The Failed Contract of the Emir of Gwandu
Dr. Aliyu Tilde
I have earlier intimated my readers in Privatization of APP: The Joint Bid of Babangida and Obasanjo that one of the strategies that will be employed against the candidature of Buhari would be to get northern leaders to prevail on him to give up his plans to contest against Obasanjo. In that article, I mentioned that the plan, which was conceived, hatched and financed by Babangida for the benefit of Obasanjo, would, as its first step, get these leaders to ‘reconcile’ between Babangida and Buhari. The second stage is that the same group, having gained the confidence of Buhari who is mistakenly thought to be in dire need of Babangida’s support, will pressurize him to withdraw from the contest.
The chief contractor of this project, you will be surprised to know, is the Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Mustapha Jokolo. Kash! Albasa ba ta yi halin ruwa ba.
I am surprised because Jokolo was the ADC Buhari when he became the head of state. I also remember that he was the causa causans of the ‘53 suitcases saga’. This is the least expected of the descendant of the most upright ideologue of the Sokoto Caliphate, Shehu Abdullahi of Gwandu. If Abdullahi were to catch the Emir red handed executing this treacherous contract, he would have caned him in public for undermining the cause of social justice.
We hope His Royal Highness will capitulate and respect the legacy of the seat he is occupying. We respect the Emirate of Gwandu, its history and its people, but we seriously lament this misdeed and many others perpetrated by the Emir.
Two weeks after that publication the meeting has taken place. A friend in the Babangida camp called me saying, “Tilde, Guess what!” I replied, “The best news one would expect from his best friend.” He said yes, and went ahead to detail me on what happened at the meeting. I later corroborated his report and found that he was not playing any trick.
Briefly, the meeting did not achieve what its conveners wanted. It was brief because our elders decided to maintain their integrity and tell Babangida the truth to his face. The person that punctured the bag was a Chief from the Northeast. He questioned the basis of the reconciliation by asking, “Are the two – Buhari and Babangida – fighting?” He told the meeting what he heard Buhari say in a recent BBC interview about Babangida and even the President. The former head of state has not publicly come out to say that he has a problem with Babangida that deserves the intercession of a third party; that they meet and exchange pleasantries at meetings and other occasions. Therefore, so long as Buhari maintains this in public there is no point presuming that their differences are so great to warrant reconciliation by elders. Babangida should tell the meeting his problem with Buhari.
Part of the contract specifies that the elders should plead with Buhari to step down for Babangida. On that the Chief sided with Buhari because he is the one that has sacrificed his integrity to join politics, registered in a party and have been making contacts about his intention to contest the presidential elections. Turning to Babangida he asked, “You, what have you done? You have not joined any party and you keep on dilly-dallying with the intelligence of people. If you want to contest, register in a political party as Buhari did and declare your intention. As of now, we appreciate the sacrifice he made and we are with him.” That was the naked truth that our royal father told IBB. Others started nodding, including M. D. Yusuf, the ACF Chairman. Others started blaming the conveners of the meeting. The Shehu of Borno complained that had he known that it was for this he was called all the way from Borno he would not have attended. The Emir of Kano did not attend, having a foreknowledge of what it is all about. And so on.
The most impressive thing was that the Chief who spoke the truth was not even a Hausa-Fulani. We are grateful to this father who identified with the truth and said it when the ‘descendants of Shehu’ were ready to bury it for the little benefits of this world. So Buhari could not be coerced into stepping down for Babangida. Instead, Babangida and Jokolo left Arewa House last Saturday carrying a heavier load of blame than they came with.
That was how the contract of His Royal Highness, Mustapha Jokolo, failed. I will strongly suggest that Babangida should claim damages from him. He has proved to be an incompetent political contractor. In this regard, Babangida should do us a favor, i.e. since this is not the last political contract that may fail before 2003, he should, on one of his trips to Aso Rock, plead with Obasanjo and the National Assembly to constitute a Failed Political Contracts Tribunal. The Emir should be the first person to be summoned.
There will also be many people that Obasanjo would like to be prosecuted after May 2003 for playing political 419 with him. By then I will be a graduate of law and I will be very much ready to serve as his attorney.
Dear reader, I will keep you informed of any development in the future. My radar is sensing some three other juicy gossips. I would like to share them with you as soon as they are confirmed. Let us move to other issues.
* * * There has been some development on the issue of merger between the APP and the UNPP since we wrote about it three weeks ago. Developments that followed the formalization of the merger have proved our earlier assertion that the APP will be at the receiving end. And that is exactly what is happening.
Few days after the ratification of the merger by the National Executive Council of the APP and the implementation of all changes agreed upon regarding the name of the party, its flag and so on, the leadership of the UNPP reneged on its agreement. On the one hand, its National Chairman, Alhaji Saleh Jambo, who was one of the participants at the merger talks, publicly renounced the merger and said that his party will go ahead to seek for registration with INEC. On the other hand, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, the Chairman Board of Trustees of the UNPP approved the merger and became a member of the new APP, now called ANPP.
I do not believe that there is any difference between Aikhomu and Jambo, both are close associates of Babangida. They are playing a game. What they have done is to divide themselves to ensure that Babangida has gained a foothold in ANPP, UNPP and NDP, in addition to the one he already has in PDP for four years now. That way, he can continue to play the role of kingmaker, which for now is nothing other than granting Obasanjo a second term.
What remains to be seen, especially as the APP is about to elect its new leaders at various levels, is whether the present leadership of the party will hand it over to the Aikhomu group to reincarnate the game they played in 1999 in collaboration with Shinkafi (who has also recently wrote the party declaring his intention to contest) or it will hand it over to reputable hands that cannot be bought over by the Babangida and Obasanjo.
Yusuf Ali is insisting that they will not sell the party to anyone. Well, we shall see. Ai rana ba ta karya.
* * * I believe the reader must have noticed that recent political developments have silenced the PDP. Auduga ta fara kitse… There is an ongoing campaign of intimidation that stalwarts of the PDP are waging in the North. They have not found a better trademark to sell Obasanjo with other than that of 1999.
People here are told that if the North takes over power, as it is prepared to do now, there may be no peace. So the best thing for it to do, in order to keep the peace, is to allow the South to have another term, either with Obasanjo or with any other candidate from the Southeast.
The campaign was first clandestine, now it is becoming public. The southwest has always threatened the North against retrieving power from Obasanjo.
Leaders of the North in the PDP have bulged. The Southwest is not alone now.
I remember that the first comment a PDP governor made when Buhari joined politics was the expression of this fear. In an interview he granted the Weekly Trust, Makarfi has also mentioned that the North stands to lose if there would be any crisis. On a Monday morning last week an adviser to a PDP governor was heard over VOA Hausa service tangentially criticizing Buhari and asking his listeners, “What is the point in ceasing power if you will not have the peace to exercise it?” It appears that this lamentable vituperation of the adviser was a reaction to a leakage that a cleric made in public recently. He revealed how some people gathered important dignitaries like him in 1999 and told them that they should support the candidature of Obasanjo for the peaceful coexistence of the country. Now, he said, the same people have returned this time to repeat the same thing in a more intimidating manner, despite the common knowledge that at no other time, except during the civil war, has the blood of Nigerians been so spilled like during this regime. The cleric therefore immediately and publicly disassociated himself from participating in such a plan again.
The question to ask here is why should a section of this country be subjected to constant intimidation during a political era? What is their crime? Dr. Hameed Kusamatu – a former member of the APP who recently joined the PDP from the Southwest clearly mentioned the reasons in a recent interview with the Guardian of May 28, 2002. When asked, “what about the campaign which the far-North has mounted against Obasanjo,” he replied: “If they force a northern candidate on this country, the North is not going to win, and if he wins, he will not have a country to rule. Even if they say that hey have the population, it is not sensible because the fact that you have the population does not mean you should be ruling the country all the time.” He went on to cite the example of the United Nations, an organization that elected an African, a minority race, to be its Secretary General.
The crime of the North therefore is its population, as the South has maintained for twenty years now. Why should it use its population as a basis for holding on to power always? Thus the region was forced to concede the presidency to Abiola, to Shonekan and now to Obasanjo through various manipulations. Yet, in spite of our population and the sacrifices made so far, other regions still feel that northerners do not deserve to vote for any of their own again, and if they do there will be so much trouble that the northern president “will have no country to rule.” Our governors and other leaders of the PDP are quick to use this argument again out of desperation. Some people are even suggesting that the North should allow Obasanjo to hand over to an Igbo president. According to this group, we have now seen the failure of the Yoruba, let us try Igbo; after that, by 2007, the whole country will realize that only northerners are worthy of leadership. The North should not be seen to be selfish, they say.
Haba, what an infantile thought! This is the type of thought that lodged us into the present mess and the whole country is suffering as a result to our complicity. How are we sure that the Igbo, under the promise that he will handover to Babangida in 2007, will not perform worse than Obasanjo? Let us not forget that Nigeria did not fight a civil war with the Yoruba, neither did it subject them to hunger, snatched all their wealth and left the wealthiest among them with a paltry twenty pounds. But it did all these to the Igbo. How sure are we that by conceding the presidency to them we are not reincarnating another Nzeogwu or Aguyi Ironsi? In my view, the greatest service that the North should give to the nation today is to withdraw non-democratic arguments. It must struggle to restore the freedom of Nigerians to vote for the best candidate from whatever region he may be. As I said in a lecture at Arewa House last Sunday, commitment to service, built on trust, social justice and fairness must be the merits that people should look for in a candidate, not religion, tribe, region or whatever.
If Obasanjo had performed well, I believe no northerner would have bothered himself to contest in 2003. Personally, my editor will remember that at the beginning of Obasanjo’s tenure, I was canvassing for the North to vacate the Presidency for at least eight years. That will give it enough time for self-reexamination. However, my view changed within a month, when Obasanjo clearly showed that his first duty was to subjugate other regions to the advantage of the Southwest. I have not been alone, I believe.
With time, this shift in my thinking became consolidated by the apparent failure of the regime in all sectors. Obasanjo has not been fair to the nation. Its currency has depreciated by over 80%; prices of essential commodities have risen to criminal rates; poverty has increased; bloodshed has become common; corruption has reached its highest level in the history of the nation; and ethnicity is increasingly threatening the federation.
With this catalogue of failure, why should some people think that Obasanjo should be given another chance, merely because he came from an untouchable tribe and even when the nation has many other people among its 120million population to replace him for the better? With this experience, I am bent on taking the advise that the late Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi, gave to a young politician then: Power is not something to take a sabbatical leave from. Obasanjo has proved him to be correct.
So, I now think that power is not something that should be rotated in a democracy, until when we expressly say so in the constitution. In that case, there is even no need for the North to participate in any national election.
It should simply allow the zone to which the presidency is constitutionally zoned to make their arrangements for installing a man of their choice.
For the North to accept rotation again, it is my opinion that it needs a reason more palatable in the province of democracy than intimidation. The ongoing intimidation is nothing but robbery. Someone knocks on your door and demands that you either leave your house for him or he will kill you and cease it. Then a friend came to advise you that the best thing to do is to concede the property to him, for it is better to lose your home than your life. If you accept to leave, call yourself a coward. What the world expects you to do is to call his bluff.
While the South can boast of its control over the civil service and all sectors of the economy, apart from agriculture, the North has only land and population to count on. The land helps it to cultivate the crops necessary for the survival of its people. Its population is the only asset that it can invest for any meaningful participation in politics. Only through that can it guarantee the security of its people and the unity of the federation. Now if they are denied the democratic and constitutional right to freely choose a leader of their choice, in the name of sharing power through rotational presidency, I wonder what democracy we are practicing. Conversely, we can ask: Is the south ready to share by rotation its control of the economy and civil service with the North? Therefore, 2003 should be seen as an opportunity to restore sanity to the democratic atmosphere of Nigeria. People must defy these governors and other agents of exploitation who are just after maintaining their seats. Nothing more.
* * * Democracy is a system of governance that we must welcome. It has its rules.
For us Nigerians, those rules are entrenched in our constitution. In order to ensure peace and tranquility in our nation, we must abide by those rules as they are and do away with all extra-constitutional mechanisms. We must also learn to reject people who are ready to exploit our differences for their own selfish gains. Our leaders in particular must resist the temptation of wealth and office. They must not allow themselves to be used to undermine popular will. If they do so, they are doomed and nemesis will catch up with them. For now, they should be prosecuted before a failed political contracts tribunal.