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Opinion: Is Atiku The Change Agent?

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by Ojo M. Maduekwe

Several columnists in recent time have argued that the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), which slogan as a party is ‘Change’, is in itself, in dire need of change. Some of them in their opinion feel that the party bears no semblance to progressivism, but that the toga of progressivism is only applicable to a few of its members with distinguishing characters.
In light of the above, four of its key contenders for the party’s ticket in the build-up to next years’ presidential election have continued to sell their candidacy. It is expected that for the APC to control the central government starting from 2015, Nigerians must be able to ideologically separate it from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Following the successful merger of the legacy parties to form the APC, there has been a continuous political duel between it and the PDP to discredit each other ahead of the 2015 general election, with focus on the presidential poll. Unfortunately, this has involved the use of propaganda and unsubstantiated allegations by both parties.
The APC keeps harping on the need for Nigerians to look to it as an alternative for development. The reason they claim is that the PDP has failed in developing Nigeria for over 15 years that it has been ruling since 1999.
The PDP, failing to debate this claim has rather decided to tag the APC as nothing more than a platform for which the members intend using to achieve their selfish political ambitions.
Many of the key members in the APC, especially the Northern governors that defected from the PDP to the opposition, defected to the APC mainly because their future political ambitions were suffering setbacks while as members of the PDP. It is for this reason that the ruling party also tagged APC members as “disgruntled and frustrated politicians”.
Several members of the opposition themselves, failing to differentiate their party from the PDP, through articulated developmental strategies as informed by progressive ideologies, have not helped to project a positive public perception of their party.
There are several interviews attacking opposing personalities and the PDP-led federal government policies, but hardly has anyone comprehensively spoken about how the opposition intends to do better.
Mr. Kayode Komolafe, in his THISDAY column, argued that if various politicians busied themselves with selling their party’s brand for its ideology, instead of attacking personalities, “Party spokesmen will be explaining their strategies and visions instead of trivialising serious security issues by making unsubstantiated allegations against political opponents.”
While many Nigerians now crave for a change of what the PDP currently offers, the APC that was initially considered the desired change, rather than turning out to be an alternative in the true sense of the word, has succeeded in projecting itself as a change only for the purpose of unseating the ruling PDP from the central government.
Some actions and utterances of its members, especially those key to its unseating the PDP, have been everything but progressive. Take for instance, the conduct of the Kano State Governor, Rabiu Kwankwaso (who is one of its leading presidential aspirants) when President Goodluck Jonathan travelled to Kano some months back for a PDP-organised rally.
After the rally, when President Jonathan left the state, Kwankwaso and some members of his cabinet were photographed each holding a broom (the main symbol of the APC) sweeping the floor.
Online news site, the Premium Times, while quoting a Hausa expert, Kabiru Mohammed, on the implication of that conduct, described the governor’s action as “a cultural and political message meant to emphasise his disdain for the president.”
Like one of their key founders and former Lagos State Governor, Bola Tinubu, and former governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako, many Nigerians have come to accept Kwankwaso’s conduct as what to expect from the opposition.
But it must be said also that it has been the practice of the opposition to sweep away the remnants of the ruling party whenever there was a campaign rally of sorts. It started many years ago when the PDP tagged one of its rallies “Tsunami rally” at the Tafawa Balewa Square, Lagos. Even though the opposition had not made broom its logo then, it came out, led by Tinubu and swept away what it called “the evil of the PDP”.
However, as a ruling party, the PDP many agreed have not lived up to expectations, but for the APC, which normally would have provided a better alternative, their conducts and utterances are not considered progressive in any fashion or shape.
For many Nigerians, who at the formation stage were hoping that the APC would live up to its slogan, not a few have are disappointed. Many are proposing that the party, before it can seek to change Nigeria, must first change its way and its members, their conducts.
Presently, what some of the members have succeeded in doing is to castigate the ruling party and President Jonathan at any given opportunity.
Unlike the others, Atiku has engaged in little criticism but more in articulating his vision for the country. Many times during profiling of its presidential aspirants, Atiku has been described as the more moderate personality amongst the likes of former military ruler, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari; former Kwara Governor, Bukola Saraki and Kwankwaso.
But this, there are those who hold the view that it is mere assumption that cannot stand the test of rigorous scrutiny of the attitudinal disposition of others listed above.
Aside running a media office adjudged to be the most vigorous in the country, the former vice-president has a personal website, www.atiku.org, where occasionally he articulates his thoughts and opinions on issues of national interest and how such issues could be resolved.
In many of the articles, he uses collective words such as “we must” and “it is our duty”, as ways Nigerians can find solutions to some of the country’s challenges.
When the issue is politics, Nigerians are largely divided between Christians and Muslims. But Atiku, who has been described as a religious moderate, is considered a preferred candidate to the Christians, even though he’s a devout Muslim. Buhari, due to his past utterances, does not enjoy this and his candidacy, some think could inspire Christians’ vote backlash for the APC.
Those who continue to clamour for the emergence of Atiku have argued that Nigeria is at the brink of disintegration and that for the APC to unseat the PDP, it must endeavour to field an aspirant whose candidature would be accepted across the country by both Christians and Muslims. It is in this argument that Buhari lost out in previous elections in 2003 and 2007.
A source in Kano once told THISDAY that Buhari, over the years, has been wrongly painted by politicians who oppose his becoming president, as being tribalistic. Many Christians in the South fear that a Buhari presidency is all the North needs to turn Nigeria into an Islamic country. But according to the THISDAY source, this is a wrong impression of Buhari.
On the contrary, the source said Kwankwaso, unknown to many is the tribalistic one. He had gone ahead to give some instances.
An example was that “During former governor Shekarau’s administration, he had a way of running an inclusive government and making sure that all the region and religion in Kano were treated fairly. There were non-indigenes working in the civil service and in the medical and teaching professions.”
Upon getting to power, the source claimed that “Kwankwaso came in and dismantled it because of pressure from the Hausa majority in the state. For the medical professionals, there are not enough indigene-doctors in Kano or the north as a whole. The few indigene-doctors naturally enjoy the benefit of pensions and gratuities but that does not apply to doctors who originated from other states, especially from the South.”
The source said during the time of Shekarau, to keep the doctors from the Southern part of the country, aside their salary, since they were not being paid pensions and gratuities, Shekarau as the governor started paying them 20 per cent of their basic salary every month.
“But since Kwankwaso came into government three and a half years ago, he has not paid the doctors the agreed 20 per cent basic salary every month.”
In choosing who flies its flag, there is the consensus that the APC needs to understand that it must change its winning strategy and the members too, their disposition.
Many Atiku supporters, judging from the comment on some of his articles on his website, believe that Atiku, unlike other APC presidential aspirants has lived up to that expectation, at least, considerably. A change that is devoid of hatred but one that would favour every tribe and religion equally.
But more than anything else, Atiku would do more than just talking to convince the people and his party that he can contain the scourge of corruption being the bane of the country’s problems. It is then he can be seen in the light of change agent.

 

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Culled from THISDAY

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Opinion pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of NewsWireNGR.

 

 

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