By Mohammed Adamu
Towards the 2011 elections, three opposition parties in Niger were up in arms –albeit each on a lonely furrow- against Talba’s re-election: CPC, ACN and the bitter, grudgy old horse, ANPP. And, although CPC’s promise of rough time for the ruling PDP was a virtual fait accompli, the stealthy encroach into the state of ACN was no less threatening.
The party had in its fold Dattijo Aliyu, a brother of IBB and Kure’s protégé, and it had fielded as guber candidate, a former Chief Whip of the House, Bawa Bwari, -believed by many to be a potential political avenging angel for the Gbagyis that have yet to taste Government House. Alas, although his candidacy seemed like the right political message for an unjust, -many say insensitive and politically inequitable- PDP, it was clear that Bwari’s candidature missed the right vehicle – Buhari’s CPC – to deliver the Gbagyi message.
Yet, like a twist of self-harming electoral irony, CPC itself had on its ticket a Nupe man from Kure’s Zone ‘A’, thus making a vote for that party even doubly inequitable: first it would’ve returned the political apple of discord back to the Nupe not long after the ‘catastrophic’(?) eight- year tenure of their son, Kure –an experience Nigerlites derogatorily refer to as Kuskuren Niger (the mistake of Niger). And, second, it would’ve robbed Kontagora’s Zone ‘C’, whose turn it would be after Talba, its PDP zoning largesse –a virtual political bird-in-hand in 2015.
And, so although state chieftains of PDP and many aides of the governor chose obstinately to wallow in self-denial, these electoral storms did mutinously gather above the skies of The Niger as build-up to 2011. And, in fact, how the governor ‘smartly’ navigated or -as the opposition would say- ‘crookedly’ scaled them, still remains more mesmerizing in post-election side talks than it should simply have stupefied!
But many say the factor of Kontagora’s 2015 political bird-in-hand and Kure’s deleterious romance with Talba (against the goals of the very opposition he inspired) in the hope of keeping his wife’s –Zainab’s- senatorial bird-in-cage, largely guaranteed Talba’s escape from the Sobibo of the rag-tag, selfishly-scattered opposition.
Yet, for Dr. Aliyu, even as he prepares for another potentially-distractive four years of legal battle in the thick of administering a state that is a virtual multi-cultural microcosm of Nigeria, nothing can be more pleasantly soothing than the saying: ‘a narrow escape is better than ‘almost’’ As for me, nothing is more vindicating of my pre-election forecast than the governor’s post-election confession that not only did the electoral storms gather in meteoric defiance against his re-election, the storms were cataclysmically tsunamic. And, no less vindicating was his rather politically –should I say- naïve? (or as his opponents would say ‘electorally mischievous’) expression of surprise ‘why’ neither he nor his men foresaw this turbulence.
Many Nigerlite would say: -for the same reason the Titanic did not see the ice chunk that sank it -pride of sail! Or in the case of Talba ‘extreme surefootedness’! All of which are not necessarily politically reprehensible as long as ‘circumspection’ and ‘tact’ become the watch word even of the politically dexterous. Yet, it is pleasant to see in the end that the difference between Talba and the Titanic has not disastrously been that between the political ice and the electoral hard place. Talba, unlike the Titanic, is lucky he lives to tell his electoral ‘escape’!
But now that the storms are over, it’s a good the governor is asking: ‘what did we do or not do to deserve such narrow, tedious passage?’
And, although it is true that 60 per cent of the votes polled by him could’ve been obtained truly by the tedium of political ‘haa maza, haa mata’, yet, I will not, in this piece, go into arguing whether it was truly narrow enough to warrant the happy expression: ‘a narrow escape is better than ‘almost.’’ In fact, many say that the governor is only feigning the tedium of political overwork to justify an electoral overkill which the PDP rigging machine gave him at the polls.
I am particularly interested in the governor’s post-election ‘whys’ and ‘wherefores’; especially where he wondered why he should suffer to come back after having accomplished so much. Perhaps there’s more to democratic governance than just project execution. And, that in spite of the ‘excellent’ performance of a political leader, the people still reserve the democratic right to judge him even by the most trivial of considerations.
Or maybe William Hazlitt is correct after all that “The public have neither shame nor gratitude”; or Voltaire, that it (the public) “is a ferocious beast”. To suffer a performing political leader before re-electing him. Or was there a disconnect between Talba’s best shots and the expectations of the people? Were Nigerlites cheaply over expecting? Or the governor underestimating the richness of their desires?
When a certain British Labour politician said “The tragedy of the working class is the poverty of their desires” can we, by ironic inference say that the tragedy of Nigerlites may be the high cost of their desires? Are Nigerlites demanding the impossible?
Or by the way, what exactly has Talba done?