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Published On: Fri, Nov 8th, 2019

Niger’s ‘The Bad, The Bad And The Ugly’

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Thursday Column with Mohammed Adamu

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Governor Abu-Lolo’s initial exposé of some of the sordid entrails of his predecessor’s corruption table manners, would soon prove merely a foretaste of what he really had in stock for this flippantly irritable grand-uncle-in-law of his, Dr. Babangida Aliyu. The Feral High Court in Minna would thereafter order an interim forfeiture of some of the former Governor’s fixed assets including raw cash, -seizures which an EFCC suit had claimed were proceeds of corruption involving a couple of billions from the State’s Ecological Funds. A couple of Multi-acred Farmlands, exquisite chateaux, cozy resorts here and there and some sleek multi-million naira jeeps and limousines purportedly acquired from the filthy fats of the ‘Power State’, were parts of this interim forfeiture. And this was after Dr. Aliyu had earlier been arraigned by the same anti-corruption agency along with his former Commissioner/Chief of Staff, namely the ‘once-brother-in-law-to-have-been’, or PDP’s now twice-defeated flag-bearer Umar Nasko, before the High Court in Minna, on a separate seven count charge of fraud involving another sum of N2 billion. But as mister hare is said proverbially to be crossed more with the one that hangs it’s dead body into town than it is with the one that kills it at the hunt, neither of the suits of EFCC alleging humongous corruption against him may have unnecessarily perturbed Dr. Aliyu as much as the humiliatingly exhibitionist manner by which he was twice luridly brought to court, did. Abu Lolo had made sure the former Governor was Black-Mariad to court swarmed by a tumultuous crowd of Nigerlite rank-and-file on foot, motorbikes and keke napeps even as they allegedly pelted and yelled condemnable, day-of-reckoning obscenities at his predecessor-grand-uncle-in-law.
But those who forget history, it is said, are often condemned to repeat it. Dr. Aliyu too, after assuming office in 2007 had treated his predecessor, the late Engineer Abdulkadir Kure with no less ignominy. He did not arraign Kure before the regular courts; but he had instituted a public inquiry to recover billions allegedly stolen by Kure, even though many sympathizers of the former Governor –without necessarily denying that Kure was guilty as charged- had said that Dr. Aliyu was more interested in publicly humiliating his predecessor than he was in genuinely recovering looted State money from him. And so, just as Dr. Aliyu was publicly pelted and called a ‘thief of the Niger’ under the governorship of his grand-son-in-law, Abu Lolo, so too had Kure previously been pelted and called the ‘Robin Hood of the Niger’ under the suzerainty of his own successor-brother-in-law, Dr. Aliyu. By the way, you should ask me: ‘Mohammed, did you say that Aliyu was Kure’s brother-in-law?’ Yes, I did. Kure too, was part of that unending layers of ‘in-law-ship’ and ‘grand-uncle-ship’ linked to the ever-expanding ‘grand-patriarch-ship’ of the Abdulsalamis and the IBBs.’ By sibling affinity, if not by consanguinity The late Kure was related –through Dr. Aliyu- to the Abdulsalamis, because one of Kure’s younger sisters, of the same father and mother, is married to one of Dr. Aliyu’s younger brothers, also of the same father and mother. And so, as Dr. Aliyu is ‘uncle-in-law’ and ‘uncle’, respectively to Abdulsalami and his wife Fati, which I had earlier shown to also make him ‘grand-uncle-in-law’ to their ‘Governor-son-in-law’, Lolo, the late Kure himself was Dr. Aliyu’s brother-in-law and by a curious customary extension too, he was Abdulsalami’s ‘uncle-in-law-at-large’ (my creation). See?
It can thus be seen that the power gladiators on the Niger have always been connected one way or another to each other. Or how else would you have known that both Dr. Aliyu and the late Engineer Kure –even as they were once openly at each others’ jugular, politically- they were both conjugal and political affines of the Abdulsalamis, and were thus equally entitled to the protection of the ‘grand patriarch’ himself, or -by necessary implication the protection- of the grandest patriarch of all, namely IBB, to whom Abdulsalami is in habitual deference. Or again, how else would you have known that Dr. Aliyu and Abu Lolo who are both also conjugal and political affines of the Abdulsalamis in virtually all the ramifications of the word, can still, when it comes to politics, go after each other’s jugular? When Governor Aliyu defied all kinship entreaties (including his mother’s) to let go of Kure’s jugular during the public inquiry, Aliyu’s mother (who you must keep in mind is also mother to Kure’s sister’s husband) resorted to matriarchal troubleshooting in the hope of thawing her Governor-son’s obduracy. And it was such pleasant irony that an octogenarian mother of an incumbent Governor, Dr. Aliyu, doubling also as mother-in-law to her incumbent Governor-son’s predecessor, Kure, had to be the one to run pillar-to-post importuning the intervention of one and all to save the extended family from political in-fighting; including she went to Minna Prison, they said to calm and to assure Kure’s two henchmen (one, IBB’s blood brother and closest Aide, and the other, Kure’s uncle and political godfather) who were already in the remand while the inquiry was on. And when even this matriarchal intervention of the Governor’s mother had failed to assuage Dr. Aliyu’s intransigence, Kure, it was said, was advised to resort to bruising kindred nerves, a joker which worked perfectly by blackmailing Dr. Aliyu to call off the inquiry. And what did he do? -at all subsequent hearings a desperate Kure had made sure to rope in the name of an entrenched Niger State contractor, General M.I. Wushishi , -another distant paterfamilias of the Babangidas and the Abdulsalamis. All three Generals hailed from Wushishi, a town historically administered jointly with Zungeru, by a common traditional ruler. And when Wushishi appeared at the next hearing and was booed as the ‘contractual thief of the Niger’ by Kure’s loyalist, esprit de corps and jus sanguinis required that the patriarchs immediately put an end to this ‘wasan karya qafa’. And they must’ve screamed in unison: ‘cut, cut, cut….’!
By the way, these same patriarchs on the Niger who had left Kure to his own desperate devices while under Dr. Aliyu’s stranglehold, had made as much gaping wounds on the State’s economy under Aliyu’s eight years of patrician corruption, as they did under Kure’s corruptly gratuitous bazaar, eight years earlier. But the same are allegedly, even more self-indulgently involved now in the tragic, do-nothing administration of their clueless son-in-law, Lolo. Confirming the fact that every government on the Niger has an uncanny ability always, of beating its predecessor hands-down only in corruption and bad governance. And the question in fact arises: how far can the incumbent Governor, Abu Lolo go in his current judicial effort to recover the State’s patrimony from his grand-uncle-in-law, Dr. Aliyu without risking again, a repeat of ‘forgotten’ history? Given the obvious fact that Dr. Aliyu is not one not to cave in under judicial scrutiny, we may yet witness another round of a former Governor tactically implicating the patriarchs in his judicial ordeal, to free his windpipe from the stranglehold of his successor. Or can Governor Abu Lolo afford to allow a court subpoena on any of his patriarchal fathers-in-law? This is the way that kinship cookies always crumble. And maybe it is the reason that the former Governor, Aliyu has recently started throwing careless allegations around about some financial wrong doings against his grand-son-in-law, Lolo. It may be to let his own niece (Fati) and his nephew-in-law (Abdulsalami), know that if they allow their Governor-son-in-law, (Lolo) persist in throwing pebbles at his fragile glass house, well then, they should beware the boulders that he (Aliyu) their ‘uncle’ and ‘uncle-in-law’ may soon be throwing, in the direction of their even more delicately fragile ‘glass house’.
If Dr. Aliyu had let go of his brother-in-law, Kure’s jugular in deference to the patriarchs who are his political godfathers, why should not Abu Lolo let go of his grand-uncle-in-law, Aliyu’s jugular in deference to the same patriarchs who are his parents-in-law?

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