ATIKU, SAMBO, NYAKO: DANCING ON THE CEILING
BY Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor & Umar Yusuf
MEN who have had brushes in the recent past on account of their political aspirations were last Monday in Yola, dancing and playing together. Beyond the gesticulations are the unfolding individual plots by the men for political ascendency ahead of the 2015 presidential contest.
THE anecdotal sobriquet of people deceiving people used for the ruling national party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP was not far from many lips last Monday at the party's grand rally at the Mahmuud Rabidu Square in Yola.
At the centre of the political drama at the gubernatorial campaign rally was the quartet of Vice-President Namadi Sambo, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and host Governor Murtala Nyako.
Sambo, Atiku, and Nyako
All four men who have in the past had one reason or the other to be suspicious of one another were united at least for that day to push the second term plans of Nyako. Their joint foe was Gen. Buba Marwa, the candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, himself a former chieftain of the PDP and on whose platform he served as Nigeria's High Commissioner to South Africa. Marwa was ironically once a pawn in a previous fight between Obasanjo and Atiku and had allegedly availed his resources in the Obasanjo crafted putsch against Atiku in Adamawa.
Senator Jibril Aminu, the linkman who facilitated the fight against Atiku and helped to enthrone Nyako as Governor in 2007 after being shoved aside by Nyako, was understandably absent at the Rabidu Square.
That all four men Sambo, Obasanjo, Nyako and Atiku had reasons to be suspicious of one another arises from their past interactions and possible political intentions. Where there are no political scores to be settled among them, the projection of political ascendancy is an issue especially for Sambo, Nyako and Atiku. However, in Yola it was an issue that all three men and Obasanjo who is not eligible for another term as President preferred not to project.
Having worked against Atiku's bid to succeed him, Obasanjo and his former vice subsequently fell apart with both men openly attacking one another even at public fora.
After a futile bid by Atiku to reconcile with his former boss sometime in 2008 turned into a media spectacle, if not embarrassment for him, he subsequently pulled on his gloves subsequently taking every opportunity to taunt the former President.
Obasanjo on his part replied either discretely or openly but making his most denigrating remark about his deputy last year with his 'I dey laugh' dismissal of Atiku's presidential bid.
Nyako being the chief beneficiary of Obasanjo's assault on Atiku in Adamawa inevitably was drawn into the fray. After Nyako was served with an impeachment notice by the State House of Assembly in June 2008 and he subsequently accused Atiku of masterminding the issue, Atiku in a scathing reply said:
'The chicken has come home to roost. Any house built on a foundation of fraud, deceit and treachery cannot stand. It may be easy to steal an election or mandate but it is harder for the perpetrators to live happily ever thereafter,' the former Vice-President said in a statement released by his media office.
Nyako of course paid back and ensured that Atiku did not get the State's votes during the PDP presidential primaries last January.
Remarkably, Atiku and Nyako have recently reconciled reportedly following the intervention of the Lamido Adamawa in whose palace the former is held in high esteem. The reconciliation and Atiku's disbandment of his political structures outside of the PDP was said to have been received with a big sigh of relief in Nyako's camp upon the other political tackles the Governor was receiving from Marwa and other aggrieved political gladiators in the state such as Senator Aminu.
Sambo, the incumbent Vice-President on his part may not have had any direct brushes with any of the other quartet. However, his alleged interest in climbing up the ladder is one issue that is bound to stir issues with a number of second term northern Governors including Nyako who are reportedly also thinking of the presidency in 2015. So when the quartet of Obasanjo, Atiku, Sambo and Nyako came together laughing and dancing last Monday, many informed stakeholders in the party would also have scented treachery.
In a development that would have shocked many, Atiku went to the rally ground in the same vehicle with Obasanjo, an ash coloured Infiniti Jeep after they rode together for a courtesy call on the Lamido.
Those who saw them as they came out from the same vehicle burst out into a loud cheer surprised that two men who had committed to the political destruction of one another came out unscathed from the same vehicle.
At the rally ground Atiku, apparently forgetting his past jibes at Nyako praised the governor's efforts and that of PDP in the last 13 years. Atiku remarkably gave some of the credit to Obasanjo!
Obasanjo on his part not unexpectedly turned his comical self introducing Atiku as 'my former Vice President' and 'my former, my former, my former right-hand man' to the applause of the crowd.
As he said this, Atiku moved from Obasanjo's left hand side to his right to yet more thunderous applause from party faithful and supporters that had thronged the Ribadu Square in Yola for the grand finale of the PDP campaign.
Indeed, for more than ten minutes, Obasanjo and Atiku were on the dancing floor as the duo danced, danced and danced to the amazement of the crowd!
Atiku's gesture towards Nyako is believed to be an effort that would win the support of the Governor ahead of Atiku's next bid for the presidency in 2015. Nyako's stab in the 2011 presidential primaries undoubtedly would have hurt Atiku.
However, how reassuring Atiku could rest in that is an increasingly controversial issue given reports of the alleged interest of Nyako himself in the presidency in 2015.
While Nyako and Atiku sized up one another that Monday, Sambo already an open candidate for the presidency would have rested in the comfort that at least he was not in a position to deceive any one about his own inclinations!