THE 2019 electoral calendar is set and the gladiators are already getting set for the titanic battle. Some are already seeing a two-horse race that would pitch incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari against the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar.
As expected, the combatants on both sides of the aisle are not leaving things to chance. As soon as Atiku emerged the PDP candidate, the Buhari camp immediately fired the salvo, making insinuations at corruption and attempting to mock the PDP for picking a man with severe moral challenges.
Atiku’s camp has also not allowed any attack go unnoticed. It declared flatly that the Buhari camp was jittery and sorely afraid of the possibility of losing the 2019 election. The Atiku camp also declared that the Buhari’s men were raking up issues of alleged corruption against the PDP candidate because they have no achievements to show for the three and a half years. Rather than rake up the mud, Atiku’s men want the campaign to devolve to issues.
Penultimate Thursday evening, the fireworks were intense. That was as a result of the huge endorsement that came the way of Atiku earlier that day. The former Vice-President had received the nod of his former boss, President Olusegun Obasanjo, something that was largely unexpected a week before. The clear and unambiguous endorsement of Obasanjo in company of some political and religious leaders left Buhari’s group in a state of nightmare.
Shots were fired at Atiku and Obasanjo from three angles. First the Campaign Organisation, through Festus Keyamo, then Garba Shehu, the presidential aide, and then Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to the President.
The common thread in the series of attacks was indicative of the fact that Atiku was a paper weight and that his endorsement by Obasanjo was a ruse. Buhari’s people also want us to believe that a vote for Atiku in 2019 would usher in what they called the “sordid past” of corruption.
Since the mindset of Buhari’s men is to keep relaying the 2015 lines of fighting corruption; insurgency and handling the economy and waving aside the Atiku challenge as a non-issue, we may have to remind the president the story of the elephant and the tortoise as captured in the famous Yoruba novel, Alawiye recommended for primary schools in the years past.
In the story of a o merin j’oba, the town needs an elephant for sacrifice and there was no way to convince the big elephant to take the offer. All animals around sang songs that warned the elephant of the impending doom. But the Tortoise came with his band men, who were singing a o merin j’oba eweku ewele.
Whereas the animal stakeholders around saw danger, the elephant saw crown at the end of the dance drama. As the drama continued, the Tortoise was vociferous with the songs. Unknown to the elephant, the crown set up at the king’s court was sitting atop a dressed ditch which was covered by beautifully decorated mats. Eventually, the elephant landed in the ditch as he made to sit on the decorated stool. Signed, sealed and delivered, the Tortoise won and the elephant was history.
There is something for our sitting president in the fabled story. There could be danger at the end of the tunnel. Power is sweet and a lot of sweet storytellers swarm around power. They ask you to ignore danger when it is apparent and call you the invincible one. I only hope the Buhari supporters are not playing the Tortoise here, dismissing the Atiku challenge as a ruse and Obasanjo’s support for his former deputy as a non-issue.
In the build-up to the 2015 election, former President Obasanjo broke ranks with his party, the PDP, tore his registration card and endorsed Buhari. It was unthinkable at the time but it happened.
Now that the former president had decided to end the decade-old bad blood between him and his former deputy, the Buhari camp which benefitted from his goodwill in 2015 see him as nobody. Only a Tortoise, that is adept in the a o merin j’oba scenario will urge Buhari to dismiss Obasanjo and the men of God or attack their cause as ungodly.
Rather than see everyone who participated in ensuring peace between Obasanjo and Atiku as enemies, Buhari’s men need to look before they leap. After all, these same men were on hand to pacify President Goodluck Jonathan to toe the path of peace in 2015. They are always there seeking peace and reconciliation in the land.
Good advisers would tell Buhari not to engage in a battle that is akin to a man fighting the galaxies. A good adviser would tell the president to market himself, his visible achievements and get the people to see reason with him. By urging him to do battle with the political forces of Nigeria, the advisers might be wittingly or unwittingly taking Buhari on the path the elephant took to the sacrifice. It is a dangerous path.