Atiku Abubakar: sour grapes from a defeated presidential candidate

Nigeria’s former Vice President and presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is unwilling to accept his fate and defeat in the 23 February election, blaming an “overreaching and dictatorial cabal that he claimed had sabotaged the judiciary.

In a statement in which Atiku was expected to finally concede to President Muhammadu Buhari, Atiku’s tone was sour grapes, choosing to make sweeping indictment of some of the mediating institutions in the country, saying everyone has been compromised.

He even said a ‘requiem is at hand’ for the burial of Nigeria’s democratic gains since 2015, when Buhari mounted the saddle.

“In a democracy, you need a strong judiciary, a free press and an impartial electoral umpire. Nigeria has none of those three elements as at today,” he claimed.

Then he zeroed in on the judiciary making a claim that sounds more like an incitement of his supporters against the institution, on a day that the Appeal court in Sokoto took two National Assembly seats from the All Progressives Congress and gave them to Atiku’s PDP.

“The Nigerian judiciary, just like every estate of our realm, has been sabotaged and undermined by an overreaching and dictatorial cabal”, Atiku claimed, “who have undone almost all the democratic progress the Peoples Democratic Party and its administrations nurtured for sixteen years, up until 2015.

“Can Nigeria continue like this? Recently, former United States Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, averred that Nigeria had rolled back the democratic gains she made in 2015. When democracy is rolled back, the economy, the society and the judiciary will not be far behind. Today, the nail has been put on the coffin and the gains we collectively made since 1999 are evaporating, and a requiem is at hand.”

Atiku thanked his supporters who had stayed the course since the commencement of trial in the petition on the February 23 presidential election, saying that the judgement was part of democratic challenges “we must face as a nation.”

Grudgingly he accepted that he has reached a dead end in the pursuit of the presidency and said: “It is said that the Supreme Court is not final because it is infallible, but that it is infallible because it is final. While I believe that only God is infallible everywhere, and only Nigerians are infallible in our democracy, I must accept that the judicial route I chose to take, as a democrat, has come to a conclusion.

“Whether justice was done, is left to the Nigerian people to decide. As a democrat, I fought a good fight for the Nigerian people. I will keep on fighting for Nigeria and for democracy, and also for justice…

“One man, one woman, one youth, one vote, should be the only way to make gains in a democracy. And when that is thwarted, the clock starts to tick.

“Two and a half millennia ago, Sophocles said “If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: “Thou shalt not ration justice.” Nigeria will do well to observe this warning.

”To those who think they have broken my spirit, I am sorry to disappoint you. I am too focused on Nigeria to think about myself. I gave up that luxury twenty years ago. The question is not if I am broken. The question is if Nigeria is whole?

“This is not a time for too many words. It will suffice for me to remind Nigeria of this – we are an independent nation and we are the architects of our fate. If we do not build a free Nigeria, we may end up destroying her, and God forbid that that should be the case.

“I was a democrat, I am a democrat, and I will always continue to be a democrat. May God bless Nigeria”, he said.

The Supreme Court in a unanimous judgement on Wednesday affirmed that Buhari was validly elected as Nigeria’s President in the 23 February presidential election.

A seven man panel of the court, headed by Justice Tanko Ibrahim Muhammad, the Chief Justice of Nigeria dismissed the appeal filed by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, challenging the victory of Buhari at the election.