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Travails of Democracy in Nigeria (Part Three): Implications of Ciroma’s Consensus Gambit and Cracks in the Foundations of AREWA House

By: Franklin Otorofani, Esq
Published November 30th, 2010

Ø      There is no question that Ciroma has stirred the hornet’s nest and created bad blood in the north in the way and manner he handled his assignment on behalf of the candidates. The several allegations of the committee working to a predetermined answer that dogged the committee’s work while it lasted couldn’t but engender ill feelings in the camps of the losers and their candidates’ supporters in the north. And that must have informed why Atiku was muted in victory because he didn’t want to inflame pent-up passions in the camps of his northern opponents. From whatever angle one may look at it Ciroma has simply delivered the PDP ticket to Jonathan on a platter of gold! What a twist! This is classic anti-climax.—Franklin Otorofani

 

Ø      A man who gleefully told the BBC in an interview in 2003 on the eve of the PDP primaries when it suited his political calculation that he had three options, namely; going for his own ticket for the top post, or going with Alex Ekueme ticket as his running mate, or thirdly, going with OBJ ticket as running mate when OBJ had not completed eight years in office has now shamelessly turned around to claim that the presidency was zoned to his north for eight years therefore the north must complete its eight year term before a southerner is allowed to contest the presidency in the PDP. Such shameless volte face, gross inconsistency and crass opportunism often exhibited by Abubakar Atiku has thrown him up as a highly unprincipled character that cannot and must not be entrusted with the governance of the nation.—Franklin Otorofani


The former Governor of Kano State, late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi it was, who was reported to have advised the Ibos in a newspaper interview long before his death not to demand for an Igbo president but for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. Rimi was not against the latter but was vehemently opposed to the former and for good reasons too. In his view, it was wrong, parochial and sectional for the Ibos to demand for an Igbo president because that could be offensive to other ethnic nationalities in the union since the president is president of all not of any particular ethnic group or section of the country. Put differently, it was not politically correct.

Since that counsel was given a few years back I have yet to come across anyone demanding for an Igbo president but a president of Igbo extraction, which is more politically correct and acceptable to all Nigerians. 

Now, Rimi was a northerner and a prominent one at that with a large following in the north. But he was a detribalized Nigerian who did not believe in zoning the nation’s presidency for the above stated reasons. And that was reason why he offered himself against OBJ in 2003 in protest. If Rimi was alive today he might have thrown his hat into the ring in the presidential race, but he would, in all probability, not have danced to the drumbeats of Mallam Ciroma, Atiku, IBB, Gausau and Saraki’s ethnic orchestra in the north. 

However, when he gratuitously offered his advice to the Ibos, little did he know that his own north would need his advice in future in 2010 more than the Ibos in 2007. That is the irony of history. Rimi must be turning in his grave at what Ciroma, Atiku, IBB, Gasau and Saraki have made of the north in 2010 barely one year after his demise. But the harm has been done and seems irreversible unless something happens in the north and fast too, to correct the situation.   

The sick joke by the equally sick Mallam Adamu Ciroma and his northern ethnic bigots has passed onto the nation’s history books as blight on the history of this great but serially abused nation. From Ciroma’s decrepit political workshop has emerged a defective product marked “damaged” that has become a hard sell even to those who had commissioned the aging ethnic gladiator to forge it in his equally aging political workshop.

It’s been severally reported that the screws are already coming off the product even before it left the workshop for the political shops barely 48 hours after it was unveiled to the public as at the time of writing this piece. And more defects are bound to be revealed as the product is subjected to even greater scrutiny nationally. It’s fast shaping up to be the beginning of the end for Atiku.

When you hear northerners like the Katsina State Governor Ibrahim Shema, for instance, saying that “Atiku was just one of the presidential aspirants and that at the appropriate time, the North would speak on their choice,” as reported by ThisDay in its November 26th edition, it becomes glaring even to the untrained ear that Ciroma has produced a defective political product for the north, which northerners themselves aren’t exactly buying just yet. And when you hear former President Olusegun Obasanjo laughing chokingly at the choice of Atiku to scorn as reported severally in the papers, you don’t need to be told that the Atiku aircraft will never get off the ground and airborne, at least not in the PDP or anywhere else for that matter. Again when you hear former Secretary of the NPN Senator Uba Ahmed dismissing the choice of Atiku with a wave of the hand, and the Jerry Gana-led Northern Political Summit group, who are prominent northern members of the PDP gearing up to do battle against Ciroma’s choice for the north, you don’t need to be told either that Atiku is indeed in trouble in the north and will not make it far in the PDP primaries if at all.

But the question that members of the intellectually lazy Nigerian press have woefully, scandalously and inexplicably failed to ask is: what criteria did the NPLF use to arrive at Atiku? Pointedly asked, did Ciroma and his zoning champions practice in the north what they have been breaching to the nation? Did they zone the presidency to the north/west where Atiku hails from? Is Atiku a product of zoning in the north as they have been preaching to us for eons? If so, why was the vote so close with Atiku beating IBB by just one single vote? What kind of zoning would produce such a close result? IBB could have easily emerged and he’s not from the north/east as Atiku. If yes, where does that leave Buhari who is from the north/west if the presidency has been zoned to the north/east by the north?  Has he been zoned out? If not, why not?

It is not enough for Ciroma to howl about zoning at the national level. He must practice what he preached at the regional level. Was that the case with Atiku? The Nigerian media owes itself and the nation a duty to seek out answers to the above posers, because it is a matter of principle except it has been co-opted into the still-born Atiku presidential project. You cannot shout about zoning at the national level and go do something else at the regional level. That is called hypocrisy of the highest order and somebody owes the nation an answer, and quickly too.

Is Atiku a product of zoning or mere product of selection based on the preferences of a majority of the committee members? These are questions that cannot be swept under the rug. Nigerians need answers because those who live in glass houses should not be seen to be throwing stones at others.

For Atiku, however, it’s looking like it’s going to be 2007 all over again, because the man has not learnt his lessons, and he’s misreading the political barometer that is indicating a clean break with the past of which he is part and parcel. If Nigerians are running away from their past, it is clear that they’re running away from the likes of Atiku who have been messing up their lives for a long while. That is the message they have been sending to the old political horses, including Ciroma, Atiku, Buhari and IBB. Only Gusau and Saraki might be excepted in the foursome that submitted themselves to the consensus arrangement, because they have no heavy political baggage hanging over their necks like albatrosses. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of the duo of Atiku and IBB who are particularly disliked by Nigerians of all ages. With Atiku Ciroma has thumbed his nose at his own people in particular and Nigerians in general even if Atiku was not his personal choice. It makes no difference. The process he set in motion has produced a defective product for his own people and the nation at large.   

Nevertheless, Ciroma has succeeded in strutting his stuff on the national stage and attracted a measure of political relevance to himself while it lasted. Whether for good or ill, he has managed to put his almost forgotten name in the history books. Arrogating to himself the power and wisdom of deciding for the north, Ciroma presented to the nation a candidate of, for and by the north for the 2011 presidential elections under the PDP party platform. And with that, Ciroma has decreed that the north should forget about Muhammadu Buhari and Nuhu Ribadu. With one well aimed punch, he has knocked off IBB, Gasau and Saraki and has even gotten his victims to clean up after his mess by reducing them to Atiku’s errand boys literarily, who would be carrying his oversized briefcases in the coming months.

It wasn’t meant to come out this way but this is how it has turned out anyway to the chagrin of the old horse himself, who must be quietly licking his wounds and wondering how and where he lost control of the clandestine coronation process he had unleashed on his beloved north. Ciroma may have gratuitously made the choice for the north, but he would very much have preferred IBB to wear the Northern Crown to Atiku who got it, because even Ciroma is capable of shooting himself in his own foot!

Someone in the Atiku camp or from somewhere else must have pulled a fast one on him. It would appear from the heated arguments that reportedly pitted Ciroma with other members of the committee particularly Audu Ogbe over the method of voting by the members, Ciroma had plotted to use the committee to ram through IBB’s candidacy down the throat of the north. Unfortunately for him, other members quickly wizened up to his plot and nipped it in the bud before it had a chance to flower. In that sense, therefore, Ciroma’s coup flopped, big time. My people have a saying that the errand you send the hand (in a fight) is not necessarily the one it may execute. And so it was with Ciroma. His candidate lost and crashed out of the race, thanks to Ciroma. 

However, the loss of Ciroma’s candidate does not translate to a gain for the nation although it happily helped to knock off the evil genius from the stage. The whole exercise itself represents blight on the nation’s democracy. It’s blight not because 17 foolish men purported to act for and on behalf of over 75 million northerners who never asked them to act on their behalf in the first place, but because of its grave potentials to divide this country into ethnic enclaves thus severely undermining our national efforts to forge a nation out of several nationalities. The NPLF has set the nation back by several decades and it’s not exactly clear how she is going to get out of it.

And it’s blight not because political contractors have denied the good people of the north a chance to choose their leader by themselves, but because democracy itself has got a bloody nose and a black eye in the hands of Ciroma and his group of ethnic jingoists in the north. And at the end of it all an ethnic, rather than a national champion has emerged as candidate of the north. Unfortunately for him though, he is not the “Northern Star” in whose place there is no other in the northern political firmament (apology to William Shakespeare). Rather, he’s a northern star in whose place no one who desires to be the Nigerian president would wish to occupy and whose very emergence has drawn widespread criticisms and angst from all over the nation for the divisive, whimsical and totally undemocratic manner of his emergence. These are the fallouts of the Ciroma gambit.

Nigeria’s democracy has been reduced to a game of selection by a handful of 17 old men in the name of democracy. And if this does not represent terrible setback for democracy in Nigeria I don’t know what does. If this does not represent a serious threat to national unity and cohesion I don’t know does.  

In the Name of the North

BUT WHAT should be the reactions of other ethnic groups to the new challenge posed by the north. Before we proceed to answer that question, however, it must be made absolutely clear that Ciroma and his gang DO NOT represent the north but themselves in the old boys club of the so-called Northern Political Leaders Forum (NPLF). Even so it is fair to conclude that the NPLF has appropriated the name of the north and no serious attempt was made to dissociate the north from Ciroma’s political games in the name of the north. There were a few voices of protests here and there but nothing robust and sustained ever came out of the north throughout the duration of the exercise.

Evil thrives when good people keep quiet and fold their arms waiting for the bad air to just go away on its own. Evil does not go away on its own. It’s fought and chased away by good people. Wasn’t that how IBB was chased out of power at the height of his megalomania in 1993? Did the people just sit idly by waiting for him to go away on his own? No, they chased him out. As Allied Powers did to Hitler and Musolini in WWII, evil must be confronted frontally and totally until it is defeated and totally vanquished. But that was not the case in the north that simply waited on evil to go away on its own.

Many in the north have used the word “shocking” to describe the outcome of the NPLF selection process and are now seeking to dissociate the north from the whole exercise. But the question is: where were they when Ciroma and his gang were roaming the north pumping hands and doing photo-ups with selected emirs? Right from the beginning after his saber rattling, threats and intimidation failed to move President Goodluck Jonathan one inch to opt out of the 2011 presidential elections in the name of PDP zoning, this travesty was conceived and executed by Adamu Ciroma who immediately proceeded to recruit like minded ethnic bigots, who, like white supremacists, believe in the political supremacy of the north, on behalf of Atiku, IBB, Gusau, and Saraki in name of the north.

To achieve his personal desires he got all four contenders to give up their rights to the northern candidacy to the winner and he made sure they were on record as such, which could become handy to blackmail and beat into line potential backsliders amongst the participating contenders in the Ciroma Presidential Lotto. Thereafter, he unleashed a propaganda blitzkrieg in the north to sell the idea of northern gang up to wary and uncommitted northerners, which was followed up with a junket throughout major cities in the north with stops at the courts of selected traditional rulers. 

Putting its fate in the aged hands of Ciroma, the north simply went to sleep waiting for the terrible nuisance to run its course or go away on its own even as other parts of the nation were expressing their discomfiture for the novel idea of explicit northern gang up against a southerner.  And there are even many in the north particularly in traditional institutions that were, in fact, complicit in the Ciroma gambit and egged him on.

Had he and his committee encountered sufficient dissuasion, resistance and/or condemnation in parts of the north from those that matter, he would have dropped the idea long time ago and settled for other alternatives to handle the Jonathan challenge. That being the case, therefore, the entire north must accept collective responsibility for the outcome of the Ciroma coup. Coming out now as many in the north are doing to condemn Ciroma and his gang after the harm has been done is medicine after death.

And let me make it abundantly clear that this represents a huge public relations disaster for both Atiku and the north, and the north will come out of this seriously wounded and compromised politically. It has lost is political authority as a voice of reason and for democracy in its pursuit of purely sectional agenda that is threatening the unity and stability of the nation and undermining our fragile democracy.

And worse still for both Atiku and Ciroma, the biggest beneficiary of the outcome of their gambit is not Atiku but Jonathan himself, the very man whose political fortunes they’re desperately seeking to undermine! What they fail to understand is that each time Atiku opens his mouth to preach his gospel of ethnicity and sectionalism he loses a million votes to Jonathan. And each time Ciroma talks about the north ganging up to humiliate Jonathan at the polls he draws sympathies for Jonathan and adds a million votes to his box both in the PDP primaries and the general elections, because no Nigerian south of the Niger believes the north is entitled to regain power after the death of president Musa Yar’Adua and the north’s hold on power for 38 out the nation’s 50 years in existence. Nobody, but individual opportunists seeking after their individual political fortunes.

To justify his shameless gospel of sectionalism, Atiku is running around talking about the PDP zoning formula being designed to ensure that minority ethnic groups in the nation are given a chance to produce the nation’s leaders through zoning. And one has got to ask, since when did Atiku become the champion of minorities in the country? Is the man he is ganging up to fight from Ile-Ife, Zungeru, or Nsukka? The last time I checked President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is not from Sokoto, Nnewi or Abeokuta. He’s from Bayelsa the heartland of the minorities in the south/south!

And why is he suddenly more concerned about the political interests of the minorities than the minorities themselves? Can someone please help tell Atiku to save his crocodile tears for the minorities or better still save them for his own political funeral in the hands of a man from the minorities down the road?  Someone should tell him he is not fighting OBJ, his former boss this time around, but a man from the minorities who currently enjoys huge public goodwill and maintains consistency and grace in character, and personal carriage and is not running away from the FBI in the United States, and whose name does not evoke corruption, desperation and political prostitution at the highest levels of governance. He’s not fighting an ethnic bigot but a patriot and statesman whose constituency is not south/south but the entire nation. He’s fighting a new leader of the new generation who is untainted with the vile ways of the past with a revolutionary agenda for the nation.

Simply put: He’s fighting God who removed the crown from the head of a northerner from the majority group and put it in the head of a man from the once forgotten minority group. God has done his zoning for the nation. Atiku can shout zoning all he wants as his campaign slogan but it will not change God’s own zoning for the nation at this very point in time.

As the Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa aptly puts it in an interview with the Sun Times, 112510 edition, “God, on His own, did His own zoning at the national level and in Kaduna. I want people to please respect the zoning of God.” (bold, mine). It’s clear to me, therefore, that Atiku and Ciroma are fighting a war that has already been won and lost. And that’s in line with Atiku’s own history of fighting and losing presidential tickets throughout his political career thus far and this might be the final nail on his political coffin.

More about Atiku in the concluding parts of this piece and I must now return to the larger question as to what the Ciroma gambit holds for the nation.

If the north has a candidate it follows that the south must have a candidate. And if the south has a candidate it follows that the east must have a candidate. And if the east has a candidate it follows that the west must have a candidate. That represents the four cardinal points on Nigeria’s political compass which translates respectively into north, south, east and west. And that was precisely the position in the country right up to 1967 before the dissolution of the regions and their replacements with a 12-state structure. We’re indeed back to square one; my apology to Professor Attahiru Jega, the INEC chair. All the labors directed at nation building in the past 50 years have been put to waste by Ciroma and his gang in the north.

Now, we know that the north and the south now have their candidates, respectively in ex-VP, Abubakar Atiku and President Goodluck Jonathan. But where are the candidates of the east and west respectively in the ruling party, PDP? For now, they’re missing in action. Does that mean those regions are not members of or represented in the PDP? Or shall we take it then that both the east and the west have no candidates? If yes, as it appears to be the case, what does that tell us about the future the country in prognostic terms? What does the introduction of the idea of “northern candidate” tell us about the direction Nigeria is headed as a nation from the standpoint of where she is coming from? If the north as a whole has put forward a “northern candidate” to face a “southern candidate” at the PDP primaries, nothing stops the same north from putting forward another “northern candidate” taken from another political party, this time from confronting a “southern candidate” of the PDP in the election proper should its candidate fail to make it in the PDP primaries. What does that tell us about our direction as a nation? It tells us that regionalism has now been given a new label called zoning and it’s back in full force. The full import of this is that the nation has in a stroke of history regressed into regionalism that it had outgrown and left behind as historical relic, no thanks to Atiku, IBB, Gusau, Saraki, Ogbe et al and, of course, the grand daddy of them all, Adamu Ciroma.

Those who thought that north/south dichotomy died with the Amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates in 1914 did not reckon with the revisionists in the north and have been handed a rude awakening. One could, therefore, understand the alarm being raised by the likes of ex-governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu about the danger posed by the north’s reintroduction of regionalism into the nation’s body politic.

The travails of democracy in Nigeria just took a turn for the worse. The fight for elective office is now to be conducted on the basis of regional issues rather than on national issues. It is instructive in this regard that the very first salvo fired by Atiku at Jonathan was entirely based on sectional issues rather than on substantive national issues. National issues have been pushed to the back seat.

But there is a reason why Atiku is using regionalism as his campaign strategy. He has figured out that by raking up sectional sentiments rather than substantive issues he hopes thereby to get the north behind his presidential ambition. That explains why Atiku would preface every statement he makes with attacks on President Jonathan about zoning and seeking to portray him as one who is out to deny the “north’ not him Atiku, the chance to get to the nation’s presidency after President Yar’Adua’s death.

Ciroma and his co-travelers in revisionism have just executed a civilian coup against the Nigerian nation and they stand accused of treasonable felony for plotting against the fatherland egged on by the master coup plotter himself, IBB, who has, however, only succeeded in shooting himself in the foot by disqualifying himself from the race. It’s a failed coup. Not that he would have gone the distance anyway. That he was effortlessly floored by a civilian is an indication of what fate awaited him at the PDP primaries. Despite the efforts he put into it and his military coup making skills he had deployed, he still came out short exactly as predicted by this writer in a previous article. But IBB’s failure is not necessarily a victory for Atiku the northern candidate either. If anything all the candidates that submitted themselves to the Ciroma gang and indeed the entire north are failures already. And I’ll go so far as to predict for the third time that the north will lose hands down due to its revisionist brand of politics it has allowed some degenerates to practice in its name.

Atiku has come out of the Ciroma misadventure thoroughly defined as a sectionalist rather than a nationalist and statesman that he should become to become the president of Nigeria and that is a huge minus for him. There is no way a man who defined himself a candidate of the north will be made president of Nigeria. That will not happen because Nigerians are watching and they’re no fools. Thus IBB and the other failed candidates have not only shot themselves in the foot but have actually shot the north in the foot. By portraying the north as being greedy with power, they have alienated all those who might otherwise vote for a candidate from the north as distinct and separate from an out and out “northern candidate.”    

Odds against Atiku

 

As indicated earlier, Atiku choice is a terrible blow to the north. And I want to put it out upfront that Atiku is not going anywhere with the consensus trash. And the reasons are legion. He has been destroyed by Ciroma as a sectional bigot just like Ciroma himself, which is unfortunate for Atiku who is otherwise more cosmopolitan and nationalistic in bearing. By reducing himself or allowing himself to be reduced to an ethnic champion Atiku has shot himself in the foot. Therefore, his so-called consensus victory, rather than being a plus is actually a big minus for him because it has become a huge baggage that he cannot do away with at this late hour.

Had he emerged in a real electoral contest involving the common people of the north, his victory would have been real and unassailable. But to emerge in a secret vote by a handpicked group who represents nobody in a region brimming with elected representatives and governors cannot endear Atiku’s selection to anybody in the north except his own political associates. And that is the reason why he was tagged a “damaged” or “defective” product at the beginning of this article.

As reported in the papers northern governors in the PDP platform are not at all comfortable with his choice by the Ciroma committee, neither is the ordinary man or woman in the street in the north who would rather prefer a cleaner candidate like Buhari or Gusau to represent them in the north. Similar reactions are reported to be coming from elected representatives in the north. Northern PDP governors much as everyone else in the PDP see him as an opportunist who wants to reap from a party he had deserted and vilified for years on end and had only returned to a few months ago under controversial circumstances just to enable him fulfill his presidential ambition. Atiku is muscling through and forcing himself on the north and the nation and there is bound to be stiff resistance to his brand of politics as we are seeing already.

Like IBB, Atiku has so much political baggage on his back and shoulders heavy enough to sink any political contender for the presidency. Atiku is hated in his own state as testified to by the ugly scenes that attended his recent visit to the PDP headquarters in Adamawa state which almost snowballed into a free for all fight between his and the state governor’s supporters. It is an open secret that he’s at loggerheads with the governor of his home state of Adamawa who did everything to prevent his readmission into the party.

Added to these is his loss of goodwill across the length and breadth of the nation as a result of his unprincipled political prostitution driven by his inordinate presidential ambition which has seen to his abandonment by his erstwhile political associates now congregated in the Action Congress of Nigeria, (ACN), the revamped Action Congress (AC) to which he had founded and to which he belonged only a few months ago. The bitterness of his erstwhile political associates could be deduced from the attacks emanating from chieftains of the CAN, in particular its leader, Bola Tinubu who has taken the Ciroma exercise to the cleaners. His abandonment by his former political associates was evident during the launch of his presidential bid where a reporter was reported to have asked him why only a handful of his former associates were in attendance to which he reacted angrily with a retort.

He is the captain of an abandoned ship. And what’s more: the PDP national structure which was ceded to Atiku by his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, which he used to fight the former president almost to a standstill is no longer available to him. His former gubernatorial acolytes like Igbinedion, Ibori, Kalu and the rest of the bunch have all been replaced by a different set of governors and party structures at the states that have no relationship with Atiku who had abandoned the party before they came in. Like his friend Orji Kalu from Abia State he’s headed for the political wilderness and might wind up getting expelled from the PDP as this writer long predicted.

And to top it all OBJ, his eternal nemesis, is still calling the shots in the PDP as BoT Chairman. In fact, the entire party machinery both at the nation and state levels are now heavily weighted against Atiku. The PDP ground has simply shifted from under his feet since he abandoned the party for the AC years ago. He has returned to a party where he is more or less an orphan even in his home state where he was once lord and where his word was law.

And across the nation, Atiku’s candidacy has been met with attitudes ranging from benign resignation to open hostility because people know his antecedents as a wheeler dealer and one who is after his own pocket rather than the welfare of the people. They’re only too familiar with his unflattering records of service both as a Customs Officer and as deputy to President Olusegun Obasanjo whom he betrayed and stabbed in the back. They very much understand that Atiku was fighting Obasanjo for his own political survival which he nicely dressed up as fight for democracy. When it suits him he preaches democracy but it does not he dumps democracy and goes for selection, ethnic zoning and consensus candidacy. His unstable and chameleonic character has never been lost on Nigerians. And that’s why they have at best reacted coldly to this selection in the north. 

A man who gleefully told the BBC in an interview in 2003 on the eve of the PDP primaries when it suited his political calculation that he had three options, namely; going for his own ticket for the top post, or going with Alex Ekueme ticket as his running mate, or thirdly, going with OBJ ticket as running mate when OBJ had not completed eight years in office has now shamelessly turned around to claim that the presidency was zoned to his north for eight years therefore the north must complete its eight year term before a southerner is allowed to contest the presidency in the PDP.

Such shameless volte face, gross inconsistency and crass opportunism often exhibited by Abubakar Atiku has thrown him up as a highly unprincipled character that cannot and must not be entrusted with the governance of the nation. And it has not unexpected become his undoing. All of these and many more odds, including the ever present stench of

corruption swirling around him have effectively rendered the Atiku candidacy a complete non-starter, at least in the PDP.

Jonathan’s Elastic Goodluck

THEJONATHAN camp must have been studying and weighing different possible outcomes from the Ciroma committee and prepared for anyone that might come to pass, including possible choice of Atiku. In other words, it must have been playing war games. And from all indications it must have been rooting for Atiku in particular because he is easier for the Jonathan camp to handle than Gen. Aliyu Gusau, for instance, that could have posed greater challenge for him being fresh with an illustrious career in the military and security services and untainted with corruption. Atiku is the very opposite of what Gasau represents and stood him out from the crowd.

That must have informed the jubilation in the Jonathan camp at the announcement of Atiku as the northern candidate. And why shouldn’t it? Ciroma has done a demolition job for Jonathan. Jonathan couldn’t have wished for a better outcome. Ciroma has literarily cleared the field for him. Instead of having to face a plethora of candidates one or two of whom might have proved quite formidable at the primaries, he only has to deal with one and a weaker one at that. If all had worked hard to secure their own delegates and gone to the PDP primaries with their delegates massed up against Jonathan’s, they could decide to come together at that point in time and direct their delegates to vote for the strongest of them on the ground. And that could have been a huge challenge for Jonathan akin to what OBJ was made to face in the 2003 PDP primaries when Atiku and the governors gave him a hard time and almost succeeded in knocking him off.

But now that Jonathan’s opponents have been knocked out, many thanks to Ciroma, the drive for delegates for Atiku is no longer there and even the delegates they have secured are now free to go somewhere else since their principals are no longer in the race. The agreement of their principals to collapse their campaign structures into a super structure for the benefit of the consensus candidate is not binding on their delegates at all even if it is carried out and there is so far nothing on the ground to suggest it will be carried out. The principals themselves are no longer fired up to do battle with Jonathan as they once were because, contrary to their rhetoric of fighting for the north, they were only fighting for themselves and with their ouster from the race, their guns have been silenced or at least muted.

And what is more: though publicly putting a brave face on their defeat in the hands of the Ciroma committee, there are plenty of indications that many of them are livid with rage at the choice of Atiku and this sentiment was even publicly voiced by the deputy director general of the IBB campain, Senator Kanti Bello in a BBC interview who described Atiku’s choice as “incomprehensible.”

He couldn’t have been speaking for himself but for his principal. And Gusau is refusing to dismantle his own campaign structure, at least for now. He didn’t have to say that publicly. He was sending a coded message that he might be down but not out.

All is clearly not well in the camp of Jonathan’s opponents. Public show of solidarity with Atiku notwithstanding, it is clear that none of the defeated aspirants will work with Atiku to actualize his pipe dream of clinching the PDP ticket, not even those like IBB who have publicly declared their support for the Ciroma committee’s choice.

What did IBB mean by his “who knows, we may bounce back” remarks to his men at his campaign headquarters in Abuja?  Like Gusau’s statement he is sending out a coded message that he might be down but not out. All that public show of support is merely for public consumption and only skin deep and their parting of ways with Atiku has just begun. Atiku is fair game for all and dead meat for Jonathan. He will be taken down by his fellow northerners before Jonathan moves in for the kill.

There is no question that Ciroma has stirred the hornet’s nest and created bad blood in the north in the way and manner he handled his assignment on behalf of the candidates. The several allegations of the committee working to a predetermined answer that dogged the committee while it lasted couldn’t but engender ill feelings in the camps of the losers and their candidates’ supports in the north. And that must have informed why Atiku was muted in victory because he didn’t want to inflame pent-up passions in the camps of his northern opponents. From whatever angle one may look at it Ciroma has simply delivered the PDP ticket to Jonathan on a platter of gold! What a twist! This is classic anti-climax.

Well, it is all about God zoning the presidency to the south/south. It may well be that God has used even Ciroma and his NPLF to actualize God’s own zoning! And that sounds good to me. What more could I have asked for?

When people, including yours truly, talk about the Hand of God being upon Jonathan some atheists may scoff at and dismiss it with a wave of hand. Well, dismiss or scoff they may, but it changes nothing and does not stop the sun from shinning. And here again is one more proof of it and many more are on the way. How many more proofs do they want to believe? How many more doubting Thomases want to see where the nails drove through the hands of Jesus to the Cross before they believe in his resurrection?

There will ever be doubting Thomases in our midst. We cannot stop people from disbelieving as it is part of their civil rights to disbelieve for, even atheists have a place in a democracy. But the wheel of the Divine Machine grinds on inexorably even in the face of unbelief and the unbelievers will wake up one day in May, 2011 to watch Jonathan’s inauguration…and they will still not believe in the divine and fight against God. Poor mortals, even unbelief has a price in a democracy and Ciroma, Atiku, IBB, Gusau, Saraki, heck, even the north itself, are the casualties of unbelief! As the Bible puts it: A house divided against itself cannot stand.

Today AREWA is a house divided against itself and in total disarray. Northerners are speaking not in one tongue but in different tongues. And if you asked me why, I would say it is natural. That’s what the loss of political power does to a people, and that’s what the south/south and south/east zones have been living with for 50 years in the Nigerian nation. And that’s what the north must live with also because as the greak Zik once said, no condition is permanent.

Ciroma’s gambit has shaken it violently to its very foundations. Things are falling apart in the north and the center is far from holding. And when the dust is finally settled, things will never be same again in the north because God is still at work in the country unfolding His plans to liberate the conquered territory from the hands of feudalists and political contractors in the north and give every part of the country its political entitlements. Watch out for many more casualties as Hurricane God sweeps across the north to impose His own zoning formula!

Anyone who is even minimally familiar with Nigeria’s presidential history would readily appreciate the fact that those who wanted the presidency so bad never had it and those who did not even think of it always wound up being Nigeria’s leaders. In the First Republic Alhaji Tafawa Balewa did not seek the position of Prime Minister but was sponsored by Ahmadu Bello to represent him at the center and became PM. In the Second Republic Alhaji Shehu Shagari never went out to seek the position but emerged as a dark horse in the NPN Convention to later become the first Executive president of Nigeria in 1979. And in the Third Republic Alhaji Musa Yar’Adua never indicated interest in the position and was in fact planning to retire to his teaching job in the university but nevertheless emerged as President of the nation. And here comes Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who never in his wildest dreams thought of becoming president but was propelled by fate to occupy the office.

In all these instances, external forces propelled these leaders to occupy the coveted office. In contrast, all those who badly wanted the office never made it. Examples are Chief Obafemi Awolowo and late MKO Abiola. The same is happening today with Abubakar Atiku. That should serve as food for thought for those who care to look closely and deliberatively at Nigeria’s history and draw appropriate lessons there-from. This Atiku kite will not fly!

 

Franklin Otorofani, Esq. is an Attorney and Public Affairs’ Analyst

Contact: mudiagone@yahoo.com



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