Gen Buhari, Gov Shekarau and TBO


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Gen Buhari, Gov Shekarau and TBO

Jaafar Jaafar
September 9, 2006

When he had the opportunity to rule the country in the early 80s, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) exhibited the desire, with uncommon patriotism, to bring discipline and save the country from the obvious ineptitude and corruption of the Second Republic politicians. With hindsight, Buhari could have taken Nigeria to the Promised Land but for the palace coup that thrown Nigerians into “agony of thwarted dreams” to quote IBB, the mastermind’s thought-provoking parable on the occasion of his 67th birthday recently. Buhari came to power in the 80s with the sole intention to bring discipline in our social life, or to invoke Chief Justice, Belgore’s words, “they (military) came to cure a malady in the national development; malady of ineptitude…” Given Buhari’s unimpeachable integrity and the fact that from all conceivable nuances, the polity was a clear reflection of the NPN days, a group that was later known to be The Buhari Organisation, TBO, dragged the venerable general into politics apparently to cure such maladies of the nation since the ruling PDP proved inefficient.

General Buhari is the most self-effacing, humble and easygoing person with military background I have ever seen. He is different from the general run of haughty, crafty and avaricious Nigerian generals. Humble enough that he rarely turns down any invitation to occasions. Perhaps the only invitation he had once turned down was sometime last year when he was invited to Kano to ‘commission some projects’ – reflector-vest for achaba operators and tricycles. To broach this subject may amount to opening old wounds, but to those who can read between the lines, the general made exception to his rule for obvious reasons. Buhari has made himself so cheap that a local government chairman would invite him to commission a “project” as evidenced in Dala Local Government, Kano last year.

Many, at least the downtrodden who see him as a shoe-in for the presidency, perceive the General’s foray into politics as a right decision before the events of 2003 elections and the events of the recent convention of the All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP humbled the optimism of a large chunk of his supporters who incidentally are Kano people whose governor, to their disappointment, parted ways with the revered general. To say that Buhari and Shekarau are not in good terms is almost a trite or something close to saying that the face-off between President Obasanjo and his deputy, Atiku Abubakar is a rumour. The feud between General Buhari and Governor Shekarau started when Kano chapter of his campaign engine, TBO, parted company with the later after they pennilessly installed him.

Even with the landslide victory of Ibrahim Ali Amin Little in the ANPP gubernatorial primary election in the first week of January 2003, in which Senator Albert O. Lagogie, the chairman of the ad-hoc committee of the conduct of ANPP primaries in Kano State, said Ibrahim Little scored 857 votes, while the second contestant, Ibrahim Shekarau scored 181 votes, the TBO went ahead to use its connections at the national level to reverse the decision of the valid election – the rest is now history. All said, in what was similar to the typical subterfuge(?) inherent in tender process whereby the preferred bidder is selected in favour of the highest bidder, TBO preferred Shekarau to Little, the valid winner of the party’s primary. To say that TBO’s role in bringing Governor Shekarau to power was pivotal is really understatement because it was the same TBO combatants who after wresting the party’s ticket from Little, also relentlessly guarded, with military touch, the decision of the masses against the rampaging PDP crowd. It also beats the imagination of Adamu Adamu, a public affairs commentator of repute, as he righteously lamented in one of his satirical commentaries that it is surprising Shekarau ditched this group that secured his mandate “in almost military style.”

Dating back to pre-independence era, treachery and disloyalty have never been novel arts in the Nigerian politics as the former Chief Press Secretary to IBB, Duro Onabule insightfully chronicled in his Friday column (see Daily Sun September 15). So it is not a new phenomenon, but coming from an unexpected quarter, least of all Governor Shekarau, will nevertheless surprise any political pundit. That Governor Shekarau is now calling his benefactors-cum-mandate protectors names is to say the least, shocking!

The enmity seemed manifest by the disengagement of some of the TBO members from the government; manipulation of the party affairs from the hands of the TBO and; a state exco elections in which the TBO was rigged out. The lingering crisis move stealthily until it snuffed the political life of the organization and maimed politically some of its top members like Ahmadu Haruna Zago whose life-long ambition to lead the party pre-dates the governor’s entry into the party as an ordinary member. It was in these elections that all the perceived loyalists of Buhari were denied any post, while the members of the governor’s camp were, in a speedy manner, (s)elected. The election, or rather the circus, was really interesting, unprecedented and a gross violation of the ethos of democracy. Nasir Adhama, a young but political heavyweight of the rise within the TBO circles, was one of the contestants who were perceived to be die-hard supporters of Buhari. His hope to become the State Youth Leader of the party was dashed no sooner had he put a step into the election venue. Adhama found that those favoured by Shekarau were wearing some sort of identical dresses – green caps and white babbanriga! In view of this, no candidate from Buhari camp sailed through. The election monitors were sponsored for pilgrimage and given other goodies by the government for their job, while the Ali Modu Shariff-led caretaker national leadership of the party ratified the elections.

All told, the treachery culminated in the failure of Kano government, whose subjects ironically are staunch supporters of Buhari, to support any of the 18 candidates favoured by Buhari during the recent convention. Some of the TBO members were openly told by the administrative secretary of the party that they should not waste their money to buy the forms because their governor had already anointed his candidates for the slots allotted to Kano.

Even when the governors brought the issue of consensus ostensibly to favour their candidates, the ever confident and sincere general opted for an open contest. Mike Ahamba SAN who staked his life on the party, faced the intrigues of the powers that be and spent about 30 months displaying his forensic prowess from one court to another was almost unanimously denied because of his perceived faithfulness to Buhari. The pearly array of Mike Ahambas that could have redirected the party and made our dreams for better Nigeria come true was manipulated just because of the wishful thinking of some politicians.

But of all the irregularities said to have marred the convention, those committed by Kano delegates were most unfortunate, thus given Buhari’s popularity in Kano. The hypocrisy was that each of the Kano delegates was given pre-filled ballot in a sealed envelope to cast. When Ibrahim Babankowa of TBO, who was also a delegate from Kano and a contestant to the post of Vice Chaiman, North-west, demanded to know the logic of giving them pre-filled ballots, the former Police Commissioner was told point-blank that it was because they did not know how to fill the ballots! The next hypocrisy was that none of their vehicles carried Buhari’s poster like other states who openly display the posters of their favorite candites. And to stem the impending revolt of Buhari supporters, they did not also carry that of any other candidate but that of the governor and state factional leader of the party, Sani H. Hotoro.

On a final note, I want the general to know that defection is never a taboo in politics. Astute politicians like Olusola Saraki, Abubakar Rimi, etc, did defect from the party they nurtured from obscurity to prosperity. They left because believe they have the supporters; the supporters follow them because they have confidence in them. Party is nothing more than a mere platform on which candidates vie for political offices. I am sure it is the belief in such philosophy that made Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to go for the little known Labour Party. So I want General Buhari to please answer my humble call to defect from ANPP to any other platform before Ume-Ezeoke set a disciplinary panel headed by, perhaps, Governor Shekarau to penalize him for “insubordination” in a like manner the Saraki/Lawal feud nearly set a precedent but for the shrewdness of the august politician, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki.



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