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MAKARFI'S DEFEAT DECODED

By NBF News
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It is the season of political success and disappointment arising from the conclusion of the 2011 elections. While those who succeeded in sweeping the polls at various levels savour their good politics and good fortune, others who fell by the wayside have been busy trading blames and passing the buck for their situation on anyone but themselves.

A typical example of this latter group is Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, who suffered a sensational defeat in the hands of Datti Baba Ahmed, a 'small fry' compared to Makarfi, ex-governor and now ex-senator. I would have thought that Makarfi saw this unceremonious end coming long before the elections in view of the signals emanating from Kaduna State indicating the demise of his personality-based empire. But we have been reading lamentable excuses for his defeat from his hack writers.

Instead of facing the stark reality of a diminished political stature and an expired mandate, we are being told that Makarfi's defeat was the result of some sort of political conspiracy against him by Vice President Namadi Sambo. I am at a loss as to what Makarfi's apologists hope to gain by diverting attention from the reality to the shadow of conspiracy theory or indeed why they seem to believe that Sambo whose political agenda has since risen beyond the confines of the local politics of Kaduna State to encompass the stability and development of the entire country, will have time for frivolities such as pulling Makarfi down. To paraphrase a popular Hausa adage, one who has gone forward has gone far!

In the particular case of Makarfi's recent political misadventure, it amounts to downright mischief to ignore the fact that it was not Sambo but Ahmed who sent Makarfi packing. Ahmed has not only confidently justified his victory but has gone further to spell out the circumstances that made it possible. In so many published press interviews, the new senator declared unequivocally that it was a matter of carrying the majority of people of the constituency along with convincing exhortations and rigorous campaigns, spearheaded by his own personal charisma and political track record in the area.

As far as he was concerned, there is no big deal in his defeating Senator Makarfi because it is the will of the people rather than the presumed political stature of the candidate that determines the outcome of a genuinely free and fair election. In other words the era of personality politics or even money-bag politics is dead and gone and it is the era of peoples power that is now ruling the political landscape. It will therefore be an insult to the new senator for anyone to suggest that it was some mysterious conspiracy that facilitated his victory.

It needs to be emphasized that the steady decline of Makarfi's political stature in Kaduna State commenced even before he had to quit the stage at the end of his tenure in 2007. Whatever his sycophants may want to use for propaganda, the fact remains that the PDP needed a rescue package when Makarfi's tenure came to an end because the party was in tatters due to factionalization. The situation in which Makarfi found himself at the end of his tenure was similar to what General Ibrahim Babangida got entangled in before he had to step aside and stay away from the power stage.

If Makarfi had any iota of political clout left in him he would certainly have planted anyone of his many Government House stooges to succeed him as governor, but the tide for change was too strong for him to resist without getting swept into political oblivion. In the end, it took the concerted efforts of party stakeholders to come up with a totally independent but formidable political structure supported by Sambo which eventually saved the PDP from imminent disgrace.

We cannot so soon forget the desperation and abuse of process deployed by Makarfi in order to grab the senatorial seat he has just lost, when he realized that his game was over. It is no less preposterous for Makarfi apologists to claim that he was ever considered to succeed Obasanjo or that he was shortlisted to be VP after the sudden death of Yaradua.

Governor Namadi Sambo, on the other hand, had consolidated his control and direction of the political affairs of Kaduna State and simultaneously proved to be competent and visionary in governance.

•Abubakar Sadiq Umar is of Political Science Department, Ahmadu Bello Univerity, Zaria.