Atiku and Boni have together made a long political journey. They both have enjoyed the fruits and also tasted the bitter parts of the journey. Their political relationship can be traced back to Atiku’s early days in politics- the former Vice President needed highly educated young men to be part of his political team, and Boni fitted in. Well, that was history, as many things have happened.
Today’s frosty political-relationship between Atiku and Boni Haruna is generating comments from three groups: Atiku’s political disciples, Boni’s followers and students of politics. Atiku’s sympathisers are of the opinion that, Boni Haruna has exhibited a character of an ingrate, they stressed that, it was by Atiku’s grace he became the Governor of Adamawa State. They were also quick to point-out the fact that, Atiku made Boni politically. From being a journalist to being Personal Assistant to former Gov. Jolly Nyame during the SDP days, and later picked him as his deputy when Atiku contested for Governor of Adamawa State. Atiku also stood firm by him to be the Governor, when he Atiku was selected by Obasanjo to be his deputy.
On the other hand, Boni’s followers are of the view that, Boni has done for Atiku, what some sons cannot do their fathers. They said Boni has given to Atiku an unalloyed loyalty during his difficult political moment- the famous Obasanjo-Atiku saga. They are also quick to point-out that, had it been, Boni pitched camp with Obasanjo during that time, Boni would get whatever he wanted from Obasanjo, including the keys to controlling Adamawa Politics. Boni’s follower always conclude that, “Boni was there for Atiku when he Atiku needed him most, but Atiku was not there for Boni, when he Boni needed just a little of him”
From another perspective, students of politics see the situation through the prisms of political calculations; they opined that, after the 2007 general elections, Atiku made some wrong political calculations. They believe that his failure to take advantage of the ‘PDM umbrella’ and negotiate with Yar’Adua to secure Adamawa politics to the advantage of his political group was a big blunder. Atiku could have taken the advantage of that moment that the PDP and Yar’Adua valued and dreaded him politically- i.e. before the Supreme Court judgment on his case against Yar’Adua’s election. Atiku’s solo trip was fruitless, because he disregarded intelligent political advice from people like Boni.
The political relationship between Atiku and Boni Haruna is very important in the political sphere of Adamawa State because of so many reasons: Atiku is a political power house in Adamawa. During his sway as Vice-President; his adored political son, Boni Haruna, got the privilege of becoming an important branch of Atiku’s political tentacles in Adamawa Sate. So, political groups in Adamawa will naturally have strong interest in Atiku and Boni political relationship.
As the 2011 election approaches and political activities continue to unfold, if Atiku and Boni finally go on separated political platforms; the duo will for certain employ five strategies to consolidate their positions and checkmate each other’s political moves. Atiku will employ three, while Boni will make use of two. Among Atiku’s three strategies is, he will try as much as he can to ignore Boni politically, employing that as a proof to the world that he and Boni are no political equals. Secondly, he will utilise both his financial and political muscles to checkmate Boni, while the third and the most significant is; Atiku will try to religiously maintain his followers in the AC and also attract new ones.
Boni’s two strategies will be: he will form a strong alliance with the PDP and also with the current government in Adamawa State, this will be for one reason, to attract many politicians from the AC, his former political appointees and other politicians who for long wanted to join the PDP and the government in Adamawa, but whom absence of a leader to lead them has hindered them. Boni’s second strategy will be using the aforementioned alliance to send a signal to the government at the centre and PDP at the national level, that he has great political clout to make him a factor in strengthening PDP’s grip of Adamawa.
Both Atiku and Boni will succeed if they cleverly use these strategies; however, the duo have certain roadblocks to dismantle in order to pull through. The PDP in Adamawa is seriously fragmented; Boni has to make some error-free calculations to avoid political suicide. For him to succeed, he has to apply two laws of power: Law 19: Know who you’re dealing with and Law 20: Do not commit to anyone.
For Atiku, he has to keep in his mind that many of his political supporters were use to be close to the corridor of powers, they are very thirsty for that, Boni’s move may be an eye opener for them, so, Atiku should expect that not all of them will swim and sink with him. Second law of power will work for him. Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies.
Who will be the winners of this seeming love-loss between Atiku and Boni? Three people of course: Boni’s former political appointees, the PDP in Adamawa state and some members of Atiku’s political family who want to always be at the centre of mainstream politics. While the losers are two people: Atiku and Boni, they will lose one thing, political-friendship.
However, political pundits are quick to point-out that, this kind of political game is not strange; it is an integral part of politicking. As the politics of 2011 is thickening, any politician that doesn’t play ‘politics’ with politics, he is like what Italian politicians refer to as ‘Nonentity Politico’. Politics, they say, is all about interest.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, firstname.lastname@example.org, 08036070980.