By Dr Yusuf Ibrahim Gamawa
Scholars and researchers of Nigeria’s political history it is on record after much disagreement as to the reasons why Nigeria has failed to reach its full potential all appear to agree on one and same reason despite disagreement on several issues. They generally agree that most of Nigeria’s problems have stemmed from a lack leadership that would lead the country in the right direction. Problems for instance outlined in Chinua Achebe’s book entitled ‘The Trouble with Nigeria’ include among other; tribalism, false image, leadership, corruption, indiscipline, lack of patriotism and social injustice. In his most recent book ‘There was a Country’, Achebe had only added state failure and rise of terrorism to his list of problems facing the country. However, most of the problems identified have largely to do with leadership and people in authority if observed carefully. Most unfortunate is the fact that Achebe had had to add state failure in his list, which perhaps explains the choice of the title for his book ‘There was a Country’, it may be wrong though. Any state classified as a failed state is assumed to have failed in its obligations and responsibilities to its citizens such as provision of security, social welfare, justice etc, and as a result seizes to be a functioning state. This also shows that the nation’s situation has steadily deteriorated over the years if one considers the period between which Achebe wrote the two books. Such deterioration is seen even in politics, featuring issues hitherto unknown.
Mamman Daura, president Buhari’s powerful nephew stirred a controvertial national debate regarding political power in Nigeria and the right to wield it, especially as it relates to the 2023 elections. Daura’s comments would have been swallowed by anyone if he was an ordinary citizen; however, such is not the case, not only is Daura a relation of president Buhari, he is also assumed to have an over bearing influence on his uncle, an accusation he constantly denied. In the interview granted to BBC in which raised the issue of succession in 2023, Daura insisted that he advised only when his counsel is required and never made it his business to interfere in government business. It is difficult for anyone to stand by Malam Mamman in this clime irrespective of the justification of such support. At other times one is required to stand by what he deems as the truth irrespective of whom it is for or against. At such times one may not be associated with the persons past, present or future record or atrocities but the issue at hand. One will not be associated for example with Malam Mamman’s supposed involvement in the Buhari government or what came to be known as the cabal by Nigerians headed by him. However, it takes more than a fan but rather rational men and women to agree with Mamman that the rule of the best is indeed the best.
It takes more than reading opinions or claims in newspapers and magazines or some bizarre websites about Daura’s atrocities for one to reach a conclusion on some of the brazen allegations. It is easy for people in the corridors of power that have the ears of the president to most at times take all the blames for every short coming, failure or mistake. Definitely Daura most have been involved in some quarrels within the presidential villa either directly or indirectly. These have not been acceptable to many within and outside the villa or the Buhari family. One must agree that Daura has found himself in an evitable position that destiny has somehow forced him into. It was not his choice to be blood relations with Buhari nor was he aware that Buhari would be president twice and chose to become his nephew and even then a close one since childhood. It is clear providence had brought the duo together and Mamman did not push himself into this position. If anything president Buhari should be held responsible for any short coming on the side of his government or administration. We may only feel sad or sorry for and say he has bad advisers when he does not perform his duties well. The human social organization is complex by nature and that of Africa in particular has been problematic since independence. The African peoples understanding of government, democracy and the concept of sovereignty is still insufficient and as a result makes issues very complicated.
Despite Malam Mamman’s assumed atrocities and involvement in Buhari’s government we must agree that he can be rational and must be concerned about how his uncle’s rule will end and what or who succeeds it. Though it is believed by many that Mamman Daura cannot legitimately have any opinion on issues of this nature that he has done so, we must be able to subject his opinion to scrutiny. This is despite the fact that being a bonafide citizen he has the right to do so. His opinion had only appeared strange due his relation with the president and obvious power struggle across the country and within the ruling itself and the president’s silence for a long time over political developments in the country. The president was silent and neutral in all the wrangling within the ruling and only intervened recently and dissolved the NWC of the APC as a political party.
To further buttress my point on support of the rule of the best it is best to provide excerpts from an article published by my humble self in the Daily Trust newspapers on 21 March, 2019. It was not more than an admonition for the ruling party. Buhari’s journey in politics was discussed and how people from across Nigeria shared the belief the belief in his capacity to make Nigeria better even if he did not. The article discussed the formation of his party CPC and how the merger with the ACN worked after several failed attempts to create a mega party as a broad based political platform for Buhari to win the presidency since his eventful outing in the 2003 under the then APP. Some of us had sat in meetings with people like Lai Mohammed, Lawal Kaita, Prof Utomi, Sen Kaka, Amb Diran, Chief Falae and the likes of Chief Enahoro and Ahaji Lateef Jakande at different places, including Lagos to deliberate on the lack of effective leadership in the country. And it was at such meetings that many agreed Buhari can provide such leadership. Below is a quote from my article in the Daily Trust newspaper on 21 March, 2019.
‘The APC, though emerging from a fusion of basically regionally dominant political parties such as the CPC and the ACN; the former dominant in the north and the latter, the south west of Nigeria, substantial votes scored by the APC in the 2019 presidential elections in the south east and south regions of the country suggest that the party is emerging as a truly national political party. As a result the APC must utilize its platform to promote the unity of the country and remain focused on its aims and objectives. The party must never forget that it was the ‘national interest that was behind its formation, and that it should remain the guide of the party in whatever decisions it is going to make, now or in 2023. Regional consideration no matter how justifiable must be guided by the national interest. After all, the party had claimed since its creation that it was an association of progressive minds, whose aim was to capture power and propel the country to prosperity and greatness. Consequently, the party must be careful about how and why it considers certain people or candidates to certain positions. It must be understood clearly that though zoning has become a common feature of Nigerian politics, credibility, capacity, uprightness and other virtuous qualities must still remain the yardstick of the party in consideration of candidates for various positions, including that of the exalted office of the president’.
Zoning as seen in the political history of Nigeria had always been a strategy by political parties to win elections and not an ethnic issue. For instance in 1979, the NPN first introduced zoning in national politics and zoned the presidency to the north of the country after a careful study of the composition of other parties and political equation and followership in the country such as the UPN, NPP etc. the decision to do so by the NPN was informed by the need to raise its chances of winning elections and not ethnic or regional concerns. Among the political parties that contested the elections at the time the NPN enjoyed more national spread and was more of a national political party than other that were owned by certain personalities were doubled as presidential candidates; it appeared more acceptable. And to be able to understand some of the problems facing African countries, including Nigeria, one would need to carefully consider the works of experts on African studies. As such it would be good to conclude our support for the rule of the best with excerpts from Mahmoud Mamdani, contained in my recent book entitled ‘Our Destiny is in Our Hands: A History of Governance in Nigeria since Independence that was published by Themba Books in Harare, Zimbabwe.
In his work titled “Political Identity, Citizenship and Ethnicity in Post-Colonial Africa”, Mamdani also outlined several reasons for the failure of post-colonial African states. Mamdani disagreed with pan-Africanists who try to explain state collapse or failure as arising mainly from the crisis of colonial borders. He argued that all borders were artificially created including those of Europe. Mamdani saw the solution to violence in Africa not in the re-drawing of colonial borders, but in addressing the institutional political legacy of colonial rule. Mamdani outlined three main problems associated with post-colonial Africa. The first was the growing tendency for indigeneity to become a litmus test for rights in the post- colonial state. The second was that the colonial state was built on this very foundation, and as result indigeneity has turned into a test for justice and entitlements in the post-colonial state. The third according to Mamdani is the growing tendency to identify a colonially constructed regime of customary laws with Africa’s authentic tradition, pointing out that ethnic clashes appear to be more about rights. He gave the example of the federal arrangement in Nigeria, where the quota system is used in allocating resources and positions in government through the various state governments. Mamdani argues that democracy is about how to govern rather than who should govern according to the institutional identities by which different categories of citizens are organised. Mamdani saw the only way forward for the post-colonial state as being the reconsideration of the institutions inherited from colonial rule and argued that African states must re-define political identity, political rights and political justice in relation to indigeneity. He identified these issues as the main setbacks to progress and development in post-colonial Africa and that unless these issues are addressed and redefined, meaningful progress will be difficult to achieve by post colonial African states.
Most of us do not agree with influential Mamman Daura on many issues that concern his uncle’s rule in this country and happenings in the presidential villa as well. We however, cannot argue differently concerning his acclaimed ‘rule of the best’ even if we wish to. And we cannot disagree not because we can’t, but because we are compelled by intellect, reason and evidence not to do so.