December 27, 2010

Atiku’s politics of entitlement

THE reported events of Thursday  November 16, 2010, highlighted what Nigerians knew all along. For starters, a group known as Coalition of Atiku Northern Supporters (CANSU) who are staunch supporters of the former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, was reported to have issued a statement.

In their statement, they alluded to the fact that crisis would engulf Nigeria if Atiku who is the candidate for the North did not get the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) nomination. They stated that the crisis they would cause would be much greater in proportion to the Boko Haram massacres! In their own words:

“This is no threat. Boko Haram will be a child’s play compared to the actions our members can take. We have been patient enough. And enough, they said is enough. The presidency is our right. The fact that we bowed to allow a Southerner, Chief Obasanjo, who has now turned to be a betrayer and a disgrace to us, to become president in 1999 does not mean we do not know what to do to reclaim our right. We are happy that Turaki has now seen reason with us that what Nigeria needs is a violent change and not a peaceful one.

“We wish to state equivocally, without any ambiguity, that we, the Atiku supporters, are prepared for any eventuality should our patron be refused the ticket he has worked for. Our position remains: Atiku Presidency ‘Za mu iso waje ko wace irin hali’ (We will get there by whatever means) may Allah, the Almighty not CANSU, cancel Nigeria…”.

When the above statement was made, I was thinking that they were bunch of fanatics who were getting restive that their candidate was about to lose the nomination and so resorted to threat to intimidate the country. However, to my greatest surprise, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, not only endorsed their statement but also rationalized it! In a statement by his Campaign Organization, he quoted the late President John F. Kennedy saying: “Those who make peaceful resolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable”.

Instead of the former president disowning the group’s statement, he poured fuel into the already volatile situation. It could now be seen that the group is being sponsored by Atiku himself. That little bird dancing fearlessly in the street has a drummer by the bush side urging it on.

It is most unfortunate that the person aspiring to lead the country would sanction violence to achieve his selfish ambition of being president. In my place, we have a proverb which says that it is when the wind blows that we see everything hidden under the chicken’s ‘underwear’.

The nomination battle has exposed Atiku Abubakar for what he is. He believes that power belongs to the North and that they only leased it to the South and now wants to take back what belongs to them. To him and some people from the North that have same mentality, Nigeria is their birthright and only they could decide what they would do with it.

Whoever denies them of their birthright would be dealt with. To them it does not matter what any part of the country thinks, they owned Nigeria! This means, if you are from any other section from the country, or even other major ethnic groups, good luck to you. To him, the North holds the yam and the knife, whoever the North gives a piece of the yam would eat it.

Out of Nigeria’s 50 years of independence, the North has ruled for 38 years leaving the South with only 12 years. In fact, out of the 12 leaders Nigeria has produced since independence, the North accounted for nine! On the South’s side, Gen J.T.U. Aguiyi-Ironsi, Chief Ernest Shonekan and Olusegun Obasanjo shared the nine years among themselves. As John Adams would say: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence”.

This is our history and they are indisputable. Many people from the North, including Atiku want to maintain that status quo. Left for Atiku, anyone else can go to hell! Where is Atiku’s sense of justice? He is touting justice and fair play as slogan without understanding what it means or so blinded by his ambition.

That arrogance and the air of entitlement is what the problem is. The North and even some people from the South believe that no one can smell any federal appointment let alone the presidency unless they lick the North’s behind. Most Northerners grew up with the same ‘born to rule’ mentality.

Do you blame them? Since they were born, every president had come from the North, whether military or civilian; so the attitude would be that it is theirs for the asking. So if anyone from the South becomes president, it would just be like the person is holding it in trust for them, or they just wanted to take a little break. Now that the shoe is on the other feet, it seems like the heavens is about to fall on top of the earth.

There is a wise saying: “Let the Chairman take the place of the Provost, so as to see what it feels like to be on your feet during meetings”. How about the South East and many ethnic minorities that have never tasted the presidency? Have they lost hope in the union called Nigeria? Of course, they are still alive even if their hope is wavering.

This reminds me of the event in the Holy Book, the Bible, where the Israelites were about to be delivered from Egypt. The heart of Pharoah and his servants were turned against his people and they said: “Why  have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us”.

The action of Atiku and some of his Northern supporters reminds me also of the actions of the supporters of Senator John McCain

Mr. Chukwudi NWOKOYE writes from Maryland, USA.