For Atiku To Resign
culled from THE SUN, April 14,
The seeming truce between the two belligerents or among their respective
forces could only have been taken by the unwary to be the end of hostilities
if not all hostilities. Otherwise, both President Olusegun Obasanjo and Vice
President Atiku Abubakar were busy mapping out their individual war plans
with troops in both war camps coming up with numerous ideas, some realistic,
some illusory, others suicidal or self-defeatist.
Was it not during this "armistice" that a confident-looking Obasanjo once
again publicly humiliated his deputy/political enemy by demanding total
military loyalty or the man should look for another job? That obviously was
part of the war plan of the hawks around Obasanjo, to provoke Atiku Abubakar
to resign as Vice-President so that their man could drive through easily to
the start of fresh three terms of four years each with changing designations
in response to sustained criticisms both at home and abroad.
It started as third term, then changed, then tenure elongation and now
prolongation of tenure, all without the minutest difference.
Somehow, there might be some justification for Obasanjo’s confidence to mop
up operations in an elusive final onslaught against Atiku Abubakar. After
the snipings and shellings of Obasanjo’s artillery troops on Atiku
Abubakar’s position, the Vice President absorbed all the aggression almost
without responding, thereby giving Obasanjo the false impression of a "no
contest," some sort of easy defeat. Militarily, Obasanjo could have followed
up with his infantry division or even a brigade.
That was where he fell into the ambush laid for him by Atiku Abubakar who
all along restrained his troops from replying fire for fire. Instead, Atiku
Abubakar limited his war plan to infantry and armour personnel. Drawing
Obasanjo nearer and nearer in an unsuspected suicidal bid to occupy a
conquered territory, Vice President Abubakar decided to strike at the most
auspicious moment. It was a "touch and go" situation.
That exactly was what the Vice President did last week and he led the
operations himself. Dismissing any stiff opposition from Obasanjo, Vice
President Atiku Abubakar quipped; "what will I suffer now compared to all I
have suffered in the past three years?" In effect, Atiku Abubakar was saying
that Obasanjo had exhausted all his ammunition and was in no position to
cause any damage or win the battle for a third term, elongation of tenure or
The mood in the country and National Assembly seem to justify Atiku
Abubakar’s assessment. Even, Obasanjo’s ministers, at least some of them,
seem to have accepted the hopelessness of Obasanjo’s misadventure. This
week, Power and Steel Minister, Liyel Imoke, launching the commencement of
an electricity project in Bayelsa State, promised that the project "will be
completed before the end of this (Obasanjo’s) administration in 2007." Imoke
might have gaffed but he did not goof.
Leading his armour division in a surprise dawn assault on Obasanjo’s
position last week, Vice President Atiku Abubakar pounded everything moving
or standing in his way. So massive was his attack on the fraudulent third
term agenda that the operation left the PDP hierarchy, the Presidency and
undoubtedly Obasanjo himself in shock, confusion and complete disarray.
And if anybody was in doubt about Obasanjo’s certainty to lose the war for a
third term, tenure elongation or extension of term, Vice-President Atiku
Abubakar removed such doubts by promising in a victory speech that "when I
start speaking, you will know more."
Only a few months ago, I predicted that the on-coming war between the two
men would provide Nigerians a spectacle of "Roforofo fight." With a
paramilitary background, it could never be conceivable that Vice President
Atiku Abubakar, a retired Customs officer could outmatch President Obasanjo,
a retired Army General in a political/military operation.
What Vice-President Atiku Abubakar has done is a pre-emptive strike
reminiscent of Israel’s identical tactics to demolish the entire Egyptian
Air-Force combat – ready in various bases to bombard Israel in the 1967 war
while denying any war plans. Just as Obasanjo and his collaborators have
been denying any third term plan. In fact, from Obasanjo downwards, they
have been contradicting themselves.
Their blackmail instead was the tag of disloyalty maliciously woven round
Vice-President Atiku Abubakar’s neck. Now, in glorious victory, Atiku
Abubakar has not only discredited the charge of disloyalty but has also
exposed the reality of the third term illusion, thereby putting his
political enemies on the defensive.
The battle is for and against third term for Obasanjo and why the man
believes he can succeed against all of us is baffling. But the confusion has
set in in his camp.
First, those around Obasanjo shocked by the ferocity of Atiku Abubakar’s
fight-back are desperately but ignorantly, clinging to the charge of
disloyalty against the Vice-President. Second, another group has threatened
to go to court seeking a declaration to remove Atiku as Vice-President.
Third, those around Obasanjo, while accusing Atiku of disloyalty,
immediately contradict themselves by denying the third term plan. Fourth,
some PDP members including party chairman Ahmadu Alli have said the third
term plan is not the party’s agenda. Fifth, Obasanjo has denied and at the
same time confirmed his ambition for third term. The list is endless but
these few can be critically examined to see how much Vice-President Atiku
Abubakar is at fault as being alleged.
The charge of disloyalty can never be sustained. On what issue? Atiku
Abubakar has not violated the principle of collective responsibility because
third term agenda was not part of PDP’s manifesto for the 2003 widely rigged
elections. In fact, till now, Obasanjo has not been honest or courageous
enough to discuss it at the federal executive council or at PDP’s National
Executive Council and National Working Committee membership of both of which
Atiku Abubakar belongs.
In fact, last year, when Vice-President Atiku Abubakar tried to force the
denial of third term bid from Obasanjo, he (Obasanjo) came out fighting like
a wounded tiger. In short, it was and is still obvious that the third term
agenda is Obasanjo’s personal plot. Is the Vice-President (or any vice
president for that matter) constitutionally obliged to support Obasanjo’s
personal plot against the constitution or Nigerian people? That is even
after he (Obasanjo) has confided in his deputy, which he has not.
Neither is the third term plot a Federal Government policy. It is also not
the policy of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. The authority for this
submission is chairman Ahmadu Ali. In his confused state, he initially tried
to blackmail party members by selling the third term plot as the party’s
agenda. Sensing the revolt and defiance of state and National Assembly
members, Ahmadu Ali, still as party chairman dramatically withdrew and asked
the assembly men (state and federal) to regard his claim as his personal
Is he that old to remember his dramatic change of tune? Probably after being
rebuked at the Presidency, Ali returned to the National Assembly and tried
to regiment party members to toe the line and vote for Obasanjo’s third term
or lose their nomination for re-election. By now, he must have realised more
than half of the party’s members in the National Assembly are prepared to
damn the consequences and vote against the third term.
A section of the PDP is just laughable in their plan to go to court to seek
declaration to remove Vice President Atiku Abubakar. Under what section of
the constitution? Putting that aside, when did PDP as a national party ever
obey court decision? Was it not the same PDP led by Colonel Ali that took a
decision to expel any member who drags the party to court without first
exhausting all avenues in the party for conflict resolution?
All Vice-President Atiku Abubakar needs to do to get such a suit thrown out
is to present that particular party decision. In other words, both Obasanjo
and the PDP leadership realise that given the present controversy, they
cannot get the party to expel Atiku Abubakar.
Oh his part, Obasanjo has been blowing hot and cold on the third term issue,
leaving his deputy in a "no win" situation. Last time in the United States,
Obasanjo said third term was not in his agenda. At the same time, the same
Obasanjo (not too cleverly) said if the constitution was amended and a new
situation arose, he (Obasanjo) might (not WOULD) consider the issue. And
Obasanjo’s cohorts continue to say the man has no third term ambition?
Where does this deceit and ambiguity leave Nigerians including Vice
President Atiku Abubakar? Where was Atiku Abubakar wrong in raising the
third term alarm?
The most irritating is the dishonesty triggered by PDP National Secretary,
Ojo Maduekwe and lately kicked up by Obasanjo that it is the duty of
National Assembly to pass laws and amend the constitution. What is peculiar
or educative in their submission? Is it not the same in all world
democracies? What Nigerians worry about and last week picked up by Vice
President Atiku Abubakar is the bait, intimidation and blackmail of assembly
members with N100,000,000 choice land in Abuja etc. to suit the third term
And if my friend, Ojo Maduekwe cares, he only needs to look back and
remember the fate of his kinsmen, Okwesilieze Nwodo and Vincent Ogbulafor.
If the third term mistakenly goes through, Ojo Maduekwe will go the way of
his predecessors. Just mark it down.
Today, Vice President Atiku Abubakar is in a stronger position than before.
Accordingly, he must not resign since he has not violated any oath of office
he took. Loyalty is to the nation and not to an individual. If the President
is breaching the constitution especially against the people over whom he
rules, the Vice President is constitutionally bound to voice out the
feelings of the people. In this crisis, Atiku Abubakar has not violated the
constitution. To resign therefore, at least for now, is to make things easy
for Obasanjo and his henchmen.
It is encouraging as mentioned earlier that even ministers under Obasanjo
are gradually resigning themselves to the futility of Obasanjo’s third term
ambition after which, if he (Obasanjo) succeeds, he will drop all of them.
The two options open to Obasanjo and his tottering PDP are either to (a)
expel Vice President Atiku Abubakar or (b) to impeach him, both of which
will be politically suicidal for the party.
If Atiku Abubakar is expelled, (the procedure is cumbersome) all his
supporters in the party will quit in sympathy and follow him to Action
Congress of Democrats (ACD). Where that leaves the PDP is anybody’s guess
although Obasanjo, seeing his third term ambition unfulfilled would
naturally not care whatever happens to PDP.
And in their own interest, Ahmadu Ali and PDP had better not contemplate
impeaching Vice-President Atiku Abubakar especially in the present
circumstances where majority of Nigerians are against Obasanjo’s third term
ambition. First, the party cannot command the necessary two thirds majority
in the National Assembly to impeach Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Opposition to Obasanjo’s third term bid is not only so massive but also cuts
across party, religious and ethnic lines.
Furthermore, any such move by the PDP, once defeated is bound to be followed
by counter move of anti-third term forces in the National Assembly to
What is more, whether Vice President Atiku Abubakar is expelled or resigns
voluntarily, he remains the Vice President under the constitution which
provides for elected public officials to retain their offices provided their
membership of a new party is as a result of a division in his old party.
Still on the row between President Obasanjo and Vice-President Atiku
Abubakar, Inspector-General of Police, Sunday Ehindero must reflect on his
performance. Last time, he (Ehindero) did not allow ACD members to hold
their rally at Jigawa. Last week, the same Ehindero disallowed a meeting of
opponents of anti-third term bid of Obasanjo.
Yet, two days later in Lagos, PDP stalwarts were unrestrained in storming
the residence of Vice President Atiku Abubakar in Lagos. Ehindero’s excuse
for not allowing the rally and meeting of Obasanjo’s opponents at Jigawa and
Abuja respectively was that they did not obtain police permit.
Did PDP stalwarts who stormed Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s residence in
Lagos obtain police permit? No. In fact, when they were asked on that issue
by television reporters, the PDP members arrogantly responded that they did
not need any police permit. Yet, a former Head of State, General Muhammadu
Buhari was sent packing because he did not obtain police permit.
Police authorities have to be very careful not to open themselves to
legitimate charges of ethnic bias.
Vice President Atiku Abubakar is a Fulani and an opponent of Obasanjo’s
third term bid, and police allowed Obasanjo’s Yoruba supporters to storm
Atiku Abubakar’s residence. Ehindero and Obasanjo are both Yorubas. On the
other hand, General Buhari, a Fulani and opponent of Obasanjo’s third term
bid was not allowed by the police to a peaceful meeting on the ground of not
obtaining police permit.
Could Ehindero have allowed party critics to storm Obasanjo’s farm at Ota or
his private home at Owu, Ogun State? These are the sensitive issues the
Police Inspector-General must be careful about not to give the public the
impression of ethnic bias in the discharge of his duties.