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Friday, July 24, 2009

Discourse 259: I am Stupid

Discourse 259

I Am Stupid

Among the responses I got following the publication of Yuguda, What Goes Round… two deserve to be commented upon publicly. One was the reaction of a young malam I referred to in the publication, citing him as one of the many who collect gifts from the governor – cars, cash, hajj seats, etc but fail to advise him appropriately. He called me first praying for my abode in Jahannam if I was lying. But in the course of the next 24 hrs, I repeated my accusations and added many more through text messages. He technically denied some, admitted knowing something about Toyota Camry and Hilux but kept silent on many like money and an the authorship of a rejoinder to one of my articles in 2008.
I was happy when he became so compassionate about me in the end, asking “Allah to forgive him if what I said is right, and to forgive me if I was wrong.” That is dialogue with the learned. My fate was elevated, just through text messages, from the misery of living in Jahannam to the bliss of Allah’s forgiveness! I was so moved that I requested him to permit publish our sms exchanges in my column such that people we can share the experience with my readers and his followers. The reply of that text is yet to come. Later I sat to wondered what will God benefit from if he roasts me in jahannam. No, He won’t, for I remember Him say, “And your Lord is oft forgiving, owner of mercy…”
The second response was very explosive, coming from a friend with whom we will never part because he has an analytical mind. Such people are an asset to the society, even if I disagree with them sometimes. My friend accused me of a natural hatred for Yuguda. He said, “I told you the truth that Garba Gadi was never issued any letter. Did you see the letter? You see he has just succeeded in turning public opinion against the governor… Yet, you did not believe me and went ahead to write this junk. Dr. Badara, the commissioner for special duties, has addressed a press conference denying that any letter was ever sent to Gadi. Why didn’t you quote him but decided to only use Gadi’s claims? Dr., this is the least I expect from you. I expect you to carry out investigative journalism.”
Mhm. As my voice trembled, I put up a meek defence: “But it was reported by Daily Trust and I quoted the letter which the reporter said he saw… I am not a journalist. I am just a writer; so I am free to use reports once I am convinced they are genuine…”
But my friend did not believe me. “Kai dai you have a natural hatred for Yuguda…”
“No, no.” I pleaded. I am just advising him such that he will make amends.” This also provoked further fury from my friend: “How could amends be made when you people have succeeded in tarnishing his image before everyone… 2011 is coming and the worst anyone can do is to unseat him. Then you can mince his meat and distribute it in Bauchi… May God make you the governor in 2011 and see if you can correct things in this country or Bauchi. Yuguda himself promised that but it is impossible… Ka san Allah, if the government in Bauchi will take my advice, I will just advise them not to care answering any critic again because it is needless…”
After the call, I conferred in myself: “Aliyu, do you really hate Yuguda, naturally, for no sake…? Were you so foolish to use the Daily Trust report? Could it be true that Garba Gadi was forging documents just to blackmail the governor and gain sympathy?”
However, I was vindicated the following day by the reporter of Desert Herald who called to tell me that Garba Gadi has shown him three letters written him by the Ministry for Lands on the matter. Alhamdulillah. So I sms my friend and told him that the letters in fact exist and that they are even three. However, my friend insisted that they are forged. Meanwhile while driving into Bauchi, I passed by Gadi’s house and saw it marked in red: XXX… STOP… X… Honestly, I do not know if anyone, not least my friend who is a successful lawyer, will blame me for upholding documentary evidence over an oral one, or at least for believing my eyes. At least, I am not totally a layman when it comes to law; I also have a degree in law, though a 2:2.
But that leaves the question of my alleged pathological hatred for Yuguda unanswered. I really do not know how to convince my friend or Yuguda on this. I am not easily given to swearing but I can for sure say that the grounds for hate are simply not there. Yuguda is a person I met only twice in my life. We were never in the same spot except on those two occasions. Even our professions are different. The only thing that joins us is the governorship of my state. To me, that is not sufficient to provoke my hate, though, I must admit, it is enough to attract my scrutiny. However, my critical attitude is not limited to Yuguda; that is how I treated anyone who happened to be my leader since 1979, be he or she my teacher, my vice chancellor, my head of department, my president or my governor.
If my dad were alive, he would have testified to the notes I used to send him on some domestic matters and for which I earned his praise. My fellow villagers can also remember the pamphlets I used to distribute between 1979 and 1980, addressing the ills of our society. My undergraduate mates too will remember how vocal I was whenever we had a problem with a teacher or head of department. In 1980, a British professor passed some uncomplimentary remarks about our class which I judged racist and I promptly reported him to the head of department. When in 1981 on a field trip to Lagos, a teacher arrogantly addressed us at Unilag, I called him to order that evening when we returned to our station at National Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research. So we reclaimed our dignity for the rest of the trip.
When our head of department in A.B.U. wanted to include teaching undergraduates in our M.Sc curriculum in 1985, I promptly looked at him in the eye and said, “We do not belong to the department, but the Postgraduate School.” He stared at me and left, terribly disappointed. The matter died there. The same year, a professor in the department presented a worthless seminar paper on aquatic weeds. The audience was disappointed. I rose and told him that this is not a seminar paper but a lecture note. A stunning silence overtook the room for many seconds. The British professor that was moderating the seminar could not agree more.
My colleagues at Usmanu Danfodio University where I taught for ten years and the larger Sokoto community will remember my role in exposing the Odinga library books acquisition scandal; my weekly Islam Calling pamphlets which I used to distribute at Farfaru mosque every Friday as the secretary of the Muslim Circle of the University; my letters to the Governor, Daku, on molestation of girls in a secondary school and the arrests of Muslims in Gusau for protesting against the Kafancan crisis of 1987; the publication of my stand during the Sultan Dasuki’s ascendancy crisis; etc. During my PhD in A.B.U., I started a publication of four A4 pages that I used to sell 40k in various halls. My advice to the university authority through late Abdullahi Shika led to the allocation of Akenzua hall to girls, and subsequent halls later, in addition to Amina Hall, instead of sending them off-campus which I argued was repugnant to our culture.
The general public however got to know my opinions largely from my column – Friday Discourse – in the Weekly Trust. I started writing that column purposely to express the dissatisfaction of the North against the marginalisation policies of Obasanjo in 1999 when the region was gripped in horrendous shock and despair, having realised the mistake of unconditionally surrendering power to the South. That column also carried many dangerously critical articles on society, some attracting strong criticism as strong as labelling me a kafir (infidel), like when I wrote Sharia in Zamfara. Many also called me a kafir recently when I wrote in support of Saddam’s execution. I did not care because I know I am not an infidel, by any measure.
In 2002, I joined the voices that appealed to Buhari to join politics and believed that he should contest the 2003 elections. I wrote many articles that declared my unconditional support for him because I saw in him the personification of the ideals I have been propagating in my writings. I left my position in Bauchi State government that year to assist him, knowing that ordinary politicians will ask him money which he every Nigerian knows he does not have. Alhamdulillah, Buhari still enjoys massive support. Though some from Bauchi (I am restraining myself not to mention the name of a serving minister who was temporarily in TBO) in order to dupe him tried hard to tarnish my image before him in 2003 elections and almost succeeded, he knows now, after their exposition, that I am innocent. That caused my temporary withdrawal, though I continued to visit him with my children in Kaduna or Bauchi. Since the air is now clear, I have resumed my support for his political cause in full.
I paid dearly for that support when, as a result, I lost my Friday Discourse column immediately after the 2003 elections. The publisher claimed that I was too partisan; while in journalism they wanted a balance. Then I shifted to Thisday, which agreed to publish my comments on their backpage until I rejoined the services of Bauchi state government in November 2003, a move that did not go well also with many people in Bauchi and TBO. My talent is mine and I stand vindicated today, given the achievement of my participation.
The debut of Leadership newspaper in 2005, presented another opportunity and it published all my comments until December 2007 when I requested for remuneration and syndication of the column in the Trust. My friend stopped the column thinking that problems have started to creep in. Leaving Leadership was a mistake, as I recently confided in Dr. Mahmud Tukur, for, again, I parted ways with Trust in February 2008 just after writing seven articles. They declined the eighth on the pretext that it was not balanced. I said I am writing a column, not a report. But after understanding what was going on and the shock that came with that discovery, I preferred to stop the writing.
Recently, Mamu, the Publisher of Desert Herald graciously agreed to carry my articles unconditionally without any censor. And that is how I started again six weeks ago. Despite efforts from some quarters to persuade to stop me, he has remained resolved on his promise.
The content of my articles, numbering not less than 259 now, over the past ten years, has on many occasions been very critical of governments and personalities. Many of them are accessible in the net at or or in the archives of the Trust, Thisday, or Leadership. I criticised Obasanjo, Atiku, many governors, including even Mu’azu under whom I served, apart from my perpetual dissent voice at his council meetings. I do not think I criticised these people because I hated them. Never. I criticised them because I disagree with some of their policies and doing so is my constitutional right.
The same thing with Yuguda today, who I rarely write about anyway, only three articles in two years, despite being my governor. My relative silence on Yuguda is informed by three things: the risk associated with criticising him, the sympathy he has among my publishers, and the intimidating media team who were ready to defend him to the tooth using whatever means, including lies and denial of facts. In fact, I can count more critical articles about Mu’azu. My friend used to read some of them before they were even published. And Mu’azu did not like them a bit, but he was more tolerant than Yuguda, I must say. How fair is it for the same friend now to turn around and accuse me of a pathological hatred for Yuguda?
All my three articles about Yuguda have been accusatorial in tone, but advisory in motive and conclusion. I decided to make them public for the benefit of others, but more for lack of direct access to him. But the risks are real, not necessarily coming from Yuguda but from his army of supporters then and from his few remaining cronies now. When I was to write the Yuguda Revolution in April 2007 a lady colleague cautioned me against it, judging from how negative public opinion was in Bauchi against anyone that served in Mu’azu’s government in the aftermath of the election. I just told her that she should not bother; that is me. But she was right. While some rejoined on pages of newspaper, many wanted my head for prophesying the failure of the revolution if the governor did not heed to my advice. Some even went as far as attempting to assassinate me, twice, at that time, because they did not want any prudent voice around. They were sharpening their knives for a deep cut into the flesh of the treasury to which they came, they saw, and they looted.
Today, I stand vindicated. Yuguda did not care to follow my advice and the consequences are the blunders that his administration has been committing. As I write this article, a text came in from one of those who rejoined my April 2007 article in the Daily Trust. He said; “I reacted to The Yuguda Revolution with what I called ‘The many faces of Dr. Tilde.’ I regret this now. All you predicted are happening now. We are really disappointed.” Alhamdulillah. Alhamdulillah.
Yuguda, Business More than Usual was brutally suppressed in the media. I could not publish it in my column in Daily Trust, except on the net. So I sent a copy via courier to the governor, emirs and distributed many physically in Bauchi. I was shocked that the facts in it were denied by his media team and to find out that has kept that denial for over 15 months now in its front webpage. However, today, the prophecies of that article are not too far from reality.
When I saw that Yuguda is becoming more power drunk and the league of police, security agents, judiciary and media houses are not helping to moderate him, that is when I decided to write another article last week, the first in 16 months. In it, I pleaded with Yuguda to show discretion in his use of power. I even went, against the norm and at the risk of being accused of tribalism, as far as addressing him in Fulfulde, knowing his strong attachment to the language; after all, he may not have the time to read the whole article.
Well, I will continue writing my advices to him whenever necessary, perchance he would one day say, “kai, let me listen to this Dr. Tilde”. If that day fails to turn up, another would, when he will definitely regret believing those who, in order to prevent him from listening, told him that I am just his enemy, nothing else.
It is about time to give you a break, my dear reader. You must have found my personal narration indecent. I did not enjoy it either. Forgive my indulgence, please. You have been very patient with me, though still I have to chip in this final remark. Last week, I quoted the Hausa adage that says only the stupid tells the truth to a prince. I agree that I am stupid. But my stupidity does not arise from an infirmity. Rather, it is a product of the belief that unless some call to the good and discourage evil, our society will continue to sink. It is a message I learnt first from Usman Bugaje and Ibrahim Suleiman during the 1976 MSS national meeting held at St. Jones College, Jos. Later, I would hear the philosopher say that the only thing that evil needs in order to flourish is for good people to remain silent. Though my sins and shortcomings deny me the immodesty of claiming any good, my actions compel me to humbly declare that I am stupid.
18 July 2009

1 comment:

Umar said...

Nyc and a very logical argument Baba. You are my hero.