Why Atiku Must Keep Faith


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Why Atiku Must Keep Faith




Al-Amin Inuwa Bala




June 20, 2005


It is human for anyone under tension, especially when it stems from the psychological trauma of wounded pride, to lose mental balance and resort to reactions that may be unwise in the end. With the turn of events in the Peopleís Democratic Party (PDP) in which the cards seem stacked against Vice President Atiku Abubakar, some loyalists, influenced by a sense of frustration, are likely to urge him to abandon ship at the critical stage of the voyage to the 2007 presidential election. In fact, many of his admirers and loyalists appear to be at the mercy of intense anger and despondency, as events seem to throw a spanner into the works of Atiku Abubakar.


However, bad as the turn of events might seem, one feels that the Vice-President should resist any temptation of falling easy prey to emotional reactions, at the instigation of overzealous loyalists and stalwarts.


With the seeming displacement of Atiku Abubakarís perceived loyalists in the power structure of the PDP national leadership, some angry supporters of the Vice-President may be tempted to urge the Adamawa State politician to throw the gloves off and adopt a tit-for-tat strategy in response to the unfolding drama of clock-and-dagger schemings by forces struggling for their own survival. In this jungle situation, in which the death of some means the survival of others, and in which even perceived friends can become turn-coats, depending on which sides their bread is buttered, the sense of increasing desperation by supporters of the Vice-President is understandable.


But one quality that distinguishes a leader from the flock is his ability to look beyond temporary setbacks. Again, the leader should have the capacity to look beyond his nose and selfish interest. This has been Atikuís distinguishing feature. The Vice-President should not lose faith merely on the basis that his supporters want him to do so. A leader, above all, must have the ability to think beyond the raw emotion of his flock. In other words, the Vice-President knows more about the nuances of power than his crowd of loyalists can grasp.


Of course, this has not been the first time the Vice-President went through storm and stresses without losing his equanimity. Despite the widely held popular notion that President Obasanjo is the most difficult leader to work with, Atiku Abubakar has disproved this motion. In fact, many commentators and analysts, who had previously betted their bottom dollar that the partnership between the two men would not have gone beyond the first few months of their first term in office, were eventually forced to eat their hat. Atikuís tutelage under the President is today six years, and still counting.


Perhaps, one of the admirable and noticeable virtues of Atiku Abubakar is his philosophical attitude to life and its challenges. While many of his followers might interpret unfolding events as a declaration of war against him by certain forces in the PDP, the Vice-President has never construed the issues as such. Even as his supporters describe events in terms of efforts to undermine his political fortunes, Atiku Abubakar has never wavered an inch in his loyalty to the nation, the President and the PDP. Despite the prediction that his partnership with President Obasanjo on the PDP presidential ticket is like putting a cat and a mouse in the same box, the Vice-President has been able to work harmoniously with his boss, contrary to the popular notion that Obasanjo is ďthe most difficult person to work withĒ (according to the accounts of Mr. Allison Ayida, a former Secretary to the Federal Government).


If indeed, the President is as obstreperous as he is cast in popular image, he would not have entrusted Vice-President Atiku Abubakar with such challenging national responsibilities as supervising the implementation of the privatization policy, the organization of COJA games and bringing the commonwealth summit to a successful conclusion in Nigeria. Isnít this enough testimony to Atikuís ability to win the trust of the President and work in partnership and harmony with General Obasanjo?


With this impressive record of working harmoniously with a President generally regarded a hard nut to crack, Atiku Abubakar should discard any idea of letting his aides throw a fly into his ointment. Influenced by the fact that he and the President have a larger interest of Nigeria in common, the Vice-President has never failed to draw a distinction between national interest and personal political ambition. In fact, one of the good qualities of a statesman is the ability to subordinate self-interest to wider national interest.


As one of the founding leaders of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar has a lot of stake in the future of the PDP, because he is involved in the execution of its policies and programmes to transform Nigeria economically and socially. Changes in leadership structure of the party must not be allowed to obscure the wider interest of the nation. The interest of Nigeria is beyond the personality of the new crop of leaders at the helm of affairs in the PDP, and this is the direction Atikuís calculation and mind should follow in reaction to the drama of intrigues unfolding in the party.


Rather than spoiling for war with the President or the new PDP leadership, who are perceived to be hostile to his 2007 presidential ambition, the Vice-President should resist the temptation of supporters who may want him to rock the boat or jump ship. Instead, the Vice-President should continue his normal cordial working personal relationship with the individual figures at the helm of affairs at the PDP national headquarters. Besides, he should fight within, ensuring that whatever reforms the new leaders of the party may choose to introduce, address the issue of open and fair competition, which are some of the salient features of genuine democracy.


The idea of a key figure as the Vice-President discarding a house, in which he was a leading founding member is ill advised. It doesnít make sense to cut off oneís nose to spite oneís face.


Since the President and the Vice-President were elected on a common ticket to serve the nation, it is utterly illogical for anyone to suggest to Atiku the idea of voting with his feet. The stakes are higher than what anyone on the periphery of power can appreciate. The changes or restructuring in the PDP need not affect the partnership between the President and his Deputy. And since Atiku has been able to accept challenges in the past with remarkable stoicism without his loyalty to the nation being affected, there is no reason whatsoever, this time for him to break faith.


As a pragmatist politician, who has gone through the mills of politics and life itself, the Vice-President is experienced enough to use his loaf in response to any unfolding situation. His supporters, whatever the intensity of their sentiments, should let the Vice-President follow his nose in his reactions to changing political situations. If, despite preciously perceived provocations, the Vice-President continues to maintain his steadfast loyalty to the nation and the President, there is nothing significant enough to make him abandon such wise course of action. With the wealth of experience behind Atiku Abubakar, the Vice-President has enough gumption to deal with the perceived crisis confronting his political future. This is only a matter of time.





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