BORNO: A league of Ignorants as professionals
IT was clear that some fifth columnists were at work, when last week what started like an agenda setting move by a faceless group snowballed into media bashing of former Borno State Governor, senator Ali Modu Sheriff, his godson Governor Kashim Shettima and Governor Kashim’s deputy, Alhaji Zannah Umar Mustapha.
First, it was the call for Governor Shettima to drop Alhaji Umar Mustapha in the build up to the governorship race in 2015. It was alleged that there was a rift between Governor Shettima and his benefactor Ali Modu Sheriff which, according to them, should be the basis for the dropping of Zannah.
Just when concerned people were trying to unravel the puzzle around this clear case of mischief, another news item appeared in many national dailies to the effect that the Governor was contemplating a cabinet reshuffle to weed out some members of the cabinet who were alleged to be too close to Senator Modu Sheriff, in order to boost his own political machinery.
Apparently not satisfied with the dust raised in the first two publications, a so-called league of Borno professionals wrote a public petition to President Goodluck Jonathan calling on him to stop Senator Modu Sheriff from further visiting his home state, citing security concerns over such visits, as the basis for their call.
The group, which has also remained faceless to date, attempted to chronicle what, in their opinion, was Ali Sheriff’s roles in mismanaging the Boko Haram insurgency. Contrary to available security reports on the matter, they portrayed the Borno State government under the then Governor as an agent provocateur, that caused events leading to the whole imbroglio, even as the insurgents were merely retaliating certain provocative actions.
All three publications, which appeared within the span of only one week smack of mischief and political vendetta. The latter, which attempted to blame the resurgence of violence in some parts of Maiduguri as a reaction to Senator Sheriff’s visits, was even a more contemptous display of crass ignorance. To my mind, all three publications derive from the same source, and were clear cases of paid hatchet job; in which the petitioners were only acting out written scripts by a seeming desperate power mongers.
I have very strong suspicions that the actual motive was to paint a picture of a degeneration of the crisis, and possibly prevent the holding of elections in BornoState in 2015. They think that driving a wedge between the Governor, his benefactor and strong man of Borno politics, Senator Modu Sheriff and between him and his loyal deputy, Umar Mustapha, may provide a fertile ground for the actualization of that agenda.
Although Governor Shettima has come out to clear the air on all issues without any ambiguity whatsoever, one is still worried that some people may be planning to further plunge Borno into deeper crisis at a time when the government seems to be overcoming the problems associated with the Boko Haram insurgency. It is also coming at a time when the government seems to be making inroads into the political arena, with the tendency to silence any form of opposition in 2015. One can appreciate their apprehensions in the face of Ali Sheriff’s indomitable political spirit, and Governor Kashim’s increasing acceptability.
One does not perhaps need any talisman to know that the 2015 contest for the governorship will be between Kashim Shettima and himself. Already a picture of the so-called league of professionals is becoming clear, judging from the antecedents of a similar group during the 2011 elections. It is, however, germaine to correct the wrong impression created about all professionals from BornoState. Borno is known to be the centre of scholarship and professionalism, and could not have produced the calibre of professionals in the so- called league. The writers of that petition, judging by their display of ignorance, can best be classified as a league of ignorants, who could hardly distinguish between the powers of a President and the rights of a citizen.
Those who do not know the genesis and metamorphosis of the Boko Haram insurgency may be easily misled into believing that what the so-called professionals wrote was a gospel truth. Those who can decipher can, however, see that, not only were the facts stood on their heads, but one can see the hands of Esau but the voice of Jacob in the unfolding drama. Every professional from BornoState, irrespective of our specialties, but who do not belong to this so-called league ought to be ashamed that some people are hiding behind the noblest of acronyms to concoct political mischief.
As a league, it connotes the association of many professionals trained in various fields united for a particular goal. Amongst these professionals, are supposed to be doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers, journalists, pharmacists, and others. To this end, one would expect at least the lawyers in the so-called league, or at least common sense, will inform their opinions, to the effect that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria does not empower the President whom they claim to petition, to restrict the movements of any particular citizen, talk less a former governor, and senator of the Federal Republic.
I wish to place it on record that there was never a specific incident in Maiduguri which can be attributed to the visit of the former governor. It will be most uncharitable to associate the man with any insurgency activity. It is also needless to attempt to drive a wedge between Governor Shettima and Senator Modu Sheriff, because it will definitely fail. The bond between the duo is much stronger than any imagined closeness anybody may claim to have with any of them.
I may not be a fan of Senator Sheriff or Kashim Shettima, but I cannot be lured into toeing the line of misguided professionals to trade on deliberate misinformation and mischief, just to satisfy their quest for power.
It is an open secret that a combination of Sheriff’s political sagacity and Kashim Shettima’s developmental strides will give the merger of opposition political parties an upper hand, and shut the political doors in the face of many in 2015.
Whatever others think, it is clear that the so called Borno League of professionals is trying to play politics with the issue of security in the state. While I regard that as the height of rascality, it remains unjustifiable and unfair to attempt to further poison the mind of Mr. President, who has never hidden his disdain for the people of Borno state to take any unpopular decision.
Mr. ANJILI KWARI, a commentator on national issues, wrote from Abuja.