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Since he emerged from a heavily monetized PDP primary election, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar had been trying to fend off a noxious image of a super corrupt and shady politician that symbolizes Nigeria’s rotten past. His emergence itself was a huge rebuke to PDP’s recent mien as a repentant group that is truly sorry for its sordid past, for which it recently offered a tenuous apology, which most Nigerians saw as insincere and opportunistic.
Before the primary itself, PDP had been waxing noisome of its resolve to break from its putrefying past and offer a rehabilitative balm to the horrific damage it inflicted on the country in its 16 years that were marked by egregious and Byzantine corruption, bizarre impunity, avarice and incompetence.
This repentant mien, which though looked insincere, was aimed at warming itself back to the hearts of Nigerians who were so riled by the sins of the party, especially as it pertains to a wholesome plundering of the wealth of the country, that they threw it out with one heavy thud n March 2015 despite the huge efforts and resources the party committed into securing an additional term.
In electing to put forward Atiku as its presidential candidate, PDP must have decided to give up the daunting struggle to pretend to be what it is not. The party still weighed down by its notorious past, must have shed all pretences that it had reformed itself and was ready to give what it woefully failed to give in its long 16 years in power. Added to the huge monetary bait Atiku unleashed in the race to secure the party’s presidential ticket, PDP must have forcefully decided to spurn all pretences to be a reformed and penitent party that wants to do right all that it did wrong for a hefty 16 years.
In putting forth Atiku as its standard bearer, PDP must have been ruled by the urge to adopt a practical stance on its fate and end all pretences to be anything different from the money-loving cartel of power hustlers who desire power for the monetary leverage it gives its members.
Yes, Atiku and PDP’s other presidential aspirants made it a dollar bazaar where the huge loot that wrecked and laid bare the country for the 16 woeful years of PDP’s reign was brought into full use. Trust PDP members, money will always have its way and it was just natural that Atiku, with all his elephantine baggage and hunches, carried the day; having outspent other equally-questionable alternatives at the PDP primary.
Having emerged from the PDP primary, the biggest challenge for Atiku is to waltz through his many smelly records and wrench the presidency from an austere and frugal President Buhari who stands as a direct opposite to what Atiku is. Knowing his heavy baggage, his supporters and those of PDP tried to wrap his emergence as PDP candidate in one noisome euphoria that will substitute the ensuing campaigns and allow Atiku to walk away with his many scruples.
Atikulate and such other warped coinages became their sing-song meant to evade the critical and important questions about Atiku and most importantly, his worm-ridden conduct in public service as Vice President for eight years. They told us how the Atiku we know has become one instant talisman to solve the many problems he ironically contributed so much in creating, how he is coming with a magical wand to fling away the many problems of statehood he superintended as Vice President for eight whole years.
He was garbed in the dubious cloth of an instant performer, a job creator of unmatched expertise with ludicrous claims of employing as many as 300,000 Nigerians without even a single industry! Oh yes, Atiku suddenly became Nigeria’s biggest employer, credited to have employed more Nigerians than all the major industrialists in Nigeria combined!
He has become a born-again Muslim, a born-again Fulani, a born-again old man, a born-again ruler; in contrast to all his promoters have ranted and invested their energies to discredit before his quixotic emergence as PDP presidential candidate. What is even curious is that most of Atiku’s employees remain anonymous and the work they do remain a huge mystery to a country that knows very well the sham that clothes Atiku as well as his many indiscretions.
But even in these borrowed clothes, Atiku and his supporters know there is no way he will escape the inquest about his personality, the probe of the many corruption and sleaze cases dogging him at every corner, the question of how Atiku, whose known designation before he went into politics, was a retired senior customs officer, happened on his fabled wealth.
They all know that Atiku has so many questions to answer Nigerians who have come to associate him with every giant corruption case since 1999; be it the Halliburton scam, the Malabu con, the Siemens fraud, the power sector scam, the privatization scandal, among so many high profile cases of sleaze that bear his indelible imprimatur. Atiku’s corruption indictment goes even beyond Nigeria as he was indicted in a United States money laundering case that is weaved around his purchase of the franchise for his American University of Nigeria Yola.
For this case, an American congressman was jailed but it was enough to keep Atiku a fugitive from the United States since he left power in 2007! With these and many other gargantuan scruples, those that put forward Atiku as an alternative to President Buhari knew they had an unwinnable war in their hands trying to sell a moth-ridden candidate to Nigerians who are still reeling from the debilitating aftermath of the corrupt acts of Atiku. They know Atiku’s liabilities are far too weighty to be ignored by Nigerians in choosing who leads them from 2019 but they were simply overwhelmed with the scent of his dollars to believe they will bluff their way through with Nigerians.
It was this pathetic mindset that made a human rights lawyer who had a very close affinity to PDP, Olisa Agbakoba, to be recently quoted as saying that he would not mind if Atiku is a thief but that he would vote for him! It is as bad as that.
This lawyer knows that to sell the jaded ware that is Atiku, he has to first murder his own conscience and pretence to moral function. He knows he needed such self-indictment as he made on himself by that damning statement, to sell the bad market that is Atiku, who, for understandable reasons, we know he feels compelled to sell. You cannot sell Atiku without deprecating yourself so badly as Agbakoba did by that self-indicting statement.
That is as corrosive as Atiku is. So this was the type of cocoon those that are marketing Atiku have weaved for themselves but Nigerians would not be fooled by their antics. Atiku must conveniently come clean of his dirty past to be entrusted with our present. Pretending to careless of the moral gird of his present ambition is a cheeky tactic he and his supporters will not be allowed to exploit. If Jacob Zuma could be hounded off office in neighbouring South Africa for a corruption case that could pass a case of pickpocket when compared to Atiku’s egregious corruption scandal, I see those trying to blunt our senses and morality by selling Atiku as indulging in an exercise in futility.
Good enough, Atiku’s putrid history is well documented in the book, My Watch, written by no less a person than his principal and newfound marketer; an equally compromised, Olusegun Obasanjo who served as President when Atiku was Vice President. Curiously, Atiku side-stepped the weighty indictments contained in the book to recently go and beg Obasanjo so as to secure his endorsement (as worthless as it is) for his present presidential ambition. But even when Obasanjo forgave him and hoisted him as his candidate for the coming 2019 presidential election, the huge indictments contained in his book still remain un-retracted and stands as an indelible patch of shame that will hunt Atiku for the rest of his sordid life.
So, for his queer presidential dream, Atiku Abubakar must offer a clear, concise and impregnable defence of the many allegations stalking him like a malignant shadow. He must explain where he suddenly happened upon his much-vaunted wealth, which has formed the corpus of his campaign. He must explain to Nigerians where and when he suddenly met Midas who invested him with the magic wealth he is indecently flaunting around.
Till he does this, Atiku remains another benevolent armed robber; a moral cripple, an ethical tragedy and a light-fingered crook who should not be allowed anywhere near our treasury again. Recently, his party ‘warned’ the opposition to stop calling him a thief. Yet, the same party pretends not to care that more damning names for Atiku still exist in Obasanjo’s My Watch! In embarking in such flight of folly, PDP thinks that Nigerians are dolts whose minds and senses could be remote-controlled by its filthy mandarins and its ruined sense of propriety. They haven’t seen anything yet as Atiku, and indeed PDP, cannot run away from their shadows as the election approaches.
So let PDP and Atiku provide clear and convincing evidence that the moral destitute they are promoting to take over Nigeria’s leadership is not who we know him to be. Until they do that, they should be content to live with the liabilities of the rotten choice they have put forth for the 2019 election.
Peter Claver Oparah
E-mail: [email protected]