The ATIKU-lated, the BAT-ified and the OBI-dient
By Emeka Uzoatu
This title of ours, no doubt, needs some disambiguation, lest it be lost in transmission before the awaited transition. Most so because of the proffered order of its protocol. Permit me to add that as an unrepentant democrat, it was promptly put to an individual vote and the ayes had it.
Of course, it would never have been necessary but for one reason – that perennial misunderstanding lurking somewhere between the tenuous periphery demarcating impressions from intentions. An omission that has torpedoed many an ambition overboard to a resting place at the bottom of the sea.
Like an embattled professor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) had to explain upon a time to save his gown and mortar. Back then when our tertiary institutions mattered, it came to pass as a visitation panel carried out its tour of duty in that great citadel of learning. You know, the one that leads, while the others follow. Precisely, it took place in the early 80s of the last century.
Like transpired, the don stood accused of a peculiar misdemeanour, viz, having his signature unnecessarily overflowing eastwards on documents. According to the indictment, it always appeared as though aimed at denying other colleagues their otherwise heaven-allotted signing spaces. An incident that was said to have attained a recidivist proportion by its reoccurrence.
Generally unruffled after reviewing the proffered documents, the bespectacled egghead had adjusted the microphone in front of him in the Senate chambers where the inquest held.
“My Lord,” he had started, pausing to ruffle his unkempt goatee and, perhaps, focus his vision better on the head of the panel who had thrown the question. He then cleared his throat and continued. “Sir, though the impression appears to be there, I must make it clear that the intention is as far away from it as heaven is from hell.”
Therefore, in the present particular I make bold to state that the sequence of the title above in no way mimics Sergio Leone’s 1966 spaghetti western The Good, The Bad and The Ugly like some would have guessed. Yes, I have read such comparisons made elsewhere about the triumvirate of forerunners in the 2023 presidential race.
Undeniably, it has to be admitted that in comparison, the derision embedded therein pales somewhat when juxtaposed with another trending sequence. In the one in question, the photograph of one of the contestants is placed between the other duo and set in Golgotha. And, rather ironically, the one put in the centre of the triptych happens to be the one often splayed for being structureless. Anyway, the parody often only stops short of specifying which of them cajoles the ‘physician’ in the centre and which eulogises him.
Forging on, one cannot but agree that, as yet, all abiding projections about that forthcoming election point to a three-horse race. As projected, it’s bound to be fought out between the candidates of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), All Progressives Congress (APC) and Labour Party (LP). So, for the avoidance of blame, they were listed in the title because alphabetically their followers are called the ATIKU-lated, BAT-ified and the OBI-dient respectively.
From abiding indications, the thinning down to three of the myriad that had harboured the wish couldn’t have been easy before the party primaries came and went. So thanks to the often messy tussles, we are now left with these best of the best. Only that their choice of running mates is turning out messier. But because one of the parties has mustered the effrontery to take the matter to court, we shall refrain from any further discussion on it. Yes, we are here more mindful of the subjudiciary than the third arm of our democracy!
However, standing on the existing protocol, one must make bold and point out that the supporters of Atiku Abubakar – the ATIKU-lated of our title – appear the most subdued for now. That is, apart from the aforementioned court case. For a party that had been in governance for sixteen uninterrupted years, one would have thought them the frontrunners any day. After all, well before they were toppled by the current ruling party, they had indeed boasted that they would rule the country till eternity.
All the same, it has not been that rosy for the APC, the party that shoved them aside in 2015, too. If the truth must be told, after all is said – even if undone – they appear to be reeling. As the poll hastily approaches, it appears as though it’s taking them unawares, as always. Like has characterised their tortuous seven-year-plus reign, they appear to be putting every foot in the void.
How they’ve been running the country apart, their primaries to appoint a presidential candidate turned out as dramatic as a Nollywood film acted in Bollywood and directed by Hollywood. First, their National Working Committee on whom the onus rested announced a consensus candidate. Then following protests against the move, even earlier ‘disqualified’ candidates were allowed to run.
And as if to compound things some more, they ended up choosing to run on a Muslim/Muslim ticket. A decision that has set the polity on fire, figuratively. While commendation of it by them and their cohorts has been vehement, condemnation by its opponents has carried. None more so than from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and now their Christian members.
Meanwhile, while all these unfurl, their Labour Party counterpart is evidently busier building the structures they stand accused of lacking. As though in obeisance to the reality that an absence of it would be an albatross as adumbrated in the eyes of their detractors. Like a respondent to this correspondence averred, it’s like the other parties are busy discussing the Labour Party and its frontrunner. Meanwhile, the latter are busy advertising their programmes and manifesto.
Admittedly, it’s morning yet on election things. With almost half-a-year in-between, all projections remain too early to call. But like elders across all the divides stress, the taste of a turd can be surmised from the smell of its harbinger fart. This effort is only an attempt at a clarion call to all the duelling parties – and their supporters – that this is the time to make hay. Yes, the sun is yet abroad.
Uzoatu the author of the novel Vision Impossible (Lagos: New Gong, 2006) is also the editor of Nairaweb.Ng.