By Femi Oketunbi
Rather unfortunately, most Nigerians of the present generation are adept at hypocrisy and sycophancy. Most people, including even the elderly who should say the truth for the good of the country, often play the ostrich. The point is that before authority, power and money, most people lose their dignity, integrity and their sense of right and wrong. This is why there is too much vice and violence in our contemporary Nigerian society, and of course, too much corruption.
In today’s Nigeria as we have seen in recent days, those who speak truth are persecuted and eventually, that truth is driven underground and buried and society carries on as if nothing is amiss.
The unwarranted attacks on the person of distinguished Senator Aisha Alhassan, current Minister of Women Affairs and former Governorship aspirant of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Taraba State, is a case in point. This woman of courage, an amazon and one of the best things that has happened to the people of Taraba State has become the target of idle people, hypocrites and sycophants who cannot raise their voice on real issues of governance in our society, but for filthy lucre throw stones at concerned citizens of our country who wish for a better Nigeria.
The sin of Hajia Alhassan is that like every normal citizen of a country, she exercised her fundamental right to free speech and political preference when on a recent BBC Hausa Service interview she openly declared her support for a former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar for the 2019 Presidency, if the latter, who is also the Waziri Adamawa declares interest in the race. Before the BBC finished airing the programme, social media rats who have declared that they are living only because of Buhari, and other pretenders in the ruling All Progressives Congress went to town, accusing the fearless and forthright Aisha Alhassan, otherwise known as Mama Taraba of disloyalty and called for her sack or resignation. The truth is that unlike many Nigerians today, who lie and pretend even when they are suffering, Aisha Alhassan is fearless and is only beholden to people out of love and respect, and not fear. Unfortunately, many of those who support President Muhammadu Buhari, do so out of fear. Most Buharists are in some form of bondage to the extent that they see no evil even when the administration of PMB has failed, derailed and collapsed and is only being held on by the selfish interest of the so called Cabal in the Presidency.
Today, as it was in 1984, when Mohammadu Buhari was in power as a military man, so it has become today, in 2017. Morbid fear of retribution now rules the land! What offence did Minister Alhassan commit? The grassroots politician, a supporter and associate of Atiku Abubakar told the BBC Hausa Service and indeed all Nigerians that for 2019 election, which is eagerly being awaited, if her associate, Atiku Abubakar shows interest to contest for Presidency, that she would without hesitation go to Muhammadu Buhari, thank him and let him know that her support and that of her teeming supporters in Taraba and elsewhere, would be for Atiku Abubakar!
The declaration by Aisha Alhassan, is bold, fearless and patriotic. The woman loves Nigeria. And this writer from the little I know of President Buhari, as a man of integrity, having achieved his ambition of being a civilian President in his lifetime, thus joining the exclusive league of those who have governed the country both as civilian and military, and in view of his health challenges, would likely opt out of the 2019 contest in the interest of his party, the APC and Nigeria, which needs a strong and robust leadership to deal with critical emerging issues of nationhood and integration.
Those like Mallam Nasir el- Rufai, Governor of Kaduna State, Chief John Odigie- Oyegun as well as the faceless cabal that is controlling the Buhari Presidency, and who say whether he is sick or in a wheel chair that he must contest in 2019, are not only enemies of President Buhari, they do not wish the country well.
In view of the complex nature of the country, its many developmental challenges and agitations for separation or restructuring, only enemies of the suffering Nigerian people would because of selfish interest saddle the nation with a leader with health challenges. In fairness to PMB, he is not crazy for power but people around him who call themselves Cabal are pushing him for a second term, not minding the fact that the President had earlier stated that he would only go for one term.
Aisha Alhassan is a patriot and like her name sake, Aisha Buhari, the wife of the President who had earlier expressed dissatisfaction with the ways and misdeeds of the Buhari Presidency, she is sounding a note of warning to the APC and Nigerians. It is only a party that is lacking in men and women of quality that would draft a sick, and unwilling septuagenarian to go for a second term presidential term when great Africans of repute like the late Nelson Mandela, left office after one term in office to take care of his failing health and in acknowledgement of the heavy demands of the office. Aisha, like her mane- sake Aisha Buhari, not used to hypocrisy is telling Nigerians to shine their eyes and avoid the looming dangerous situation where as we have now, an unhealthy disciplinarian is imposed on the nation.
Atiku Abubakar, to whom Aisha Alhassan has pledged her support would indeed be one of the best things that has happened to Nigeria if he should declare interest in the race for 2019. Atiku is a consummate and grassroots politician. Atiku, the Waziri Adamawa is a detribalized Nigerian in whose circle all Nigerians without exception are welcome. Atiku Abubakar is also a businessman who works hard to set up businesses and makes money which he deploys to improve the lives of people and the society at large. Atiku has no enemies except those who dislike him because he loves all Nigerians equally and through his philanthropy, he strives to improve the lives of the Nigerian people and those of his struggling Adamawa kith and kin. One only needs to visit his American University of Nigeria (AUN) in Yola, and the ABTI Group of Schools (primary and Secondary), to realise that the man, Atiku Abubakar, a member of the ruling APC is a unique person, and a magnet who brings people together and welds them till differences between them take a back seat as they commit to a common goal.
Another thing which the declaration by the Minister of Women Affairs has done, is to draw the attention of President Buhari to the right person to succeed him to continue the war against corruption by providing people with jobs and means of livelihood, and totally exit recession by putting the country’s economy on a solid foundation through sound economic policies. Atiku is a respected player in the nation’s private sector and having been Vice President, he sure knows the problems of the Nigerian economy but can only put his ideas to work if he has executive political power.
Finally, given that people cannot give what they don’t have, all those who have taking shots at the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan for making public her political preference, can be forgiven. They acted out of ignorance of the consequences of allowing an ailing President who is a divisive person and someone not properly in touch with the needs of contemporary Nigeria, to seek a second term in office.
*Oketunbi is a public affairs commentator based in Ibadan, Oyo State.