By FRANCIS EHIGIATOR
IN the past week, the Atiku Abubakar Media Office has been engrossed in a spirited rebuttal of a story published online. According to the publication, it was alleged that Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the All Progressives Congress (APC) tin-god, had signed an agreement to hand the presidential ticket of the APC to Atiku Abubakar as a precondition for his defection from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The advertorial titled: “Hogwash”, which was placed in many national dailies by the Atiku Abubakar media group, unwittingly, drew the attention of many readers who did not even see, in the first place, the online publication that has kept the Atiku camp rattled, the Tinubu camp exposed, the Buhari clan disoriented and the entire APC hierarchy, highly embarrassed.
Although the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar had stated while jumping again out of the PDP that he was ready to perish his presidential ambition for the overall good of his new party, APC, his well-documented desperation for power gives away this new line as a mere obfuscation. Atiku has never hidden his ambition to be president right from the day former President Obasanjo chose him as his deputy.
Thus, within the first two years in their first term, the former vice president had hatched a near-perfect plan to supplant his boss by lining the majority of the PDP governors against Obasanjo to whom he had un-altruistically sold the Mandela one-term option. Stories have it that Obasanjo literally had to kowtow for his deputy before he got his party’s re-nomination in 2003. And when it was clear that he had fouled the air within the PDP so much so that he could not be trusted with the party’s ticket, Atiku founded and funded Action Congress (AC) under which he pursued his obsessive ambition to be president.
When he failed and realised that AC was too parochial a party to fulfil his lifelong ambition, he returned to a broader platform, which the PDP represents. Back to the PDP, Atiku’s desperation pushed him to canvass the northern consensus candidate when he lost the zoning argument in the PDP. And when he lost the presidential primaries against President Goodluck Jonathan at the Eagle Square in 2011, the Adamawa politician lost control of himself as he resorted to raining unpresidential vituperations on Jonathan so much so that the delegates who voted against him were convinced that that they took the right decision.
As 2015 beckons, Atiku has perhaps reasoned that he has no chance in PDP and is threading the familiar path of shopping for platform again. So when Atiku begins his tales by moonlight that he has joined the APC not to pursue any personal ambition, what does he take Nigerians for? The panicky and un-strategic manner in which the Atiku Media Office that is normally very professional and efficient responded to the allegation of conspiracy between Atiku and Tinubu over the APC presidential ticket, clearly gives stronger credence to the allegation.
In trying to debunk the story that Tinubu had already sold the ticket to Atiku, Garba Shehu and his team largely relied on the ad hominiem argument – a fallacy that seems to attack the source of the story rather than its substance. It is not clear how tracing the story to one Churchill Umoren, allegedly working for the presidential spokesman, Doyin Okupe, affects the veracity of the story or makes it less factual. While the Atiku Media Office struggled all through to discredit the story that Tinubu and Atiku are at it again to their undemocratic best, it was clear that what they sought to achieve was sheer damage limitation but in the end the hogwash advertorial ended up accentuating the wheeling and dealing story between the two APC buccaneers.
The attempt to discredit the story that Tinubu had already traded the APC presidential ticket to Atiku Abubakar ended up being a conspiracy of its own. The bomb shell dropped by Shekarau, a founding leader of APC that Tinubu runs the party as a personal shop further threw spanners to the works of Atiku’s image makers. The former governor of Kano State not only revealed how Tinubu is imposing his whims and caprices on the party but also engaging in other illegalities.
The result is that Tinubu and his clique in APC are not thinking about any convention to elect authentic party executives to replace his hand-picked interim executives headed by Bisi Akande. If the party is not thinking about properly electing its officers, why would it worry about electing a presidential candidate?
Moreover, the leaders of APC, and its predecessor parties, ACN, CPC and ANPP are not known to be great advocates of the democratic process. In the defunct ACN, Tinubu and Bisi Akande for all intents and purposes represent the decision making organ of the party. They chose the presidential candidate, the senatorial candidates, the House of Reps and Houses of Assembly candidates whimsically without any reference to the people and party members.
The vibrant Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, who lost his ticket, and Hon. Opeyemi Bamidele, who ended up in the House instead of the Senate, are some of the relics of the Tinubu-Akande undemocratic imposition of candidates on the ACN. In the CPC it did not matter who won the primaries as long as the outcome did not reflect Buhari’s predilections and sentiments. ANPP on its own part appeared to have patented the manual of how not to run a political party!
There is indeed nothing new in the story that Tinubu had ceded the APC presidential ticket to Atiku Abubakar even before he crossed over from the PDP. It is on record that the promoters of APC historically have proven themselves as poor advertisement for internal democracy and free choice. The controversies and crises arising from the imposition of interim officers from all the state chapters of APC nationwide seem to validate the story that the APC presidential ticket had been sold to Atiku even before the race began. The Atiku Media Office, rather than publishing “Hogwash” advertorial, should advert their minds to convincing the like of Buhari, Oshiomhole and Tambuwal who we hear are interested in the presidential ticket why they should remain in APC!