Understanding Lai Muhammed’s Treason Charge Against Atiku

By Teslim Sanni

It could have passed as a joke that the federal government represented by the loquacious minister of information, Lai Mohammed, will accuse the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar of treason. But it was a joke taken too far.

It is on record that all through the three times that Buhari contested for president and was defeated, he challenged the outcome of the election at the court up to the Supreme Court. No one mounted pressure on him to drop his cases at the court and that he lost those cases due to lack of diligent prosecution was nobody’s fault. Not once at that time did anyone accuse him of being a threat to democracy even though his utterances were clear threats to peace and stability of the country at that time. In 2013, then known as General Buhari made incendiary statements capable of leading the public to violence that ‘the monkeys and baboons will be soaked in blood,’ yet no one passed a fatwa of a felon on him.

Ironically, too, the same Lai Mohammed was the spokesperson of the then opposition All Progressives Congress and he issued every manner of fallacious press statements against the ruling party and government yet no one addressed an international press conference to call him an enemy of the state.

As far as the PDP was concerned in those days, both Buhari and Lai were playing their roles as opposition elements then and there was no reason to label them enemies of the state.

If Atiku’s only offence was going to the court to challenge the outcome of the February 23 presidential elections, it beggars the question why the APC and Buhari desperately want Atiku to withdraw his litigation if indeed President Buhari had truly won.

At first, the story was that government was mounting pressure on Atiku to drop his case at the court with some mouthwatering offers. Obviously, that didn’t work. And now, there is this shameless outburst by the same government that Atiku and the PDP are overheating the polity. It is evident that the only right conclusion to reach on the matter is to sum it up as a case of mobilizing the stick where the carrot did not work.

From available public record, Atiku is not a stranger to political persecution. And if the APC and the Lai Mohammeds of this world were wise enough, they should pretty well know that the man they are dealing with is sturdier when he is under the fire.

In his long history of defending democracy, Atiku has slipped through the claws of dictator like Sani Abacha and even dared the tempest of Olusegun Obasanjo when he served as Vice President under the administration. In each of those episodes, he not only came out victorious, but stronger.

Given the military nature of his government, one can excuse Abacha for attempting to muscle out opposition. But what of a supposed democratic government headed by a self-confessed convert democrat?

The Buhari administration in the past four years had done nothing tangible other than buck passing and blame game. If a government came into power on the premise of change it should be expected that such a government will set forth with clearly thought out policies that will achieve that objective.

Four years down the line, the best you can credit the Buhari government of doing are random and worthless programmes such as Tradermoni and the school feeding schemes which, in practical term, are ambiguous.

If the administration cannot provide explanations for the wide spread criminality in the country and there is also no explanation for why the economy has remained moribund since 2015, isn’t it obvious that the government is merely groping in the dark? And to add more to the provocation, whenever they are overwhelmed by the consequences of their actions and inactions, they run to town blaming the opposition.

For goodness sake, in spite of all the down turn in every facet of the Nigerian life, the president never deemed it fit in four years to even cause a review of his cabinet. No cabinet minister was sacked, none was swapped and the administration is here telling us that it is the opposition that is over-heating the polity. Should the government have an ear, let them hear that they are the very cause of their problem – our problem.

Was President Buhari anticipating a different outcome from this current chaos when, despite all the hues and cries about how bad the economy was going and the security being poorly managed, he refuses to change the personnel in charge of those functions? His government spent a whole four years blaming the previous administration and now their new song-song is to blame the opposition for their self-inflicted misfortune.

Important cities in the Northern part of the country from Kano to Zamfara are embroiled in one form of crisis or another, the government is not showing any obvious interest in intervening in those crises and the next thing we will hear is that PDP and Atiku are planning to overthrow the government.

Just out of the blues, the military a few days ago came out dissociating itself from an alleged coup plot. About two days after, it all began to make sense when Lai Mohammed came out with his outburst about the opposition planning to disrupt the federal government. We can estimate it as part of politics if the government would cry wolf to make the opposition look bad. But it will be more than disappointing if the military actually did submit itself as a cannon fodder in a political brickbat.

And, in any case, there is absolutely nothing in Atiku’s political record to justify the outburst. If the former Vice President did not support any military government when military rule was fashionable, is it now that totalitarianism has become an anathema that he will begin to support it?

Whichever way the musical chair ends, we can only wait and see at what limit the government will call itself to order in the apparent bid to frustrate the opposition and the challenge against President Buhari’s second term election at the court.

  • Teslim Sanni, a public analyst, wrote from Ilesha, Osun State.

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