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Atiku’s ‘rankadede’ politics, By Kassim Afegbua

In the last one week, Nigeria’s political climate has been upbeat in its usual characteristic manner, when elections are knocking. It is a time you are likely going to hear all manner of prophesies and predictions. You will hear people telling you how they called on God and how God answered them. What they will not tell you is, the particular God they are calling. Is it the one with small “g” or capital “G”. Is it the god of Iron or the god of politics? Is it the god of “ponmo or amala? Is it the god of “rankadede” politics? Is it the god of stomach politics or the god of perennial presidential aspiration? Is it the god they told us in 2015 that ushered in a man that has reduced Nigeria to rubble or the god that has kept us on our toes? Dino Melaye was in the forefront of those who saw a messiah in Muhammadu Buhari in 2014/2015, after 7 years, we have seen the conduct of his “messiah”. Dino has started again with his infamous prophesy that is likely to snuf life out of us. If this “messiah” has been flogging us with wooden cane for seven years, be assured that his latest “messiah”, Atiku Abubakar,  will flog us with iron rods. Atiku’s political trajectory has been based on desperation, greed and conquistadorial mutation. Since 1992, he has penchantly been on the score-sheet of political participation, and the quest has always been self-serving.

When a man like Dino Melaye, my friend and brother, talks about speaking with God, and coming back with a message for us, clearly speaking on behalf of Atiku Abubakar, we need to re-examine him very profoundly. We need to examine both Dino and Atiku to be sure we are not digging our own graves. Both of them played active roles in ensuring that President Buhari was delivered in 2015 to oust Goodluck Jonathan from his exalted throne. They both worked for the demolition of the PDP in 2015 in a manner that could have left PDP sprawling on the floor, unable to discover its compass. Shamelessly, both of them sneaked back into the party asking to govern the country using the PDP platform. Unfortunately, the party fell for their pranks through its habitual bread and butter politics, if you like, “rankadede” politics, that made Atiku Abubakar get the ticket in Port Harcourt in 2019. As soon as the results of the 2019 election were announced, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar escaped through the backdoor to Dubai. He left his supporters and followers in a quandary while he rollicked away among the pantheon of Dubai’s derring-do. Dino, was, himself, here climbing trees and falling down in dramatic scripts to escape the wrath of Yahaya Bello, the tempestuous Governor of Kogi state, famed for his “tatatata” politics. It was one “awada kerikeri”, to another “rankadede” politics, as he tried to reactivate himself from the bruises he suffered in the hands of a president God spoke to him about. 

Hearing Dino talk about God speaking to him again, I got scared. I flashed back to his 2015 prophesies which later turned out to be our collective albatross in the hands of President Buhari, who has turned his friends to foes, and has crippled the country on all fronts without bating an eyelid. Anything that Dino’s 2015 messiah touched has become a curse. Life is tough. Power is grounded. Unemployment has increased in geometric proportion so have job losses. Insecurity is at its worst under a president that Senator Dino told us was a messiah in 2015. You only need to recalibrate Dino’s homily in 2015 when the campaigns were in top gear and reconcile that with his new messianic message of seeing another president in Atiku Abubakar. If we are to follow Dino’s purported message from God, then we are doomed.  I expected Dino Melaye to have observed his dissonance in the Atiku product when the latter ditched his supporters in 2019 and ran away to Dubai. But politics of “amala and ewedu”, “rankadede” is addictive. A perennial aspirant will always see himself nearing the victory point each time election draws near. It is always about self and not for the general good.

There is this argument that is fueling the urge to cede the ticket to the North, very watery, unscientific and unempirical argument that reduces the propagandists to mere noughts. They said that, if PDP fields a Northern candidate, and APC fields a Southern candidate, that PDP would win the election. How churlish a point. I even saw one ridiculous and utterly empty barrel of an analysis talking about the geopolitical arithmetics of a country that will be 62 years old by 1st October, 2022. Such bizarre, stomach-infrastructure induced arithmetics that exposes the intellectual hollowness of the author, further justifies the rot in the system and the danger that stares us in the face. 

In Nigeria’s 62 years as an independent nation, power has resided in the north for 48 of those years. Whatever Democratic “miscalculation” that exists as a result of Yardua’s death, was not a function of injustice or lack of equity. President Obasanjo handed power over to Umaru Yardua until the latter kicked the bucket by no ordinary design of anyone. How it has suddenly become convenient to narrow the discourse to this democratic dispensation is what baffles my mental gymkhana. Truth be told, our present Northern Presidential Aspirants within the PDP are greedy, unstatesmanly, self-serving and unpatriotic. What stops them from pulling out of the race to allow room for their Southern counterparts? What is the meaning of consensus amongst few Northern aspirants when it ought to be holistic and all-embracing. 

When we talk of the North, we should cast our minds back in the days of Aminu Kano, the great Premier, Sardauna Ahmadu Bello, and of course, Tafawa Balewa. These Northern leaders were the epitome of class, distinction, selflessness, patriotism, and service to their people. They lived and died like paupers, not like those Northern leaders of today, who have become conquistadors and economic predators in an era of dialectical materialism and grand acquisition of needless wealth at the detriment of the holloi polloi. Late Sardauna died without riches. Late Aminu Kano showed similar candour and conduct, and of course, Tafawa Balewa, an outspoken great mind whose leadership was as selfless as his fearlessness. When the likes of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his supporters speak about their sense of entitlement in the north, you are most likely going to conclude that they are pro-people. Alas, they are the very reason why the population of the beggars in the north are increasing. Rather than spend their resources to ameliorate the ugly realities of life amongst the growing population of beggars in the North, they would rather buy private jets and allow the people to continue their “rankadede” salutation. Just compare the lifestyle of a Sardauna of Sokoto, who died without riches, and that of an Atiku Abubakar and his riches. 

The children of Aminu Kano are almost unheard of years after their father passed. The children of Sardauna of Sokoto, Ahmadu Bello, are almost unheard of, ditto for the intelligent Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Apart from monuments named after them, you are likely going to conclude that their children do not populate the Nigerian space. But just imagine the political madness of a Sule Lamido in Jigawa. The patriarch, Alhaji Sule Lamido, is running for Senate, his son is running for Governor, yet another of his sons is running for House of Representatives. Three members of one family putting themselves forward as if the state was created for them. But in an era of illicit wealth acquisition, when both father and son are standing trial for alleged financial crimes, you are bound to see all manner of dubious politicking to create distraction from the real issues in governance. In Adamawa, Alhaji Atiku’s son is a Commissioner under the present Governor Fintiri. Would it have been a bad idea if the young man allowed someone else to occupy the office since his father is running for president? Or on account of his father’s famed riches? Where is the Sardauna in them? Where is the Aminu Kano in them? All you hear from their propagandists is that Atiku is this, Atiku is that? Let them show us what he has done in specific terms about lifting those beggars off the street. Is he willing to sell off his private jet and apply the resources in helping the poor? Is he willing to sell his many houses and used the resources to heal poverty and hunger? These are the real challenges. We are not deceived by someone telling us of a voice from God about an Atiku becoming president. This “rankadede” mentality should stop. It is a dubious politics of greed, egocentricism and economic predatory.

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