There is a deep conflict in Nigeria. Not that of the worrisome bloodletting in the Middle-Belt. Not the growing unease in the Niger Delta. Not the Jihadists uprising in the North-East. Not the festering corruption and the compromised anti-graft war. Not the unemployment crisis and the national minimum wage palaver. All these and many more are disturbing conflict triggers though.
But, the competition for Aso Rock tends to be dwarfing all the other conflicts at the moment. Though competition is a major element in modern political conflicts, what is playing out in the country is quite distressing. The 2019 power contest has been narrowed to a pro-Buhari and anti-Atiku movements. This is fueling a bitter political and economic antagonism.
The emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as the presidential standard bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been giving the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) some sleepless nights. As a Fulani, Atiku has the reach to their ethnic nationality just as President Muhammadu Buhari. While it was much easier for Buhari to rally Northern support against former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, that massive electoral support cannot be guaranteed in 2019. Atiku has polarised the North, and the elite’s political pendulum tends to be swinging to his side.
To abort the Atiku political virus from becoming a pandemic of sorts, Buhari’s APC appears to be leading a bitter attritional war against Atiku’s PDP. The war does not seem to be recognised yet as a major confrontation it is. A covert attritive war is being adopted as a political strangulating strategy to enable the APC to retain power beyond 2019. If the strategy keeps flowering, it could lead the country to avoidable tragedies.
The PDP Presidential Campaign Organisation (PPCO) on Saturday decried the stoppage of transactions on all accounts belonging to their Vice presidential candidate, Peter Obi, wife, his family members and their businesses by agencies of the Buhari administration.
This strategy appears to be familiar. It simply means starve them to surrender. That was the same strategy the Federal Government adopted against Ndigbo during the inglorious civil war. Needless to say that the Igbo people of Eastern Nigeria suffered a lot of repression and are still being repressed. Moving against Obi and his family by blocking access to their cash for survival, is a sad reminder of the atrocities against the Igbo people during the Biafran war. Buhari was an active combatant in that ethnic-cleansing.
According to Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP Presidential Campaign Council’s Director in charge of Media & Publicity, ‘’since his nomination, Peter Obi, apart from facing series of failed attempts by the APC to destroy his reputation, has also continued to receive all manners of threats and blackmail, including threats to his life and those of his wife and children’’. That seems to be bearing the signature of heartless killings in the North during the civil war. Must the contest for power in Nigeria always degenerate to such a bestial level?
Though arguable, PDP is claiming that having realised that the majority of Nigerians are rallying behind the duo of Atiku and Obi as their presidential and vice presidential candidates respectively, ‘’the Buhari Presidency and the APC have resorted to all manners of machinations, including smear campaigns and direct attacks on their persons and business concerns, in a bid to run them down’’.
Apparently boasting, the opposition added, ‘’the Buhari Presidency is intimidated by Peter Obi’s resume, particularly, his general acceptance as epitome of fiscal responsibility, frugality and transparency in governance’’, and queried, ‘’why is the Presidency on a wild goose chase in investigating Peter Obi, who left office as Governor of Anambra State five years ago with a nationally acclaimed clean record, intact reputation for frugality, transparency, zero tolerance for corruption and leaving behind a huge saving of N75 billion in cash and investments; without owing any salaries, pensions, gratuities or even contractors for contracts executed?’’
Continuing, PDP said, ‘’the fact remains that the Buhari Presidency and the APC are merely shadow boxing in their attacks on Atiku and Obi, as their records before Nigerians speak for them. All discerning Nigerians know that the reasons for an investigation on a man like Peter Obi, is a journey to no where aimed to stifle him of funds as well as attempt to distract our campaign and divert attention from the failures of the Buhari administration.
‘’It is ludicrous that President Buhari would continue to condone the looting of our treasuries by his party leaders and the cabal in his Presidency, which even, the First Lady had even alluded to, only to be using government agencies to attempt to blackmail our presidential and vice presidential candidates whose reputations stand clear before all Nigerians’’.
The PPCO then reminded President Buhari that neither he nor Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was in 2015, as candidates, harassed, attacked at the airport or subjected to blackmails, and wonders why they are now employing such tactics just because Nigerians have resolved to do away with them, come 2019.