BY MATTHEW ADEJOH
THE story of Murtala Nyako, the retired naval officer who was penultimate week removed as Adamawa State governor, will continue to interest analysts. His fall from power is a typical story of the selfish, self-destructing Nigerian politician. For a man who became governor by popular acclaim in 2007, with the backing of the state’s political heavyweights like Professor Jibril Aminu, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, Mr. Boni Haruna and many others, he had lost their comradeship soon after assumption of office. He had either trampled on them in his senseless accumulation of power or sidelined them effectively in running the affairs of state.
He is also a politician with a queer sense of leadership, one who didn’t bother if anyone was following. Like the dog destined for death, Nyako wasn’t bothered that his ‘followers’ detested his divisive dispositions and cringed at his combustive statements that inflamed passion even beyond Adamawa. Within a seven-year tenure, Baba Mangoro as Nyako is popularly called, squandered all the enormous goodwill he inherited, so much that by the time he was impeached, he was virtually standing alone.
But it is his cat-and-mouse relationship with former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, that showed how naïve he is. Nyako in his drowning days had tried to renew his relationship with Atiku, a fellow sojourner from the PDP whom he had long ditched, with a view to dragging him into the peace initiative that was seeking to stave off his impeachment.
It was obvious that Atiku was not sucked into that deal, though he gave Nyako the impression he was fighting on his side. At a stage he had floated in the media, a grand plan to get the House members to cool off when in actual fact, he was quietly encouraging them. It was Atiku at his duplicitous best. So when the impeachment eventually succeeded, as expected, Atiku could not be more excited, though no one really expected him to walk the streets of Yola in open jubilation over Nyako’s impeachment. That would have been absurd since both men belong to the same APC; but it was obvious that he was glad to see the man, who was by all standards a political liability, go.
Within the State Chapter of APC, Atiku had watched as the 20 members he helped gain election into the State House of Assembly refused to join him when he crossed from the PDP to the APC out of resentment for Nyako. The five APC members they met in the party had dumped it and joined the rival PDP for the same reasons. So did Mohammed Buba Marwa, hitherto one of the shining lights in the party. For a man nursing presidential ambition under the APC, Atiku could not have been in a more awkward position with a governor who was everything but a team-player. He was perhaps the only presidential aspirant in the party without a good hold on the state chapter of the party, no thanks to a governor who divided more than he united his party’s leadership as well as rank and file.
However, Nyako’s fall presented the former VP an opportunity, as usual, to seek to appropriate political capital. The public statement issued by his media office in condemnation of the exercise dripped with venom. To him, the President and his party, the PDP, were guilty of “excessive use of power” which he said was not good for decent democratic practice. According to him, the PDP’s decision to wield the axe of impeachment against an elected public office holder was the government’s way of settling scores.
It was a most puerile argument coming from a man who had openly criticised the breakdown of governance in Adamawa and the reckless rape of her finances by Nyako, his family members and their cronies. It was a most dubious argument from a man who viewed Nyako as a political liability against whom he held grudges for effectively sidelining him in the state APC and for not caring a hoot about his presidential ambition. So a drowning Nyako was naïve to believe that after all the political wounds he inflicted on Atiku, he could still get the former VP to rescue him from imminent disaster.
In any case, was Atiku’s action honourable? Many would say no. The dummy he sold Nyako was most dishonourable but that’s vintage Atiku, the political opportunist, whose position on any issue is determined by what he stands to gain from it. In that situation, he can run with the hare with as much zeal as he would hunt with the hounds. It is no surprise therefore that he has become notorious for political prostitution and unprincipled inconsistency.
The question many ask is: Does Atiku, whose driving force in politics is the advancement of his personal interests, have the moral credentials to pontificate on democracy? The answer, of course, is no! It is equally dubious for Atiku who deceived Nyako by pretending to fight for his survival while secretly encouraging his impeachment, to turn around to condemn it. The former VP does no justice to his credibility by blaming the PDP federal administration and seeking to benefit from his shameless duplicity.
*Mr. Adejoh , a commentator on national issues, wrote from Abuja.