By Tunde Olusunle
The new year 2022 has begun on a very breezy note. Days are tearing away at rocket speed, such that one whole month has sped past, in an amazing jiffy. Aspirants for elective offices at various levels, have begun to make their intentions public. From Bola Ahmed Tinubu, to Dave Umahi, onwards to Anyim Pius Anyim and Bukola Saraki, people are showing up as contenders. Kayode Fayemi, Rochas Okorocha, Kingsley Moghalu, Sam Ohuabunwa, Dele Momodu and Femi Olufunmilade, a professor of political science and Yahaya Bello, also want the nation’s number one job. Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President and Yemi Osinbajo, incumbent occupant of the office, are yet to make their intentions public. Their foot soldiers are, however, on a blitzkrieg across the country. Interesting times, truly, really lie ahead.
While all of these are going on, we are also being treated, on the sidelines, to a bouquet of melodramas and comedies from the political front, which compel us to ruminate about the species of leaders we voted to serve us. This interrogation may help with our decision-making processes, moving forward, towards 2023. The old adage, “once bitten, twice shy,” becomes apposite here.
Alhassan Ado Garba, more popularly known as Alhassan Doguwa, majority leader of the House of Representatives, recently announced the expansion of his family. The longserving parliamentarian a few days back, briefed us about the increment in the number of his children, from 27 as at the last count, to 28 this January. Doguwa equally served notice of his imminent intention to grow his family to 30 children, come 2023. For him, this indeed is a fait accompli. He jocularly remarked that with the subsisting growth of his family, he could stake a claim for a polling booth, in his Kano home! Doguwa in 2019, after the conclusion of the election which gifted him a fourth consecutive in the lower parliament, appeared on the day of his inauguration, with his four wives. He reminded Nigerians that just as he was adjudged a powerful legislator, he is equally “powerful, on the homefront!”
Doguwa attended Bayero University, Kano, (BUK), and graduated with a first class in mass communication in 1990. He is true and through, a *government pikin* whose entire working life, has been in government. He was in the House of Representatives between 1992 and 1993 under the Ibrahim Babangida democratic experiment for example, and Special Adviser to former Kano State governor, Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso in 2000. He equally served in the same capacity to Adolphus Wabara and Ken Nnamani respectively, when both men were presidents of the Senate, respectively. By May 2023, Doguwa, 57 August 14, 2023, would have grossed a whopping 16 years in the nation’s Congress, and served as chair of many committees, and more contemporaneously, as a principal officer in that system.
In a country almost perennially on tipping point with a myriad of unsettling situations, succour has oftentimes come from unlikely sources. What with the shade of utter cluelessness, executive incapacity, unbridled insensitivity and quantum deceit we all have faced, especially in the past seven years? Nigeria’s parliament for instance, has never been in short supply of drama and the melodramatic. These, in various ways, have intermittently assuaged the nation’s ever accentuating political temperature. Patrick Obahiagbon, an attorney who Edo State between 2007 and 2011, for instance, was famous for grammatical bombast. His molar-cracking lexical combinations and explosive constructions, are reminiscent of the expressive preferences of “Bomber Billy,” in Ogali A. Ogali’s drama text, *Veronica My Daughter,* one of the classics from the epoch of the “Onitsha Market Literary” tradition. Obahiagbon excited and tickled Nigerians to no end and earned for himself the rhythmic alias *Igodomigodo,* for his earthquaking verbal endeavours.
Just when Nigerians were missing Obahiagbon, in came Muhammed Gudaji Kazaure Danbatta from the North Western State of Jigawa. Kazaure a second term lawmaker, has rapidly become the favourite of many followers of current affairs in Nigeria. He has little time for expressive niceties or verbal panache. He says it as raw, unclad and hot, as it is. If you ever listened to Shina Peters’ song “grammar no be my language,” in his 1991 album “Dancing Time,” you will appreciate where Kazaure is coming from. But Kazaure is a media delight anyday. His perspectives on issues and public discourse are infallible. You can’t beat his sociopolitical currency, his genuine altruism and his unwavering fervour as a congressman. This is not discarding the dramatist in him, with his regular arty demonstrations, to drive home his point, whenever he takes the floor in the parliament.
Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, governor of Abia State, has been a serial media subject in recent months. While recounting his achievements in his first six years in office on a live *Channels* television interview, June last year, Ikpeazu made some of the most ridiculous, most unsettling claims ever to drop from the lips of a senior public servant. His definition of the level of development and private sector investment he had attracted his state, and in specific terms, Aba the economic hub Abia, was the presence of *Dominos Pizza, Chicken Republic* and a large screen cinema, to the state! Ikpeazu grew even more preposterous in November, when he celebrated the unparalleled magnanimity of his government to womenfolk, who have their babies in public health centres. “Delivery is free,” Ikpeazu said. “They give you a delivery pack and N500 which is running for vulnerable members of the society.”
During a phone-in interview, January 11, 2022, Ikpeazu attacked those criticising him about the non-completion of the Osisioma flyover in Aba, which he flagged off way back in January 2017! Asked if he didn’t feel concerned about the abandonment of that project, Ikpeazu shot back: “Many of those worrying about the flyover, don’t even own a car… The flyover isn’t anyone’s concern and people should stop worrying about the completion.” Ikpeazu, graduated with a second class upper in clinical biochemistry from the University of Maiduguri, at 20 in 1984 and a PhD in biochemical pharmacology from the University of Calabar, in 1994.
There was this video clip on the social media, a few days ago, from an event which reportedly occurred in Maiduguri. Thugs said to be loyal to a certain federal parliamentarian, Satomi Ahmad, could be seen vandalising a makeshift shack, and manhandling a young lady, in the video, raining slaps on the hapless young woman. Fadila Abdulrahman, the young lady who operated a roadside restaurant from that damaged structure, allegedly posted something on Facebook, criticising parliamentarian Ahmad.
The conversation in the short clip is in Hausa and the thugs, according to an interpreter, confirmed they were indeed sent by their principal, Ahmad, to pull down Abdulrahman’s contraption, and to compel her to apologise to the big man. The narrative accompanying the video, noted that the demolished eatery, was the sole source of subsistence for Fadila Abdulrahman, a poor orphan, and her siblings. It was brought down, because a lawmaker she voted for, felt offended by whatever it was that she posted on the social media, and the said representative had to flex his muscles.
Satomi Ahmad will be 41 on February 14, so he falls within the bracket of the nation’s youths who are in the grooming mill for future leadership. He has, however, just demonstrated his proclivity towards abuse of trust and power. Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Baba Gana Zulum, governor of Borno State, must take due cognisance of this development. If this incident is true in anyway, Satomi Ahmad, has a case to answer.
As the days, weeks and months go by, we all must be ultra-circumspect about the choices we make at different levels. For his first class degree in mass communication, Ado Doguwa is not an edifying role model, for the younger generation, not in an age of more manageable family units, which was a point of conscientisation as far back as the Babangida days. Since Doguwa, fortuitously, is a “powerful” man of means and wherewithal, let’s hope he will be able to give all his children the moral upbringing and formal education, that will insulate them from the streets, streaming and overflowing with *almajiris* and *dan iskas.*
Nigerians will have to look beyond certificates and paper qualifications, beyond the aluminium foil shielding the faces of political hustlers and impostors, in settling for their choices in 2023. Abia’s Ikpeazu, who obtained a PhD at 30, has not shown the stuff of a supposedly cerebral goal-getter, unlike Zulum of Borno or an Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano, both PhD holders like him, who are reportedly doing well. Indeed, I’d rather take an Nyesom Wike of Rivers, an Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom, or a Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna, who are delivering the goods, without so-called doctorates.
Every day, one group or the other is marketing or endorsing Bello of Kogi. Bello’s pseudo-youthfulness and love for the female folk, are the key selling points of the pro-Bello advocacy. The memories of *ta-ta-ta-ta* in the 2019 gubernatorial election of November 2019, however, are still fresh in the minds of people. Those shots, fired from a hovering helicopter that Saturday November 16, 2019, keep playing in the minds of the electorate. Those long months and years of hardships and depression arising from unpaid salaries, and percentage remittances in the name of remuneration, will not be forgotten in a hurry. By the way, isn’t Bello a youth like Satomi Ahmad of Borno?
As we progress towards 2023, popular thought and ruminations, identifications and choices, should be guided by some of these experiences and prototypes, to forestall a future of nail-biting melancholic regret and despair.
Tunde Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, author and scholar, is a Member of the Nigerian Guild of Editors, (NGE).