ATIKU'S THREATS OF VIOLENCE, NATIONAL SECURITY AND THE 2011 ELECTIONS
Atiku Abubakar is Nigeria’s former Vice President and currently a presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). At a public function organized by his political associates, a function they called a Stakeholders’ Forum, the former Vice President threatened that “those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable”.
In the same comment Mr. Abubakar referred to the situation in Cote D’Ivoire Nigeria’s West African neighbor where two persons currently claim to be presidents and have taken the oath of office. In that country, an election was held after a protracted civil violence and it is the aftermath of the election that was believed to have been won by the opposition that Mr. Atiku Abubakar referred to.
It is clear to all that the presidency of Nigeria has become an obsession for Atiku Abubakar. He has become so desperate that nothing appears to be too degrading nor bestial for him to engage in to achieve his ambition. When former president Obasanjo persecuted him in their last term in office and it was obvious to him that the PDP would not give him the presidential ticket, Atiku formed Action Congress and contested the presidential elections in 2007 on that platform.
After Mr. Atiku Abubakar lost the elections to Umoru Musa Yar’Adua, he went to court to challenge the elections. The 2007 elections were held to have been the most flawed in the history of elections in Nigeria but the court ruled in favour of Yar’Adua. Having lost in the courts, Mr. Atiku Abubakar resorted to begging and went to Chief Obasanjo and met at his country home to plead for forgiveness in the hope that Obasanjo’s support would give him the PDP presidential ticket for the 2011 elections.
Obasanjo rebuffed him and made details of the meeting public. Thereafter, Mr. Atiku Abubakar left the Action Congress and went to his home state to re-register in the PDP. In his home state he was denied readmission into the party and he cried foul. He shouted to the roof top and wherever he knew anybody would care to listen. He pleaded and threatened court action. He lobbied the Party leadership at the National level and he was granted a waiver.
Immediately he was readmitted he embarked on a campaign for the return of the presidency of the country to the North. Together with a former military head of state from the North and two others, Mr. Atiku Abubakar unleashed a vicious and very divisive campaign to have their ambition satisfied on the basis of zoning. Through their surrogate, the matter was presented to the court but unfortunately for them, the court ruled against them.
It would appear that Mr. Atiku Abubakar was confident that the court would rule in their favour because since the court delivered its ruling against their position, the campaign has become very vicious, desperate and dangerous to the stability of Nigeria. This is no longer a PDP affair but an issue of National Security. Prior to the ruling by the court, four Northern candidates in the PDP had come together and submitted themselves to a committee headed by a former Governor of Nigeria’s Central Bank. The committee gave to itself the task of selecting a candidate to represent the North in the PDP presidential primaries against the president. It was their hope that the candidate who emerges through their selection would be able to beat the president and pick the ticket and once that is achieved the presidential elections would be won with ease.
Unfortunately again for Mr. Abubakar, after being selected as the consensus candidate of the Adamu Ciroma´s North, the expected support from the North failed to materialize as most of the governors of the Northern states refused to abandon the president. In fact, 20 of the 25 governors of the states controlled by the PDP recently openly declared their support for the president. This declaration as pointed out by some political commentators had concluded the PDP primaries as the governors control majority of the delegates.
It is the reality of his sinking ambition that has therefore made Atiku Abubakar desperate, reckless in his comments and therefore a National Security threat. It would appear that to him, it is either he becomes president or there will be no country for anyone to rule. Such violent language which may be an indication that the former president is prepared to make trouble if he loses is giving many Nigerians serious cause for concern.
The president has reacted to the comment in a most unusual manner, vowing not to permit any threat to the stability of the nation to go unpunished. The Directorate of State Security Services has also made public statements threatening to deal with mischief makers. Many observers consider this insufficient as the former vice president, they believe ought to be prosecuted. This writer is with the president on the non-prosecution of Mr. Atiku Abubakar; because it defeats Mr. Atiku Abubakar desirable strategic objective of playing the victim, causing confusion, uncertainty and instability in the polity. If Mr. Atiku Abubakar calls and, threats of violence is sustained in the next few days and weeks to the PDP primary, then his prosecution would only be for the public good and in National Security framework of the country.
Whichever perspective Mr. Atiku Abubakar’s comments are viewed, it is obvious that the only reason he is in the race for the presidency is to satisfy an ambition that is for reasons other than the public and common good. Mr. Atiku is a very bitter man and the gall that daily flows from him (this bitterness may be justified because of the way he has been humiliated by the former president, Chief Obasanjo) but nothing will justify his putting Nigeria through another round of civil war if his ambition is not realized. Nigerians therefore must be wary of this desperate and very bitter man.
Atiku Abubakar have failed wholly to conduct debates, make calls and pronouncement with the restraint imposed by the knowledge that the stability, unity and National Security of our country is foremost and sacred; thus his threat and call for violence has disqualify him from seeking the highest office in our Land.
Ekiyorbomode Edotimi, Director General, Nigerian Progressive Group, writes from Germany.