By: Andy Akporugo Jr

Atiku Abubakar belongs in the same unwieldy sentence as IBB. Both are great football players if the field is the fancy of the ordinary Nigerian, and although of modest formal learning they are reckoned to be geniuses, the only problem being identifying at what they are truly stellar.

Emerging from deep parts of the North, they are never accused of being northern or ethnic; although devout muslims, they are yet chummy with a vast number of Christians especially in the south, who gratuitously ‘‘bless’’ them with the identity of being bad Islamic faithfuls who are at heart passable Christians.

By reputation they would feature as protagonists in the story of Nigeria whether it is of its carnage or of its restoration and although told as a tragedy or as a comedy – even if it is only of errors. They are the problem which poses as the solution, and indeed have a bit of history to show that they have been and can be the solution!

But IBB’s time is gone and Atiku’s season has arrived once again – on his fifth bus trip! A great match reader he has spotted the new national catchword and has been espousing it, although only to those who already own the word, sitting as carefully picked audiences. But does he truly believe that which he now preaches? Perhaps. Except that I do not hear his usual followers, his kitchen cabinet, repeating his new word or celebrating its rhetoric, and yet I am sure that a teacher’s true message is best demonstrated by the beliefs of his disciples. A friend familiar with the business of the street has uncharitably defined Atiku’s current role as being that of a ‘catcher’, but I wouldn’t go that far.

Yet in spite of his apparent ambivalence or slipperiness, and like bitter kola, I like Atiku Abubakar. Like Mama Taraba, I would vote for him but only if he emerges at the blocks in 2019 a healthy 72 year old in some collaboration with, and covered by an undertaking of, my beloved ‘‘paternalistic potentate’’, and more importantly, only if he dons colours that do not make my vote convict me of being an accessory to the immediate past wreckage visited on my dear country.

Perhaps, I can avail Atiku Abubakar the benefit of a fresh start, but I could never forgive myself if I were counted on the side of unrepentant rogue-philosophers, the extent of whose umbrellas reach only to the sizes of their jumbo pockets!

Call it hate speech if you like and you will only be joining in the Atiku-type ambivalence; after all, hate speech is how fond statements about Nigeria are also described nowadays!