Atiku: The 7th Waziri and a Politician

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Sunday, November 25, 2018, former vice president Atiku Abubakar will be turbaned as the 7th Waziri Adamawa. The event will be culturally and traditionally historic and politically fascinating. Traditionally and culturally, Atiku is simply the second-in-command in the Adamawa Emirate Council. Politically, Atiku will be one of the most politically-inclined Waziri.

The ancient Emirate of Adamawa is a very important product of the Sokoto Caliphate. Adamawa was known as “The wild east” of the Caliphate. Its vast highlands were occupied by Fulani settlers, stretching as far as Northern Cameroon and some parts Chad republic. Adamawa Emirate is the most cosmopolitan among the emirates that were products of the Sokoto Caliphate- because it composes diverse ethnic and religious groups. The Adamawa Emirate, despite being a product of the Usman Danfodio Jihad, has non–fulanis Christians holding some important traditional titles.

The title of Waziri Adamawa does attract much political analysis; but with the person of Atiku’s political standing being conferred with the title, some narratives about the title, by default, have assumed political tones. Often, one cannot separate politics from traditional titles; especially when it is in the revered and historically significant emirate like Adamawa.

Many observers were surprised when Atiku was announced the new Waziri; but students of political history were not because the previous holders of the title were of similar class with Atiku in terms of prominence and clout, though, Atiku is in the class of his own in terms of personal wealth and political behaviour.

Many politicians work hard to secure many traditional titles in order to promote their private ambitions in local and national politics. Atiku is not different; he has been immersed in Adamawa politics for a long time.  In 1983, Atiku shocked the political scene of the old Gongola state, when he single-handedly donated one million Naira and two vehicles to the Kontigi Movement- the Bamanga Tukur governorship campaign- which Tukur eventually won. While in 1987, during zero party elections, Atiku smartly installed his protégé -Atiku Wakili as Chairman of the old Ganye local government council. Atiku achieved these while he was in not in active politics. In Adamawa politics, Atiku is always in the equation- he is either pulling the strings or those in power see him as the ultimate threat. The current politicians in Adamawa state can be categorized into three- they are either in Atiku’s team, or have left the team, or about to join the team.

In Adamawa politics, Atiku   has witnessed moments of successes, failures and disappointments. Thus, he knows that for one to have absolute control of state’s politics- one requires strong war chest, well-established political structure and influence in the traditional class.  Atiku seems to have cleverly walked his own path to get the latter in a way never seen before. Some years back, Atiku had a good influence on the Chamba chiefdom that has one of largest voting blocs in Adamawa.  Though, having strong influence on the traditional class does not necessary mean controlling the voting population- but in many rural settings like Adamawa, fact is emirs, kings and chiefs have influence on their poor subjects. Nevertheless,   being the Waziri does not automatically give Atiku the control of the Adamawa polity, because the politics of the state is always determined by some permutations – concessions, give and take and strong political structure, not also forgetting the thorny issues of faith, geography and tongue.

Atiku is well known for his longtime presidential ambition and being politically opportunistic The lifetime ambition of Atiku is to be the president of Nigeria and to have absolute control of Adamawa politics. Atiku’s pursuit of this super-ambition dates back to nearly 34 years. When a typical Nigerian politician rises to a new position of traditional power and eminence, he or she becomes more ambitious and starts to seek more political relevance.

Atiku, in his calculations may have seen his new traditional title of Waziri as a further inch towards total grip of Adamawa politics and a chance at actualizing his presidential ambition starting from the home front. After all, his previous presidential election outings were marred with very weak home support.

With Buhari’s incumbency and unexplainable strong followership in the north, Tinubu’s tight grip of the southwest, Osinbajo new found footings and  emerging forces growing strengths  and the longtime tag of corruption on Atiku’s neck, the game seems over for Atiku. This is the same reason Atiku always flies the ‘Restructuring kite’

Zayyad I. Muhammad

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