by Is’haq Kawu Modibbo
Those, like Bukola Saraki, who felt President Jonathan was a clueless weakling that can be used and dumped as they thought fit, now have to fight for their own political lives.
Last week, the ‘aggressive recruitment’ train of the APC finally chucked into Ilorin, Kwara State. The team was received by Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed, who had been corralled into the nPDP Seven, presently at loggerheads with President Goodluck Jonathan’s mainstream PDP.
The APC team arrived with high expectations of recruiting the governor, along with others they had visited in Kano, Jigawa, Sokoto and Niger; but in Kwara, they received a political lesson that must have shocked them. Governor Ahmed told his visitors, according to media reports, that “only his predecessor, Bukola Saraki, can negotiate on behalf of the state chapter of the PDP on whether they should join the All Progressive Congress, APC, or not”.
Gov. Ahmed went further, that “given the prevailing political structure in Kwara, only Mr. Saraki, a serving senator, could determine the next move of the PDP members in the state”. The people of Kwara he posited, belong to a political dynasty and would not give away the structure at any cost: “It is an existing structure for the past 40 years with assured election winning machinery”.
The APC team was sufficiently shocked into a realisation of who the ultimate hegemon in Kwara was, underlined with gusto by Governor Ahmed, just as he tediously massaged the ego of the Tin-God of Kwara politics, Bukola Saraki: “We are one big family here, under a political structure inherited by our leader Dr. Bukola Saraki. He has given all of us joy and comfort that he can lead us well”.
A friend noted, in reaction to the news report, that Fatai Ahmed aptly described their contraption an “Election Winning Machinery, EWM”.
It is neither a political party nor a political tendency as known around the world, but merely an “election winning machinery”. Winning is all that matters, fair or foul; and over the decades, they’ve won foul and ruthlessly, as befits a monstrosity: an “Election Winning Machinery, EWM”!
There are two interesting dialectical connections in the picture so generously painted by our dear governor, His Excellency, Abdulfatah Ahmed. Firstly, it is representative of the dynastic platform inherited by the young man, Bukola Saraki. And secondly, it paints the true nature of the PDP and its nPDP clone. Bukola Saraki’s nPDP wants equity from Jonathan’s PDP, but deny same in Kwara.
For Example, the ‘EWM’ made landfall, like Typhoon Haiyan in Philippines, a couple of months ago, claiming the votes of the people of Offa Local Government, that the whole world knew didn’t vote for Bukola Saraki’s candidates. And two weeks ago, they organised the charade of a statewide local government election, massively boycotted by people, but which had over 800, 000 alloted votes.
The entire affair was a structured and calculated response to Bukola Saraki’s plight in the overall political calculations in the country. Further to his address to his APC visitors, Governor Ahmed revealed that: “PDP was taking the necessary measures to resolve the crisis within its ranks”.
In other words, there are no issues of principles involved in the Kwara nPDP’s standoff with Jonathan and Bamanga Tukur. It is really about securing Bukola Saraki’s position; Abubakar Kawu Baraje and Governor Ahmed are merely receiving political blows on behalf of their hegemon, Bukola Saraki!
Let’s recall that Bukola Saraki was central to the conspiracy which sidelined Peter Odili after originally emerging as Umaru Yar’Adua’s running mate in 2007. They used Nuhu Ribadu’s EFCC to hound Odili; they then prevailed on Obasanjo to accept Goodluck Jonathan who they wrongly calculated was easy to manipulate. As vice president, Bukola Saraki and his partner, James Ibori used to give Jonathan a short shrift in the presidency, when the two were some of the most powerful people under Yar’Adua.
The lingering resentment seeped to the surface when PDP’s congress sidelined the nPDP elements. Bukola was given his comeuppance! He is in deep political crisis now, because the much-vaunted “Election Winning Machinery” succeeds only when Bukola Saraki is safely within the ruling party.
That is why they prefer a negotiated solution that will allow him to retain Kwara as his prebendal estate. Bukola Saraki cannot function in the opposition because in reality, he is merely a giant with feet of clay. If Jonathan heeds the advice of hawks like Chief EK Clark and goes for his jugular, he will be completely demystified.
The hastily conducted local government election was to demonstrate control for the purposes of negotiation. They are telling Jonathan that if Bukola Saraki is rehabilitated, he can deliver over 800, 000 votes in the 2015 presidential election.
Election winning machinery
That way, he can continue to sit tight on Kwara’s resources and play the leader in complete control. It has never been about the interest of Kwara’s people. Far from it! Abubakar Baraje’s suspension by the PDP this week, complicates issues for the “Election Winning Machinery” in Kwara.
The hawks on Jonathan’s side of the divide are getting the upper hand and it cannot be good news for Bukola Saraki and his sidekicks in Kwara, because Jonathan seems poised for their total demystification.
Those, like Bukola Saraki, who felt President Jonathan was a clueless weakling that can be used and dumped as they thought fit, now have to fight for their own political lives. And without the assurances of the state repressive apparatus behind them, there is serious danger ahead. Kwara’s “Election Winning Machinery” has perched perilously at the edge of the political precipice, things are not looking comfortable for Bukola Saraki’s camp at the moment!
Uncle Sam Amuka and the Lagos social scene: A respectful tribute
I SPENT last weekend in Lagos, attending Uncle Sam Amuka’s son’s wedding ceremony. The ceremony drew the cream of Nigerian society, from all walks of life. Uncle Sam is one of the most decent human beings I have ever met and everybody else that I have spoken with about this unusually humane gentleman has confirmed my feeling.
I do not want to over-eulogize the man, but you cannot come away from the man, not feeling delighted about his personality; his incredible modesty and his ability to appreciate the good in other people. He just has that charm and magnetism that inspire.
My becoming a columnist for VANGUARD newspapers from May 2011 was largely as a result of his ability to draw people from all kinds of backgrounds to work with him in his newspapers. He is the quintessential Nigerian patriot at a time when many intelligent people have withdrawn into ethno-religious laagers, preaching all kinds of divisiveness and hatred.
It was no surprise that these qualities of the man drew so many of us to the wedding ceremony last weekend. And I learnt an extra lesson about the Nigerian condition, from the array of people who turned out, but especially how the vibrant Lagos social scene can be such a magnet for revelry and so much enjoyment. I saw the way that Nigerians of all backgrounds, who have made Lagos their home, danced with so much gusto to the music of the band at the reception ceremony.
In my mind, it became a bit clearer that there was so much that tied our people together from all over Nigeria. The Lagos social scene has always been one of the greatest inventions and expressions of modernity and the evolution of the urban space in the late colonial period in Nigeria.
By the 1940s, Lagos had become the pre-eminent urban setting that drew everybody into a colonial and later, a post-colonial economic and social existence. It was instructive that leading newspapermen have always helped to define and enrich the Lagos social scene, and the roots of that must be located in the work of the cosmopolitan Jackson family of journalists, with the LAGOS WEEKLY RECORD, in Nineteenth Century Lagos.
But from the 1940s, journalists became central in the nationalist movement: The Great Zik, Ernest Ikoli, Obafemi Awolowo, Ladoke Akintola and even Anthony Enahoro, were not only journalists but trend setters in a most socially significant manner.
People like Uncle Sam Amuka, who as SAD SAM, was one of the most engaging columnists of all time, with his arched bowler hat, drank in the same fount and also burnt his own unique imprimatur on that remarkably vibrant Lagos social scene.
Last week’s wedding ceremony conveyed the very best of that Lagos social scene and I was so happy that I could be there to see Uncle Sam Amuka at one of the happiest moments of his life as a parent: the wedding of his son. Thank you, sir, for inspiring so many people to be the best of themselves. I belong in that sensibility!
Good news from Borno
I AM writing these lines on the eve of a trip to BornoState. I have not been back in months, but everybody confirms the relative peace that has returned to the state. I do hope to be able to report on this page about my trip next week.
It is remarkable just how much effort has continued to be put in the development effort by the government of Governor Kashim Shettima, despite the crisis of the Boko Haram insurgency. I have reported the visit to China and procurements to develop several sectors of the economy.
These efforts are highly appreciated by the Borno people and it is looking like even the international community also recognises the valiant work being done in BornoState. This week, Governor Shettima of Borno received an award from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as Best Governor in the North East of Nigeria on commitment to the eradication of polio. It was well deserved!
On our way back from the trip to China and Vietnam, we stopped over in Dubai and one of the evenings, we, Kashim and I, visited the Dubai Mall, to purchase books. The titles he chose covered political economy, philosophy, literature to biographies and Islamic political thought.
Not for him a vain and irresponsible shopping for valueless consumer items, but books to enrich the mind, to find guidance for committed leadership and responsible action. That is how it should be.