From Nnangagwa to Atiku Abubakar


In a sense, this past fortnight has been the story of two vice presidents, in Nigeria and Zimbabwe. First Zimbabwe

This is a teachable moment for us all especially Africans. For days on end in recent weeks no one could come up with a precise definition of the political situation in Zimbabwe. The country’s military set the ball of half-communication rolling with a carefully worded announcement of an intervention targeted (it claims) at purging Robert Mugabe’s closest political circles of the liability of the rotten eggs (cleverly evading attribution of governance failure to the man at whose desk the buck stops)-while confining the President himself to house arrest. Was it a coup or a coup in the making? Was it correct to assume that Mugabe had been deposed-as near unanimously wished by Zimbabwe citizens and non-citizens alike?

The deliberate stonewall of the Zimbabwe military on the interpretation of its intervention must, firstly, be understood against the backdrop of a hostile global disposition towards military takeover of government. The confusion deepened, days later, when the embattled President, Robert Mugabe emerged, deferentially flanked by the Military hierarchy, to host a press conference where the most significant message he conveyed was a conspicuous omission-silence on an anxiously awaited statement of resignation. Yet he had been roundly repudiated by friends and foes alike.

The political party he founded, the ZANU-PF, had demanded his outright resignation failing which its parliamentary members were instructed to commence impeachment proceedings against him. The streets of Harare had complementarily erupted in pervasive and widespread scenes of popular revolt. Confronted with such massive and overwhelming rejection, the reality must have dawned on the hero turned villain that the days of reckoning had arrived. It has turned out a tragic sunset and anticlimax of an otherwise illustrious political career. In the unfolding drama and cast of political actors Mugabe featured as the villain being vanquished by the heroic exertions of the Zimbabwe generals.

The puzzle remains, that in situations like this, why is it invariably the case that behind every political villain is the dark shadow of a devious and manipulative consort? Given the over four decades age differential between Robert and Grace Mugabe, the union had looked somewhat incongruous right from the onset of the office romance-that was consummated on the ashes of the first marriage of the power besotted lady. It is apposite that the couple’s hold on power was ultimately truncated by a power play directed at crowning her the successor to the Mugabe dynasty.

‘Grace Mugabe was called “Gucci Grace” in Zimbabwe for her lavish spending. The former secretary, who married the president in 1996, recently bought millions of dollars’ worth of property and luxury cars in South Africa. Her eldest son, 25-year-old Bellarmine Chatunga, recently enraged Zimbabweans by posting a clip on social media taken in a well-known Johannesburg nightclub showing him pouring a £200 bottle of champagne over a £45,000 watch on a night out in South Africa, boasting that “daddy runs the whole country”.

We can sum up the totality of the military intervention in Zimbabwe as, in effect, nothing more than a palace coup but it is no less heroic for that. The fine-tuned orchestration, choreography and the ultimate transfer of power to Vice President Emerson Managawa is a class act in political self-containment. It was an outcome that served as a conflict resolution mechanism in which the winner did not win all and the loser did not lose all. Nonetheless, the intervention raises the problematic specter of the legitimacy of military coup arbitration in constitutional democracies.

In content and substance it is beyond contention that Mugabe had long crossed the threshold of constitutional democracy into the realms of unaccountable dictatorship but who makes this determination and assigns responsibility for the resolution of the problem? Zimbabwe courts have retroactively answered this question by ruling the intervention a constitutional takeover. In light of the de facto, fait accompli nature of the popular revolt (tantamount to a referendum), any other judicial pronouncement would have amounted to an academic exercise anyway. The uniqueness of the interventionist Zimbabwe statecraft is however liable to exaggeration.

Hence the extravagant claim that ‘No military in human history has managed to ensure the facilitation of the removal of an incumbent President without any spill of blood, whilst respecting all democratic processes and institutions. General Constantino Chiwenga, the man at the helm of this operation, holds the following qualifications: He holds the following qualifications-B.Sc. Defense and Security Studies, University of Zimbabwe; M.Sc. Security Studies, Oxford University; and Ph.D. Cyber Security, UNISA. This demonstrates that when you have educated and experienced people in critical positions, they can manage chaos better than uneducated cadres’.

It is of course not true that there is no historical precedent for the Zimbabwe style intervention and restoration of constitutional rule. There is the widely heralded precedent of Turkey where, until 2001, the military interventionist role was an institutionalized feature of the constitution. ‘The military has deep roots in society, and its influence predates the founding of the republic. But rather than hinder democratization, Turkey’s military remains an important component in the checks and balances that protect Turkish democracy’

In Nigeria, the story has been about the long mooted departure of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar from the All Progressives Congress, APC. The perennial pursuit of his presidential ambition is replete with uniquely positive and negative attributes. There is the attribute of a happy go lucky longevity to his political career (going now on three decades)-which attained a climax with his election as vice president 18 years ago. There is the quality of the liberal broadminded cosmopolitan disposition to his social and political personality and he has played a significant role in bridging the North/South; Old breed/ New breed cleavages of Nigerian politics. He has been instrumental to the cultivation and deepening of constitutional democracy in Nigeria. But he is also crucially flawed in the propensity to take one step forward only to reverse his advance with two steps backward.

He seems to have ignited the vicious cycle again and significant headwinds await him on the horizon. Arising from the notorious pedigree of relentless cross carpeting from one party to another, his latest revolving door entry and exit from the APC was always guaranteed to further damage his dented reputation. Yet he could still have contrived a better managed exit than employ the services of a hostile witness (with whom he has a cold case history of bad relationship) to make his case-and thereby lay himself open to a predictable backlash. He ventured ‘Only last year, a governor produced by the party wrote a secret memorandum to the president which ended up being leaked.

In that memo, he admitted that the All Progressives Congress had “not only failed to manage expectations of a populace that expected overnight ‘change’ but has failed to deliver even mundane matters of governance.” Of the party itself, that same governor said “Mr. President, Sir Your relationship with the national leadership of the party, both the formal (NWC) and informal (Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, Atiku Abubakar, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso), and former Governors of ANPP, PDP (that joined us) and ACN, is perceived by most observers to be at best frosty. Many of them are aggrieved due to what they consider a total absence of consultations with them on your part and those you have assigned such duties.”

Beyond speculation, I cannot presume to know the intended purpose of the controversial memo much less fathom whether such purpose was achieved. I am hard put to see how the said memo, a hard hitting takedown of the APC government, could serve the cause of chummy relationship between the author, Governor Nasir El Rufai and his mentor, President Mohammadu Buhari. The rekindling of this albatross, least of all by a conspicuous political foe was a left handed salute to El Rufai. On being thus incriminated, the pugilist governor responded with the ferocity of a wounded lion and went for Abubakar’s jugular.

And this tendency of thinking himself smart while shooting himself in the foot, of not appreciating the cautionary note of making haste slowly, of being wired to the belief that conspiracy can supplant the boon of providence, that muscular financial wherewithal renders perseverance and forbearance irrelevant, has remained the Achilles’ heel of Abubakar’s political career. This is the story of the mismanagement of the best opportunity he had to fulfill his legitimate ambition of becoming President. It is the story of a proclivity towards the illusion of grandeur, of self-abnegating inability to appreciate and manage his principal who rode roughshod over party caucuses and pressure groups, to personally seek him out, of playing the victim whilst waging a covert and overt campaign of subversion and humiliation of his benefactor.

If at all President Olusegun Obasanjo entertained a third term agenda, it was certainly not the cause of the estrangement between Abubakar and the former President-as the former would have the world believe. Abubakar had long before shattered their bond of goodwill and mutual confidence. It would require more than the hostility of Obasanjo or any other escapism to explain a disabling character trait of inconstancy and lack of reliability. Under what pressure, for instance, did he abandon the defunct Action Congress, AC, and scurried back to the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP?-only for him to jump ship and clambered aboard the APC train?

Introspection and hindsight would reveal how his lack of perseverance and opportunistic restiveness turned his potential asset of PDP and AC into liabilities. His journey through PDP, AC and APC, has, thus mostly amounted to the misadventure of incurring the formidable spoiler opposition of game changers like Obasanjo, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and whatever remains of Buhari and the APC. The overriding lesson he should learn from this rich and eventful repertoire is the limitation of human contrivance in the realization of destiny. In the drama of our earthly existence, the simple admonition that man proposes and God disposes holds true eternally. He may yet not realize his burning ambition but to the extent that the step he has taken will energize the opposition platform, the net effect of his gambit is good for Nigerian democracy.

  • Chris Arukwe

    I hope to see a day that we will propel non of these names in Nigerian political Terren. We should celebrate Donald Duke and other younger leaders we are tired and especially me of recycled leaders. It show failure on their part to bridge leadership.

  • Mr. Wilson

    Nice article, I only wish you could use simpler English.

  • Nuorah

    I will vote for Atiku Abubakar

  • Don Franco

    Dear Dr. Akintola Osutokun,

    Every politician in Nigeria is guilty of the same sin of carpet-crossing, as Atiku. Would the Certificateless One had made to it Aso Rock, had he (and the CPC), not gone into coalition with the AD and ANPP? You would agree with me that the Nigerian political calculus is lacking in ideology and original thought. Consider that the Senate President’s body is in the APC, but his heart and soul is as PDP as you can get; and he’s burnished his PDP credentials by having Ekweremadu as his deputy; and other PDP members as powerful committee chairmen in the Senate.

    Dr. Osutokun, it wasn’t ever by choice that Atiku switched parties in the past; the political jealousies of his enemies is responsible for his departure from the PDP, AD and the APC; in all cases, he was “marginalized” out, in the hope that he’d retire to Yola and wait in his front porch for his political death; but his tenacity and vision keeps him going. I see him grabbing victory from the jaws of death, this time around. There’s no proof of delusional dreams of grandeur.

    In the entire history of Nigerian politics, I doubt if there’s any politician that has massively invested in building friendships and consensus across the tripod like Atiku, or that even commands half of his goodwill across the six geopolitical zones. He’s as urban as he’s detribalized; and there’s not one ounce of bitterness in him for all the vicissitudes he suffered under OBJ.

    All in all, should an election hold today, Atiku will beat Buhari, by a landslide, is my opinion.

  • Maigari

    Good but there seems to be a ‘printers devil’ in the name of the Zimbabwean VP He is Mnangagwa. On the other note Zimbabweans have demonstrated the quality education they have had under ousted Mugabe. They stood for their rights without letting the ethnic factor distract them from the onerous task they set out to achieve and they did win after-all.

  • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

    Buhari has proven, now, without any reasonable doubt, in his second stint as Head of the Nigerian state that he has degenerated from incompetence to not being fit for office.

    Atiku has demonstrated that in his wild ambition for office, he has trampled on all protocol and patience to achieve his aims. These are fearful traits in a Presidential aspirant. Mugabe proved that being intelligent and urbane are not the only qualities you require for the job of CIC.

    I feel sorry for Zimbabweans and Nigerians – possibly the two nation states of Africa whose disconnect from their possibilities is most glaring and sad. Zimbabweans were dancing not as they thought for a new song, but dancing for a remix of the same song. I am equally saddened for Nigerians who just cannot produce a good leader that emerges from the corrupt political orbit.

    In both cases, the candidates abound, but in a demonstration of the poverty of our democracies, the good ones never rise to the top.

  • Jon West

    If Atiku were to run in 2019, I will not vote for him bcause of his political history and especially because he has over 40 children, a crime against humanity in my own view. However, I will campaign for him against the Dullard from Daura . In spite of his negatives, he appears to be a citizen of the current global political and business community, a real outlier when compared to the ignorant, Islamic Fundamentalist fools that have ruined his area of Nigeria and destroyed the Nigerian dream.

    • As you did campaigned for a Biafra state and Kanu, the coward – Failures!

      • Chym

        The Northerners, should ask their

        leaders why the North has produced eight people that ruled this country called Nige­ria for about forty years and yet there is nothing in the north to show for it and instead of the Northern youths confronting and attacking their leaders for disappointing them, frustrating them, turning them to street beggars and no do wells in the society, they are busy invent­ing schemes and plotting evil against innocent Ndigbo who are busy developing the north.

        Is ‘’the quest for Biafra the reason the North is academically, economically and socially back­ward? Is the quest for Biafra the reason the north is plagued with diseases and afflictions? Is the quest for Biafra the reason why the North is poverty stricken?

        If the Northerners and their collaborators think they can stop the emergence of Bia­fra as a sovereign nation, that is absolutely impossible; because Biafra is a spirit. Biafra cannot be arrested, intimidated, detained or crushed. Biafra is a divine project, a spiritual movement. If God says Biafra will be estab­lished who is that person that will say otherwise. And God, the sovereign Lord of the universe will establish Biafra with His mighty hand the same way he established Israel. And if the Nigerian Government does not allowed the Biafrans to go there will neither be peace nor progress, rather Nigeria will continue to sink and stink.

        • I don’t look and sound a street urchin, and am well educated, so are majority of my peers. The sorry state of South Eastern infrastructures that had 5 senate presidents, the ngwa boys of backwater states of Aba and the rest of the other states. It is a pity you came on here to castigate a region from which you invested 3trillion naira according to Ohaneze. Nonsense.

          • Jon West

            As usual, like a typical sahelian raghead, you do not get the point. If the Igbo can invest 3 trillion Naira in the blighted North of Nigeria, it means the North has nothing to show for its political domination, because the North has no investments either at home or any other part of Nigeria. How can a people defeated in war and impoverished by the Nigerian system, now become the greatest economic movers in the areas of their conquerors? It says a lot about your people, and you should keep quiet, interospect and learn from the Igbo. Your people are going to be extinct from hunger , disease and ignorance in the not too distant future. Your redemption lies with Igbo expertise and enterprise.

          • Poor investor. Taking your so -called investment to a *blighted region”. Hunger resides in your Igbo region. I see daily truck loads of food items leaving the north down south. Be careful what you wish before the northerners cut off that lifeline.

          • Intrepid

            Truck loads of food items were not freebees, they were bought with cash which those wretched and arid farmers can’t afford. Besides food items can be bought any where one choses.

            There are no enternal IDPs in my blighted region.

            ABD! M0nkeyman!

          • Name me any freebies outta the so-called 3trillion naira Igbo investment in the north? Nonsense. What has IDPs got to do with the argument, so CHILDISH!

          • Intrepid

            Toddler, I am happy you called it investments and not donations from your lazy region. Who are there lazy medievals whose trade is grazing for free in this 21st century? . Lazy oil drunks! Buruba!

          • Read again, I said so-called. Matsiyaci.

          • Intrepid

            Read another twin suicide bombings . Those who set the black race as the beasts on earth everyday. Lazy Ba$tards.

            But for your fake one Nigeria, your arid land could been like Mogadishu.

            Kanton banza!

          • Full blooded Nigerian

            3trillion。$8.5b? How much did Dangote invest in the very wealth South? Isiaka Rabiu? The Cantata Group etc? How much did Dangote invest in the north itself? Nasarawa, Kebbi, Kano etc?

            These are strategic and very difficult to replicate investments. Don’t confuse them with the cumulative retail investments (without prejudice) you just boasted with. These can easily be replicated with a little supports from their governments. Before you tag the people in the north as of no consequence, remmeber that’s the market that these 3trillion naira investment is serving. if their purchasing power is that low, your “3 trillion naira” investors would have sought opportunities elsewhere.

          • Your redemption lies with the northerners. Do I need to remind you how that word “nyamiri” came about? AIR HEAD.

          • Chima Okereke

            Ahmed Omar, please reply Chym.

          • Chym

            You northerners are cursed. Read this:

            Meanwhile let us look at the facts.
            12 million children are out of school in Nigeria. Out of the 12 million, 10 million are from the north whilst Kano state alone has 3 million beggars.
            Nigeria has the highest number of young girls suffering from Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) in the world. And 90 per cent of those young girls are from the north.
            According to the UNDP 72 per cent of northern Nigerians are living below the poverty line.
            According to UNICEF if Nigeria were to ever break up the core north would be the poorest and most barren place on the African continent.
            According to Nasir El Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna state in northern Nigeria, if the north-western zone of the country were to ever find itself on its own it would be poorer and more ravaged by war than Afghanistan.
            According to the World Terror Index Boko Haram and the Fulani militias are the first and fourth “most deadly terrorist organisations in the world” respectively and they both come from northern Nigeria.
            According to UNESCO 65 million Nigerians, which represents 50 per cent of the total population!) are stark illiterates and 55 million of them are from the north.
            According to UNICEF the heartland and base of pedophiia, child sex, child slavery and child marriage on the African continent is northern Nigeria.
            According to President Donald Trump of the United States of America “northern Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places for Christians to live in the world” and “Christians are murdered there in their thousands every year whilst Churches are blown up and burnt down”.
            According to CNN “the bastion of radical Islam, Islamic terror and Islamic fundamentalism in Africa is northern Nigeria”.
            According to Governor Yari of Zamfara state in north western Nigeria the north has been afflicted with all manner of diseases and epidemics, including meningitis, as a consequence of their many sins against Allah.
            According to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo the northern states “have the highest infant and maternal mortality rates in the country, the lowest rate of child enrolment in schools, the highest number of unemployed young people, the highest levels of poverty and faces the challenge of inter-ethic and inter-religious conflict including the Boko Haram terrorism.”
            All these daunting challenges, disturbing facts and alarming statistics and instead of putting their house in order the Arewa Youth Coalition not only threaten the Igbo with mass murder and genocide and order them to leave the north by October 1st but they have also gone a step further by insulting the Yoruba and accused us of being “serial traitors” and of “trying to impose Osinbajo on Nigeria as President”.

      • Don Franco

        Dear Ahmed Omar,

        You’re clearly as dumb as they come…

    • bigdaddy

      “..40 children a crime against humanity…..” Your main reason not to vote for him? I have not laughed so hard in my life. Jon West making me laugh? That is a first. I have long concluded i cannot be surprised by you but boy was i wrong.

    • Michael Kadiri SocioPolitical

      40 children, a crime against humanity? Classic

    • Don Franco

      Dear Jon,

      Methinks that its a lesser sin for you NOT to vote for Atiku, than to campaign and earn him millions of votes… you may as well vote for the man, he’s the lesser of two evils.

  • Mr. Abdin

    Atiku has the experience to lead.

  • Mystic mallam

    I agree with Akin’s analysis of Atiku’s footloose approach to politics. But, if the presidential elections were held today, I’d not hesitate to vote for footloose Atiku. Why? So far and to the best of my knowledge, he is the only one among the suspected contestants who has shown any bit of courage speaking out on the one super-albatross on Nigeria’s progress – a faulty constitutional and administrative structure imposed on us by a bunch of self-serving soldiers, Most of our politicians know that the unitary constitution is the real problem with Nigeria, but they [except Atiku] for selfish reasons, have chosen to keep mum. Maybe Atiku doesn’t believe in restructuring as some people say, but he is still the only one who has said aloud severally that it is the only way to go. For now, he has my vote until I hear other voices that sound more credible on restructuring.

    • soulchild


    • I won’t agree with that Atiku’s “courage” of yours. Courage is a minion standing in front of a Goliath. Atiku as a VP stood in competition with a co-equal, OBJ. Juxtapose that to Madam Hadiza Bala Usman’s courage to stand against Atiku capitalist lifeline, Intels. What in the event, God forbid, Atiku is the president?

      • Chym

        Terrorist go and bomb your self, 72 virgins are waiting for you

      • Toby

        Madam’s courage? Without Buhari behind her? The way we reason!

      • Mystic mallam

        You’re right Ahmed. Hadiza is courageous but by proxy, she is dancing to tunes played by the most powerful. By Intels and Atiku presidency, I presume you’re referring to the corruption thing, and again, you’re right. However, I’d like you to pinpoint a single name in the list of envisaged contenders who is corrupt-free. Please don’t say Buhari, that’d be an insult to our collective intelligence.

        • You have said it all. Most PDP stalwarts I know have attested to it that PMB is incorruptible. If you have any evidence, please be magnanimous to share. Thank you for the advice anyway.

    • Darcy

      Why in God’s name would you believe a man who hasn’t hidden that he’ll do anything to become President.

      You really think he’ll get there and fix the system?? The man very clearly wants his turn; thinks it’s his right!

      • ifeanyi victor

        Just like buhari has done moving from APP to ANPP, to CPC and now to APC

        • Truth Konveyor

          APP and ANPP were one and same party. APP only changed name to ANPP. So, stop being mischievous.
          Buhari only left ANPP to form his own party CPC and then merged CPC with ACN to form APC. He is far different from the political prostitute called Atiku.

          • Fowad

            Being Vice President made him feel inferior. He wants to correct that error

        • Darcy


          A. Name changes do not equal movement.

          b. So one person doing a bad thing is reason enough to approve it?

        • “Korede

          Research well. APP is same as ANPP. The only movement is from ANPP to CPC.

      • Mystic mallam

        You may be right Darcy, I humbly concede you that. But, is there any way we could know for sure until we match him against those who won’t even utter the word ‘restructuring’? Do let me know any other way we could verify who’ll bring us the change we need if they won’t even talk about it.

      • Benny

        But you will believe the one who knows nothing and says nothing but wants to continue to rule.

        • Darcy

          You realise that believing none is very possible. There are other options, put your education to good use, biko.