By Isaac Asabor
It is sad to recall that Nigeria’s former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, early this year, specifically in May, after being threatened with loss of votes in Sokoto, deleted the tweet he made condemning the lynching of Deborah Samuel, a Christian Student of Shehu Shagari College of Education Sokoto by her colleagues.
She had been burnt to death by her colleagues for allegedly insulting Prophet Muhammad, thus provoking Atiku to condemn her lynching on his Twitter handle. “There cannot be a justification for such gruesome murder. Deborah Yakubu was murdered and all those behind her death must be brought to justice. My condolences to her family and friends”, he had written.
However, some Muslims in his comment section threatened not to vote for him while some said they were awaiting his coming to Sokoto for his presidential campaign. Succumbing to the threat, the former vice president hurriedly deleted the tweet.
He would in a message on his verified Facebook Hausa page distance himself from the message: “This evening I received information that a post was made that doesn’t agree with my orders. I use this to announce that any post without A. A. is not from me. May God protect us,” he wrote in Hausa language.
Atiku, who was ostensibly taken aback by the deluge of backlash that trailed the deletion of his tweet, boasted, “‘I Am Not Afraid”. He revealed that the tweet was deleted because he did not approve that it should be posted in the first instance. He said: “Every tweet has to get my approval,” said the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). “Unfortunately, this tweet, because I was traveling all over the country, did not have my approval. So, I said it should be taken down and that every tweet must have my express approval.”
Unfortunately, like the proverbial tortoise that is always in the news for the wrong reason, Atiku has stirred up the hornet’s nest again. This time around he seems to have stuck his foot in his mouth on Saturday, October 15, when he declared in Kaduna that the North should shun southern candidates in next year’s presidential election.
Forum was the interactive session with a group of northern political leaders under the Arewa Joint Committee at Arewa House, Kaduna. The group held the session with the major presidential candidates, with Atiku the first to take his turn.
Asked by the spokesperson of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF), Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, why northerners should vote for him, the PDP presidential candidate replied: “What the average northerner needs is somebody who’s from the north and also understands that part of the country and has been able to build bridges across the country.
“This is what the northerner needs; it doesn’t need a Yoruba or Igbo candidate, and I stand before you as a pan-Nigerian of northern origin.”
Given the divisive weight of the controversial comment by Atiku, what defensive lie will he and his co-travellers tell Nigerians this time around?