Party Loyalty: The Mukhtari Shagari Example
In 2007, the politics of Sokoto State was all about who would succeed the former governor, Atahiru Bafrawa, who was coming to the end of his second term in office. Governor Bafrawa's party, the All Nigerians Peoples Party (ANPP), was already in disarray-with the governor and his deputy Wammakko up in arms against each other.
But while the in-fighting was ravaging the ruling ANPP, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was getting stronger, united and rearing to go. The new popularity and growing strength of the PDP could be traced to some honest, loyal and humble party men and women. Notable among this lot is the current deputy governor of the state, Alhaji Mukhtari Shagari.
For those who have forgotten, it was Shagari who contested and won the PDP gubernatorial primaries in Sokoto State in 2007. But in a twist of events that defied all logic, fairness and party rules, the former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, together with the leaders of the PDP, in another clear case of impunity, decided to shove Shagari aside and handed the PDP ticket to Wammakko, who was not even a member of the PDP!
Even in the face of this monumental injustice, Shagari refused to go to war with his party; though he had every right to seek justice in the court of law, he did not even bother to protest this illegal and unjust decision of those who are now all over the place accusing others of impunity. Instead, Shagari chose to be a loyal party man by accepting that his party is supreme, and that the interest of the party must take precedence over individual interests.
That was how Shagari ended up as deputy governor under Wammakko even though he set out and indeed would have been the governor. It is to the credit of Shagari that he has remained humble, loyal and respectful to his boss, the governor. It is on record that Shagari has never done anything to remind Wammakko of the circumstances surrounding his emergence as the governor as many in his position would have done.
He has also not pursued any vindictive action against his party the PDP, that clearly wronged him nor has he joined the growing bandwagon of PDP bashers, made up of largely those who have benefited from the party's days of impunity under Obasanjo. If there is a northern politician who has a genuine reason to defect from the PDP, then it must be the deputy governor of Sokoto State. Yet Shagari has chosen the path of party loyalty, integrity and consistency!
Ironically, Governor Wammakko who is a beneficiary of impunity and an undemocratic decision has defected from the PDP, the party that gave him the opportunity to be governor for eight years when his former boss, Bafarawa had sworn that on no account would his former deputy succeed him as governor. Not only did the PDP snatch the ticket from Shagari and gave it to Wammakko, the party also stood by him when the Appeal Court nullified his election based on the irregularities surrounding his nomination.
Lest we forget, the frantic effort by the PDP to save Wammakko nearly culminated in the destruction of the entire judiciary of the nation. It is a real shame that the same Wammakko for whom PDP faced all kinds of opprobrium has not only jumped out of the party but is also among those leading the line in the new campaign to decapitate the PDP.
There is a lesson to be learned in the PDP, Wammakko and Shagari triangle. First, is the lesson that democracy is a rule-governed system! In this system, justice can only be attained when issues and disputes are settled by reference to the extant rules and norms regulating the conduct of individuals and groups, and not by deference to personalities, whims and caprices of the powers-that-be.
Second, the Wammakko intransigence perhaps has taught the PDP a bitter lesson to always reward loyalty and promote discipline amongst members. With the benefit of hindsight, PDP can now see how wrong the dropping of Shagari for Wammakko has been. It does not matter the reasons he is now bandying about, Wammakko was never committed to the PDP; he was not its member in the first place. He thinks he has achieved all he could within the party and like every fair-weather member has moved on. It is as simple as that!
But on the contrary, his deputy, Shagari, is a thoroughbred member of the ruling party who is ready to swim and sink with his party. And to prove his loyalty, he has elected to remain and rebuild the PDP in his state and at the national level in spite of the huge pressures that have been arrayed against him. What is remarkable about this politician is that in choosing to remain with the PDP to pursue his political career, he has not elected to confront or disrespect his boss, the governor but is doing so with politeness and every sense of responsibility.
In pledging his continued allegiance to the PDP, the Sokoto State Deputy Governor, Mukhtari Shagari, shines the light on the dark alley of party loyalty so thinly inhabited in our political system. He is providing hope that there are still a few politicians who, at least, believe in something even if it is not a well elaborated ideology. With politicians like Shagari, there might still be hope for the PDP and our politics. But my worry is that rather than celebrate honest politicians like Shagari, the PDP appears to have its focus on those politicians whose minds have left the party a long time ago!
Abubakar sent this piece via [email protected]