Opinion: Niger State lost their best in 2015

Niger State Governor taking oat of office in May, 2015

Niger State Governor taking oat of office in May, 2015

By Abubakar Abdullahi Kurebe
When in 2013, Mal. Mohammad Haruna, in a back column of The Daily Trust, speculated that with the marital relationship of the current Governor of Niger State, H. E. Abu S. Bello, with the former Head of State, Gen. Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar, his in-law, as well as the triangle cartel or Mafia of classmates in the State of which his father, retired Col. Sani Bello belongs, made up of retired Generals of the same set of 1962, it was already a concluded matter that he would be the Governor of Niger State in 2015.

Many of us took Mal. Haruna for a mad person, particularly weighing his (Abu S Bello’s) experience when profiled against those of the already listed potential candidates in the PDP, in order of strength, namely, Engr. Mustafa Bello, a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, a former Minister of Commerce of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and immediate past Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Investments Promotion Commission, NIPC.

With very crystal clear records of performance of over 15 years in the service of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Mustafa was acknowledged by both the former British Prime Minister Mr. Tony Blair, who described his role in the 2001 World Trade Organization, Doha Ministerial Trade Rounds of Negotiations as “An eloquent Advocate for Africa” as well as His Excellency Alh. Atiku Abubakar, the former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, who described Him (Engr. Bello) as among the Top 5 Ministers in terms of performance of the President Olusegun Obasanjo Administration.

Next to Mustafa is Colonel Aminu Isah Goje Kontagora, a retired Colonel and one time Governor of Kano and Benue States of Nigeria, then Alh. Ahmed Musa Ibeto, the then Deputy Governor of the State and last but not the least, Senator and former Deputy Inspector-General of Police Alh. Nuhu Aliyu, and not even the other three new entrants, namely, Alh. Garba M. Dukku, Engr. Hannafi Sarkin-Sudan and Alh. Darangi, were equally rated as more experienced than Alh. Abubakar sani Bello, and also, same name (Gen. Abdulsalam A. Abubakar) surfaced again most recently when the staff of the Nigerian Investments Promotion Commission, NIPC, went on an endless strike against their (now former) Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Saratu Altine Umar and it was all over the media.

Curiously I decided to visit the premises of the NIPC to see for myself and also interact with the Union leaders to establish exactly the immediate and remote cause of such an endless strike, I was astonished when in an interaction with one of the staff he said; “She boasts that Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar brought her here and the then President, (GEJ), and the Permanent Secretary of our Ministry (of Industry, Trade and Investment) and all are her boyfriends” I had to shut my own mouth from further questions so as not to be told even more embarrassing stories, as then I knew that this retired General and former Head of State may be in for something if truly He “brought Saratu to the NIPC”, as He appears to be all over the place romancing very seriously with the Presidential Villa.
So while we watched the Party Primaries of the PDP went through the way it did, stage managed and the outcomes were as we saw them I personally took keen interest in establishing what actually happened in Niger State, particularly with the quality and caliber of personalities the State had as candidates, some of whose credentials actually qualified them vie for the Office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not a State Governor but to be rubbished as such, and my findings are as follows;

RELATIONSHIP OF GEN. A A ABUBAKAR AND THE PRESIDENTIAL VILLA.
General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar, ever since the coming into office of the then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, had cultivated a culture of keeping regular contacts with the President and through that filing several of His requests and on all of them got positive responses, from securing appointments to contracts and several other favours. While that relationship was on the General shielded from the public view these benefits He was procuring from the Government of President Goodluck Jonathan and in that stead portraying all the negatives he could on the same President and His Government to present a picture of an incoherent President that is hostile to the North and unfit for Nigeria.

I was reliably informed by an authentic source within the Villa, then, that General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar, in one of his dialogues with the then President Goodluck Ebele Johnathan he assured the President that they (the power blocks in Niger State) will support him secure Niger State and that should he (Mr. President) ensure that his in-law wins election as the next Governor, He (Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar) would compel his in-law to revert back to the PDP, after all he was a member of the same Party before he moved over to the CPC. This assurance was given to the former Head of State and with it he head home for the second phase of the plan.

RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FORMER GOVERNOR OF NIGER STATE MUAZU B. ALIYU.
Everyone knew that the former Governor of Niger State, Muazu Babangida Aliyu, is related to General Abdulsalami Alhaji Abubakar in so many ways. It was Gen. A. A. Abubakar that made him a Federal Permanent Secretary, it was Gen. A. A. Abubakar that brought him to be the State Governor after his senior brother, the first choice, Alh. Ibrahim Aliyu declined the offer to be the successor to Abdulkadir Kure, and it was the same former Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu that was busy insulting all the Generals of the State publicly throughout his 8 year tenure. Everyone expected that to have infuriated them to the extent of parting ways with him but for the fact that they needed him at the late hour to conclude their plans. That plan was finally consummated through the designed “Istiharah” pronouncement by the former Governor after he initially fingered Alh. Muazu Bawa Rijau to the dislike of the powerful cartel of Generals as an excuse to find ways of frustrating these fantastic materials the State had, in the four names earlier on listed.

The idea of bringing the son of General Nasko, at that hour, was to create a fall back position in the event that APC failed in the State, the State would still remain in their hands as Umar Nasko is the son to one of them (Maj. Gen. Muhammad Gado Nasko (rtd)). But as their major fear was fielding Engr. Mustafa Bello by the PDP which would have made it very easy for the PDP to win in the State, Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu was given the task to ensure that he disabled all those four names during the party primaries. I was reliably informed that two of the four (Sen. Nuhu Aliyu and Col. Aminu Isah Goje Kontagora rtd) were hastily invited uphill on the night preceding the day of the PDP Party primaries urging them to step aside to avert disgrace as part of the plan to further support the son of Maj. Gen. M G Nasko. Since the entire affair was pre-planned, Engr. Mustafa Bello would naturally not make it by the Might of Gov. Muazu Babangida Aliyu who had so much State resources at his disposal to use as well as threats of intimidation and removal as Party Chairman or caretaker Council Chair if his candidate failed, the candidate forced on the PDP by the Governor Aliyu became an easy prey to the APC supported by several other factors of, from the hatred of the out-going Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu by the entire citizens of the state, to the arrogant attitude of the PDP to all its best candidates all over the country, to the disenchantment within the Party and lastly, the “Buhari” factor all contributed in making it cheaply for the APC in Niger State. As it is therefore today, the APC won election in Niger State not because of the popularity of the Party or the Candidates it fielded but for the dislike of the entire PDP and its leaders aided by the “Buhari” factor.

WHAT IS BECOMING APPARENT:-
What is now becoming apparent is that the position of the State governor or who governs the State remains an exclusive preserve of this “Cartel or Mafia” or both. It is not the issue of “Quality” of the material that governs the State but where that material comes from. It is additionally becoming clear that the citizens of the State have contended with tolerating them impose who they wanted and now the same citizens will have to prepare to tolerate them imposing their own children. The scenario is now that of the citizens of the State faithfully and loyally serving them to that of forcefully serving their children. So, for Niger State please forget Democracy. I equally expect that despite the fact that President Muhammadu Buhari has stated clearly that He will select his Ministerial materials personally from states, these same group will do everything possible to impose one of theirs again in the Buhari cabinet.

However hopes should not be lost completely because the current President, Muhammadu Buhari was essentially a victim of such evil mechanizations over the last 12 years, but with prevalence and perseverance He overcome it and today He is the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria against the wish of some of them that have now come forth to claim “Course mates, contemporaries or Classmates”. I hope Mr. President remembers that those whose views and opinions on His principles are at variance with His in 1983-1985 will not change their views and opinions on him in 2015 as they did not between 2003 and 2011 since Mr. President Muhammadu Buhari has not changed His principles and will not change at this age.
May the Almighty direct.

Abubakar Abdullahi Kurebe is a PhD Student on Political Engineering at the University of Manchester, UK

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