By Odimegwu Onwumere
Buhari’s handmaidens against Atiku going to court – It is on public notice that there are people and groups frightening the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 23 2019 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Their tactics is by asking him to sheathe the legal battle he is instituting to reclaim the supposedly mandate given to him by the Nigerian electorate that was brazenly robbed by the All Progressive Congress (APC) candidate, Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
It would be disservice to hundreds of millions of Nigerians if Atiku gets down not to reclaim this mandate that the APC is brandishing whereas there are posers suggesting that the party knew nothing about success in the election. No matter how hard they push Atiku, one thing remains sacrosanct, there is no man who knows his onus that will allow himself to be intimidated by the will of others, especially in a political arena. And Atiku can be trusted that he will not betray the prospects of the electorate who gave him their maximum support.
Nonetheless, Buhari has become a spirit that attacked Nigerians in an election he invariably was not positioned to win. Hence, many of the persons and groups calling on Atiku to eschew his legal stance were economical with the truth. Some were saying that they did not want war in Nigeria, and you wonder when a legal battle was defined as a war.
Maybe, those calling on Atiku to sheathe his legal sword were machineries to the presidency and the APC but acting like peacemakers. Then-again, they could be positioning themselves for political appointments under Buhari and therefore airing their convoluted and polluted voice to Atiku to step-down his legal stance against their boss in-the-making.
They could also be buying unmerited favour from Buhari. Whichever, no man in his right senses asks a person who wants the court to interpret his case to withdraw from doing so. Is it when such a person takes up arms that he will be supported? Do you beat a child and at the same time ask the child not to cry?
Even one popular lawyer who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Olisa Agbakoba was among the persons who had thrown their weight against Atiku’s resolve to contest the outcome of the election in a competent court. Could it be that Buhari and the APC are reaching out to prominent Nigerians and groups to lobby Atiku to soft-pedal?
Agabkoba’s call on Atiku was contained in a paper titled ‘2019 Presidential Election: Ethnic Consideration vs Governance Consideration’ on Wednesday, February 27 2019, where he said amongst other things, “I understand the PDP is aggrieved at the outcome of the election and alleged massive irregularities. I urge former Vice President Atiku Abubakar not to approach the Election Petition Tribunal.”
Another person was a former Minister of Information, Prince Tony Momoh who asked Atiku to accept defeat and congratulate with Buhari. While Agbakoba relayed his relatively hazardous advise to Atiku through a paper, Momoh made his known through a telephone interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos, the same day Agbakoba threw in his weight against Atiku.
In the voice of Momoh, “A beautiful thing happened shortly after the results were announced in the 2015 general elections: Jonathan called the winner (Buhari) and congratulated with him. That singular act not only made Jonathan a respected national figure, but also an international figure. Therefore, as a national leader, I will call on our friend, Atiku to call Buhari and congratulate him.” Apart from Agbakoba and Momoh; from labour organisations, Arewa Consultative Forum, ex-Governor and their ilk in the international community, the call on Atiku to extend a handshake to Buhari and congratulate with him was deafening.
While these persons and groups and countries were entitled to their opinions, it will be a firecracker to make it clear that it is not every opinion that is acceptable. The issue is not on Atiku congratulating with the Buhari, but in correcting the method with which Buhari emerged as president-elect. The persons and groups acting as Holy Nweje for Buhari forgot to question him why he did not sign the Electoral Act amendment bill, 2018, but returned it to the National Assembly.
When this happened, Nigerians of goodwill were agape that Buhari, who had claimed he was a man of integrity, had something up his sleeves in the 2019 elections. And they were right! Where were the modern days’ peacemakers when Atiku had in January this year fingered Buhari and the APC of messy abuse of the Constitution and the Electoral Act 2010 through unchecked deployment of state resources and apparatuses for this year’s presidential campaign? Remember that Buhari returned the draft of that Bill to NASS several times to add or subtract one clause or the other from it, of which the Honourable House did only for Buhari to avoid that Bill on December 9 2018, to this day.
It’s not about Atiku but about what is written in one Donna Goddard’s ‘The Love of Devotion’ which is, “It is not possible to be seduced by the lure of ego-gratification or intimidated by the tyranny of imposters when we know that we are as the angels. We are loved beyond comprehension. So, we must claim our rightful inheritance and live with the confidence of protection.” Thank goodness, Atiku rejected the outcome of that election on February 27 2019, while addressing a news conference in a statement entitled, “Democracy will not be emasculated in Nigeria”.
At the press conference, Atiku did not say that he was heading for a gun battle, but a legal battle with Buhari and perhaps the APC. The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had at 4.39 a.m, February 27, declared the APC candidate in the person of Buhari, winner of the election at the International Conference Centre (ICC) in Abuja, days after the election was conducted.
For record purposes, in the brave words of Atiku, “Consequently, I hereby reject the result of the February 23, 2019 sham election and will be challenging it in court, because with regards to the presidential elections that took place on February 23, 2019, it is clear that there were manifest and premeditated malpractices in many states which negate the results announced.”
Just as Buhari and his co travellers were not bothered to release the result of the election immediately it was conducted but preferred days to do so, the ramshackle Presidency followed Atiku up by announcing that it was not bothered by his decision to challenge the February 23 Presidential election in court. It’s essential that Atiku contested the outcome of the election in the court given the APC proud and vain way it handled the collation of results with Atiku saying there were too many irregularities here and there.
Buhari’s significantly kangaroo emergence as the winner of that election does not in earnest represent the whims and caprices of about 95% of Nigerians. Conduct a survey on Buhari and be surprise that he is the most hated leader in Nigeria. These statistics of Nigerians did not want Buhari again. Even if Atiku withdraws from court, hundreds of millions of Nigerians are in court with Buhari in their hearts. They are sentencing him for nature to take preeminence on how he emerged again as president. Nigerians have suffered a lot of prejudices in Buhari’s first tenure in legion ranging from hardship and blatant lies and blame-game which oozed out from Buhari government at will for the purpose to cover up its inept features.
Nigerians are not sure if the APC will continue with its ‘change’ mantra having Nigerians known now that it was a ruse. This government should stop celebrating its rising prejudice motivated by pride and greed. However, Agbakoba and co might not be illegal (except in the tonality they used) calling on Atiku to withdraw from his legal move, given the APC body language which has suggested that the party was not perturbed with the Nigerian legal system and was not disturbed about it. If not there would have been some decorum in reacting to Atiku’s statement and not arbitrary use of the phrase — “Not bothered”.
Odimegwu Onwumere writes from Rivers State. Tel: +2348057778358. Email: [email protected]