” as well as “clarity of direction for the future of Nigeria against attempt to force an unwilling president on Nigeria again.”
Eze who congratulated Atiku Abubakar for “another victory in his drive to improve on Nigeria's political journey” saluted his courage and resilience over the issues that surrounded the waiver. He praised the Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo-led National Working Committee (NWC) for taking the action. The group said that the process would not be complete until the leadership of the party guarantee a level playing field for all the aspirants and ensured that the PDP primaries was not only free and fair, but also credible.
In a related development, the group expressed satisfaction and spoke in defence of the consensus option adopted by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirants of northern extraction, at the instance of the Mallam Adamu Ciroma led Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF).
Eze said: “We have read various interpretations on the consensus idea of the North by different politicians of various shades and we wish to state without fear of contradiction that if not that General Olusegun, out of his vindictive nature and eagerness to retaliate against Nigerians, particularly Atiku Abubakar for denying him his life-presidency project by promoting and having a willing tool in President Jonathan who is a collaborator by denying the existence of zoning after duly signing and supporting the idea in 2002 enlarged caucus meeting of PDP held under the watch of General Obasanjo, the contraption of the consensus candidate project would not have come to play.”
Eze went further to say that not minding that General Obasanjo was not a member of the founding fathers of PDP but that he came out as the major beneficiary of the zoning formula of the party but true to his character, he is ready to do everything to continue to diminish the powers and influence of the party that brought him into power against all odds once he is not the one benefiting. Eze said that it is a pity that President Jonathan could give himself to such unhealthy exercise considering the fact that he was a signatory to the zoning formula of the party in 2002. Eze went further to say that they could convincingly state that if not for the unprincipled stand of these two men, the North would not have come out with the ingenious idea of the consensus option. And for the North to have succeeded in achieving this contrary to the thinking of many enemies of democracy and unity of Nigeria who are now jittery with the emergence of the rallying point of democrats all over Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar.
Nigerians know that the Turaki Vanguard is one of the leading groups drumming support for the presidential aspiration of former Vice president and consensus presidential candidate of the North on the platform of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. The group believes that Atiku's legendary democratic credentials would win the party's presidential ticket and the next year's presidential election for him. Hon. Oladimeji Fabiyi, the National Coordinator of the group expressed optimism in Abuja. This was when he led other leaders and members of the group to congratulate Atiku over his emergence as the consensus candidate of the North on the platform of PDP. And Fabiyi said of Atiku thus: “Atiku Abubakar, the Leader of PDM has fought much democratic battles more than any living politician in Nigeria today. He has, by his antecedents and pedigree enriched our judiciary. We hope and pray that the other likely flag-bearers of other political parties will emulate this great giant and also team up with Atiku Abubakar to salvage our dear nation from its present sad and unfortunate precarious State.”
Fabiyi didn't end there, he pointed out that the emergence of Atiku on 22nd November, 2010 as the northern PDP's consensus candidate will ever remain indelible to the group and to those who believed in them. His words: “Alhaji Atiku's emergence will ever remain not only epochal but indelible in the annals of Nigerian politics when against all odds and obstacles, the Mallam Adamu Ciroma-led group of wise men did what looked like the impossible by achieving a rancour-free selection of a consensus candidate for PDP among great men, who in their own rights are great leaders and whose patriotic zeal to rebuild the nation was not in doubt. With this feat, both Ciroma and his fellow wise men have earned for themselves a permanent place in the annals of democratic evolution of Nigeria. They may not know but they have succeeded to save the PDP from imminent collapse and disintegration and have earned Nigerians hard cherished respect. From the four criteria of democratic credentials, credibility and nationally acceptability, age and vision used in assessing the four key Presidential aspirants of the PDP from the North, the selection of Atiku did not come to us as a surprise.”
The group declared Atiku as the presidential candidate who has the blueprint to move Nigeria forward, and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, thanked members and the leadership of the Vanguard for their enormous contributions, sacrifices for the sustenance of the present civilian administration and in upholding the rule of law as well as the doggedness of all who suffered various forms of mortification and never relented in their support of the ideals of the movement. This took place at the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja. Observers said that the emergence of Atiku is believed to be a positive sign of his decision to vie for the office of the president in the 2011 general elections.
Since then, Eze has been releasing press briefs. In one of such press releases, Eze said that by Atiku's candidacy in the forthcoming elections, the clearest vision by far for this country with a clear roadmap for its implementation will be brought to the table. While reiterating his vision for a prosperous, secure, peaceful, democratic, caring and confident nation, Eze said that Atiku itemized the core areas for immediate intervention for his administration to include; employment generation and wealth Creation, power generation and infrastructural development, security, good governance and war against corruption, education, health and social services and finally the Niger Delta. Eze added that his inclination to providing the leadership with logistics needed for the realization of the vision and called for the continued support of members of the movement and assured them of his tacit acknowledgement of their role in ensuring that Nigeria is worthy of its sobriquet, “Giant of Africa”.
Notwithstanding, the leaders of the group in the six geo-political zones of Nigeria had thrown their weight behind Atiku. They affirmed their support of Atiku and unreservedly endorsed his candidature for the office of President in 2011. These people include Hon. Seyi Adedugba, South-West; Chief Inuk Ogban, South-South; Alh. Isa Haladu, North West; Mrs. Onyinye Nweze, South East; Alh Aminu Abubakar, North East and Hon. John Markudi. Prof Maxwell Gidado, Hon. Greg Egu were some of the Associates of Atiku Abubakar that accompanied him to the event.
While it would be recalled that Turaki Vanguard played a prominent role in botching the third term ploy of the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, the group is on it to botch the 2011 presidential ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan? The group had hailed the resolution of the Senate to dump the electoral act amendment bill sent by President Jonathan which sought to give him advantage in the 2011 presidential race. Chief Eze commended the Senate's action, describing it as a welcome development.
“The fact remains that President Jonathan's executive bill contains some toxic elements that would have been contagious to the enthronement of internal democracy in the political parties,” Eze had said. Eze, in a related development, lauded the National Assembly for rejecting the $4.43 billion foreign loan requested by President Jonathan, which he noted, would have further increased Nigeria's debt portfolio.
The Turaki Vanguard says it has confidence that Atiku has chances of clinching the PDP ticket when on 29th November, 2010 in the South-South a member of the Presidential Election Advisory Council of Atiku Campaign Organisation, Prince Tonye Princewill inaugurated the Campaign Team in Rivers State at Muriel Hotel in Port Harcourt of Rivers State.
This was contained in a press release by Eze. He said that those that are inaugurated to run the state chapter of the Atiku Campaign Organisation were Dr. Davies Ibiamu Ikanya (Chairman), Barr Osima Ginah (Secretary), Dr. Mrs. Edith Wele (Women Leader), Chief Gani Topba (Youth Leader), and Chief Eze Chukwuemeka Eze (Research, Strategy and Public Affairs Director). The 23 Local Government chapters of the Campaign Oragnisation were also inaugurated.
Eze confirmed that Princewill admonished them to strictly stick to their roles as stated in their letters of appointment. This is, he said, having the responsibility to promote the interests of Atiku's presidential campaign, including contacting and winning over as many stakeholders, delegates and voters as are required to ensure the success of his campaign in Rivers State. And to carry out other activities as may be directed by the Campaign Organisation in furtherance of this objective.
Princewill said: “I hope that you will as usual dedicate yourselves to carrying out the responsibilities that your appointment entails. In carrying out this function we should bear in mind that out of all the other Presidential aspirants both in PDP and other parties, Atiku Abubakar is the only one with a policy document on how to alleviate the suffering of our people in the South-South region of Nigeria. Apart from this, Atiku Abubakar is the only candidate who apart from the state governments in the region is the second employer of labour that have majority of our people working in most of his establishments in the region. We are working for Atiku Abubakar because we are detribalized, honourable with our integrity intact and most importantly the future and unity of our nation is very dear to us. We believe in the zoning principle of our party as a way to sustain and ensure that a minority section like ours have a means of ruling this country when it is our turn. What we are doing may not be popular in the eyes of some people but we should instead be seen as portraying our people as a people that can be trusted but most critically the person we are promoting has the best agenda to alleviate the penury and sorrowful state of our region. Your campaign should be issues-oriented and should avoid personality attack or mudslinging”.
Eze regarded Dr. Davies Ibaimu Ikanya as a seasoned and awesome politician in Rivers State who has piloted the affairs of opposition political parties in the state for some years now until they followed Prince Tonye Princewill back to PDP. He said that Ibiamu is both the Chairman of the South-South and Rivers State Coordinator of Atiku Campaign Organisation. He is also the State chairman of Princewill Political Associates (PPA), a pressure political Group that promotes the ideals, principles and ideology of Prince Tonye Princewill. He said that this is a way out of the unprincipled and undemocratic acts in our nation. He sees Ikanya as an astute and consummate politician in both his capacities as the South-South and Rivers State Coordinator. He said that Ikanya expressed thanks to the leader of the Atiku Abubakar Campaigns in the South-South region, Prince Tonye Princewill and assured him that the region is for grab by Atiku Abubakar when the jungle matures.
However, in Turaki Vanguard's sense that Jonathan should not run for the 2011 elections, Eze, while briefing journalists in Yola said: "We expect President Jonathan to exclude himself from the PDP primaries, but if he insists on running for the presidency, then we will take him to court for breach of trust and violation of the zoning principle that ushered him into office. As far as we are concerned, President Jonathan is not an aspirant to the country's presidential seat come 2011. We are insisting that he should not contemplate such a thing considering his office as an incumbent President. It will be a national embarrassment if a serving President goes to the party's primaries and fails to pick the party's ticket". Based on this, Eze noted that the only right and patriotic thing for President Jonathan to do is to forget the 2011 presidency to pave the way for a Northerner. He added that by so doing, "the North would have been appeased to finish its tenure following demise of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua”.
But some people are of different opinion. One observer reportedly said: “This Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is mentally subnormal. Go to court for what? Is PDP constitution now supreme over Nigeria's constitution? Some people are really taking this zoning thing to a comic level. Would the court stop the President from exercising his constitutional right of aspiring for any position in the country? Eze, or whatever is your name, if you have eaten too much money from Atiku and you don't know what else to say, please go sit down and stop insulting people's sensibilities.”
This was the same way a notable Northerner said about the group in a meeting held in Jos in 2004, where the umbrella youths body for actualisation of the then vice president Atiku Abubakar's presidential ambition in 2007, was described as a total mess and stage- managed to foist some people as leaders of the body.
The re-known politician in Nasarawa State, Alhaji Mallam Musa, speaking in an exclusive interview in Lafia, said those who attended the meeting were “people of no political claws or political relevance. In short they are not even politicians in the first place.” He alleged that the meeting was attended by only friends and relatives of the self appointed chairman of the body, one Alhaji Nasiru A. B. Gala. Musa said the whole meeting was a charade aimed at satisfying some individuals' selfish interest, adding that the meeting lacked adequate representation and that the officers elected at the meeting came from the same ethnic and religious background. Musa blamed outrightly the apex body of Atiku for president 2007 for not adhering to advise, and also noted that if things continue the way they are, nothing meaningful would be achieved at the end of the day.
Odimegwu Onwumere, Coordinator, Concerned Non-Indigenes in Rivers State (CONIRIV). +2348032552855. [email protected]