By Emmanuel Aziken
Atiku Abubakar, a man once revered for his political shrewdness and sagacity was yesterday plummeting in the consideration of many of those who had over the years seen him as Nigeria’s apex bridge builder.
Atiku Abubakar’s pan Nigeria appellation was seen in almost everything around him. From the folks around him, his businesses, and even to family ties.
His pan-Nigerian outlook was seen in the fact that he married from across the major ethnic pillars of the country with Yoruba, Fulani and Ibo wives around him.
That image was, however, collapsing yesterday after two major incidents this week.
The first was the deletion of his tweet condemning the barbaric killing of Miss Deborah Yakubu, the Sokoto School student who said that her class WhatsApp forum should not be turned into a religious channel.
Atiku was yesterday the butt of social media attacks with Mr Macaroni, pointing to him as one of those political actors who play to the gallery and come out in support of the people only when seek votes.
Atiku’s clumsiness on the issue showed in another post on Facebook where he came out to disown the original post on his social media handles, where writing in Hausa, he said:
“This evening I received information that a post was made that doesn’t agree with my orders. I use this to announce that any post without AA is not from me. May God protect – AA.”
That post which was apparently aimed to appease fanatical Muslims backing his aspiration has also been reportedly deleted.
What the crisis of deletions means is that Atiku is not consistent, and like Mr Macaroni said, would be ready to play to the gallery to suit the position that best captures the votes for him.
This has come as a shock to several of us, including your correspondent, who have over the years applauded the former vice president over his principles and capacity to speak the truth no matter whose ox is gored.
By apparently seeking to tolerate the barbarous killing of Deborah by religious fanatics all in a bid to secure the votes of the extremists, Atiku has irredeemably lost the support of the liberal population that had seen him as a bridge builder across faiths and nationalities.
His move may have been fanned by the desperation to win the presidency.
It is that desperation that may have inspired him or caused him to overlook the trespass that his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP did in its own constitution earlier in the week with the decision to dump rotation.
This is ironic. Indeed, the only time before now that your correspondent had seen Atiku as clumsy as he was yesterday was in 2010 at the PDP National Convention when he lost the presidential ticket to President Goodluck Jonathan.
Atiku’s response to his loss in 2010 was an uncoordinated speech in which he raged at Jonathan and the PDP for dumping rotation, saying that the party would regret it.
Few years later as it appeared that Jonathan would again seek re-election, Atiku, Dr Bukola Saraki and Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal left the PDP for the newly formed All Progressives Congress, APC.
While in the APC they were helped by moles within the PDP like Governor Babangdia Aliyu of Niger State to ensure that the then ruling party lost the 2015 presidential election.
It is as such a matter of irony that these three men who helped to destroy the PDP and bring President Muhammadu Buhari to power, having returned to the PDP, are now seeking to use the same platform for their personal ambitions.
If Tambuwal and Saraki are forgiven for their youthful exuberance, what of Atiku?
It beholds reasoning to assert that Atiku has failed to use his moral authority to inspire the PDP to look beyond his personal ambition into the greater good of the party and the country.
Atiku should have stood up as an elder-statesman to live by what he said in 2010 and pre-2015 and used his influential political network across the country to ensure that the PDP picks a candidate from the South and also ensure the victory of the candidate.
The former premier of the North, Sir Ahmadu Bello did not send a Fulani to represent him as prime minister, but a Northern minority from Tafawa Balewa. Such acts of political sacrifice seems to be now lacking in Atiku and many of our contemporary political leaders.
Many associates of the former vice-president have told this correspondent of a misplaced sense of entitlement that Atiku expects from his followers.
The trouble for the PDP is that by throwing the presidential ticket open, the party is now in danger of losing the rock solid support it had enjoyed from the Southeast and the South-South.
The import is that should the APC be more altruistic in its own permutations by rotating its presidential ticket to the South, the party could be well positioned to evict the PDP from its strongholds in the Southeast and the South-South.
In fact, for some, it would be better for the PDP to feed into the sentiments of its power base and gamble with pushing a Southern candidate than facing its imminent evisceration with a Northern candidate.