By Paul Ibe
It is pulsating trying to ascribe any intelligent reason to why the chief spokesman to Muhammadu Buhari had penned a misleading account of the last presidential election in the country. But it wasn’t all together a bad idea. If anything, Femi Adesina gave a literary expression to how jolt to the hilt people at the Aso Rock Villa were about the inevitability of a win at the polls by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party and Atiku Abubakar during the February 23 presidential election. This much, Adesina himself, confessed to when he said, ‘before the election, you saw and heard Atikulators everywhere… They were all over the in offices, marketplaces, churches, mosques, schools, on television, radio, newspaper; almost in all traffic lanes of life.’ That was both a candid and surreal expression of fear that the Atikulators were indeed poised for victory in the 2019 presidential election.
However, if we are to interrogate Adesina’s confession a little bit further, we would remove the mask and expose the chicanery that summed up the claim of victory by the APC and their Buharideens alike.
First off, before the election, the APC band was busy chorusing around town that there was no Nigerian alive who was up to challenge and defeat Buhari in an election. They soon coined the phrase of ‘No Alternative’ to ingrain the argument that Buhari was super human and to scare the opposition from challenging a second term ticket with him.
The APC and the likes of Adesina who are disconnect from the reality of the angst of Nigerians against the incompetence and cluessness of Buhari-led administration told a lie to the president that he was loved and adored by all. Thus, Buhari and the APC entered the 2019 presidential race with a foolish and corrupted sense of entitlement about a towering expectation from the people that was nowhere to be found. The Buhari team, unlike the Atikulators, lured their candidate into an election without an honest evaluation of the strength of their opponent. At the end, they entered a panic mode and, using the instrumentality of power of incumbency, took certain actions to guarantee victory at all cost which ultimately compromised the integrity of the election.
The second irrational assumption is the claim that the Atikulators is an assembly of people who hate Buhari. According to Adesina’s words, Atikulators are ‘those who didn’t like Buhari, either because of ethnicity, language, religion, or the man’s aversion for corruption… So, they followed Atiku, not because they loved him, but they would have also followed a goat…’
It is often said that people who live in the corridors of power actually live inside a bubble. If there are people in this country who think that there is anything close to aversion for corruption by this current administration, they must be folks like Femi who are too busy choping and smiling, having a blurry vision of the cesspool of iniquities and the lack of rectitude in the system. Irrespective of what Adesina and his colleagues at the corridors of power might say, Nigerians already have their opinion about the vastness of space index for corruption in the Buhari government. And by the way, Femi and his cotravellers need to be reminded that those with glass jaws should not throw punches.
So, coming back to the question: who are the Atikulators? Perhaps Femi is a bit right when he says that they are people who didn’t like the policies of this president. Where he got it all wrong is that they didn’t have to dislike Buhari’s personality or identity in order to like Atiku because both men share same religion, ethnicity and even language. If these qualities are the reason why some people hate Buhari, it must go without begging that there must be some other reason(s) why the same people will prefer Atiku as a leader.
There is a popular American saying that ‘fool me once, shame on you!’ In 2015, many of the people that supported and voted for Buhari feel that they have been fooled. They didn’t imagine that the man they would be voting as president would divide the country in the approximation of 70-30 percent. They didn’t believe that the man they voted would be clannish in his top appointments. They didn’t expect that a president who boasted that there would not be one corrupt person in his government will end up filling more than half of his cabinet positions with same ‘corrupt PDP people.’ They didn’t believe that the man who promised to crash the prices of petroleum products, but ended up doubling it should be trusted again. They felt betrayed by a man who promised them change but ended up changing his ways and his words!
One epic episode in the 2019 election cycle is the live NTA interview anchored by Kadaira Ahmed. The interview afforded Nigerians a life time opportunity to hear the man called Buhari unscripted. Were Femi Adesina’s pen not beguiled by the lucre of power, he would certainly not find any excuse for himself to still be a Buharideen after watching the man unscripted at the interview. Had Adesina been a mere mortal like the rest of us, he would have longed to see the Atiku episode of that interview and given the brilliance that the former Vice President showed at that interview, Adesina himself would have been an Atikulator. But he didn’t. Not because Adesina hated the ideas espoused by Atiku during the campaign trail, but for him and his cohorts at the corridor of power the refrain is: Buhari will NEVER relinquish power to Atiku.
The Atikulators are patriotic Nigerians. They wouldn’t have voted for a goat. I mean, they just wouldn’t have doubled down on the same mistake!
Again, there was a reference to what Adesina called hurricane Buhari sweeping everywhere across the length and breadth of Nigeria. Yes, he is right about that allegorical meaning of hurricane in Nigeria blowing through the bellies and wallets of Nigerians. But if by any stretch of assumption the hurricane was describing Buhari’s electoral popularity, it is safe to conclude therefore that our friend, Femi, is a fit for stand-up comedy. Or how could he have forgotten so soon what transpired in room 710 of Eko Hotel during his presidency of the NGE in the presence of my then colleague at Atiku Media Office, and now his colleague in the Aso rocked villa. But to avert a needless distraction, I am inclined to ensure that what transpired in that room is buried in the bowels of time.
Where in the world would Buhari of all people feel invincible in an election contest when the man could not trust where his own wife would vote on the election day.
Atiku went through the judicial process to express his aggreivement with the election. He never called on his supporters to launch a violent attack, neither did he make a savage remark about baboons being soaked in blood. If Adesina feels what Atiku did is morally deficient, then it only shows the company he has been keeping of late is already telling on his vanishing ethos.
And talking about jokes, there is a piece going around the social media that smart people who serve in Buhari’s government have a way of losing it. For Femi, that is more than a joke. And when next you have the opportunity to read Femi be sure to have a bowl of pepper and salt by your side. It will be wise to leave our friend with a popular Yoruba saying that the sheep that flocks with dogs will end up eating faeces.
▪ Ibe is Media Adviser to Atiku Abubakar, Vice President of Nigeria, 1999-2007