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Published On: Wed, Jul 16th, 2014

Weep not for Nyako

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Gov.-Murtala-NyakoBy Ali M. Ali.

By training as a sailor, he is used to all kinds of storms. But this political storm is likely to consume him. Forget all pretension and public posturing to the contrary. Disregard the ‘intervention’ by former President Obasanjo, to ’unshock’ Nyako, those yelling for his head may have it today or tomorrow. Then they will come for the heads of other ‘recalcitrant’ governors who kept mute and seemingly abandonthe sailor-turned-farmer-turned-politician to his fate.

This was my conclusion last week on this page. Admiral Murtala Nyako has been impeached. Weep not for him. Weep for democracy. He assumed office via a political sleight of hand. He exited via a political sleight of hand. Weep not for him. For the nearly eight years he was in the saddle, he just sauntered in the posh precincts of executive power.

Both his entry and exit are markedly identical-violation of procedure. That is not the news. The news is that his personal travails may have just begun. For those in the know, he “got it coming’’. It was just a matter of time before he was primed to kiss the canvass of political intrigues.

There are ‘talks’ that he will be charged for ‘treason’. And what is ‘treason?’ A political crime, I will say. Treason, in political lingo, to me, is having the temerity to call a spade a spade before an emperor. It is called telling ‘truth to power’. And Nyako did, notwithstanding that, in doing so, he was in danger of widening the chink in his armour.

He made the ‘fatal’ mistake of disrobing the big masquerade in full public glare. His memo to northern governors last April blaming the federal government incompetently led by a fumbling President, for increasing insecurity in the region, was his political death warrant. In that memo, he even threatened to go to the World Court and drag the federal government along, for genocide.

It was a battle cry that resonated with so many citizens victimized by the raging insurgency in, particularly, the North-east. Not a few shared his insight. I was one of them. A lot of folks especially the hoi polloi whose family and businesses were mowed down by the renegades fighting an evil cause, celebrated him. They saw him as daring enough to tread where angels dreaded. It was a small step for Nyako but it was a giant leap for the vast voiceless majority routinely massacred by an evil genie and abandoned by their elite and representatives in government. Either for bread or safety or both, none among the leeching tribe of northern elite had been as daring as Nyako in telling truth to power.

Before then, he was unsparing in tongue lashing the federal government. Earlier in March, Nyako had, in a speech delivered in the US on security challenges facing Northern Nigeria, foxily accused the federal government of being the master puppeteer of the Boko Haram insurgency. He fired straight from the hip. And he scored the bull’s eye. His memo ruffled feathers. Some hirelings in the presidency ran from pillar to post to nail the Admiral. His impeachment on Tuesday was the response to his ‘rains’ of torpedoes.

Politics, I repeat, politics and not accountability, informed the impeachment. This is dangerous. Mark my words. At the end of the day, all the actors and the puppets that engineered the impeachment process will be consumed by this genie that they uncorked. They had better start counting their days.

As I stated here last week. I have no sympathy for the ex-governor. He ran his government like a personal fiefdom. He operated like a soldier of fortune, not like a well-trained officer and gentleman. Like all bounty soldier, he took no prisoners. He was a classic case of George Bush’s complex. “You are either with us or against us”. For an Admiral who commanded war ships, he demonstrated an admirable lack of political skill in navigating the treacherous and shark infested political waters of the times. I shudder to think how he would have navigated a shipload of sailors in a war situation. Clearly, the ex-governor had no battle plan militarily or politically. He just went with the flow.

Nyako was not the first governor to be so embattled. He was in good company. Amaechi, Oshiomhole and now Al-Makura of Rivers, Edo and Nasarawa respectively. Some of their lawmakers want to shove them aside. Note the word “some”, not ‘all’. Not so with the former governor.

All these governors have a battle plan. Qualitatively, their political sins are milder compared to Nyako’s. To swim with sharks, a swimming trunk impervious to shark bites is non-negotiable. The Admiral plunged into the sea bare bottom. Minus Amaechi perhaps, none had stared the Emperor eyeball to eyeball without blinking. Every day Amaechi is in a battle of wits with Abuja forces – bent on dislodging him.

I am inclined to think he had a death wish all along. The more I think about it, the more the idea becomes attractive. Nyako was a reluctant governor. He was hurled into the saddle in 2007 will- nilly. The process that produced him as the flag bearer of the PDP was anything but free and fair. Other aspirants in the party were, literally, muscled out. For three consecutive days, the primaries were not held. He was the sole beneficiary of the bitter political feud between ex-President Obasanjo and his estranged deputy, Atiku. Without recourse to due process as in conducting party primaries, Nyako was selected and imposed on the party and the people of Adamawa.

The aggrieved went to court. His mandate was quashed. A fresh election ordered in April 2008.He won expectedly. As soon as he became comfortable in the gubernatorial mansion, he reduced governance to a family affair. To remain in power, he latched onto Jonathan’s lapels to be re-elected. He vigorously campaigned for the current President in 2011 and, in the process, was rewarded with another term in office.

The second term around, he probably thought he was commanding a naval vessel. He turned governance to a personal estate. He did as he pleased, offending everyone, bowing to nobody not even those with superior logic.

He may have reached the pinnacle of his career as a soldier but as a politician he betrayed the doddering steps of an infant. I wrote here last week that “It is a measure of his admirable lack of political skills that when he defected to the opposition APC, the 5 legislators of the party promptly defected to the PDP. There are 25 lawmakers in the Assembly. All 25 are against Nyako.

Before then, he had quarrelled with virtually all those who helped him to power. Chief among them is Professor Jibril Aminu. With a resume like that, it is understandable why he is where he is now -politically.”

An educated guess may help explain Nyako’s patent death wish. He didn’t give a damn. At 72,there is nothing else to prove except being brutally blunt. Having been military governor at 35, been civilian governor at 66 was no big deal. And truly at 70 plus and a long resume, his time for a cat and mouse game is over. He has ‘seen’ it all. So telling truth to power doesn’t scare him. Swimming with sharks but naked is not for the faint hearted. Weep not for him.


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