First published in my column, #TheAlternative, in the back page of today’s ThisDay.
This question was posed to me on Facebook by a follower, who wondered why I, a Christian Southerner, would support Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, a Muslim Northerner.
He was peeved with me for betraying (as he claimed) my brother, Peter Obi, for an ‘aboki’ (to use his word).
It is so sad that Nigeria has lost its innocence, but we did not always behave and believe like this, and my family and I grew up and thrived in that innocent Nigeria, which I want to bequeath to my children.
My father, the late Justice Jean Omokri, went to Sokoto in 1974, the year of my birth, as a young corp member of the National Youth Service Corp. he was 24 years old.
After serving at the ministry of justice in Sokoto, he was retained there and rose to become the Director of Public Prosecution of the entire state in 1979. By 1986, he was appointed as the youngest judge in Nigeria, as at that time, again in Sokoto.
He remained in the old Sokoto state until a slot opened up for the Northwest in the Court of Appeal in 2004, whereupon the entire seven states of the Northwest nominated my father, a Christian and husband of a pastor, to fill THEIR slot in the nation’s second highest court.
So, my family and I are beneficiaries of one Nigeria in the truest forms of the word.
And the funniest thing is that my late father was the man who restored Peter Obi’s mandate to him after Peter Obi’s fellow Southern Christian brother took it from him.
Now, my question is this, If the Northwest did not nominate my late father to that post, would he have been in a position to do what he did for Peter Obi on March 15, 2006?
So, I do not have the luxury of thinking and acting like others who only see Nigeria through the eyes of religion. If Nigeria were like the United States, and I wanted to contest for Governor, I would have been able to contest in Sokoto!
So, I am blind to region and religion based on my family conditioning. My support for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is purely on ideological grounds. He personifies the brand of politics I have believed in from my childhood, which can be summarised as secular, free market based and privatisation led.
He believes in meritocracy and wants to restructure Nigeria.
And most of all, he is a lover of education, who has spent his own funds to establish the American University of Nigeria, Yola, which is one of the best private universities in Africa, as well as the first American-style university in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Through that institution, he gave scholarships to hundreds of indigent students, including some of the #ChibokGirls.
What that tells me is that he loves education and would fund ASUU. And I am very passionate about education, because I see it as the only vehicle through which Nigeria can go from third world to first world in a generation.
I also support him because he is INDEPENDENTLY wealthy. He co-founded INTELS, one of the largest oil and gas, and ports services firms in Africa, in the 80s. And before he got into government, INTELS was already worth almost a billion dollars (it is worth much more today).
Of course he has been accused by his political
opponents, but then, that is what political opponents do. They accuse. However, consider that Atiku Abubakar is the most investigated politician in Nigeria, yet, NOTHING untoward was found against him. Accusation can come from political opponents. But an accusation is not a fact!
People say he is going to privatise the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. To those people, I ask, do you have regular fuel today? Do you have good unadulterated fuel today?
The reason for that is because government is not good at running businesses. And we know because Nigerians used to have scarcity of cement. But that all ended in 2002. You know why? Because Atiku Abubakar pushed for the privatisation of the nation’s previously public cement factories.
Today, Dangote, who bought those plants, now employs five times the number of people in them, that the government used to employ at those same plants. Additionally, the product is now plentiful and affordable.
The same thing will happen if we privatise the NNPC. Productivity will increase, corruption will decrease, and availability of petroleum products that will not destroy your vehicles will also increase!
And amongst the candidates that have so far emerged, nobody is more prepared to be President than Atiku Abubakar. He the man with the plan of how he can man the wheel. Where is Bola Tinubu’s plan?
Even if he had a plan, which he does not, Tinubu, like Buhari, his echo, will be distracted by his very obvious health issues and I am not prepared to spend the next four years staging #HarassTinubuOutofLondon protests. We need a leader who will not be encumbered by ill health.
The task ahead is demanding. Our nation has gone from the third fastest growing economy in the world on May 29, 2015, according to CNNMoney, to the world headquarters for extreme poverty today, according to the World Economic Forum. Surely, the party that put us here cannot be the same party that will raise us up.
Einstein said it best when he said you need a higher level of intelligence to solve a problem than the level of intelligence that caused the problem you are trying to solve. Bola Tinubu and his evil twin, Muhammadu Buhari, caused the problem. They cannot be the solution when they are the problem!
If you have ever cooked rice and beans in the same pot, you would know that the rice cooks long before the beans. Yet, the beans is more nutritious. Don’t feel threatened by anyone because they succeeded ahead of you. Yours will still come. And it may be bigger! So, stop pointing at other people’s success and complaining because all your friends made it before you. You are on a different timetable from them. If an elephant and a rabbit get pregnant on the same day, the rabbit will deliver FIRST. But the elephant will deliver BEST. Oprah Winfrey became a billionaire before Dangote. But today Dangote is worth 5 times Oprah’s net worth. It is not how FAST. It is how FAR!
Gospeller. Business Insider Magazine’s Business Influencer or the Year, 2022. Deep Thinker. #1 Bestselling author of Facts Versus Fiction: The True Story of the Jonathan Years. Avid traveller. Hollywood Magazine Film Festival Humanitarian of the Year, 2019.