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2023Opinion

Adamawa 2023 and danger of blind political loyalty

The word ‘Politics’ which in this plural form comes as a verb as well as an adjective, is one of few words in the English language whose definition is multifaceted. It has both positive and negative connotations. But the best definition I came across is from the Oxford English dictionary that put it as “activities involved in getting and using power in public life, and being able to influence decisions that affect a country or a society.”

Academics came up with a number of sub-models of politics; from communism, aristocracy, socialism, oligarchy, monarchy, colonialism and many more, to the most widely, globally adopted system – democracy.

In this country, specifically in the North, we practiced a few of these models like the Theocracy under the reigns of Usman bin Fodio and El-kanemi; colonialism and monarchy after the invasion of Sokoto by the British in 1901 up to the time of independence in 1960; and democracy from the first republic to date, except for the few years of military interruptions that we have had.

As earlier established, politics has its negatives and that is why it is also considered by some, as a dirty game, especially in the hands of wrong people, that easily become power-drunk in office with the aid of a docile society that they govern.

While democracy is still nascent in this part of the world and we strive to get it right, it however sometimes becomes a do or die affair for desperate politicians to whom public office is nothing, but goldmine and would do anything and everything, and could go to any length to grab.

Such politicians usually rely on the society’s most vulnerable – the unemployed youths and the least educated. They entice them with instant cash and create diehards by spoiling them with stipends that are just enough to prevent them from looking for gainful employment and turning them in to modern slaves in the mind. In other words, blind loyalists that are subservient and fanatic to their masters’ political cause of getting to a higher office.

Blind loyalty simply means unalloyed support and allegiance to a person or cause. A blind loyalist does not exercise reason, rational or objectivity in whatever the person he holds allegiance to, does, even if it is inimical to himself, his family and the society at large.

Blind loyalty has become a plague that is eating especially the folks in Adamawa Central that has yet to produce a Governor since the creation of the defunct Gongola State in 1976 to present day Adamawa State.

And it all stems from ego and personality clash within the circle of the super elite whose blind followers elevate them to demi-gods that they unfortunately swallow hook, line and sinker.

When the late Ahamdu Ribadu, father of the pioneer EFCC Chairman, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, emerged as candidate for Gongola State governorship election in 1979 under the banner of National Party of Nigeria (NPN), he suffered strong opposition from Adamawa Central’s elite that were bitter because he floored Prof. Iya Abubakar at the Primaries election.

Some supporters of Professor Abubakar who could not muster patience, quit the NPN and joined the Great Nigeria Peoples Party (GNPP), while those who wore double face, remained in the NPN, but elected Alhaji Abubakar Barde of the GNPP.

In the end, Alhaji Ahmadu Ribadu who lost the governorship election as a result of anti-party activity by his own party members was appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador to Niger Republic, while his opponent at the primaries, Professor Iya Abubakar was drafted in to the Federal Executive Council and made Minister of Defence. Their supporters became the major losers as the GNPP went on to patronise only its supporters in providing dividends of democracy. It was so bad and so glaring that President Sehu Shagari had to create Presidential Liaisison Offices (PLO) in most non NPN states and appointed credible party stalwarts to man these offices for the purpose of extending development to starved communities that supported the NPN.

Fast forward to 2023. Today, Malam Nuhu Ribadu, the son of the Ambassador, is now married to the daughter of Professor Iya Abubakar. Their parents may have had their political differences, but that did not stop their children from uniting the two families. Although Prof. Iya Abubakar hails from Adamawa North (Gongola North at the time), his wife is from a big and influential family in Adamawa Central that supported him to the core.

The moral lesson here is that there is absolutely no reason why politicians in Adamawa Central should not come together and rally round any candidate that emerges as the flag bearer. There is a universal adage: united we stand and divided we fall. Adamawa Central failed to produce a Governor to date, simply because of disunity.

It was gladdening to hear Malam Nuhu Ribadu announce few weeks ago that he had accepted Sen Binani’s candidacy through his action of not going to the Supreme Court to appeal his case. The next big step for him is to take leave of the presidential campaign council and come down to Adamawa and campaign side-by-side with the APC governorship candidate.

The action of doing so will send powerful signal to the entire populace that sanity has returned to the party and that Adamawa APC is now a single family. A divided house will never stand nor its inhabitants taken seriously. Ribadu owes APC and the people of Adamawa state the duty of bieng an agent of unity and symbol of progressive politics.

Indeed, Sen. Binani herself had called for unity at Monday’s grand launching of her campaign that was graced by APC’s who-is-who, including the President, national chairman of the party, Senate President, Governors and their wives, Ministers and many more.

She specifically thanked Malam Nuhu Ribadu and urged him to join her in retrieving Adamawa back in to the hands of the common people. She also appealed to the mother of the nation and Nigeria’s first lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari, to also join her in mobilizing the electorate to vote for the APC that is on the verge of making history of producing the first female chief executive of a state.

Politicians should never allow their emotions to dictate their actions. Neither should they allow their followers to mislead them in to holding permanent grudge against their opponents for winning an election. A victor must emerge in any contest, and the runners-up should take their fate in good faith and try their luck the next time, and not agonise in bitterness. It is unhelpful and unstatesmanly.

  • Iyawa is a former Nigerian Ambassador to Mexico
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