Rain that beats the ea­gle makes it glow

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - OPINION - By Em­manuel Ugoji

ONE les­son that his­tory teaches mankind is to look be­fore leap­ing. When ex­trap­o­lated in real terms, it means that a per­son or group should think, strate­gize and re­view strat­egy, test-run be­fore act­ing or im­ple­ment­ing. The whole idea is to avoid mis­takes of the past as well as avoid be­ing a vic­tim of ef­fort in fu­til­ity. This in­fer­ence ex­plains the why peo­ple had a good laugh when they read a story pub­lished in some dailies and so­cial me­dia in the se­cond week of July 2018. The story read: Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment plans to frame Atiku for Herds­men at­tacks. The name Atiku in the pub­li­ca­tions refers to the former Vice Pres­i­dent of the Fed­eral Repub­lic of Nige­ria, the Waziri Adamawa and pres­i­den­tial hope­ful of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar.

An­a­lysts who have been watch­ing Atiku Abubakar’s po­lit­i­cal an­tecedents had a good laugh af­ter read­ing the pub­li­ca­tions on grounds that he has sur­vived worse po­lit­i­cal or­deals, in­clud­ing a cor­rup­tion toga which took some time to clear through favourable court judg­ments that gave him a clean bill. Atiku has been a vic­tim of herds­men, hav­ing lost over 50 heads of cat­tle to their ram­pag­ing ac­tiv­i­ties. Af­ter search­ing for the cows up to Camer­oun, he gave up. The sad ex­pe­ri­ence re­mains fresh in his mind. Ac­cord­ing to him, own­er­ship of cat­tle has se­ri­ous tra­di­tional im­pli­ca­tions be­cause it is used to as­sess the worth of a man. No won­der he has promised to deal de­ci­sively with the is­sue of in­se­cu­rity if he be­comes Pres­i­dent in 2019. The Di­rec­tor Gen­eral of Voice of Nige­ria, Chief Osita Okechukwu even ad­vised Atiku to join in ef­forts to stop herds­men from op­er­at­ing in Nige­ria. He is in a sub­tle way mak­ing Atiku look bad even when it is com­mon knowl­edge that the present gov­ern­ment will never lis­ten to him. Maybe, he wants Atiku to de­ploy his re­sources to shoul­der the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of gov­ern­ment. That will be un­for­tu­nate.

To re­in­force the court judg­ments and his con­fi­dence as a clean politi­cian, he has sev­eral times asked any­body who has ev­i­dence of cor­rup­tion against him to ten­der it or keep quiet. He even went fur­ther to accuse the present ad­min­is­tra­tion of run­ning the most cor­rupt regime in Nige­ria. Up till now, no­body has raised a fin­ger. It was a vu­vuzela who replied from the Pres­i­dency, say­ing that if Atiku is not cor­rupt he should travel to the U.S., an­other laugh­able re­sponse. The re­sponse re­minds one of how Adam re­sponded to God when he asked him where he was af­ter eat­ing the for­bid­den fruit in the gar­den that opened his eyes to the re­al­i­sa­tion that he was naked.

In­stead of say­ing where he was, Adam re­sponded say­ing he was naked. What has go­ing to U.S. got to do with cor­rup­tion or does it mean that Nige­ri­ans and Nige­rian gov­ern­ment lack the skills to iden­tify cor­rupt cit­i­zens. Does Atiku need to travel to the U.S. for him to be­come Nige­ria’s Pres­i­dent? Since he frus­trated ef­forts at per­pet­u­a­tion in of­fice by mak­ing sure that the third term agenda flopped, all man­ner of black­mail, fram­ing, al­le­ga­tions and mis­chievous claims have been de­ployed to pull him down as a po­lit­i­cal gi­ant. Jour­nal­ists who cov­ered him when he was Vice Pres­i­dent al­ways tell the story of how he was in­vited by his boss to ex­plain how he spent money re­leased to him for his trips abroad. This was based on ob­ser­va­tion that many of those who ac­com­pa­nied him on trips al­ways came back with new shoes and clothes that made them look smarter than those work­ing with his boss. Un­known to his boss, the Waziri Adamawa who is an out­stand­ing phi­lan­thropist takes de­light in see­ing those around him look­ing smart and happy and that trav­el­ling out gives him an op­por­tu­nity to have clo­sure on his team as well as an op­por­tu­nity to kit them bet­ter. The re­porters will also tell you that the mat­ter died the day Atiku and his boss com­pared notes on how much each of them spent on for­eign trips. The point is that aside from funds from the Pres­i­den­tial Villa, he gave out of pocket ex­pen­di­ture to his team. It is on record that there was a time Atiku was ac­cused of buy­ing most of the gov­ern­men­towned com­pa­nies that were pri­va­tised. The al­le­ga­tion went vi­ral un­til it was ob­served that noth­ing like that hap­pened. The al­le­ga­tion came handy sim­ply be­cause he was the chair­man of Na­tional Economic Coun­cil and that he mid­wifed the pri­vati­sa­tion of gov­ern­ment owned com­pa­nies. The al­le­ga­tion nat­u­rally fiz­zled out be­cause it was found out that it lacked sub­stance. As a man who has as­sumed the pos­ture of the prover­bial cat with nine lives, Atiku squared up with gov­ern­ment when it tried to mess with In­tels lo­gis­tics com­pany which he co-founded with an Ital­ian-nige­rian. The whole idea was to crip­ple his fi­nan­cial base. The com­pany, which was de­vel­oped from scratch over 30 years ago, is worth over seven bil­lion U.S. dollars. Fi­nanc­ing the com­mence­ment of the com­pany saw him and his co-owner raise money through loans from banks.

The irony of the fu­tile ef­fort tar­geted at Atiku is that the lives of the 17,000 work­force of In­tels were be­ing put on the line. There is the other al­le­ga­tion that he used gov­ern­ment funds to set up the Amer­i­can Univer­sity of Nige­ria. The al­le­ga­tion shows empti­ness in think­ing in the sense that peo­ple who or­ches­trated this never did any in­ves­ti­ga­tion to find out that the es­tab­lish­ment of the in­sti­tu­tion as well as its pri­mary and se­condary school units pre-dated his ten­ure as the Vice Pres­i­dent of the coun­try.

So much fuss has been made about Atiku’s re­turn to the PDP. How many politi­cians in Nige­ria, in­clud­ing the present Pres­i­dent, have re­mained in a sin­gle party from the be­gin­ning of their po­lit­i­cal ca­reer to the end? As long as Nige­rian po­lit­i­cal par­ties are not formed based on ide­ol­ogy, cross-car­pet­ing will con­tinue to be the fea­ture of al­liances and coali­tions. The ad­vice to those who wish to ven­ture into fram­ing Atiku is that they should speak to the is­sues raised by the former Vice Pres­i­dent and avoid dis­cussing his per­son. He has seen and felt it all just as Nige­ri­ans are no longer gullible to cheap black­mail. He is in­ter­ested in seek­ing ways to solve the myr­iad of prob­lems plagu­ing Nige­ria. He does not fancy dis­cussing per­son­al­i­ties but prefers to keep his eyes on the ball. The is­sues of in­se­cu­rity, high un­em­ploy­ment and poverty rates, re­struc­tur­ing, unity and econ­omy which form high­lights of his cam­paigns and lec­tures should be of con­cern to all well-mean­ing Nige­ri­ans, es­pe­cially former lead­ers who failed in their bid to pull Nige­ria out of the woods. All the ef­forts at black­mail­ing and fram­ing him has turned him into the ea­gle which, ac­cord­ing to the wise, the rain that beats the bird ends up wash­ing its body and mak­ing it glow. • Ugoji,apub­li­caf­fair­s­an­a­lyst,wrote­fromabuja.

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