By Tonnie Iredia
The selection of Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu former Governor of Bauchi State as Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) no doubt opens a new chapter in the affairs of the party. Mu’azu means different things to many people. To this writer, he is a large-hearted philanthropist and consummate development activist. No one should blame me for being so charitable to him because my impression is the product of an unforgettable personal encounter with the man some years back. It happened early in 2006 when my goal of achieving 2 projects for my organization – the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) – ran into a critical cash-flow challenge. The projects were the establishment of NTA International and the conversion of the NTA TV College Jos into a degree awarding institution.
Being a Chief Executive who deprecated what was in vogue then – “lobbying” to attract favourable budget, I needed help from well-meaning Nigerians as I annually received zero allocation for capital projects in my organization. From a distance, I imagined Mu’azu as one of the state governors that could help. Those who claimed to know him more thought otherwise and warned me not to waste my time travelling to Bauchi. It was thus with much reluctance that I approached Mu’azu for assistance. Surprisingly, his response was that my request “was admirable because unlike what most people do, it was not for the self but for the growth of a national institution”. He thereafter personally supervised the construction of an edifice in the college – the Bauchi Block, which he handed over to me in May 2007. It became our administrative office.
Since then I have learnt to be wary about any negative assessment of Adamu Mu’azu. Hence I regarded as fairy tales, stories after he left office of how he allegedly embezzled millions of naira; how he was on the run and later stayed in exile and how a judicial commission of enquiry convicted him and how a government white paper consequently banned him from holding any public office for 10 years. Perhaps because of my bias, I suspected his trial as contrived more so as I had no way of knowing that allegations against him were not as usual, cooked-up charges by his opponents. My thoughts were rational because within the so-called period of ban, Mu’azu was appointed by President Jonathan as the chairman of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA before he was nominated again by the President and cleared by the Senate as Chairman of the Pension Commission. Here, it was hard for me to see his clearance as fixed as none of the ‘bow and go’ occurrences of clearance by our Senators ever depicted any logic to me.
I have since gathered that in April 2013, a Bauchi High Court discharged the indictment stopping Muazu from holding political office; a judgment which the Bauchi State government did not appeal. What this suggests is that either the disagreement which enabled his conviction previously had been resolved or that the allegation against him was framed ab initio. Both are possible and with both options, Muazu is not alone because among Nigerian politicians, the definition of corruption is malleable. Here, the case of Patricia Etteh, former speaker of the House of Representatives remains instructive. She was accused and indicted of corruption by her colleagues and then forced out of office. While the indictment subsisted, she was given national honours. At the tail end of the life-span of the House, those who openly championed her indictment eloquently alerted the nation that she really did nothing wrong earlier!
There are at least 2 other cases. The first is that of Jude Agbaso, former Deputy Governor of Imo State. He was accused and convicted of corruption and subsequently impeached by the State House of Assembly. EFFC’s investigation was to later establish that the charge was false and unsustainable. Then, there is the mother of all the related cases, that of Chief Bode George who was not only convicted and imprisoned by a court of competent jurisdiction but actually served his prison term in full. It was only after, that the nation’s Supreme Court declared that George was convicted of an offence not known to law. Who then is a corrupt politician and who is not in Nigeria? This is a research project that may never end as Nigerian politicians can create,
compile and orchestrate ample ‘evidence’ to convict an Angel and when it is convenient return his white garment and tell the rest of us that all former documents remain valid.
This probably explains why many analysts like this writer find it hard to be active in the Nigerian party system. It also explains why we are neither concerned about the dwindling fortunes of the self-acclaimed largest political party in Africa nor excited by the emergence of what looks like a viable opposition. Rather, we feel that the current challenges in the PDP are in essence good for Nigeria especially if the growing opposition to the party would checkmate the tendency for its leaders to play God. It is also true that the so called main opposition party – the All Progressive Congress(APC) – is not a better option; hence it has laboured for long to convince Nigerians that every PDP member is evil yet each of them that decamps to APC is roundly celebrated. It is however good that there is now an alternative.
Back to Adamu Mu’azu; while wishing him the best of luck, we urge him to bring his goodwill and charisma to bear on his new assignment. His plan to reconcile all warring factions and caucuses within the party so as to end the wrangling that has long bedevilled the party makes sense. Similarly wise, is his solemn pledge to correct any injustice done to any party member as well as to apologize to those the party offended. We will however lose no sleep if our benefactor does not succeed in the end because it is a notorious fact that his new position is jinxed. All we care for now is the heartwarming news that Mu’azu has bounced back