IBB vs Atiku: Devil and Blue Sea


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IBB Vs. Atiku: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea




Umar Bello

Alkhobar, Saudi Arabia


August 2005


With over three solid years to the next presidential polls, candidates like IBB and Atiku have already girded up their loins and started campaigns. The PDP presidential slot is shifting to the North. In the contraption called ‘power shift’ every region will have a shot at the presidency. The use of ‘shot’ which has an allusion to drinking just as you would have a shot of frothy champagne is not accidental but deliberate. It literally means that every region’s elite would have its turn to drink from the gravy vault of the Nigerian society or in more appropriate terms, its turn to mismanage the country. In the real sense, as maintained by Dr Yusuf Bala Usman, power has not budged an inch from where it has always been, within the elite class.


There is no gainsaying the fact that this duo is a sorry one or what Achebe would call a rotten nut and a derelict mortar. These two candidates can never offer any break from the present pervading hopelessness, theirs will certainly be a continuum. If the two are the best bargain the North can offer then certainly the region is again positioning itself into yet another pariah status.


Atiku on his part can never divorce himself from the present misery visited on us by this regime being part and parcel of it as the number two man in the helm of affairs. Beside that, Atiku himself is an embodiment of a corrupt Nigeria. He made his money from the customs service as a one time deputy director. As a highly rich man who had made his money from the state, he joined the Yar’ adua group to oil his political ambition. Atiku had simply lost touch with the realities of the Nigerian common men since he joined the customs and started making his money. He has been within and part of the nouveau riche and sees the issue of governance just within the narrow tunnel-vision of feathering his nest or at best that of raising his prestige as a one time president just for it sake. If at all he had feeling for the general good he wouldn’t have abandoned Aremu just at the beginning of their second term and started his campaigns. He should know that they have a responsibility to Nigerians in the next four years even if theirs was a pilfered mandate. He should have demonstrated his love for the Nigerian people by being a positive streak in the Obasanjo administration.


But all he does is to cut off his appellations like ‘Alhaji’, ‘His Excellency’ and think that through such cheap decoys he can trap the souls and minds of Nigerians. Such changes do not change the man as Juliet would say to Romeo ‘what’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’  just as a devil will always remain so even if he should  be baptized a thousandth times with the name ‘saint’ And if he thinks that by always denouncing the North in the past saying that Kano and Sokoto states were the problem of Nigeria or by decrying that the Sharia was unconstitutional even while Obasanjo was more cautious of his criticism he could play into the minds of the fastidious South West, he has still not succeeded for well meaning Nigerians have already read between the lines that these cheap actions are bare face politicking.          


Atiku’s bards on the net should give discerning minds a break about cataloging the man’s achievements under this regime. If they think the man can just be image –laundered to fame like that they are highly mistaken. The detergents in their pens can not just remove the ugly spots on their candidate just as the spots on a tiger are indelible. He would certainly have a tough time going back to his region to convince them that he is really their own having in the past chosen to play the bat. And at the national level what would he tell Nigerians having been part and parcel of a regime that nearly transported them to hell?


On the part of the self-styled evil Genius he has once again chosen to play his hypocritical game. Having set up his campaign machinery everywhere holding clandestine political meetings, he is paradoxically denying his intention to contest. The man is having a psychological complex. He is a coward for he is afraid of the prospects of failure, he is gauging the political barometer to see whether he could certainly succeed and if the enterprise is fraught with failure he will jettison it. I think one of the true tests of a man is the ability to confront fate and to accept the consequence with bold fortitude. It is on this plane, that I see a man in the personality of Rtd Gen. Buhari. When he declared his intention to contest he never dithered, he never looked back, he looked ahead, he contested, and to the chagrin of his detractors and to the astonishment of the evil genius, he performed so well that many believe that he is really the winner of the polls. The election is now over and many, as this writer, believe that if he is not called a robbed winner he will certainly be called a gallant loser. Beside that, a true gentleman must be straight forward. It rattles my imagination why people like Babangida will choose to play the chameleon and still want to be seen as gentlemen.


Babangida’s election-phobia is not unconnected with his terrible reign and the belief that because of this he may not be accepted again. But to on the part of Buhari, he was confident of his last tenure and he was confident of his resolve to serve the country selflessly again. He has remained a streak of lightning, a glimmer of hope for the masses in the grim crowd of the Nigerian elite.  The Babangida eight-year rule was everything but good for the Nigerian masses; Sap, institutionalization of corruption, reckless squander of 12billion dollar gulf war windfall, the toying with Nigeria’s political process, ad Neuse am. All these crimes are damn too fresh and painful to be swept aside. And since he retired he has still remained with his henchmen like Ali Baba and the forty thieves and the horde is coming back just as in the eighties. I invite Nigerians to share in the wisdom of the Chinese proverb which says that if you cheat me once, shame on you, but if you cheat me twice shame on me.


Some are of the view that the man is now coming back to right the wrongs of his past regime but they are highly mistaken for obvious reasons. First, Babangida has never seen any thing wrong with his leadership nor has he ever apologized for his past deeds, he has always tried to rationalize his actions and a man like this does not cut the image of being remorseful. Secondly he has always maintained, as I said earlier, the same partners-in- wreck of his former regime as friends and cronies and the same are coming back in the next regime to lord it over the country again for yet another bout of plunder. He has perpetually missed the wisdom of the basics in gentlemanly behavior; he is still his maradonic, hypocritical and cunning self. The beauties of honesty and straight- forwardness have eternally eluded him.


In conclusion, the choice between Atiku and Babangida are terrible options for Nigerians. Unless we are all interested in the ascension of our national woes, we should all steer clear from making a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. It is either we end up getting destroyed or drown in the ocean of our problems.



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