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PDP: X-raying Atiku and IBB’s ambitions

This is probably the one defining difference between the achievements of IBB and that of Atiku. One is a former military ruler who scuttled the…

This is probably the one defining difference between the achievements of IBB and that of Atiku. One is a former military ruler who scuttled the transition to democratic rule twice and one is an active politician who has been in the battle trenches for decades, campaigning, building political alignments, articulating his visions and programmes and generally connecting with the electorate. The antecedents of the two men reminds me of the observation made by American president, Barak Obama, during his recent visit to Africa, where he said what Africa needs is not strong men, but strong institutions. IBB was a strong-man ruler, Atiku gave our nation’s judiciary the kind of relevance they have never enjoyed before for decades even with the new civilian dispensation.

I am not one of those who derive joy in bashing IBB and neither am I an apologist for Atiku, but I think the distinction has to be made that in any viable democracy, those with a record for sabotaging the progress of popular participation through the power of the ballot box should be kept at bay, while those who were active promoters of people’s power should be embraced. Even in the former blocs of Eastern Europe, those who became the new leaders after the fall of communism were not those who fought against the entrenchment of the new order, but the activists and politicians who promoted popular participation and freedom, as against tyranny. We’ve all seen the transformations in such societies while unfortunately here in Africa where former dictators still hold sway, our progress and development has been basically stagnant.

Looking at what both Atiku and IBB have to offer Nigeria in terms of salvaging the economy, it is easy to see who holds out much hope for our nation’s poor economy. IBB’s Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP), caused serious social dislocations like retrenchment, loss of businesses, family collapse, etc and many of the victims of those hardships are readily around to determine the next president.

Atiku has articulated his vision of Nigeria in a document entitled “From Reform to Prosperity,” making job creation, national security, Niger Delta, agriculture, infrastructural development and the strengthening of democracy as his priorities. Babangida has not engaged himself in such venture in the past 17 years when he left as president. And the Nigerian State, its economy, character, challenges and opportunities have changed from what it was in 1993.

I think it is time Nigerians begin to assess their leaders based on their past records. This is because such failure has engendered so much gullibility that so many a politician have always tried to edit history to suit their fancy. When Obasanjo was brought by IBB in 1999, history was edited and Obasanjo was touted as a strong leader with the solutions to the challenges facing our nation, just as IBB is being touted at the moment. But we saw that Obasanjo was out of touch with the current realities of our economy and even with our aspirations. IBB won’t be any different. IBB has offered no vision for this country.

This current outing, to me, is just an ego trip. It is a feeling that I believe most of my fellow compatriots share. Although IBB claimed to be a member of the PDP, he had never served in the party structure which makes him a member only by name. Atiku, on the other hand, has been a member of critical organs of the party like NEC and BOT and is therefore, a better party man who understands the internal workings of democracy.

Atiku has been party politician since 1989 and speaks the language of politicians which IBB does not speak. He is used to the negotiations that characterize politics. IBB, a general and president of eight years, will have to climb down from his Olympian height to do the same. At almost 70, this may be too much for a man used to giving commands and holding court. The 2011 election will force him to eat humble pie.

Yahaya writes from 14, Mairi Road, Opposite UMTH, Maiduguri

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