On Atiku’s Exit and Obanikoro’s Return to APC: Much Ado About Jorojarajoro

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A former vice president and potential aspirant for the 2019 presidential elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar recently announced his withdrawal from the All Progressives Congress (APC) just at about the same time former minister, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro rejoined the ruling party.

Both Atiku and Obanikoro have made carefully worded statements about the reasons behind their leaving and rejoining the PDP and APC respectively, igniting the sparks of intensely emotional conversations about loyalty and political chances.

For Atiku, he was clear about being sidelined in the APC but fuzzy when he lamented that the present government formed by the party had not given adequate chances to the youths to participate in the political process. He was perhaps right when he said the present government had failed to live up to expectations but even in reaching that conclusion, he largely relied on a letter written by Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai.

Atiku would probably have been more convincing if he listed the expectations the government should have met and what solutions he proposed to the government as an APC member that were refused. For the keenly observant, it is not hard to tell that Atiku remained silent during policy debates on critical issues like dealing with recurring fuel scarcity, the convoluted power sector or the economic recession that the country recently emerged from but would comment on trending political arguments and superficial happenings like football matches and musical awards.

While the former vice president has done a bit better than many others in contributing to the conversations around restructuring the country, it is questionable if he indeed believes in his own ability to execute the idea, having not clearly articulated a plan to do so. His contributions therefore may be seen for what they are – an opportunity to create an awareness about a possible run for the presidency in 2019 which in any case is the clearly unstated reason why Atiku has left the APC.

Besides the above, not much needs to be said about the hypocrisy of a septuagenarian dumping his party for not having youths as ministers when it is clear such person similarly nurses a presidential ambition. He has perhaps expressed a more endearing thought than those who think youths may only be fit for media assistant roles but to be taken in by such words is to fall for the same bait as was previously used. The present government rode in on the shoulders of many youth mobilisers who spearheaded online and offline engagements but could not be trusted with positions of power when time came to make such decisions.

Notwithstanding the reservations expressed about Atiku’s bid, only the naive can write off his chances, knowing how fluid the political arena which is lacking in supply of formidable and dependable presidential aspirants is. The focus therefore needs to shift away from the morality of Atiku’s party junketing to a discourse on what he may possibly do differently from Buhari. We are not a country given to strong political ideologies but we can in the interim use Buhari’s three cardinal points of focus – security, economy and corruption – as starting points for the discussion.

We have for instance seen significant efforts to reform doing business in Nigeria and boost local production of such food items as rice and millet. These efforts have yielded generally verifiable results but nothing has been heard from Atiku about them regardless of his much touted business acumen. This may be the time to ask him to redirect his attention from talking Arsenal, Super Eagles, dabbing and the cold in Russia among other populist elements of his ‘Atiku Challenge’ towards commenting on the desirability of the reforms and what he would do differently.

As for Obanikoro, it is intriguing that he has returned to the APC at a time he is being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which has been seen to be largely passive in the pursuit of corruption suspects affiliated with the APC. His claims about being on a mission to serve the people through the APC is nothing further from the truth.

Obanikoro started out with the Alliance for Democracy (AD), a part of which metamorphosed into today’s APC in alliance with some other parties. He has been in and out of the party in pursuit of his convenience and anyone who thinks his return to APC this time around has anything to do with altruism surely needs to quit the self-deceit. He is the prodigal child of an iniquitous father, their romance will always be with kicks and treats in shared understanding of their underlying vicious nature.

The politicians have regularly shown us they occupy a privileged floor on the building and even though they are forced by circumstances to occupy less comfortable rooms at different times, they retain access to comforts the people can only dream of. The journey to the general elections has begun and we all have a duty to ask Atiku, Buhari and other players the important questions in the hope that we might perhaps get a better deal. Worrying about their political affiliations and movements may just be the least productive thing to do at the moment. We should rather be more concerned about growing our political space to the point where it is ruled by a contest of ideas.

For the love of the Law, Politics and Poetry, and beautiful sentences wherever I find them.

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