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Zamfara judgement: There is triumph in defeat

By Gambo Dori

I HAVE always looked forward  to any pronouncement from Professor Itse Sagay with palpitating anticipation, and whenever it came I gulped it with relish. With Sagay there is never beating about the bush. He would not refer to a spade as a tool with a sharp-edged typically rectangular metal blade with a long handle, etc. No. Sagay will call a spade, a spade. Full stop.

Chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, Abdulaziz yari of Zamfara State closely followed by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and the National Chairman, APC, John Oyegun emerging from a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, attended by the Speaker House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara at the State House, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida 30/10/2017

That’s why his commentary on the Zamfara nullified elections was a delight. Obviously he had a different opinion from what the Supreme Court Judges pronounced and he went on to say it as only Sagay would. Here are my picks from the comments made by the professor of law as published in the Daily Post of May 30. He described the judgement as: ‘a national tragedy’, ‘unimaginable injustice’, ‘unprecedented tragedy’, ‘installing losers in office’, ‘undemocratic calamity’, ‘technical law completely overthrowing justice’, and ‘burying democracy’. He concludes by urging the All Progressive Congress, APC, to approach the Supreme Court to review its judgement.

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The national chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, had earlier spoken in a similar vein but to my surprise his tones were uncharacteristically subdued. The only allusion to anger in his remarks was when he said ‘the Supreme Court ruling amounted to imposing total strangers on the people of Zamfara’. He seemed to face the reality of living with the ruling. The party he said would not appeal the Supreme Court ruling, instead it will now take its case to God.

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I can understand the anger of Professor Sagay who is not only a member of the APC, but also holds office as Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption. I sympathise with him, along with Comrade Oshiomhole and all those who voted massively for the APC to win virtually every seat in the Zamfara election only to find out all their efforts were wasted. According to the Supreme Court, their votes were wasted votes.The Supreme Court went on to award all the seats (with the exception of one) that the APC won to the opposition PDP who came a distant second in the elections. In one of the strangest twist of events in election annals, those who were declared winners became losers, and the losers became winners. In other words, triumph became a defeat and defeat was amply rewarded. One only finds this kind of scenario in the fictional world of Frank Kafka.

But that’s how far our sympathies can go. The fact is that there seem to be no one sympathising with what happened to the APC in Zamfara. Most people would readily rather gloat over the misfortune that had afflicted the party. I spoke to a number of people and they just shrugged their shoulders and said that the APC in Zamfara State dug its own grave. They asked: Why sympathise with a party that frittered away the trust of their supporters in the courts as a result of intra-party feuding that became impossible to settle amicably?

The Zamfara saga played out in the open, right from the day when the primary elections started. Former Governor AbdulAziz Yari with the might of Zamfara government on one side, and Senator Kabiru Marafa and the group dubbed Abuja politicians as protagonists in the other camp, led their troops in a relentless, pitched battle. Admittedly many states had this kind of problem in all the major parties, but somehow they were able sort out themselves and hold acceptable versions of primaries. But despite all admonishes from the APC party headquarters, all the camps in the Zamfara debacle continued to feud, mulishly bent on self-destruction, disregarding all entreaties. Obviously Senator Marafa was not in the mood to back down and Governor Yari was unyielding, so convinced of his powers as chief-of-state. The stage was, therefore, set for this grand tragedy to the party.

As I watched the events unfold, I recall the story of Kunar Bakin Wake, a Hausa story I read many years ago. Those familiar with this Hausa mythology will recall the account: It is a story of a powerful prince in one of the towns in the defunct Hausa Kingdoms. The prince clearly intoxicated by his powers preferred to ride on the shoulders of strong young men, instead of riding horses and camels which he had plenty.

The young men in the town hated the prince for this strange preference, but all of them just sulked, and acquiesced when called by the prince for a ride. One day, Bakin Wake, a strong hefty young man decided that whenever the prince called on him for a ride he would take them to the next level and end it all. And that was what he did when his turn came to give the prince a ride. That fateful day Bakin Wake went to the palace and picked the prince on his broad, muscular shoulders for an evening ride.

The prince was gaily dressed, resplendent in a bulbous gown with a colourful turban on his head. He rode on the shoulders of Bakin Wake through the town holding a whip in his hand which he used to prod Bakin Wake and also acknowledge the greetings of his subjects he met on the way. However, in a bizarre turn of events, Bakin Wake held on to his rider and diverted to a rubbish dump that was furiously on fire where he threw himself and the prince, both of them perishing in the raging inferno.

A great pity that the Zamfara matter ended the way it did in the style of Kunar Bakin Wake. A greater pity that no one is shedding any tears for what had befallen the party there. One only hopes that the Supreme Court pronouncement that has now entered the history books in what lawyers would now refer to as a landmark judgement, will serve as a check on the haughtiness of many of our political actors.


Many thanks to readers who faithfully follow this column and raise issues with me. My last two pieces on the Kano Emirate attracted many reactions. My elder, Inuwa Jibrin, a veteran journalist living in Kaduna was one of the first to call. He goes over my column always with a fine tooth comb. He pointed out to me that the Attah of Igala, I referred, to as Umaru Obosi was actually Umaru Ameh Oboni. This was further corroborated by a text from Jonathan Achimugu.

Similarly, Shehu of Borno, Sanda Umar Kyarimi whom I wrote died in 1968, actually died in 1967. I thank Baba Gana from UMTH Maiduguri for this correction. Inuwa Jibrin also pointed out to me that the Emir of Kano, Mohammadu Inuwa Abbas that was appointed in 1963 reigned for six months and not three months as I wrote. Baba D Hamidu also sent a text wondering why I skipped the Lamido of Adamawa Ahmadu, the son of Lamido Maigari,who was deposed in 1953 and exiled to Biu, where he lived and died. He was succeeded by Lamido Aliyu, the father of the current Lamido Barkindo, who was destined to enjoy a very long reign.

On the article titled, “Banditry – the Police Hold the Key”, Professor Hamman Tukur wrote: “I hope your article will help in bringing the problem of effective policing to the front burner. The fact is Nigeria Police is ill equipped, poorly trained and motivated. A Senator gets N13.5m as monthly running cost, how much does a Commissioner of Police get? It is too much optimism to expect a police that collects money from motorists on the highway to contain banditry or any form of insecurity. It is sad that it doesn’t appear the government has any effective solution. It is addressing the problem as if it has all the time in the world. Same persons, same methods will always give same results. May God protect us”.

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