By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu
“Hi Di Hi nga atstohuwar transhomar Nehwa dai ta kai. In tai tirihin sai a mayassuwa, in tassake kuma a zaka mayassuwa har ta gaji tai bindings baaammmmm!” (Roughly translated from a mischievous presentation of Sokoto Hausa dialect: “THIS PDP IS LIKE AN OLD NEPA TRANSFORMER. IT WILL TRIP AND SOMEONE WILL GO FIX IT UP, IF IT TRIPS AGAIN SOMEONE WILL GO BACK AND FIX IT UP UNTIL IT GETS TIRED AND IMPLODES BAAAMMMMM!” Taken from a friend’s contribution to an online forum.
THIS is the time that Nigerian politics could have done with the flowery language of the late Dr. Kingsley Ozumba Mbadiwe, one of the most colourful characters to walk the minefield of Nigerian politics.
If we attempt a post-humous reading of his fertile imagination, the earth-shaking event of last weekend, with the walk out of seven governors, and former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, from the PDP convention in Abuja, would certainly have elicited an absolutely quotable line for posterity!
Okay, the venerable old man died a long time ago, but one of his pithy statements might have anticipated things, and would just have conveyed the colour of last Saturday’s event: “when the come comes to become”! Well, the “come came to become” and it unfurled before the Nigerian people, thanks to live television which, ironically, had been set up to give a contrary impression.
NTA’s live coverage was to underline the legitimacy of the process while presenting the “family-like unity-of purpose”, so central to PDP’s narrative since 1999. Like soap bubble, the charade exploded in their faces, much to the utter embarrassment of the denizens of the party.
Not even Jerry Gana’s “House Nigger” smiles and ubiquitous groveling display of servitude could prettify the gaping crater, deep enough to consume the entire vote-rigging contraption. The PDP is in utter disarray!
I spoke with a very close confidant of top-most leaders of the party on Tuesday evening and he was brutally frank about the situation. “These people studied us very carefully and they struck when it hurts most”, my interlocutor told me. Unfortunately, he added, we do not have people in leadership, with knowledge and wisdom.
Even the fixer-in-chief, Tony Anenih, appeared shell-shocked on television on Monday morning when he read a meaningless two or three line statement to the media, that a meeting held and it would continue. Those who made a career of mischief, intrigue and are past masters of cloak-and-dagger, were beaten to their game. Stories emerging in the media, say that “New PDP” wrong-footed the old PDP assembled at Eagle Square, because security reports hadn’t foretold what happened.
The riposte of a parallel presentation of an alternative leadership was so well choreographed, that those assembled around President Jonathan, who were already strutting triumphantly, deluded they had clipped wings of the dissenting governors fatally, found to their chagrin, that PDP’s implosion truly resembles the proverbial old NEPA transformer indeed!
Let us be clear about a few basic points here. The PDP operates from a premise that elections can be securely and successfully rigged, when its governors control the levers of power in states. The governors that pulled out, in the majority, are from states with large number of voters: Kano, Sokoto, Rivers and Jigawa, for example.
The emergence of “New PDP” narrows very dangerously, President Jonathan’s base of support in 2015 and this is a self-inflicted humiliation, arising from the desperate effort to seize initiative in the lead to that landmark election.
There is the earlier emergence of the APC, which continues to consolidate its place in the consciousness of the Nigerian people as a potentially viable alternative to the PDP behemoth. The sweep of the APC already takes in the Southwest; a part of the South-South and some states in the North. As things stand today, President Jonathan’s PDP has narrowed dangerously to a South-South party, with presence in Benue and Plateau states in North Central Nigeria.
Even in the National Assembly, the Jonathan PDP is becoming a minority. While insults and insensitive statements by people like Chief EK Clarke, alienate more sections of the Nigerian society.
In politics, as we all know, perception is everything. Unfortunately for President Jonathan, his presidency is perceived to be very divisive and polarising; there is too much effort to manipulate the fault lines of ethnicity and religion, and the administration has narrowed in base, pandering ever more to elite preferences of the Niger Delta, including rehabilitated criminal elements who became modern-day Nigerian (or more appropriately, Niger Delta billionaires!).
It is not good strategy to open so many battlefronts then expect to be victorious; the battle within the PDP was so badly handled because of the arrogant assumption that the Tony Anenihs, Jerry Ganas, EK Clarkes and Tukurs, will deploy time-tested cunning and ruthlessness to subdue dissenters within the party. But they miscalculated! There are too many endangered interests that the surprise would have been refusal to respond, as “New PDP” did!
The leading individuals in the “New PDP” have a serious dilemma which obliges towards the denouement we are witnessing today in Nigeria. It is very easy to pick on individuals, but together, they are formidable foes for Jonathan/Bamanga Tukur/Tony Anenih. In the long run, Jonathan might have to accept a most humiliating climb down, to ensure return of the “New PDP”.
The contours of rapproachment are beginning to form. The most important issues for individuals like Bukola Saraki, who is very central to the new arrangement, are the termination of the EFCC’s investigation into his alleged corrupt practices in power and at Societe Generale bank as well as stay of action from efforts to seize party machinery from his grip in Kwara State. Such grievances can be extrapolated into other recesses of the “New PDP”.
So for the sake of PDP’s bearhug on power and access to lucre, they are likely to rally around face-saving compromises in the long run. In truth, neither Jonathan’s PDP nor “New PDP” is concerned about genuine interests of the Nigerian people.
We are witnesses to a manifestation of what the much-lamented Chief Sunday Awoniyi saw with clarity, a couple of years ago: the PDP is a basket of scorpions, stinging themselves to death. But access to power and lucre made it imperative to ensure that lethal doses of poison do not take root so as not to end that much coveted access permanently.
The Sokoto analogy perfectly fits PDP’s politics that resembles a cheap, badly produced old American Western film. The self-acclaimed ‘largest party in Africa’ is actually not better than an old NEPA transformer; it cannot serve the needs of modern Nigeria!
Governor Kashim @ 47
LAST Monday, September 2nd, 2013, Borno State governor, Kashim Shettima clocked 47 years. I read that he had vigorously declined an offer by some friends to organize a birthday party for him in Abuja. I was not surprised that Kashim declined, because it just isn’t in his character!
I have known Kashim Shettima long enough to say, that he is one of the outstanding individuals in Nigerian political leadership today. Many of his peers who met him in the course of the politics which culminated in the formation of the APC, such as Kayode Fayemi, Ekiti state governor, have very good things impressions about Kashim’s intellectual capability and genuine devotion to the cause of Borno state and Nigeria’s progress. Kashim is a very passionate individual whose modesty and sincerity mask his deep intellect and a genuine love for scholarship.
He reads avidly and follows intellectual trends passionately and over the years, he amazes me, with his down-to-earth, humane qualities.
Kashim was manager of the Maiduguri branch of Zenith Bank, when my wife was transferred there in 2002; she resumed with our very young second child.
Kashim made her stay comfortable, arranging food delivery everyday from his own house at the bank’s guests’ house where my family had lodged. The fact that she was the wife of a journalist he had read avidly over the years, was a coincidence he appreciated so much. We became family friends ever since.
When I saw the trajectory of responsibilities that he was assigned in the Ali Modu Sherriff’s administration: Finance and Economic Development; Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs; Education; Agriculture and Health, it seemed he was highly trusted and was actually being prepared, almost inadvertently, for the position he now occupies as governor of Borno State.
It is his fate to provide leadership in one of the most tragic phases in Borno’s history. And the fact that he has remained committed to development, peace-building and reconciliation, tell of his strength of character. I once told him that he has a historical precursor to inspire him: one of the greatest rulers of old Kanem-Borno, Mai Idris Alooma. Alooma was a superb administrator and organiser of a brilliant empire in one of the great periods of African history.
Kashim Shettima is still a very young man, but he has demonstrated intellect, wisdom and statecraft enough, for us to comfortably predict that he will make definitive marks on the future of Nigeria. Happy Birthday Governor Kashim Shettima.
Jerry Gana, Suntai and the Taraba charade
JERRY GANA is unlikely to be absent in political, ethno-religious/regional controversies. When he became the chief orchestra conductor besides Danbaba Suntai at the Abuja airport the other day, it was clear that mischief was in its elements.
The Geography professor from Niger State and arguably Nigeria’s number one AGIP (Any Government In Power), declared with professorial surety that Suntai was capable of returning to power.
The days since have been anything but edifying in Taraba state. Jerry Gana moved on, organizing the convention which led to PDP’s implosion!
That is the man and his nature. How Jerry Gana sleeps well at night with his conscience, or what he tells his grandchildren of his place in the Nigerian loops of power and religion, must be interesting indeed!