BETWEEN MALAM AND THE GENERAL
The much anticipated exit of General Muhammadu Buhari from the All Nigeria People's Party, ANPP, has passed without much fuss, as it should, all factors weighed in. The Party has already wished him luck in his future endeavours and leafed over his page. In a functional way, Buhari's exit from the party' he neither founded nor wished well is belated, even if long expected because his spirit had long since departed from the party's fold before his formal departure. In the lexicon of divorce, this is separation based on irreconcilable differences. What would two people still be doing together when they have become diametrically opposed to each other to the point of hostility?
The Katsina-born General is now history, good history or bad history, depending on who you ask. And since ours is an open democratic society, people should comment freely as they deem fit. In that context, Buhari: Moving Out of A Half Full Shell by Sa'idu Mohammed Sanusi published in leadership of Monday, February 08, 2010, should also have passed uneventfully but for the writer's recklessness with uncomplicated factual narratives. This is not the first time Sa'idu Mohammed Sanusi is bamboozling innocent readers with ignorant analysis which is neither researched nor substantiated. I vividly recall a malicious write-up Sa'idu did in the past concerning tax consultants hired by the Kano State Government. When contrary facts were presently to him his weak alibi was “well, that is what they told me”. And for all his bravado, he went on his knees begging Alhaji Bashir Tofa, whom he caused great discomfort with his reckless opinion article, for forgiveness.
As a witness to these events and especially as it concerns the Buhari/Shekarau saga, I must say that Sa'idu's attitude and choice of words are not markedly different from the manipulative, vengeful and condescending language regularly employed by TBO members and which has cost the General tremendous goodwill among his supporters. Though, I am not a Kano native, I have lived in the state long enough to know the true position of things between Shekarau and the General. General Buhari is an honest man, which is why I support him but even he has never, and will never tell anyone, publicly or privately, that Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, Governor of Kano State, betrayed him. This is an expedient invention of TBO members and believed by people who do not know the truth. If anything, General Buhari should be wishing Malam were heading TBO, which is desperately in need of experienced and selfless patriots who can tell the General the truth without first calculating what is in it for them.
Sa'idu's allegation that Malam betrayed General Buhari is nonsensical. It stands truth on its head. It is shameful comment by an ignoramus who is out to cause colossal mischief. It is a big lie that deserves contempt and condemnation. The truth, known to nearly everyone in Kano is that General Buhari enjoyed massive patronage from a grateful and loyal Malam and people should ask the General why he chose to reward good with evil. Malam has never uttered a single discourteous or disrespectful word against General Buhari in private or in the public or though any known media channel. Yet General Buhari has been thoroughly amused every time his TBO members abused the freedom of speech permitted by Malam in Kano to heap insults upon insults on the Kano State Governor.
It was also Sa'idu's statement that provoked a close associate of mine who reliably asked; Will General Buhari deny that Malam bought his Presidential nomination from in 2003? Will General Buhari deny that the fleet of cars he enjoyed, those in his personal houses and guesthouses and those used by his aides ere bought by, serviced and fueled by Malam? That the same Malam who allegedly betrayed him offset his bills each time he came to Abuja and lodged at Hilton and the medical trips of his wife and aunty to Egypt and the United Kingdom, the legal fees during his Court battles against President Obasanjo and rented and furnished campaign office? So who betrayed who?
I recall the events in early 2005 when the Shekarau government wanted to launch 500 Tricycles in its bid to modernize the transport system in the state and provide a decent alternative to Achaba, especially in transporting female passengers. The radio waves were jammed with the announcement that General Buhari was going to be Special Guest of Honour the commissioning. Those in the know confirmed that the General had personally called confirmed his acceptance of the invitation to the Governor and the state was worked into a frenzy of anticipation. In the end, General Buhari refused to come. The thousand of party supporter, including my humble self, who came to catch a glimpse of our hero walked away sulking, thoroughly disappointed and humiliated.
What could Malam and his government have done to the General to deserve such a rude rebuff? And did the General and his TBO advisers consider the feeling of innocent supporters caught in-between? It was one more case of what would become General Buhari's routine penchant for him in vain in Kano where he enjoyed far more favourable and reliable support that his home state of Katsina. He shunned Kano because he had come to distaste Malam despite all Malam had done for him. He had given his word to the party's leaders in Kano that he would show up, even chosen the date and time of his arrival. But he disappointed his followers by failing to come. Thousands waited up till late in the night for the General. Instead he sent a message through Freedom Radio, a message his fuming supporters were too bemused to event comprehend. What a tragic decision!
As fate would have it, Allah the Sole Giver of power disappointed the General and Malam was re-elected. The calculation of TBO members was that the General held the key to Malam re-election and refusing to come to Kano and raise his hand was a sure indication Malam would lose his re-election bid. There is no denying the role General Buhari played in bringing Malam to power in 2003 but the political novice in him clouded his vision as to appreciating the other variables in the mix. If Malam himself was not a credible candidate, how come other candidates, especially in Katsina whose hands the General also raised, lost their elections?
The political odyssey of Malam and the General has unfortunately been mired in opportunistic rehash by revisionist and journalistic foragers. Facts have been twisted to suite a pre-determined version of history, as if those of us who are not journalists cannot observe and analyze history with a good measure of accuracy. Sa'idu's conclusion that “there was no single member in the All Nigeria People Party that had contributed to the growth of the party like General Buhari” should be waved aside as the misinformed and misleading opinion of a hired mourner. When General Buhari joined ANPP, the party had eight Governors under its belt but by the time he left, only three remained.
It was easy for the opposition to lure ANPP votes in Kwara and Kogi by raising the specter of a Buhari presidency numerous influential and key supporters resentful of the mafia-like encirclement of the General by faceless TBO ranks, disserted the party, one after the other. It is no secret that by the end of 2003, none of the seven governors of the party, with the exception of the long-suffering Malam, was in speaking terms with General Buhari, who as the Presidential candidate, was the de facto leader and father figure in the party but who chose to antagonize everyone rather than counsel and reconcile differences.
General Buhari was never a party member because he made neither visible nor tangible contribution to building the party. His involvement was opportunistic and predatory. He merely saw in ANPP a platform to contest the presidential election. For all his much vaunted large following, the party lost more than it gained from Buhari's membership. For one person who voted ANPP because of Buhari, the party lost three people across the nation but we cannot adequately quantify the goodwill ANPP lost with Nigerians scared to hell by his anti-democratic credentials. A good party man obey's the party's rules and decisions arrived at democratically. He does not make and follow his own rules. General Buhari was never a good ANPP member and he was never loyal. ANPP must be feeling relieved that he has left but I predict that he will encounter similar problems wherever he will be unless he discards the TBO liability he carries. But can he?
Muhammad Al-Mustapha can be reached at [email protected]