Recently, this issue kept me thinking. Much as I tried to shrug it off, it kept surfacing in my mind. I have therefore resolved to put pen to paper here just so to keep it off my mind, and move on. Bob Marley admonished us in one of his songs: “Don’t bury your thoughts; put your vision into reality.”
In the not-too-distant past, Southern Kaduna (“SK” or “the Zone”, for short) was blessed with some of the most refined and finest politicians ever produced in Kaduna State. They plied their political artistry at both the National and State levels. If my memory is still sharp, we had the likes of Adamu Maikori (SDP, PDP), Isaiah Balat (NPP, SDP, DPN, PDP), Garba Ali Madaki (NPP, SDP, DPN, PDP), Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa (PDP), Joshua Madaki (PDP, AD), Elias Nyan (UNCP, APP, AD, PDP), Yohanna Madaki (SDP, DPN, PDP), Stephen Shekari (SDP, UNCP, PDP), Yusuf Barnabas Bala “Bantex” (UNCP, PDP, AC, CPC, APC), et al (all deceased). Pardon me if I failed to mention the name(s) of your political mentor(s) or favorite(s), deceased or alive, here.
At their political prime, their main concern was for a common SK political struggle that would ensure the Zone is better placed in the political landscape at both the State and National levels. Even though they belonged to different political parties (some even cross-carpeted) at that time, they were united and selfless on this common cause. They also put in their best to ensure its attainment. Their passion for the SK struggle blinded the differences in their political affiliations. To them, their respective political parties were mere platforms towards actualizing that common goal.
They built broad-spectrum inter-ethnic, inter-zonal, inter-regional and inter-religious political friendships, alliances, bridges, networks and structures that made them have friends, followers and sympathizers across board. This prepared them good enough to vie for the governorship position of the State. Late Isaiah Balat did so well in this respect; and that made it possible for him to get substantial votes from the northern part of the State during the PDP gubernatorial primary election in 2007. He narrowly lost to Namadi Sambo in a politically obliquitous maneuverings.
I always relish Elias Nyan’s campaign gimmick with fond memories. We all knew him as “Col. Elias Nyan, rtd”. When he was vying for the governorship seat under AD at that time, he wrote his full name on his posters thus: “Col. Elias Jafaru Baba Nyan, rtd”. When he was campaigning in the southern part of the State, he would urge the people to vote for him because his name was “Elias Nyan”; and while at the nothern part, he would say his name was “Jafaru Baba”. Therefore, his gimmick was that if you would not vote for him as “Elias Nyan”, then you should vote for him as “Jafaru Baba” because he had a “Chris-lam” hybrid name.
Although both Isaiah Balat and Elias Nyan did not win the governorship election and therefore never became governors, their passion for the struggle is still indelible. Ditto Adamu Maikori, Garba Madaki and Joshua Madaki. The struggle was the common thing that bound them all together, and thus the common denominator.
The case of Patrick Yakowa was even more intriguing. He came down from a high ministerial position to accept an appointment as the Secretary to the State Government. He was mocked and called all sorts of name for “stooping so low” to accept that position. He mingled, dined and wined with our northern brothers. He was loyal to his bosses, Makarfi and Sambo. Like Balat, he also built bridges, alliances, networks and friendships across board.
We did not see what he saw. With patience, perseverance and divine providence, he became the Deputy Governor; and by twist of fate, he later became the Governor of the State. In 2011, he made history by becoming the first ever elected Governor of the State from SK extraction. He did all these for the struggle.
I will be dishonest to say that these men never had issues among themselves. They had; and on many occasions, too. They had their differences and disagreements. I will give few instances here.
First, they were not all in one political party or affiliation. This, itself, was a basis for political disagreements. Second, at one point some of them vied for the governorship position at the same time in the same party. For instance, Balat, Madaki and Yakowa contested in the 2007 PDP primary elections, and none of them stepped down for the other(s) despite many calls from some elders and people of goodwill to that effect. Third, they belonged to different camps even within the same political party. Yakowa was in the Makarfi camp while Balat was estrangedly on his own. This imformed why it was easy to pick Yakowa as Namadi Sambo’s running mate after the primaries. Fourth, Joshua Madaki left PDP to join AD because of some disagreements within even though he was one of the PDP founding fathers from the Zone.
In spite of their differences and disagreements, they did not derail from the common SK struggle. Their differences and disagreements were tolerated, and maturely managed without any one of them losing focus on the struggle. They were purely political, not personal. Their political diversity was their common strength. It later paid off for them, and this was evidenced in the key positions they all held at both the State and National levels as ambassadors of SK.
I had to go down this brief memory lane to bring to the fore the efforts of these great SK men and the price some of them paid in their political quests for the common benefit of the Zone. Theirs was an era of political struggle for the common good of SK.
Political struggle is a legitimate socio-political determination or quest aimed at the transition or acquisition of power by a political group or community in order to achieve and protect its socio-political, economic and other interests. It is about both human capital and community development. This was what these great men strived to achieve for SK.
Unfortunately, all of them are not alive today to see the pathetic political situation SK has enmeshed itself in.
What is the situation now?
The inability of the present day crop of SK politicians to tolerate and manage their political differences and diversity is a major concern. Because PDP has a strong base and followership in the Zone, others that belong to other political parties, especially APC, are seen and treated as “lesser indigenes” of the Zone. They are called all sorts of unprintable and ignoble names. This should not be the case. It is even more worrisome when one decamps or defects from PDP to another political party.
The case of Jonathan Asake, the immediate past SOKAPU President, freshly comes handy. During his heydays as the President, he was a hero and darling to them. But when he indicated his interest and subsequently resigned to contest for the governorship seat under LP, the PDP apologists called him all sorts of names. He instantly became a villain to them, and was tagged a “traitor”, “betrayer”, and “sellout” (names deployed to call those that defected from PDP to other political parties). His two-fold sins are: first, his resignation as SOKAPU President and enrolment as member of LP to contest for the governorship seat; and second, the PDP apologists in the Zone see his coming out as a threat to their chances of ousting the 8-year stronghold tenure of APC in the State.
For me, if Asake cannot be encouraged or commended for the bold and courageous step taken, he shoud not be condemned either. He should be allowed in peace to exercise his franchise and try his luck. Who knows?
This brings to the front burner the inability of the PDP members in the Zone to tolerate other political parties within. The Muslim-Muslim tickets of the APC candidates at both the National and State levels have further exacerbated the already villified APC members in the Zone. They are now tagged as “anti-Christian”. It is now a cheap campaign propaganda for the PDP. They seem to cry more than the bereaved, and sarcastically making it look as if they would even vote for a Muslim-Christian ticket if APC had fielded one. They want us to leave APC, or do anti-party because of that? I will not!
On the other hand, those that left the PDP and other parties to “Obi-diently” and “Yus-fully” join the fold of LP in their quest to change the leadership and economy from a “consuming country” to a “production country” are christened “vawulence” (a colloquialism for “violence”). This is laughable and infantile. No wonder, it has now become a slogan for comic relief.
I said it elsewhere and I will repeat it here. All candidates want to win their elections, first and foremost. They have invested so much in the contest, and will not take a decision that will undermine, jeopardise or be detrimental to their efforts. So, the Muslim-Muslim ticket is a political strategy to ensure victory at the polls. Again, those that have joined the LP are adventurously canvassing for a power shift from the traditional APC-PDP leadership domination to a new leadership and economic change in the country. I think they have the right to do so. Their agitation for that change is a legitimate political quest. They should be left alone to do that in peace.
Politics is first a game of interests, and one is expected to pitch tent and associate with a political party that best suits his interest. There is nothing wrong with that. Monocultural political practice is no longer fashionable. What is in vogue now is political multiculturalism where people in a community are encouraged, not discouraged, to belong to diverse political parties and participate in the process for communal benefit. This is a key part of any political struggle.
When hunters go out for hunting game, they constitute themselves into groups and take different routes. At the point of convergence after the game, they share the kills amongst themselves and then go home happily. There is nothing wrong in affiliating with different political parties for a common and collective good. In this time and tide of political dynamism, multi-political culturalism is not out of place. You cannot succeed in a political struggle with idealogue, mono-political culturalism, or single-source party. When you put all your eggs in one basket, the risk of all of them breaking at the same time is very high. If that happens, you lose all and gain nothing!
These days, the popularity of the candidates from SK aspiring for the governorship seat is relatively obscured. Almost all of them have no political base, connection and network outside the Zone. They ply their political trade within the Zone only; and even there, they are not that popular. Their marketability quotient, and by extension their saleability, within the larger State is relatively poor. They symbolise that Hausa adage: “kifin rijiya”, best described in English parlance as political minnows that only swim in a well. In spite of all these, I respect their audacity, boldness and courage to tread where other “political angels” from the Zone fear. I wish them well.
The Zone has no clearly defined political road map. Ideally, it is during campaigns that agenda setting and social/political contract between the people and candidates are determined. If the people get it wrong ab initio, the persons they elect may not get it right for them when they assume office. They may end up doing their own things in their own ways.
This is where the difference between giving a vote, and giving a mandate becomes glaring. When you give a vote without a mandate it becomes worthless, and you cannot hold the elected accountable. But when you give your vote and mandate simultaneously, the elected become accountable. It is also on that basis that you will assess their score cards and determine whether or not they have done good enough to deserve re-elections. Ours is to just vote (most times blindly) without giving a mandate.
The Zone has no generally acceptable and recognisable leadership structure that has the respected voice to speak on its behalf in a collective and unbiased manner. The structure will always come handy for political negotiations for power shift, appointments of key political offices, spread of infrastructural developments, etc.
SOKAPU is more of an affiliate extension of PDP that seems to be doing its biddings. The last time it constituted a “Political Committee”, subtantially all the members are from PDP. I recall on the eve of the last Local Government Council Elections in the State, a press release by SOKAPU apparently directed people of the Zone to vote for PDP. This is outside its constitutional mandate as a socio-cultural association that is supposed to be a father to all. A father that loves one son and hates or discriminates against the other(s) should not expect respect from the other(s).
Now, the political fortunes of the Zone are on a free fall. Things have fallen apart, and there is no centre to hold it. It is “To your tent, O Israel!”
If theirs, at that time, was a political struggle for the common good of the Zone, ours today is a personal struggle for selfish good. And, we are collectively guilty of this.
The Zone has to revert to the political culture of their not-too-distant heroes past, the way forward.
May God give us good leaders in 2023!