The ready assumption by some writers and public commentators is that most Nigerians are gullible and have short memories. As such, some of these self-acclaimed political analysts churn out falsehood as facts in an attempt to manipulate the mind of well-meaning Nigerians.
Sadly, the consequence of keeping quiet to such writers is that, if their lies are allowed to travel far and unaddressed, the truth will easily be sacrificed on the altar of lies.
With the seeming public hysteria since former Vice President, Alhaji Abubakar Atiku defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the impression has been sold that the act was not only sacrilegious but also unprecedented. A parody of a political prostitute has instead been unleashed through the manipulation of online and mainstream media to give the impression that the man was desperate and consumed by the spirit of inordinate ambition. A desperado for political power!
The saddest part of the lynch mob mentality currently on the prowl is that the “sudden critics” of Alhaji Atiku want to hold him to a different standard, separate from known measures used for others. You will imagine that the former Vice President transformed to a supernatural being the day the decision was made to leave APC for the PDP.
Yet, the Wazirin Adamawa, as Atiku is also known is not the first in our recent history to change political parties. Certainly, he is not in the league of those who have contested the presidency more than once. Neither is he in the mould of a stiff neck bigot who refused to quit the stage nor concede defeat after losing an election.
Unfortunately, the spin masters would want us to believe otherwise. So, they ask, ‘how many times would Atiku contest for the presidency’? How many political parties would he join before becoming President? Should he not know when to quit or when the ovation has abated? What ideology drives the man’s politics?
The truth, however, is that Atiku’s name has only been on the ballot paper once. Meaning, he has contested as a candidate in an election only once. That was in 2007, as the flag bearer of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) against the late President Musa Yar’Adua of PDP.
On the other hand, Nigeria’s history documents an individual that contested as a candidate for the Number One position four times before fate smiled on him. He was flagbearer of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and the APC under which platform he won to be president in 2015.
Interestingly, when people complained that incumbent President Buhari was being difficult by repeatedly contesting for the presidency, they were reminded that President Abraham Lincoln of America failed more times in his desire before attaining the top position. Even at that, we need not be reminded that each time Buhari was asked to step down for another aspirant to fly the flag of a party, he simply left for another platform to pursue the dream of being President of Nigeria. Needless to say, Buhari never accepted defeat nor congratulated anyone who defeated him in an election but was indirectly associated with post-electoral violence.
On the other hand, the same Atiku that is being vilified by a section of the media never left any party because he lost the party primaries. He left only when a level playing field was not given to everyone to partake in the exercise. Truth is that, Atiku, the Wazirin Adamawa is respected more as a loyal party man even though he could not be categorised or branded a zealot.
Perhaps, we need to refresh our memories on the circumstances that led to Atiku’s first exit from the PDP. Have we forgotten so soon that he left because of the politics of the third term? That he was frustrated to leave after he successfully stopped the undemocratic and illogical third term agenda?
Truth is Atiku should be celebrated as one the heroes of our modern democracy. Outside the late Bashorun MKO Abiola and to some extent, the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua who paid the supreme sacrifice to ensure the sustenance Nigerian democracy, kudos should also go to Atiku for having played a lot of roles for the common good of his party and the country at large than advancing self-interest. Two instances clearly stand out ; first his role in the PDM /SDP alliance for MKO Abiola and in 2003 he declined a popular prompting for him to contest in the party primaries against his boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Any good watcher of Nigerian politics would understand that in recent times there is no huge difference in both ideologies and conduct of the major political parties. What actually stands out, in the end, is the personality of the man or woman seeking to be elected into public office. In realistic terms, every other consideration amounts to political deceit and sophistry.
By and large, there is no dispute that Atiku, the former Vice President possess intimidating democratic credentials and leadership qualities than most of those who have signified interest to run for the presidency in the past and to a large extent even now. Indeed, this is an unassailable fact we cannot deny.
“The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.” – Terry Pratchett
Shaibu, a Public Communication expert writes from Abuja