Atiku Abubakar and Bala Mohammed: The limit of hypocrisy

A lot has happened within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since the emergence of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, as its flagbearer for the 2023 presidential election. Not the least of these developments is the moral challenge posed by Governor, Nyesom Wike of Rivers state, who has insisted that the chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, should step down for a southerner, in line with pre-primary agreements. The contention is that it is not right for the two most powerful positions in the party to be occupied by people from the same zone; Atiku and Ayu are from the North.

Despite concerted efforts by well-meaning party chieftains like immediate past chairman of the BOT, Senator Walid Jibrin, to douse the tension and reunite the warring factions, and with only a few days to the commencement of campaigns, peace and stability are yet to return to the PDP. If Wike’s unbending minimum is a problem, the nefarious role of some agent provocateur and hypocrites, who relentlessly stoke the embers of conflict and disunity, has not helped matters.

From experience, those who stoke the fire of conflict do so for many reasons. These include those who seek access to the candidate but think their only chance is to massage the person’s ears about imaginary enemies; those who need to run down prospective or potential opponents in the power game; hungry scavengers desperately seeking pecuniary gratification and, do not be surprised, fifth columnists who have been deployed by opponents to destabilise the party from within.

It is difficult to place the group, PDP North East Solidarity Network, that recently called a press conference to, as they claimed, alert Atiku Abubakar to be wary of Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state, who it described as a “traitor”. Bala Mohammed, a traitor?

Well, if you are in doubt, not so with this clairvoyant group that had this to say about Bala Mohammed: “…From our findings, the former lawmaker is still sobbing over his loss at the presidential primary and has allied with other disgruntled aspirants and party members. But on the surface, he pretends to be with Atiku. He is pro-Atiku in the day while he dines with Wike at night”. Here comes the Nostradamus(es) of the PDP.

Sadly, these are the kind of people who go about recruiting enemies for Atiku and the PDP or whose stock-in-trade is to alienate hitherto loyal party men and women, to the point of turning them against the party. People or groups who want Atiku to believe that being Wike’s friend makes Bala Mohammed an enemy are, to put it mildly, Atiku’s biggest enemies and, could ultimately become his major undoing, that is, if the experienced political player believes many of these people who could be described as political jobbers or opportunists. I do not want to go into the merit or otherwise of Wike’s demands. Atiku Abubakar is experienced enough in the affairs of life, including politics, to be schooled on matters of trust.

But in going into the presidential race, Bala Mohammed was genuinely inspired to present himself for service, not in the desperate manner that some political turncoats have exaggerated, but in the best democratic traditions which the PDP proclaims as its mantra. He meant every word when he pledged during his nationwide consultations before the primaries, that he would abide by the choice of his party.

When that choice became Atiku Abubakar, Bala Mohammed promptly congratulated him and followed up with a visit to the flagbearer’s house in Asokoro, Abuja where he further pledged his loyalty and allegiance and promised to mobilise the Bauchi state electorate in his support. I am also aware that when Atiku Abubakar’s running mate, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta state, requested to visit Bala Mohammed, the later offered to visit him instead, insisting that the presidential running mate of his party deserved the courtesy.

If the so-called PDP North East Solidarity Network had been patriotic and genuinely pro-Atiku as it claims, it would have known that to seek to antagonise an incumbent governor like Bala Mohammed, with a huge electoral value, was the ultimate betrayal. If the characters that constitute the PDP North East Solidarity Network were privy to what transpired at Atiku’s 75th birthday in Bauchi last year, they would have been less outlandish in their hypocrisy. Not only did Bala Mohammed roll out the red carpet for a deserving elder brother, but he also named the newly constructed 4.2 km Gombe Road Maiduguri By-pass after the former vice president, now presidential candidate of his party. That suffices for how Bala Mohammed feels about Atiku Abubakar. For his part, as reported by the People’s Gazette last November 26, Atiku Abubakar had this to say about Bala Mohammed:

“Today, I read with emotions your birthday greetings to me. I don’t normally like celebrating birthdays, but here you are today, making me celebrate birthday with a birthday cake and birthday bull.

“I never had it in my life like this. Your excellency, words alone are not enough for me to describe how I feel today.

“I want to appeal to the good people of Bauchi state to support their governor. Give him all the support that he needs as you can see that if you give him the support, he will also serve you very well. He is not a governor that is actually ruling or governing you. He is a governor who is serving you.”

Those words on marble reflect Atiku Abubakar’s candid appraisal of Bala Mohammed’s stellar performance through the provision of infrastructure, people empowerment, inclusive governance and security, among other lofty achievements. There is no gainsaying that this breathtaking performance, in less than four years, has endeared Bala Mohammed to the people of Bauchi state, a formidable political capital that Atiku can tap into without exerting too much energy just as Bala Mohammed would definitely derive immense electoral value from the presidential candidate. If the so-called PDP North East Solidarity Network is as patriotic as it wants to make out, why would it strive to scuttle this mutually rewarding symbiotic relationship? Or are some aggrieved PDP members using this platform to settle scores with Bala Mohammed not minding the possible deleterious effect on him and Atiku?

Bala Mohammed is a loyal party man whose contributions towards building a formidable opposition platform, for recovering the PDP’s lost mandate is there for every committed partyman or woman, to see. To therefore suggest that he would labour to build a house and engage in its destruction, as the PDP North East Solidarity Network suggests, is grotesquely anomalous and stupid.

On whether Bala Mohammed is a patriot or traitor, that should be left for history to judge, conscious that former President Goodluck Jonathan is equipped with the intellectual and experiential backgrounds, to appreciate the roles played by the various actors in his political odyssey. Yet, let it be placed on record, that Bala Mohammed is a statesman and patriot who, at a very dangerous watershed in the history of the country, presented himself on the slaughter slab and ready to suffer martyrdom, by proposing the Doctrine of Necessity Motion which paved the way for Jonathan to assume office, first as acting President and subsequently as President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. If that is what it means to be a traitor, I do not think that Bala Mohammed, former director in the federal civil service, Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory and, by the grace of God and the goodwill of the good people of Bauchi state, incumbent governor of the state, has any regrets.

For now, conscious as always that power comes from God, Bala Mohammed remains focused in his single-minded quest to push the frontiers of development in Bauchi state, pursue his re-election and provide all the support required to elect Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, as President of Nigeria, come 2023. In this, he will not be deterred by the hypocrisy of either the unknown PDP North East Solidarity Network or the other shenanigans who masquerade as patriots while camouflaging their treacherous self-serving plans.

Mr Agu writes from Abuja