The presidential primary of the leading opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has shown that Nigerian politics has a resistant past, one not in any hurry to go away. An aspirant in one of the political parties has said he would remain a repeater station for the quest for presidency until he wins. The man is at his first shot in the contest. He has told all observers that, as long as he lives, he will keep at it until he strikes gold. Atiku Abubakar must have drunk from the cup of that aspirant, or the aspirant drank from Atiku’s. From the emergent scenario, it would seem that the Atiku candidacy for the PDP was foretold and predetermined. The party, I understand, went against its own constitution on the matter. I had written here, the other day, that enshrining rotation in a party’s constitution is a worthless exercise, an act in futility, because any lower court, not to raise the matter to the apex court level, would dismiss such inclusion because it negates the Constitution. No aspirant could step down his ambition because power must rotate. Rotation, commentators say, is rooted in equity. But equity seems to be a stranger in politics where winners take all. It has become certain that old things in Nigeria hardly pass away. Atiku, has become a repeater station in the contest for the presidency, going at it for the fourth time. Some superstitions have emerged about four as the number working like a magic wand on the matter. He is the recurring decimal that has refused to go away. In 2019, when he squared up against President Muhammadu Buhari, Adams Oshiomhole, who was helmsman of the ruling APC, said Atiku seemed to have a sense of entitlement to Nigeria’s presidency, such that he believes that the country’s destiny is tied to his occupation of Aso Rock.
Buhari may have been in that same shoe when he wept for Nigeria at his third missed attempt, and announced his retirement from politics. Political strategists brought him back, and worked hard for him to mount the saddle. When the best times are counted for Nigeria, there would be no wager that a multitude would raise their hands in a vote count for this era.
That is the fear for an Atiku whose pursuit for the presidency has assumed the posture of desperation. It was so powerful as to demolish power rotation, such that his victory at the polls will amount to a Fulani man handing over to his kinsman in a heterogeneous society as ours. Old things of sidelining others, such as led to the denial of victory clearly won by Moshood Abiola on June 12, 1993, would not go away. Atiku was a protégé of former Chief of Army Staff, Shehu Ya ’Adua, who was inching to the presidency when former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida, postured like someone who wanted to return the nation to civil rule. Shehu Yar’Adua later died in detention. It would seem that Atiku seeks to get it in his memory, since his master did not.
I once held that Atiku was the most prepared presidential candidate, but that was in the past. Events have long overtaken his level of readiness. The matter has shed the toga of mission for that of ego. He must assume that title at all costs. I do not hold that Governor Aminu Tambuwal was the hero of the PDP primaries, as his party chairman reportedly does. I think Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State was the hero. He dared the tiger, though it has been noted a lot of dollars went into the bargain. He was on the verge of making good the Asaba resolution of southern governors that power, at the centre, should reverse to the southern part of Nigeria. He made a damn good showing before old things insisted they would not go away. He put up a good fight. Perhaps Atiku would make him a running-mate now that the opposition party has shown the South East that its investment in it amounts to sheer miscalculation. As a loyal partyman and the absence of permanent enemies in politics, he should accept it and get set to take over from his boss, if they win.
Among the old things that have remained unyielding is the commercialization of party tickets. Money is the name of the game. Delegates were plastered with dollars. The presidency was evidently for sale. Those who dished out more cash stood a better chance. Wike seemed to have stood dollar-to-dollar against Atiku, determined that the centre would not remain in the North. But old things have refused to go away so that all things would become new.
One person chose to fight in another direction. Some of his critics say he walked away from the party because he saw defeat staring him in the face. But Peter Gregory Obi is the real game-changer. He insists that old thing must pass away, that the presidency ought not to be sold to the highest bidder. He resigned from the major opposition party to make that point. He has swept young Nigerians off their feet with his grasp of issues and the kind of prudence that has worked in his life as a businessman or trader, as he is wont to call himself. It also worked in Anambra State, where he governed. He mustered enough self-will and courage to dare the tiger in PDP, who insists that you have buy the party ticket, and, in fact, the electorate. For now, Peter Obi is a movement among young people, cutting across ethnic lines. They see him as the man with the competence exemplified in his pedigree. There was a crowd funding mooted, even before he threw his hat in the ring. Old things are bound to pass away. They may resist feeble attempts to get them out but no force resists a revolution. Those who say Obi is a social media creation are miles away from the point. They forget that the power that propelled the #EndSARS protest was the social media. The man in the saddle resonates with young Nigerians who want to take back their country. The power that made Buhari hurriedly disband the anti-robbery arm of the Nigeria Police, which had become a terror to young people, is the same power at work. The Obi movement fast gathers the force of that revolution. Old things must pass away.
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