By Salisu Muhammad Sani
By way of introduction, I consider it important for me to begin this write up by doing a reference to a popular, even if inaccurate, saying that “politics is a dirty game.” If we are to trace the way politics is being played in the country, we would almost certainly be left with the grim realisation that politics over here is, indeed, a dirty game. Of course, this is without prejudice to the few ones who have played the game fairly.
But despite our not-so-complimentary perceptions about politics in Nigeria, citizen participation is no less crucial and imperative. It is imperative because one of the very immediate implications for failing to participate in politics is that we all end up being governed by individuals with whom the requisite capacity and desire to lead are not inherent.
In advanced societies where the practice, campaign and advocacy of democracy and democratic ideals are found, the principles of distinct political ideology is the fundamental undergird for both the key players in the game and the political platforms to which they belong, and on which they aspire to contest for elective offices.
It is depressing that decades after embracing democracy as a system of governance in Nigeria, chiefly in the second dispensation where the country had enjoyed over 20 years of uninterrupted civilian rule, our politicians still visibly lack political principles and ideologies. This is clearly explicable in the rather loose nature of party loyalty and allegiance.
In many states, party members are being discovered to be clogs in the wheels of progress. and albatrosses to the successes of their own parties. This, according to findings, they do for egotistical reasons. For example, prior to the 2019 general elections, the party that was riddled with shilling self-destructive orchestrations by its own party stalwarts is the Bauchi state chapter of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) under the leadership of the former Governor of the state, Barrister Muhammed A. Abubakar.
The man was reportedly being fought by his own party men who were based in Abuja. They were said to have conspired with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to wrestle power from the APC in the state.
Let me go down memory lane a bit. Due to his growing popularity and widening political capital, M A Abubakar was elected at the party’s primary election to be its governorship standard bearer in the 2015 general elections. As expected, he led the party to win all the contested seats in the state. In fact, the APC won the highest votes in the entire North-east geo-political zone for President Muhammadu Buhari who polled 931,598 against PDP’s then President Goodluck Jonathan 86,085.
Capitalising further on MA Abubakar’s political clout as leader of leader Bauchi APC in the 2019 presidential election, President Buhari polled 798,428 votes to defeat Atiku Abubakar, which polled 209,313 votes more than Adamawa and Taraba states combined by well over 200,000 votes. It is also worthy of note that in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), apart from Kano, Katsina and Kaduna, no other state scored as many votes as Bauchi in the 2019 presidential election; not even Lagos state could garner as many votes despite its huge population.
APC in Bauchi state is also reputed to have produced the entire three Senators in its fold. This in itself is an unmistakable verdict on the capacity and performance of the party. Similarly, the Bauchi APC produced nine out of 12 House of Representatives seats. Meanwhile, as a reminder that the opposition stood no chance in the contest, it must be noted that even the two of the three lost by the party were ‘won’ by the People’s Redemption Party (PRP) in active connivance with the renegade members of the APC.
Given these wins, and in addition to his overwhelming victory in 15 out of the 20 local government areas of the state, the foes of Abubakar and party contracted a fraudulent alliance with the PDP and convened same to rig the gentleman out of the remaining local government areas.
For the sake of history and all that matters to the growth and sustainability of our democratic processes and, indeed, our body polity, it is instructive to note that Abubakar’s most significant ‘offence’ was that he denied the proverbial wolves the access to the state’s coffers.It was customary in the pre-Abubakar administration to siphon funds for self-enrichment to the mortification of the larger society.
Another classical example of Abubakar’s ‘undoing’ is a recent report that their preferred candidate, Governor Bala Muhammed, was accused of awarding a whooping N3.6 billion contract to his personal company. It is a clear vindication of his predecessor who attributed the animosity against him on his stands against wanton stealing of the state’s funds under his watch.
Today, observers insist that without M.A Abubakar, the APC as a party is virtually doomed in the state because those who fought him from their comfort zones in Abuja cannot win election even at their wards. The recent bye-election, where APC lost in Katugum zone despite parading hitherto influential personalities like the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, and Capt. Bala Jibrin, is a clear indication that the duo and others are, as matter of fact, mere political opportunists, who do not necessarily value the supremacy of their party and are not in touch with the political realities in their state.
Sadly, they succeeded in their unholy quest to overthrow their very own candidate in favour of the opposition. But the worry of every party faithful now is on the future of the party. Certainly, President Buhari and the APC national leadership must realise that the party can only be salvaged when the M.A Abubakar led leadership in the state are given all the necessary support to enable them sustain and reposition the party ahead of the 2023 general elections.
As it stands, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, most of whom hold federal appointments from the state, are clearly not concerned about the future well-being of the party. It is the honest view of yours truly, therefore, that Abubakar’s men should be considered for federal appointments to strengthen them with the clouts necessary to sustain the party in the state. This includes the need to appropriately empower them to be able to discharge their social and financial obligations to the party.
Sani writes from Bauchi.