The Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, reached the zenith of his ambition to secure the highest office in the country when he recently stirred unbridled controversy by alleging irregularities in the certificates of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. As a supposed seasoned politician with a long and intriguing history in Nigerian politics, those acquainted with Atiku are well aware of his lifelong aspiration to clinch the presidency. However, his journey to attain the prestigious position has been marked by sheer desperation manifested in the ongoing dramatisation of his fabricated Chicago State University saga. It is also not entirely surprising that Atiku would descend so low to provoke such a widespread public outcry, despite unwavering evidence that contradicts his claims about President Tinubu. Lack of integrity, as it is said, renders a man’s character as hollow as an empty vessel and Atiku’s reputation unmistakably attests to this.
Even during his civil service days, he displayed disloyal tendencies, such as when he, as the Customs Officer overseeing Murtala Muhammed Airport, defied an official directive. The 53-suitcase scandal, which surfaced in 1984 during the currency exchange operation mandated by then Buhari administration required the inspection of all arriving baggage, irrespective of the traveller’s status. Shockingly, Atiku flouted this regulation thereby causing a major uproar that deeply scandalised the Nigerian government. With a trail of ridiculously shocking questionable wealth, a retinue of wives amidst other needless acquisitions it was unsurprising that Atiku and one of his wives were fingered in a trillion dollar corruption case and placed under close watch by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), an agency of the US Department of Treasury. Parts of the report revealed that between 2000 and 2008, his fourth wife, Jennifer Douglas who is a US citizen, assisted Atiku, a seating Vice President to launder over $40 million into the United States. The case which was widely and globally published, once more, put Nigeria damagingly on international spotlight, causing a barrage of embarrassment to the country. Most recently, his links to a fraudulent Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) scandal represents just a fraction of the countless corruption tags attached to his name.
Therefore, his constant display of questionable attributes should perhaps come as no shock from a man whose history is marked by dubious antecedents. It is little wonder that his political career has been characterised by a series of twists and turns in his insatiable quest to Nigeria’s Presidency which has morphed into bouts of desperation. His frustrations are nevertheless understandable. Records have it that in 1993, when he was 47 years old, he ran for the presidency and failed to clinch the seat. Again in 2007, under the Action Congress party, he contested and lost. Also, in 2011, he once more failed at the presidential polls by a wide margin. In between switching parties, he contested in 2015, 2019 and 2023, and suffered irreparable defeats.
It is evident that Atiku is yet to recover from the irreversible loss of the 2023 election which has plunged him into this frantic state, as evidenced by his recent pitiable action of tarnishing the image of President Tinubu and by implication, Nigeria at large. At the age of 76, time has swiftly passed him by. By 2027, provided we are blessed with continued life, Atiku will be about 80, which is undeniably advanced in age and greatly diminishing his electoral prospects. What eludes Atiku’s awareness is that he is now reaping the consequences of his dubious past. Nigerians are not naive enough to elect a man with such a tarnished reputation. It is high time he woke up and smelt the cookie. He should avoid placing blame on others; his past actions are the sole spectre haunting his political aspirations.
Previously, Atiku held the position of Nigeria’s Vice President from 1999 to 2007, serving under President Olusegun Obasanjo. However, his relationship with the former president soured, resulting in his departure from the ruling party at that time, the PDP. In Obasanjo’s words in his book “My Watch” Atiku was described as having corruption tendencies, disloyal, frequent dishonesty, poor judgment, reliance on marabouts, lack of transparency and a willingness to sacrifice ethics and national interest for personal gain. Considering his long-term goal of becoming President, one might have expected Obasanjo to support Atiku’s leadership in 2007. However, Atiku’s disloyalty and inability to work as a team player became evident once again before their term ended.
After winning the 2023 Presidential primaries in his party, the PDP, his inability to prove he is an astute leader led to intraparty divisions with his own party members under the leadership of Nyesom Wike, turning against him. This indiscretion contributed to his defeat. Desperately too, Atiku has asked Peter Obi and Rabiu Kwankwaso, fellow Presidential Candidates to jettison their ambitions and support him. Laughable! Only a desperate man like Atiku will make his type of suggestions. No one else ever matters. It is only about him Selfishness. This is what narcissism is all about.
All through his history and propelled by desperation, he destroyed his political chances using his own hands. Today he is a drowning man grasping at straws. Trying desperately at every perceived opportunity to grab the presidential seat but so far, his actions have proved futile. It is a pity. Having recently lost at the Presidential Tribunal, he has yet again begun pursuing another illusion, the supposed loopholes in President Tinubu’s certifications. His pain and anger is however understandable; he cannot bear seeing the person who is responsible for his defeat rule peacefully. For the record, despite their brouhaha and intentional propaganda and manipulation of facts, the Chicago State University has claimed President Tinubu as their former student. He not only graduated, but when his letter of admission was issued, it was addressed to a Mr Tinubu. This alone counters the lies around female allegations in his bio and the Chicago State University also confirmed it was a clerical mistake. Despite the noise, the depositions are there on the internet confirming that indeed President Tinubu got a diploma from the institution. It has also clarified that Universities in the US do not prioritise issuance of certificates but only transcripts. In the case of loss of such certificate, as in the President’s case, third parties are allowed to reissue them which is where he obtained his from. For intellectual Nigerians, the cacophony surrounding the matter is baseless; they know the truth. The deposition which is clear and in black and white, serves as a witness of the truth irrespective of activities of mischief makers who are twisting the facts and misleading the public.
Regrettably for Atiku, history will likely remember him solely as a serial presidential candidate, a bitter runner-up whose desperate actions are gradually eroding what remains of his reputation. Those close to him may advise him; If he believes in Allah and destiny, it is time to take a bow and rest from his political pursuits. Let him take a back seat and play the role of an elder statesman. An old adage says that if a king does not have good advisers, he will one day come out naked. It may be worthwhile for Atiku to embrace the concept of predestination and put an end to this embarrassing charade.
Adamu Mohammed, a political analyst, writes in from Zamfara