By Datti Baba Ahmed
I humbly refer readers to Malam Nasiru El-Rufai’s facebook video in which he said, “I know it is politically incorrect to say Ahmadu Bello, Azikiwe and Awolowo did something wrong, but they did (unusual low applause). They did not work hard enough to build a nation. They maintained what they found, and benefitted from it politically.”
The prevalence of severe acute mis-governance in Nigeria does not mean the total insensitivity of well-meaning citizens. Silence of the people has not descended them so low that our revered heroes will be unfairly, needlessly insulted. Neither does the power of governors to speak at gatherings give them any right to wantonly bruise what remains of the peoples pride and ego. I feel responsible and burdened, though a distraction I do not need, to set the records right. This is quite distinct from joining issues with the governor, after all he once said to me that he is dangerous.
Senior citizens do not want to be insulted by a loose cannon that has already insulted their heroes so they will remain pained and silent. Peer group and contemporaries are probably too scared of the governors’ ferociousness, while others are overwhelmed with daily struggles. This leaves indeed a very small number of people to react; and I am one of them. I am aware that a docile society that cannot protect the good name and lasting legacies of their heroes has no right to see more heroes. We cannot be one of such.
In the shortest of summaries, Nigeria’s founding leaders – Sir Ahmadu Bello, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, among so many of their lasting legacies negotiated the independence of Nigeria, vigorously promoted education and development of human capital in their respective regions the likes of which have not been rivaled today, maintained security, upheld law and order, laid foundations for post-colonial economic development, promoted peace, harmony and mutual respect among ethnic and religious divides. The list goes on as no one can do justice to them by attempting to discuss their successes at this incident.
In my effort to set the records right, I wish to use only one aspect of their successes, education. At least this is where I may be able to claim as my area of competence. Sir Ahmadu Bello picked children from every hamlet in every village of every local government and sent them to schools for the first time including late Yahya Hamza, Nasiru’s foster father. Then he again ensured successful and promising future leaders were sent abroad to further their education. That was not all. All of them were tied to specific careers and he ensured jobs awaited them back in Nigeria. Sir Ahmadu Bello quickly ensured spread of primary and secondary schools throughout the region, while mandating the Native Authority to encourage enrollment. And then the jewel in the crown Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria (ABU) where Nasiru got his first class in Quantity Surveying (QS). Sardauna developed the region so well that a professional course like Quantity Surveying (QS), not only Hausa and history, were available for his children like Nasiru. Good quality university education for that matter to the extent that certificates were readily accepted globally and ABU ranked amongst world top 500 universities.
Chief Awolowo and the great Zik of Africa did no less in their regions. I am leaving room for others to answer Nasiru please, including Acting President Osinbajo whom Nasiru wants to be his VP. At the risk of appearing sectional, I once offered a cash prize to my politicians from Zaria to anyone who could find me in Abuja a digger from the Southwest. There was/is none. All diggers are from the north, and for all the special trades, plumbing, electrical, welding, tilling, glazing, etc you find them from the southwest -Awolowo’s legacy. Dr Azikiwe did as much inspiring his people to commercially integrate across Nigeria, and this was not regional, it has national impact even more now.
I am one to receive lectures about how good these heroes were, not to do injustice to their legacies by pushing my luck in expatiating. This is not my battle alone but for all who care, so I leave this area for more qualified people.
In 1999, Nasiru became DG TCPC because one old staff declined interest in the job and presented Nasiru to former VP Atiku. In 2003, he became FCT minister because it would only take a careless and insensitive person to follow the then agenda. In 2007, he went on exile for not getting minister of power. In 2011, he was pardoned by President Jonathan and he returned to join the opposition.
Humanly speaking, Nasiru became governor because of PMB’s goodwill. In 2014, as in all other elections, candidates support was directly linked to cash contributions. Nasiru excelled in this and PMB was quick to raise his hand as candidate even before primaries. Of course upon seeing that I dropped my governorship ambition of 2015 because there was no justice in APC. PMB and APC can now see they have brought us a governor who underperforms his duties and over performs in excesses.
Academically speaking, Nasiru appears completely clueless about the birth of nation-states, with the process of African decolonization, and the stages of nation building. Had he decided to read a chapter in these subjects rather than rely on his self-acclaimed intellect, he would have appreciated our heroes some more. A governor who does not appreciate celebrated heroes cannot respect his indigenes and will therefore ruthlessly misgovern them. This is a genuine concern.
Sardauna was killed in active selfless service right inside Nasiru’s Kaduna; the house being sentimentally preserved to serve historical purpose. Yet Nasiru as governor of Kaduna overlooks such facts and said, “They did not work hard enough to build a nation.”
Nasiru had during his Senate ministerial confirmation called distinguished senators fools, later published unfair insults against VP Atiku, insulted Gen. Buhari and his intellect, and did not spare even President Obasanjo. So this was actually coming but we could not see it. However, it must be his last.
Nasiru is a risk to himself, his people, party, and government. The 2014/15 largesse and his election contributions to APC can never justify the damage this man is causing. As he insults, he is looting the state dry and promoting insecurity. As he plots 2019 presidency, and schemes to deputise Osinbajo by force, his state is left to burn and her resources for his personal use.
I can go on. But to conclude this distraction, I observe that there is hardly anyone left now for Nasiru to insult. He can either go higher up and commit blasphemy, or descend on his hopelessly misgoverned people. May God help us calm Nasiru down.
Sen. Baba-Ahmed wrote this piece from Abuja.