Atiku as Northern candidate? What’s new, please?


Ikechukwu Obi

Except we just want to be politically correct, I don’t know what anyone is defending in that Atiku statement to the Arewa forum yesterday. He was pretty clear and emphasized his points in a manner that leaves no doubt.

To be sincere there’s nothing to spin there. If I were to defend him at all, I won’t try to reconstruct his words or give it any smart meaning because it’s too clear for argument. I’d rather say he was addressing a Northern audience and needed to sell himself to them as their son. I won’t try to say he didn’t mean what he clearly said. Common!

Look, if he had added, “Hausa/Fulani” (or any other group) after he said “the North doesn’t need Yoruba or Igbo”, it would have been well understood as the usual ‘Hausa/Igbo/Yoruba’ contextual generalisation we all make from time to time to represent sections of Nigerian people. But he was clear, “the North doesn’t not need a Yoruba candidate or an Igbo candidate….” And to emphasize that, he reiterated what he said earlier “…this is what the North needs”, that is, someone from the North who understands other parts.

Still, someone from the North…not South.

I don’t know why we love to spin stuff like these. Look at the statements in context, his meaning is clear – Northerners should vote a Northerner albeit one who has networks all over Nigeria. What’s there to be argued here? What’s the defence here abeg?

And to emphasize it, he rubs it in to say “I stand before you as a Pan-Nigerian of Northern origin”. Plain statement of fact to be honest, but never leaving you in any doubt about the point in his Northerness.

Like I said, it may be arguable to defend him based on his audience (a coalition of Arewa groups who essentially wanted to know what candidates had for the North) but to somehow deny his soliciting for Northerners to vote him because he’s a Northerner is trying to defraud Nigerians who heard him.

And in any case, Atiku isn’t new to sectional agitations. In 2011, after extensive lobby, he emerged Northern consensus candidate in the PDP but lost the primaries to Goodluck Jonathan.

In 2013, Atiku left PDP for APC because he said it was the turn of the North.

For him, his claim on the Presidency has always been about his Northernness, little else. So what’s the denial about his sectional intent at the Arewa Forum?

He should chest his sectionalism, denying it is as cowardly as deleting the Deborah tweet. Afterall the other elderly man in Lagos launched his campaign with “it is Yoruba’s turn”.