By Louis Okoroma
Once again, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and its lackluster government has shown that they are too bereft of knowledge of even the history of the country, Nigeria whose government it controls in the type of information it dishes out to the public.
When the news went round that the APC while presenting its argument at the Presidential Election Tribunal sitting over the election case brought against it by the opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and its presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, said that Atiku Abubakar is not a Nigerian citizen but a Cameroonian, because he was not born in Nigeria, I was taken aback. The thought that came to my mind was that has the ruling party become a children’s party to give such information to a tribunal whose work is of a public nature, perhaps thinking that the information would be treated confidentially, and not shared with the public.
It seems that common sense of the APC delegation or defence team at the tribunal failed them abysmally when they uttered that travesty. Atiku Abubakar comes from Adamawa State where he has been Governor-elect before being elevated to the distinguished position of a Vice President of Nigeria, and a holder of the country’s second highest national honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
Adamawa State is the second of the 36 States listed in the First Schedule, section 3 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as constituting the component parts of the Federation of Nigeria. Let’s assume that the top echelon of the party and even the Presidency were busy thinking of how to inflict more hardship on ordinary Nigerians by increasing the pump price of fuel, what of the young Turks of the party and the government who are always on the internet abusing Atiku. It seems that the internet warriors of the party and government because of the problem of falling education standard and rabid dislike of Atiku Abubakar whose noble ways contradict the crude manners for which the APC is known, there were no people in the party and government sober and educated enough to call the rest to order. Now, this nonsense about a former Vice President of Nigeria being a Cameroonian has gone out to the World thereby exposing the deep ignorance and poor education that characterize the APC people and their government for which Nigerians are afraid of their remaining in power.
If Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President of Nigeria is not a Nigerian citizen as the APC would want us believe, it means the party has served notice to many leading Nigerians from Adamawa, Taraba and Borno States, who were not born in Nigeria before independence to start thinking of where they come from! Among these people are many members of the APC party like Boss Mustapha, the Secretary to Federal Government and the Chief of Army Staff, General Buratai and others too numerous to list.
The most laughable aspect of the presentation of the Area Boys’ Party, the APC at the Presidential Election Tribunal is that apparently, all the party chiefs, their high officials in the government and their internet warriors do not know that it is not only by birth in a country that somebody becomes a citizen of a country. Among the diverse ways to become a citizen of a country include; naturalization, registration, presidential decree or grant or when a country acquires territory in which case, millions of people at once become citizens of another country recognised under both municipal and international law.
Atiku Abubakar and his generation including their parents became Nigerian citizens through the last method when millions of people in the then Northern Camerouns became Nigerian citizens after a special vote for that purpose, supervised by the defunct United Nations Trusteeship Council, not INEC, in 1961. Originally a German colony, the British and French invaded the colony of Cameroun at the outbreak of World War One and quickly subdued it. They agreed to divide the territory between them. This division was confirmed by a League of Nations Mandate after the war. They were referred to as the Northern and Southern Camerouns. Both of them were administered from the neighbouring colony of Nigeria. In 1954 both parts were joined to the Nigeria colony. However at independence only the Northern part remained with Nigeria, the Southern part joined the Republic of Cameroon, following the same plebiscite of 1961.
It should be noted that the Northern Cameroons, was neither a colony nor protectorate of Northern Nigeria, but a mandate of the League of Nations (1922 to 1945) and later, a trusteeship territory of the United Nations (1945-1961) handed to Britain to administer after Germany was defeated by the allied forces in the First and the Second World Wars. At the close of colonisation and the independence of most African countries, particularly the British colony, Nigeria and the French colony, Cameroon in 1960, the political future of the Northern Cameroons as an integral part of Nigeria was actualized by the plebiscite of 1961.
The question now arises as to why did the APC, the Presidency and their handlers commit this tragic error? Could it be that they thought that the UN plebiscite is like the elections which they organize under INEC which are usually inconclusive and hence can be nullified in a competent Court or they do not know their own country’s history? If it is the latter, then it is tragic indeed!
Atiku Abubakar, a Man of God by his many good deeds, was born on November 25, 1945 in Jada local government of Adamawa State. Atiku Abubakar’s father was from Sokoto state and later travelled to Borno for farming and trading activities as is the practice among the Fulani people. Later, his family settled in Jada which is now Jada local Government of Adamawa State.
After his education, he joined the Nigeria Customs and worked for 20 years, rising to the position of a Deputy Director and second-in-command of the para-military outfit. On April 30, 1989, the law abiding Atiku paid the mandatory three months’ salary and left the Customs.
Atiku’s political odyssey, triumphs and failures are entertaining and puts the toga of troublemaker on any person or group that questions his citizenship. Such nonsense has been done in the past by mercenary politicians in the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) during the second republic, who have resurrected in the APC, when then President, the late Shehu Shagari was misled by his party hawks to deport to neighbouring Chad, the then Majority Leader of the Borno State House of Assembly, Alhaji Shugaba Abdurrahman Darma. The NPN people lied to themselves that Shugaba, a hard fighting politician and member of the defunct Great Nigeria People’s Party (GNPP), was not a Nigerian citizen. The Supreme Court eventually quashed the ill-fated case, following the footsteps of the Maiduguri High Court and the Federal Court of Appeal, Kaduna.
Atiku’s politics is so profound and far-reaching that many Nigerians would attest to his willingness to assist both individuals and political parties in the hours of their need. He has also fought many political and legal battles to deepen democracy, human rights and the rule of law as well as engaged in good causes that has improved the lives of the downtrodden and oppressed peasants in Northern Nigeria.
The ruling APC and President Muhammadu Buhari have at different times and circumstances benefitted from and eulogized Atiku. In 2014, the man whom they say is a Camerounian took part and came third position due to underhand dealings at the presidential convention of the then fledging All Progressives Congress in Lagos, after APC leaders begged him to join the newly-formed party.
In fact, for the dangerous falsehood they unleashed at the Presidential Election Tribunal, and for seeking to deceive and mislead our people and distort the country’s history thereby laying foundation for division and civil strife, the APC deserves to be proscribed while its leaders and its accomplices in the Presidency are deported to Cape Verde, the adopted home of their National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole!
*Okoroma is a public affairs analyst based in Abuja.