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WHO IS AFRAID OF ATIKU AGAIN?

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The season of politicking is coming around the corner, and so it is not unexpected that politicians will be back again at what they do best: running one another down. It has appeared that attempts to pull former vice-president Atiku Abubakar down has been the only defining feature of Nigerian politics since 2007. As a matter of fact, some politicians at the highest level of Nigerian politics have been fixated with the pull-Atiku-down-at-all-cost syndrome, such that they make an imaginary enemy out of the former vice-president, even when the man is standing to embrace them with open arms.

For many of such politicians, the fear of Atiku is the beginning of wisdom and thus they must do something quickly to cut him to size. But, it is often said that one of the characteristic traits of a typical Nigerian politician is the fact that they fail to learn from the past. And I am beginning to believe that that statement is a truism. Because, were politicians in this country able to learn from the past, they should have seen that the political stature of Atiku Abubakar is one too large to be cut to pocket size. During the 2007 presidential election politics, former President Olusegun Obasanjo swung with his full weight to bring Atiku to his knells by casting all manners of corruption allegations against him.

Today, Atiku has not been found culpable of one of those corruption allegations. Rather, probe panels that have been constituted to look into the activities of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), which the former Vice-President was accused of mismanaging have pointed accusing fingers of sleaze at other directions different from Atiku. Also in the 2011 presidential election politics, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) went against its own zoning devices in order to make the race for the party’s ticket difficult for Atiku.

In so doing, the PDP establishment labelled Atiku and many other Northern leaders demanding the zoning of the presidency to the North as being sectional. Today, the same PDP is back validating the zoning principle as a tool of national cohesion. With the 2015 presidential election coming close again, the anti-Atiku campaigners seem to have come with a different device, which is to damage the character of the former Vice-President, by sponsoring conmen to act funny scenes aimed at embarrass him. The first of such acts was the story of a man, whose names go by Musa Inuah Dalhatu, climbing a telecoms mast in a bid to recover a N15 million debt from Atiku.

The man claims to be from the same Adamawa State with Atiku. But without dabbling into whatever transpired between Atiku and Inuah, or the veracity of Inuah’s claims, the drama of Inuah’s protest looks suspect. For instance, at what time did he have the space to write several petitions to the IGP, the National Human Right Commission (NHRC), Public Complaint Commission, Brigade Commander Nigerian Army, Yola, Adamawa State governor, the Director of SSS Adamawa State, and the Adamawa State Emirate Council? Did he come to the court with these petitions or did he write them when it became clear to him that the court would not grant him audience? Assuming he brought these petitions along to the court, are the petitions the pre-requisites for establishing a default in debt payment or details of the business transaction? Now, add this to the fact that Mr. Inuah even has an inconsistent account of the exact business he had with Atiku.

At a time he said the transaction bordered on land purchase, at another he said it was on car purchase and yet another it was on purchase of cows. And then, we need to ask: has Atiku set his eyes on Inuah ever before? We also need to ask why the man chose to act his drama in the Federal Capital Territory instead of Yola, at least given the fact that he himself recognized the need to forward a copy his petition to every security agency and traditional institutions in Adamawa State. Going by account of the media, the IGP is the only authority based in the FCT that he copied his petition to, while all others are in Adamawa State.

Why would Mr. Inuah then have problems with the counsel of the officials of the FCT court registry asking him to seek justice in an Adamawa high court, but rather chose to act a drama of the absurd in Abuja? It appears to me that answers to all these questions are more probably to be found in politics than in common sense. Again, barely one week after the Inuah’s drama, there is also the story of another man who was reported to have visited Atiku’s residence in Kaduna, demanding to see him. But for the timely intervention of the security agencies, only God knows whatever allegation the intruder, who was identified as a Captain in the Nigerian Army, had come to heap on Atiku.

Ordinarily, one should have given a benefit of the doubt to these accusations, but when one remembers the damage Obasanjo’s false labelling of Atiku as being corrupt did to the image of the former Vice-President, such a wait could be pretty risky. Between now and year 2015, are three long years – long enough for any politician without scruples to launch a campaign of calumny against a perceived opponent. Good enough, the attacks have started coming too early and there is ample time to build a foxhole too.

Written By Olusola Sanni

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