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Atiku: What manner of unifier?


Atiku Abubakar’s campaign motif is vacant of imagination. His ‘One Nigeria campaign’ theme is also destitute of originality and sincerity. Personally, I feel insulted and trolled. And I feel plagiarised. I would explain why.

In 2020, under the discordance of the secessionist agitation in the south-east, I began the ‘’One Nigeria’’ campaign, and adopted the sobriquet, ‘’Mr OneNigeria’’. This was born out of the necessity of the times. I wrote essays and did some publicity calling for peace, dialogue, and unity.

I believe Nigeria faced its greatest threat yet at the time when the country was becoming ungovernable. I felt it was a bounden duty as a citizen and as someone whose faith and trust in Nigeria remain untrammelled, that I should call on my brothers and sisters in the south-east to cease the violence and abandon the doomed secessionist agitation.

I was insulted, blackmailed, and threatened by supporters of the now proscribed secessionist group. I was declared an objectionable citizen of Igbo land by those who assumed authority over the land through the instrument of fear and intimidation. When the threats persisted, I had to petition the security agencies.

It is important to state that at the time, any show of support for a united Nigeria or any call for the cessation of violence in the south-east was met with brutal attacks. Houses and businesses of known adversaries of the enforcers of anarchy were sacked, looted, and razed. And some were killed.

I was told by an uncle to avoid returning to the south-east because these death dealers were on the look out for me. Some of the bloodiest attacks happened in my local government area in Anambra.

This is situating the ‘’One Nigeria’’ campaign in its natural context.

What is the ‘’One Nigeria’’ campaign shibboleth of Atiku, PDP presidential candidate, about? It is an irony, really. Is it about Nigeria or about one man’s native ambition? Can a ticket forged on inequity unify the disequilibrium it created?

Atiku upturned the delicate power balancing between the north and the south, setting off a tangle of prejudiced permutations.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) blundered when it discarded a sacerdotal principle – the zoning precept. Since 1999 zoning has governed the PDP’s power distribution. It was by dint of this that Umaru Musa Yar’Adua became the party’s standard bearer in 2007 and president after Olusegun Obasanjo.

Goodluck Jonathan’s ascendancy was an accident of time and the making of a benevolent fate. The distortion of the power character and geography was to be corrected by the PDP in 2015 as Jonathan had reportedly agreed to do only a single term. Power was expected to return to the north in 2015, but Jonathan chose to seek re-election. This fractured the PDP and spun a web of palace conspiracies and subterranean plots, leading to his deracination.

Naturally, after eight years of power residency in one section of the country, it is expected to orbit to another. It is hard to explain and farcical to rationalise PDP’s gaucherie. How will the party convince Nigerians to subsist with the current geography of power after eight years of the present leadership?

So, is Atiku making an attempt at ‘’future unification’’ since his presidential bid puts a dagger to the tenuous thread of north-south power equilibrium? Is he prophesying into the future on the possible consequences of his quest?

The PDP is torn by internecine contretemps principally over Atiku’s presidential pursuit. The party has failed to heal the wounds of the wounded and to even provide an umbrella for the vanquished. The unification must start hither.

What manner of unifier?

On Monday, Atiku open the window into an incautious mind at an interactive session of the Arewa Joint Committee in Kaduna. He made, what is probably the most divisive comment yet this season, stroking the ethnic chord.

He said: “I know the whole of this country. I have built bridges across this country. I think what the average northerner needs is somebody who is from the north, and who also understands the other parts of Nigeria and who has been able to build bridges across the rest of the country. This is what the northerner needs. He (northerner) doesn’t need a Yoruba candidate, or an Igbo candidate. This is what the northerner needs.’’

What manner of unifier?

The ‘’unifier’’ needs to beat a retreat from this path, and perhaps, unify himself with the truth that ethnic baiting is not a campaign strategy. If he divides the country during the campaigns, he runs the risk of presiding over a much more sundered people if he wins. After all, he is seeking the office of the president of Nigeria, and not of a section of the country.

Nwabufo aka Mr OneNigeria is a writer and journalist.

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