By Uche Nnadozie
I tried in vain to allot a fair conscience to Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president of the republic with no avail.
This is because of several weeks, if not months of his brazen self-inflicted project of trying to expose a smoking gun off President Bola Tinubu’s academic records especially in relation to the former senator’s educational sojourn at the most popular American university in Nigeria today – the Chicago State University!
The ex-VP narrated how he embarked on a voyage of incompetence at “great cost” looking for what is not lost. To his shock, he ended up raking up excellent educational record of the president which in his moment of utter consternation led him to dive deeper into disrepute.
His poor judgement as a leader by pursuing and investing heavy funds and time in crude vendetta over the past several months thankfully shows that Nigerians dodged a bullet by not electing him their president.
Without anyone pre-judging him during a rather clumsy “world press conference”, Abubakar told his audience that Tinubu owed him a lot because according to him, he prevailed on his “SPV” counterpart and former President Olusegun Obasanjo to “leave” Lagos to Tinubu in 2003.
Atiku was trying to recollect the insidious and autocratic “takeover” of opposition states by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Back in 2003, Tinubu as Lagos governor was the only surviving Alliance for Democracy (AD) state chief of executive out of six that scaled through the Obasanjo/Atiku and PDP’s assault on democracy.
The former VP also revealed that he does not owe Tinubu any favours despite widely celebrated sequence of past events which shows multiple political favours extended to the Adamawa born politician by the president.
By 2006/7, Tinubu had coordinated a bulwark in defence of Atiku as VP after Obasanjo stripped him of over 90% of his presidential accoutrements leaving Atiku gasping for breath and searching for every straw to hold on to. This followed Atiku’s cross-atlantic corruption charges, serial betrayal of his boss (Obasanjo) and the government he served in at the time.
As a result, he was deregistered by PDP, stopped from contesting for president under the party, prevented from attending statutory federal executive council meetings, his presidential staff sacked in droves, court proceedings against him instituted by agents of his boss to remove him from office and his support base in PDP decimated.
Tinubu, it was who rallied a few others when it was a taboo to identify with the top but hounded, miserly, vengeful politician.
In the age of the internet with social media widely in use, fake news has become a trade and the compensation. People believe false news without recourse to fact even when truth is glaring and within reach.
Atiku Abubakar happens to have joined the fray. Completely disregarding his own discovery in Chicago, he chose to exacerbate lies by mounting the rostrum instead of telling the country of his wild goose chase, he chose to double down on fake news. He told lies when he disclosed that Tinubu submitted a fake certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
For starters, the VP and his gang of rabble rousers went to Chicago to ascertain if the Tinubu that attended the University and came out with distinction was a woman.
When he was confronted with unassailable evidence about Tinubu’s fidelity, rather than buckle, he docked and rather childishly started playing to the gallery, energising his whimsical base and exciting Peter Obi’s supporters.
By attempting to rouse Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso of NNPP, Atiku was merely declaring that he is still available to contest the next presidential election due in 2027.
But Obi seeing that Atiku may use fake news to draw his mob of supporters, rejected the ex-VP’s call for a collaboration.
As usual, Atiku’s conscience in his rather un-African ambition to pay Tinubu’s good with evil ended up presenting himself as a dirty, hyper-ambitious hound who is embittered by loss, thus can’t stand his former friend’s well-earned elevation to the presidency in his first attempt.
Also, Abubakar’s adoption of fake news and falsification of facts as a strategy to reinvent his dwindled political relevance is Nunc Dimittis to a public career that was never stellar anyway. A career that is better forgotten especially now that he has shown that it was never about the progress of the country but the dramatisation of falsehood.
In the end, Tinubu’s record at CSU is a shining example of doggedness which should give hope to young ones that in spite of their background they can make it to the top. Atiku’s attempt to minimize it should be treated with ignominy by every reasonable Nigerian.
° Nnadozie is a journalist and public affairs analyst