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10.02.2009 Feature Article

Atiku As A Man Of Peace

The Christians always tell us that a repented soul makes the heavenly saints host an exciting party, but a tainted soul the heavenly saints abhor. That was why anybody that believes in 'life after death' makes sure he or she directs his or her life while living, so that a peaceful eternity would be sure. Perhaps, the indomitable Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, believes in the above assertion. Perhaps, he has lived a trouble-minded life that he decided to let go the rift between him and ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, by paying Obasanjo a surprised visit in the eyes of many Nigerians, on the 19th of January 2009. Though, many Nigerians knew that it was by divine intervention that Obasanjo welcomed Atiku. Obasanjo, a man, who would prefer to go on self-exile, than forgive his political foes, of which Atiku was one.

While Atiku and Obasanjo's reconciliation is being enjoyed by them (the two men who threw Nigeria into a eight year political skirmishes), many Nigerians are now throwing their weights in the meeting of the duos, thereby creating enmity to themselves, not either to Atiku or Obasanjo.

Many Nigerians are now calling Atiku a weakling, because he went to reunion with Obasanjo. I think we need more of Atiku in Nigeria than we need more of Obasanjo. Atiku is a peacemaker whereas Obasanjo was a problem maker. And we need more of peacemakers in the country than we need more of politicians. I see that single act of Atiku visiting Obasanjo as an act only for the braves, which in no doubt Atiku is a brave man, as far as the Nigeria's politics was concerned.

One impressive aspect of the Atiku sojourn to Obasanjo is that no one coerced him. It was his voluntarily volition. When before many Nigerians wanted to reconcile him and Obasanjo, due to he was not yet cooked in the mind for the reconciliation, he declined every attempt made by those people. But when he saw that the time has come to forgive Obasanjo, he made a step. And I wonder why many Nigerians wanted him to have prolonged the antagonism instead of reconciliation. I wonder when we shall learn forgiveness and live as one family. Though, even in a family, there are still rancours that always brew up. But people tend to let go certain issues in a family, because of the axiom that says, blood is thicker than water.

Without repeating here the Atiku and Obasanjo's past ghosts, before we call Atiku names, we shouldn't forget in a hurry that Atiku was not intentionally disloyal to Obasanjo when they were rudely ruling Nigeria in 1999-2007. He was made a political foe to Obasanjo and some of the caterwauls in the then Obasanjo-led PDP, because Atiku was protecting the interest of our democracy by relegation the Obasanjo Third Term Agenda to the background. Perhaps, he would have been a good man in the eyes of many calling him names today, if he had acceded to that devilish agenda.

We should remember that Atiku saved us of yet another civil or political war in this country, when he was rigged out of the 2007 sham called elections. Nigerians who were legion loyal to Atiku, were only waiting for him to blow the whistle and let the world watch the kind of shame Mwaiki Baki and Raila Odinga threw the nation of Kenya into as experienced last year. But instead of do that, Atiku towed the line of peace by resorting and beckoning on the court, which many Nigerians were appraising the court had risen to the occasion. But the court sat down at the occasion, when Atiku brought the case of the 2007 elections before it. The judiciary ruled what many called a “kangaroo ruling” in favour of the President-(s)elect Musa Yar'Adua.

As a man of peace, Atiku never heated the polity with noise on the newspapers, when he was in court. He was calm and even his boys led by his media team where very prudent on what they publish on the newspapers, unlike the PDP.

The PDP hated Atiku because he refused to eat a poisoned kola, while they clapped for him; he made headway to belong to the Action Congress (AC), which today is the strongest opposition party in Nigeria.

It is surprising that a man like Atiku who wanted a peaceful Nigeria by all means – following his visit to the Owu-dictator – so that Nigeria could move forward, is now brought to the abattoir by penpushers and they are not kind with him.

From what I have read on the newspapers call for probing Nigerians, if they liked warring than peace. Whatever was Atiku's intention for that resolution, all that matter is that he has made peace and history will consume him positively, but I wonder Obasanjo?

I see those Nigerians who wanted the malice between the two worst rulers in Nigeria continued as those ruled by their past. And it is because we live a life of the past that we are still stagnant in all facets of the Nigeria's business. It is not surprising today, by those attacking Atiku, that we have in Nigeria those who are controlled by evil forces and they don't want any peace in Nigeria.

If those people were not haters of Nigeria and haters of peace, how would they have suggested that Atiku wouldn't have made the peace move to Obasanjo whereas Nigerians need peace seriously in the volatile Niger Delta?

To these Nigerians who are now throwing verbal bombs on Atiku, perhaps are Nigerians behind the scene, who benefit from troubles and problems. From the November, 2008 massacre after an election in the Jos, would attest that Atiku is a man of peace, because it was the same inner politics that brewed that bloodletting that was also meted out to Atiku in the 2007 elections.

Imagine where in less than one week, the crises in Jos gulped over 500 innocent and guilty Nigerians and billions of property destroyed, what the entire Nigeria statistics would have been if Atiku were Raila Odinga.

Even at that, many Nigerians called Atiku a buffoon when the Kenya wahala came up. Many Nigerians were saying, “Nigeria, not like Kenya.” A phrase insinuating that Nigerians were cowards, because Atiku refuted pressure that was mounted on him to take to the acts like that of the militants in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria.

I don't think that such ethnic cleansing would have occurred in the Jos, if the political contenders and the electorates had towed the line of peace, as Atiku. If people are saying that the so-called indigenes and settlers of Jos fought, because they wanted to specify an issue, I think the Hausa and Yoruba all over the country would have today become sworn enemies, because of what Atiku suffered in the hand of the Nigeria's best dictator-civilian called Olusegun Obasanjo.

But Atiku today let go those evil challenges from Obasanjo, and people are not happy? Would Nigerians have been happy if Atiku had had an unrepentant heart like Obasanjo? Well, peacemaking is different from forming a political party. I think the un-born Nigerians would make a good history from Atiku.

While the unborn Nigerians may write a better history than us today, we are to set the gait in truth and in spirit, so that they don't chronicle that Cameroon is in Nigeria, Kenya is in Nigeria or even Jamaica is in Nigeria, because I have read a lot of lies written on the newspapers by many Nigerians.

Personally, I didn't see anything wrong with Atiku's visit to Obasanjo. As a Biafran in Nigeria, or as a Niger Deltan in Nigeria, I want peace. Whoever that is saying peace is not good should smoke garri with liquid squeezed from bitterleaf (olugbo).

I don't think that Atiku's visit to Obasanjo can make him become president of Nigeria in 2011, since Yar'Adua reportedly, has been ruled out due to ill health. But even at that, this peace initiative can make Atiku win the Nobel Prize for Peace, while Nigerians would gape.

In another angle, there is nothing wrong from Atiku winning the 2011 Presidential Election in Nigeria with many reasons. One, he is a bonafide Nigerian. Two, he has not failed any constitutionality. Third, but not the least, he is a man of peace and a role model for all democrats.

I was initially restraining to comment on the Atiku and Obasanjo reunion till many political demagogues took Atiku to their altar instead of Obasanjo whom history will not be fair with as far as Nigeria was concerned.

It is time we all reconciled with Atiku and Obasanjo. We can't continue to live in the past. Nigeria needs change. Nigerians as well need to change. And that change, I think, has started with Atiku. I think the heavenly saints are throwing party. It is time we joined hand on the deck and reconcile every Njoku, Musa and Ade, so that we would gain a peaceful eternity and the heavenly saints would rejoice.

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), Oyigbo, Rivers State. 08032552855. [email protected]

Odimegwu Onwumere
Odimegwu Onwumere, © 2009

This author has authored 586 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: OdimegwuOnwumere

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