After the Supreme Court threw out the legal challenge by Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the February 2019 presidential poll last week, two things flashed across my mind. One was a song, the other, a quote from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which I read over 40 years ago.
Macbeth was fooled, just as it happened to former Vice President Atiku, who was hoodwinked into believing that he was president already, even before the election.
Who were those that paltered with Atiku in a double sense? Who were the people that lured him into a losing battle? Who were those who told him he was on a giant horse, not knowing that he was riding on a cockroach?
Those who didn’t like Buhari, either because of ethnicity, language, religion or the man’s aversion for corruption, gave Atiku a false hope because they wanted business as usual; and it should be anybody but Buhari. So they followed the former vice president, not because they loved him, but because they wanted Buhari out of power by all means. They put their money on the wrong horse, gambled and lost.
Before the election, the “Atikulators” were everywhere, boasting of how they were going to wrest power in the country. And they fooled their principal. He backed them up with cash in major currencies of the world. Again, the marabouts, prophets, some pastors and preachers, as well as witches and wizards, formed a confederacy and said Atiku would win. Who is it that says anything when the Lord has not spoken? The marabouts collected money handsomely, and pronounced Atiku king. They did not tell him he would be king on an empty throne. The preachers, across the major religions, because of personal hatred, and possibly inducement, gave evil and false messages. They began to proclaim that Atiku was the messiah when God had not said so. And the PDP candidate believed them. He felt there was no way he could ever lose the election. But he didn’t know that lying tongues were in action. The preachers had become inhabited by lying spirits, modern day Zedekiahs who prophesied falsehood. They led Atiku to political perdition.
Also, social media, populated by people with exaggerated sense of worth, thought they could make anything possible. I call them the vocal minority. If you followed only the social media before the elections, you would think the All Progressives Congress (APC) government at the centre was gone. They filled the landscape with so much wailing. Interestingly, the Buhari people simply kept their peace while online warriors, most of who had no permanent voters cards continued to fire blanks. A very credible and scientific study had shown before the polls that the social media would account for between nine and 11 per cent of the ballots. And not all of the votes would go to the PDP. The two major parties would share it. But from the noise online you thought Atiku had coasted home. He, too, must have believed the lie. He paid dearly for it with a broken heart.
Again, the coalition that thought they owned the country also fooled Atiku. They include politicians, businessmen and high net-worth people. They had never failed in anything before. If they showed you a red card, you were out of the game. Such people massed behind Atiku. Those who had corruption cases before the courts, those who had lost power and were forlorn and disconsolate, those who had always profiteered from the system and who felt that Buhari had closed the sluice gate, all came together.
Buoyed by Atiku’s promise that he would empower his friends when he got power, they were already licking their lips. But those who felt they were Nigeria’s landlords had long been given quit notices by Buhari and ejected. Many other forces fooled Atiku, which space would not permit one to mention. And being professionals, lawyers must ply their art and make profit from it. They are learned people while the rest of us are only educated.
However, morality is everything. Why egg on your client when you know he does not have a good case? They knew that Atiku lost the election, but man must chop. They encouraged the PDP candidate to go to court despite knowing that the prayers were weak and improbable. A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Festus Keyamo, said the suit was the worst he had ever seen in Nigeria’s history of election petitions, but the lawyers convinced Atiku otherwise.
He lost at the Court of Appeal level, but there was probably more money to be made, so they encouraged a trip to the Supreme Court. And it was another ill-fated journey.
Adesina is the Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity