By Abdulrasheed Ibrahim
When I recently expressed my thought on the just concluded Presidential Election, a respondent that belongs to the Obidatti Movement called me a “Hired Script Writer” by the APC. Another lawyer refered to me as a PDP member. The first respondent being a very senior lawyer, my only response to him was that since “the law is settled that he who asserts must prove”, I would appreciate him if he could support his allegation with a cogent proof of evidence.
Up to this moment he is yet take up the challenge. Some reasonable questions that emanate from the false allegation are that: Was I hired and paid by the APC to openly condemn its wrong policy of currency change at the wrong time? The policy has subjected Nigerians to serious hardship by denying them access to their money in the banks. When the problem began, President Buhari openly acknowledged the fact that Nigerians are facing serious hardship and promised to rectify it within 7 days which period had since lapsed but the problem still persists even despite the declaration by the Supreme Court that the policy was wrong.
The Federal government that was initially foot dragging to comply with the order of the Supreme Court has now made a U-turn saying that the CBN did not need specific instructions from Mr. President to comply with the order of the Apex Court. What the President has failed to realize is that when you sorround yourself with people that behave like deaf and dumb, you will need a bell or a drum by your side to beat every instruction to their hearing. If you do not do that you will continue to receive the blame even after you leave the office. It is not their names but your own names that will be at stake.
Another interesting questions that need to be answered by my senior learned colleague was that how much did their Obidatti Movement paid me to describe Mr. Petter Obi as the man of the moment and the new Janitor in the hall of Nigerian politics? Did PDP also pay me to condemn its arrogance that led to its grand failure in that Presidential election?
In all honesty, my position on that presidential election was to promote unity, peace and understanding among Nigerians and not the other way round as being done by some people. We have no other country we can call ours than Nigeria. Those that are familiar with history of politics in other parts of the world will remember vividly that when Mr. Bush, the senior lost the race to Mr. Clinton for the USA Presidency , Mr. Bush accepted defeat and said that the “American people have spoken”. This kind of attitude is very strange to the African politics except for Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who showed a good example in recent time. Nigerian politicians do not accept defeat easily. In 1979, when Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) was declared the President-elect that year, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe , the presidential candidate of the Nigeria People Party (NPP) led other political parties to organise a press conference where the military government headed by General Olusegun Obansanjo was asked to annul that election because the outcome was unacceptable to them. The then military government rejected that call. When Chief Obafemi Awolowo later proceeded to the election tribunal to challenge the election results, the other political parties look the other way.
In 1993 when Chief M.K.O. Abiola won the presidential election, some politicians and military officers that were not willing to return to the barrack mounted pressure on General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida who displayed the act of cowardize and annulled that 1993 election and by that truncated the Will of Nigerians. In 1999, history again repeated itself when Chief Olusegun Obasanjo won the presidential election under the platform of the PDP that year but some politicians still went to presurrize General Abubakar Abdulsalam to annul that election but he declined.
Here we are again some politicians earlier called for the suspension of the collation of results of the 2023 presidential election before it was finally announced. Those that are dissatisfied with the election results have been advised to go to court. Some people have considered the advice to be inappropriate. If that advice was inappropriate, what should they have been advised to do? Certain events that preceded the conduct of the Presidential election were very unfortunate as those incidents are not proper for the progress or development of this country . One of this incidents was the serious campaign against the APC’s Presidential candidate’s choice of a co-Muslim as his running mate for that election. When the issue was raging, I asked whether religion should be the main issue in the development of this country? The ingredients of good leadership are brilliance, competence, patriotism and great vision.
I have once contended that the best crops of politicians in this country so far were those that featured during the First Republic. That was the time we had people like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Chief Obafemi Awolowo among others who fought for the independenc of this country. Today you see some politicians in the Western part of the country going about wearing Awolowo’s styled cap and glasses, but how many of them possess the brain and vision of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo? Many politicians in the Northern part of country today say a lot of good and beautiful things about Sir Ahmadu Bello and Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa; but how many of them possess their qualities of good leadership or emulate their simple life styles? After their unfortunate assassination in 1966, no substantial amount of money was traced to their private bank accounts. Can all these be said about the comtemporary Nigerian leaders or politicians particularly the Muslim ones among them?
Before General Ibrahim Babangida became the Military President in 1985 after over throwing his boss (Muhammadu Buhari) in a palace coup, the leadership of country was more in form of having the Heads of State and his deputy as either Christian/Muslim or Muslim/ Christian. There were occasions when the country had both Head of State and his deputy being Christian/Christian or Muslim/Muslim and nobody then ever raised any eyebrow or complaint with regard to such combinations. It was when Babangida came that both the Christians and Muslims began to be very suspicious of one another particularly when IBB took Nigeria to the membership of Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) in 1986. But as far back as 1963, the government of Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister had taken Nigeria to the membership of the World Council of Churches and International Bible Society. The fear and suspicion by the Christians that Muslims will Islamize Nigeria was a seed planted during the IBB regime despite the fact that his two successive deputies were christians.
During the IBB’s transition programme to the civil rule, Chief M.K.O Abiola of SDP from the Southern part of the country picked his Muslim running mate from the Northern part of the country to defeat his opponent Alhaji Bashir Tofa of NRC to win the election which was unfortunately annulled by the same IBB. The Presidential election of 25th February 2023 was like the repeat of what happened about 30 years.Tinubu chose a co-Muslim as his running mate and won the election despite various predictions and prophecies by those that claim to be “Men of God” that the APC Muslim/Muslim ticket would prove to be a grand failure. Since the out come of election was not in accord with those prophecies, this for a very long time must continue to bother the minds of men of reason as to the genuiness and authenticity of those claiming to have the knowledge of the unseen. The fact of having Muslim/Muslim at the helm of affairs is not a guaranty that Nigeria can be turned to an Islamic State as being asserted by some people and neither will having Christian/Christian at the helm of affair will make the country to be turned a Christian State since neither the Holy Bible nor Holy Quran is the constitution of the country. And If one may ask for instance: Is it Asiwaju Bola Ahmad Tinubu as President of Nigeria that will islamise the country, when he could not Islamise his wife of many years who is a Pastor? Tinubu’s case is a typical example of a couple wherein neither the husband nor the wife could convert the other to his or her own faith. There are many couples today in which either husband or wife has succeeded in converting his or her partner to his or her own faith.Again religious leaders whether Christians or Muslims must guide against turning their pulpits to the instrument of spreading hatred and making unnecessary incitements.
The concept of leadership in Isalm is that a leader must be a servant of his people and not the other way round as being seeing in different parts of the world today where many have seen themselves as overlords .It is very unfortunate that many Muslims in politics have refused to live up to expectation.They have deviated completely from the teaching of Islam which enjoins leaders to have the fear of God and be mindful of the day when they will be called to account for their stewardship. Muslims in the position of leadership are expected to be exemplary in their action and deed. Many Muslims have been involved in politics in this country in the past and they performed brilliantly when in that positions of leadership. Sir Ahmadu Bello was the Premier of the Northern Nigeria before and during the First Republic while Alhaji Lateef Jakande was the Governor of Lagos State during the Second Republic. Till date people continue to say positive things about them and what they did when they were in offices. For instance Sir Ahmadu Bello demonstrated a good example of what a typical Muslim leader should be in politics when he said that:
“There are two reasons behind what people call my generosity. Firstly. I’m a Muslim, and generosity is enjoined on all the believers by Islam. Secondly , I’ am also a realist. I happen to know that hoarding earthly wealth is meaningless in so far as a millionaire will not , when he dies , be buried with his millions. I prefer to share the little I have with those who have none at all in the belief that God whose command I thus obey will reward me in the next world . I can’t even hoard things for my children as many people do. For one thing, how do I know that my children, when I die, will not spend all the wealth I have thus amassed through tight-fistedness within twenty –four hours! Such a thing has happened to many so-called rich men, hasn’t it ? I believe that no one but God can make anyone rich.”
The above fact is a reality of life which many politicians in Nigeria today have failed to realise. How many of them care about what they should be remembered after leaving the office as no condition is permanent. It is part of the concept of leadership in Islam that a Muslim that finds himself in politics or in the position of leadership should not be discriminatory when dealing with the people he leads when it comes to what they are entitled to.
This kind of attitude was demonstrated by Alhaji Lateef Jakande when he was the Governor of Lagos State when took the decision that as far as education of the school children was concerned, they must be allowed to attend the same schools. That a particular school must not be set up for the children of the poor while another one set up for the children of the rich. He insisted that all the children in the Lagos State must attend the same school and to show good example, he withdrew all his own children from the private schools to the public schools established by his government. For that his singular action some proprietors of the private schools dragged his government to court. It was the same Jakande that declared that when it came to the employment of people , nobody should not be discriminated against .In his actual words :
“This government will give them (civil servants}every opportunity of job satisfaction. They will not only be renumerated financially for their labour. They will be encouraged to use their initiatives and to exercise such authority as is compatible with their positions and status. Nobody need to be anyone’s cousin to occupy any particular office or assume any particular responsibility. Their security of tenure is guaranteed by their own handwork. For it is our determination to make our civil service second to none in the federation.”
Can there be any example of good leadership than this? It is very disheartening that many politicians including the Muslim ones that have been entrusted with power by the people have refused to live up to expectations as enjoins by Islam. Rather than Muslims in politics becoming the pride of Islam, many of them have become great disappointment to Islam and the Muslims.
Most politicians today rather than being concerned about the plights of the people are only concerned about themselves. Since they live in free houses, drive in free cars and eat free foods and get everything free at the expense of the people, whatever hardship they subject the people to is no longer their business. May Almighty Allah give Nigeria the leaders that will be seriously concerned about the plights of Nigerians!
NOTE: Anyone is at liberty to disagree with my above submissions as I will surely appreciate a balanced, fair and objective rebuttal.
15th March 2023