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Atiku: Tinubu’s friend indeed

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In our twice-a-day prayer hours in Odo-Ona, Ibadan, my parents often read the above-inspired words into my hearing as a kid. It’s a cull from the Good Books. A substantive spiritual admonition on how to navigate through life; a candid counsel about how you seal friendship deals with people, and a caution about how much you let in humans into your private spaces. These words have stuck with me ever since. And they have helped unstuck my infantile frail and fragile feet from much miry clay as I grew up.

There is a wild and wanton claim in the global public space that Nigeria’s sitting President, Bola Tinubu, and former Vice President Atiku Abubakar are best of friends. Their friendship, we heard, spans over 30 years. I heard that when young Tinubu hit the political terrain after his sojourn in the United States, Atiku was one of those who helped cut his teeth in the purulent game of politics. The two men have once joined firepower at the polls to edge out a sitting Nigerian president. Glorious days in business and politics have Atiku and Tinubu cruised through together. However, in the pursuit of political power and aspiration to become president in this season, there is an almost demonic delineation.

Earlier this year, Tinubu and Atiku set their eyes on the same prize when they slugged it out in a brutal presidential election battle. Asiwaju was declared winner, and Atiku a close second. The former VP’s men disagreed with the Independent National Electoral Commission’s declaration of victory for their political adversary. Challenges came from all nooks. There were protests on the streets of Abuja and other cities claiming that their man won the election. At some point there were clamours by some of the candidates that the military should barge in to terminate Nigeria’s democracy. That, too, fizzled out fast.  Later, the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal heard their grievances. Hearing took about a few months to wrap up. Judgment delivered in 10 hours. Tinubu’s victory was upheld.  An appeal was filed almost immediately by Atiku. The Supreme Court of Nigeria will adjudge soon.  The hounding of Tinubu continues till now. Assaults on his person flow furiously and freely. And the chaperones of this are Atiku’s men and a few fringe others. I don’t expect true friendship in politics. There is no permanent friendship in the murky game, but permanent interest. In politics, brothers kill brothers, and sisters hold not back from slaughtering other sisters. Politics in Nigeria is killer-takes-all. If you are not a betrayer in the game; you are not a true player. Atiku did not stop his pursuit to end Tinubu’s reign as president in purlieus of Nigerian courts. He took his mud-wrestling 5,000 miles away to Chicago where, as a young man, Tinubu was nurtured in the accounting classroom. The Turakin of Adamawa’s million-men army used media onslaught to portray Tinubu as an academic delinquent who shouldn’t be president. A few prominent media outlets in Nigeria became echo chambers of the vicious venting that Tinubu did not graduate from Chicago State University.

Regarding Tinubu’s graduation from CSU, I always knew the truth. My home is next door to Chicago, about 150 miles away. Many years ago, way before this election cycle, I visited Chicago State University a few times for purposes other than investigating Tinubu’s academic life. Asiwaju’s footprints are all over his department even after many decades of graduation. Tinubu was not just a student, he was a stellar graduate. This is the truth that his friend, Atiku, wanted Nigerians to believe was untrue. Atiku is Tinubu’s friend indeed!

What really is truth? Is it what we think or hope it is, or what is truly truth? If on purpose, you spread what’s not truth, won’t you be considered a fool? If you hold on to that which is truly truth, even if it doesn’t marinate your bias, aren’t you wise? The truth is that in Illinois, it’s impossible to work for the American companies, Arthur Andersen, Deloitte, Haskins, & Sells, and GTE Services Corporation without a degree. Tinubu worked for these companies, and we’ve always known this truth. After returning to Nigeria in 1983, Bola Tinubu joined Exxon Mobil Oil Nigeria and rose to the position of Treasurer. Would these exploits have been possible without requisite qualifications? A few days ago, CSU corroborated Tinubu’s claim that he graduated from the institution. But will it stop his friend from the legal assaults? I don’t think so because Atiku is Tinubu’s friend indeed.

You know your enemies by their nuances and nomenclatures. From them you know how to put your heels to work quickly; and your feet to flight fast. Friends that won’t help you climb will want you to crawl. The ones who will not help you rise will hatch for your fall.  A friend is not true because he says he is. He is because he is, and you can feel it without deceiving yourself. There is a huge difference between a friend and a fiend. A friend sticks with you; a fiend sticks the dagger behind your back. Atiku is Tinubu’s friend indeed.

Someone does not qualify as a friend based on how he smiles when he sees you; sweet words he says when he is around you; or simply because you are siblings. Wide smiles, sweet sayings, and siblinghood do not determine who is a true friend. A friend is a friend because his soul is inseparably married to yours.

Who truly is a friend? He is one sent to you by God. He is not attracted to you because of gold. He is not glued to you to use or abuse. In your presence his friendship is proven. Behind your back love is confirmed. When the world is against you, he stands strong holding up your hands and head. In winter seasons of life, he puts a comforter around you. In hard times he stands by and makes the times good.

The man who killed Julius Caesar was a friend named Brutus. The one who sold Jesus for 30 kobo was a disciple named Judas. Joseph’s brothers hated no one else in Canaan but their blood brother. In my study of world politics, I’ve never seen a man so hated and hounded as Bola Tinubu. Assaultive acrimony. Acerbic attacks. Vicious hatred. All championed by a man who called himself a friend. If Atiku is Tinubu’s friend, then this president needs no enemies.