By Dele Sobowale
“And a night comes when all is over; when many jaws have closed upon us that we no longer have the strength to stand; and our meat hangs upon our bodies; as though it had been masticated by every mouth.” Louis-Philippe, French writer.
Most often a person in high office, public or private, does not know who his true friends are, while in good standing – until he starts to slide down the greasy slope of fortune. By then it is too late. My sympathies are always with those who have been used and discarded – like tissue paper. Alhaji, your night came; when you were forced to resign the Chairmanship of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Before and immediately after, you became the butt of jokes and commentaries by those who never wished you well and probably never knew you. Your houses and offices, formerly crawling with human debris are now deserted – except for a very few loyal friends. Some are the people you least expect to stand by you. But, Sir, just remember this – you are not alone at this time when almost everybody else had turned their backs on you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and I will stand by you – now more than ever.
The reason is quite simple. Although, we have never met, you did a colleague and friend of mine a great favour in the early 1980s, when I was working in Kano. The fellow (name withheld) was recruited from the United States to work for the company – where I worked as a Financial Analyst. For reasons too complex to disclose but which can be summarized as the Nigerian Factor, he was threatened with dismissal. Without another job in sight and having just brought his wife and kids from America to the company house allocated to them, losing his job would have been totally devastating to the entire family.
It was to me, alone, he disclosed that he brought to Nigeria a revolver he bought while in the US. And, he was going to commit suicide – right on the company’s premises whenever he received the letter sacking him. Apart from the corporate embarrassment, it would have placed his family in serious jeopardy. All seemed lost – until he miraculously got a job from your company in Yola. That job offer not only rekindled hope, it saved several lives from ruin. Until then, I never heard of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur; but, from that day, I promised myself that, if ever a chance presents itself, I will on behalf of my friend express my deepest gratitude by trying to repay, at least, part of the debt owed to you. It has been a long time coming and I was already giving up hope that we might never say “Thank you” for your gift of life – when it mattered the most. Then you entered the race for Chairman of the party.
To be quite candid, Sir, I was dismayed when you entered the race for Chairman of PDP for the simple reason that a job which had claimed about nine men, since 1999, is not a job for which anyone should be contesting to hold. In fact, by now, the PDP should be begging people to take a job which had destroyed the good (Lar, Ogbeh and Nwodo) as well as the rest. Your successor needs all the sympathies which can be bestowed on a gladiator going into the arena to face lions with a pen-knife. Professor Soyinka once said something about a nest of killers. What he failed to say was that, like hyenas, they devour their preys alive. So, I fervently prayed you will not win. I just had the premonition that it would end in a disaster.
I was happy, for you, when you lost the primaries in the Northeast; at least the cup of sorrow would pass to someone else. But, you persisted and got the President to impose you on the party. Again, I prayed that the party would over-rule Jonathan. Your eventual victory constituted a heart-break for me because, from historical experience, since 1999, you should have known that the blessings derived from being Chairman of PDP never last. The situation has not changed with your ouster.
Now that you are out of it, I am very happy and let me borrow the words of President Ibrahim Babangida, when he addressed the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, on 26th October, 1985, to pray for you. IBB said: “I believe wholeheartedly in the promise of God that in the middle of the utmost adversity He creates and brings forth a new and greater glory and more auspicious circumstances for people that suffer.”
So let your detractors laugh and jeer now; media know-nothings can pen their puerile analysis and comments. As for me and my friend, we honestly pray that Allah will bring you “greater glory and more auspicious circumstances” before your days are done on this earth. We may never meet; but, deep in our hearts, we are with you every step of the way. Thank you, Alhaji; we remain for ever grateful.
PRESIDENTS MEN AND CONFESSION OF FAILURE.
“History will of course also pronounce its judgment on the role that my generation played during those dark, uncertain days. Did we by acts of omission or commission help wreak the havoc that came to a head on that day of reckoning, on January 15, 1966? Peter Enahoro, February 7-8, 2005, at a National Seminar on THE COLUMNIST AND HIS NATION”; Organised by Federal Ministry of Information and National Orientation, at Bolingo Hotel, Abuja.