In my article titled, ‘Atiku’s Dance With National Interest’, which was published on March 4, 2019, on Blueprint newspapers, I said that, “…. for the love of God and country, Atiku should reconsider and accept his defeat like a man. That he will write his name in gold on the sands of time, and leave a similar legacy to ex-President Jonathan’s, which the PDP prides so much in. I pray he shuns the SANs that want to make business of his woes, and listen to SANs like Olisa Agbakoba, as well as ex-President Abdulsalam Abubakar who are talking sense to him. I pray he avoids the masters of common sense and embrace the rare sense of patriotism for the sake of us all”. It was reported that Atiku didn’t take the news of his loss at the polls well and was bed-ridden till the next day, when he started issuing statements. Comments were received only from Bukola Saraki, his campaign DG, and from Uche Secondus, PDP chairman. After a lot of foot dragging, Atiku and the PDP have gone to the tribunal, for a long and arduous legal battle that is bleak and doesn’t seem promising.
Atiku asked the tribunal to either cancel the elections or announce him as winner, which begs the questions: Does it mean that the election stands and is accurate only if Atiku is declared winner? Isn’t it supposed to be cancelled in its entirety if it is so flawed and laced with inconsistencies? Atiku and the PDP have also claimed that according to INEC servers, he won the election with 1.6 million votes. But unfortunately for them, the card readers send information to the servers on accredited voters and not the election results at the polling units, so they couldn’t have gotten that information from INEC servers. There is no way the servers will carry a different type of information. Results are declared at the polling units and collated afterwards at designated centres. Aside this, how did PDP and Atiku have access to INEC servers? Was it the tribunal that ordered INEC to grant access to its servers to the PDP? Thirdly, in PDP and Atiku’s claim of winning the election by 1.6 million votes, they stated that Atiku had 18,356,732 votes as against Buhari’s 16,741,430 which amounts to 34,098,162. This figure is higher than the total votes cast of 28,614,190. This simply means that if they had factual data, the figures in the results will not overtake the votes cast. The figures, simply put, were rigged. Evidently, the claims and statements coming from the PDP camp regarding the tribunal proceedings are embarrassing and counter-productive. They have merely been making a ridicule of themselves.
Before this dance of ridicule, Gen. IBB had said in a statement to Atiku that, “I call on the former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to close ranks and work with the winner of the election in an objective and constructive manner so that democracy will continue to thrive at this crucial period of renaissance”. Obviously, this call was shunned and Atiku headed for the tribunal. Now, one of the pillars of Atiku’s campaign, through the electioneering process, was ex-President Obasanjo. OBJ is one elder statesman believed to be, if not the most, then amongst the top two or three most patriotic leaders. His love for Nigeria as one indivisible nation is notorious and recognised by the Nigerian elite. He was the man-mountain who stood tall in the heat of the Atiku campaign. His endorsement of Atiku almost seemed like the clincher for the Waziri Fombina. OBJ struggled in vain to undo what his book, On My Watch, had done. The damage was irreparable and the character imprint of Atiku, that the book had caused in the minds of Nigerians, was perhaps irredeemable. OBJ is partly to blame for Atiku’s loss, despite his last ditch efforts to make him win, losing his own reputation as the Installer-General of Nigerian Presidential elections in the process.
OBJ is yet to congratulate Buhari on his electoral victory, neither has he strongly castigated him or made any unsavoury or uncomplimentary remarks. For an impulsive letter writer and outspoken individual like OBJ, his silence is definitely pregnant, just like the proverb that one’s silence is full of unspoken words. Certainly, he has accepted defeat in this year’s elections installation ceremony and the Ebora Owu will not be on the high table of this year’s coronation. He left the country shortly after the election results were announced, seemingly beating a retreat, but perhaps not yet a surrender. Will he be in talks with Buhari to finally rally round for the sake of his love for Nigeria and its people? Will he have interests in advising on how the country is run once more? Will he speak privately to President Buhari or yet, write another open letter? OBJ is not one to keep mum, and the Nigerian political space is sure to hear from him soonest.
If only I had the means of sending him my own letter, I would have earnestly done so. I would write and tell him how we are all enamoured by his heroics and glorious leadership. I would tell him that, Baba Iyabo, now the time has come and Nigeria needs you once more. Ejor Baba, I would say to him. I beg of you to wade into the ‘Opera’ that Atiku is likely going to be holding, in a bid to fight for a mandate that he, in all possibilities, did not win, and of course cannot redeem. That Baba, judging from the numbers at the polls and the geographic spread of the votes, you know it is a true reflection of how the Nigerian populace votes. Baba, you know Buhari and his 12-million-man-vote have been since you first squared up with him. Tell him Baba that when Buhari was challenging you in court, he wasn’t a septuagenarian that Atiku now is, so Atiku’s health matters. Baba, as I write you, I assume the ‘dobale’ prostration, begging you to intercede in this matter and rein in Atiku. Show us Baba that your love for Nigeria supersedes your love for PDP and Atiku’s presidential ambition. Show us that having your reputation for winning elections dented doesn’t bother you as much as the peace and brotherly co-existence of our dear country. Do not ‘unwatch’ as this drama unfolds with Atiku at the centre of it. If anyone can do it Baba, it is you. We call on your experience, clout, sagacity and political expediency. Be on the watch Baba, and let Atiku retire peacefully.
Tahir is Talban Bauchi.