It is axiomatic that once you step into the boxing ring, you can run but hardly can you hide. It is the same in politics. And Bala Mohammed, Governor of Bauchi State, is hardly oblivious of this fact. If anything, he has trained himself to throw and to absorb political punches, no matter whose ox is gored.
However, despite the hardly regulated environment of vulgar abuse that is the hallmark of our politics, one thing Bala Mohammed has retained, is the cardinal home training, of respect for elders whether in or out of politics. And certainly, to say that he has the highest regards for Nigeria’s former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Wazirin Adamawa, with whom he has enjoyed very cordial relations, is to state the obvious.
That is why the allegation by Senator Ehigie Uzamere that Bala Mohammed was hauling insults at Atiku Abubakar is not only surprising but indeed grossly unfortunate. Uzamere was at his best as a researcher and pundit. So laboriously and aggressively did he go to great lengths, to disparage Bala Mohammed that one would think that some irredeemable enmity had existed between our respected former vice president and the governor. Besides, unless there is some hidden agenda, the extent of Uzamere’s umbrage against Bala Mohammed, a presidential aspirant from the same party, defies logic, reason or decency. Pray, what if Bala Mohammed, in spite of Uzamere’s arrogance, emerges as the PDP flagbearer? Wouldn’t Uzamere have armed the party’s opponents with missiles to detonate his party’s candidate?
Howbeit, the great consolation is that, quite frankly, the totality of Uzamere’s statement was a complete misrepresentation. First, while Bala Mohammed has confidently pursued his presidential ambition with disarming erudition, measured audacity and sagacity, not for once, during his several public appearances, has he derided Atiku Abubakar, a statesman for whom he has the greatest respect and who he has always fondly referred to, as his “elder brother”. Even if he brusquely retorted by asking if Atiku is better, that can hardly justify Uzamere’s vituperations and arrogance.
Last year, Bala Mohammed rolled out the red carpet in Bauchi, to mark Atiku’s 75th birthday. That could not have been the action of someone who disrespects the former vice president. In fact, in appreciation of that gesture, Atiku had tweeted: “My visit to Bauchi today was memorable. I commissioned the Atiku Abubakar Road named after me and also inspected some projects of the Gov Bala Mohammed-led administration…
“In addition, I paid a courtesy visit to the Emir of Bauchi, HRH, Dr. Rilwan Sulaiman Adamu, and attended a birthday reception on my behalf. Thank you, Bauchi, for your hospitality”.
As if Atiku Abubakar had a premonition that the day would come when an off the cuff statement by Bala Mohammed would be twisted out of context, the Wazirin had this to say of the Governor’s speech, on the occasion of his (Atiku’s) 75th birthday:
“Today, I read with emotions your birthday greetings to me. I don’t normally like celebrating birthdays but here you are today, making me celebrate my birthday with a birthday cake and birthday bull.
“I never had it in my life like this. Your Excellency, words alone are not enough for me to describe how I feel today.”
Contrary to what Uzamere would want the public to believe, Governor Bala Mohammed has always accorded Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the respect the former vice president deserves, as an elder statesman and an icon of Nigeria’s democracy. To that extent, one is left to wonder why our distinguished senator would, with what could be misjudged as malicious intent, release the overkill, to discredit Senator Bala Mohammed.
One also wonders why Uzamere took all the pains to discredit the laudable role played by Governor Bala Mohammed as the proposer of the Doctrine of Necessity motion that paved the way for the Goodluck Jonathan presidency. Is it possible that Uzamere had all along felt shortchanged by the recognition accorded Bala Mohammed, for the latter’s courageous role, defending both the Constitution and the Republic when his compatriots were scared stiff to defend the Constitution?
Paradoxically, in his desperation to discredit the Governor, Uzamere reinforced what the public had always known, that Bala Mohammed is a patriot and statesman who was prepared to sacrifice his political career, to save both the Constitution and the Republic in 2010. For Bala Mohammed, it was not just about Jonathan. Nor was it about Bala Mohammed who saw the opposition to Jonathan as discreditable brinksmanship that could only destroy the nation’s constitution and unity. He was also announcing, very early in his career, that his political philosophy would be guided by inclusion, social justice, equity and fairness, no matter the interest group in question. In retrospect, that a distinguished Senator of the Federal republic would descend to the nadir of employing Bala Mohammed’s heroic act, to discredit him, is unfortunate and unacceptable.
Assuming, without conceding, that Bala Mohammed had indeed disparaged His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar (which he did not and would not do), one is surprised that Uzamere could use Bala Mohammed’s ordeal, in the hands of the EFCC, to discredit the former minister? Ironically, rather than being discredited by his serial investigations and cases against him, Bala Mohammed can pride himself as the guinea pig of the Goodluck Jonathan Administration. He has been severally investigated, subjected to media trial and “conviction”, prosecuted before several courts and yet, nothing incriminating has been found on him. On the contrary, he has won several cases and, perhaps to the chagrin of enemies who are now emerging, even recovered his property.
To Bala Mohammed’s credit, the ‘strongest’ case the EFCC purportedly had against him, the Land Swap Programme, collapsed like a pack of cards. His detention, on that account earned him a N5 Million award against the EFCC. To buttress the saying that history will vindicate the just, the Federal Executive Council (FEC), under President Muhammadu Buhari, has since adopted Bala Mohammed’s Land Swap initiative as a viable programme for combating the housing deficits in the FCT, and as a veritable agent of economic development.
In the face of all these, Uzamere cannot lay hands on the achievements of the FCT under Bala Mohammed! Since Uzamere cannot remember, let us remind him that the FCT Administration, under Bala Mohammed, undertook the most ambitious development of satellite towns ever recorded by the FCT, constructed the Umaru Musa Yar’Ardua Expressway, completed the Usama Dam project that today guarantees water supply to many parts of Abuja, relieved Abuja of much of the traffic gridlock through sustained road development. Uzamere should also be told that among the legacies of the Bala Mohammed FCT Administration, his management of Nigeria’s diversity has continued to resonate among the many stakeholder groups who see in him, a bridge builder, a nationalist and statesmen.
On the challenge thrown by Uzamere to Bala Mohammed to disclose his achievements in Bauchi State, we refer him to the statement by Bala Mohammed’s adopted ‘elder brother’, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar during the commissioning of the 4.2 km Gombe Road-Maiduguri Bypass, to mark the elder statesman’s birthday. Quoting the News Agency, in its edition of 25 November 2021, The Guardian reported Atiku to have said, among others:
“I want to appeal to the good people of Bauchi State to support their governor. Give him all the support that he needs, as you can see that if you give him the support, he will also serve you very well.
“He is not a governor that is actually ruling or governing you, he is a governor who is serving you”.
Need we say more?
Senator Bala Mohammed has pledged to run his campaign to the end though as a loyal party man, he is most likely to defer to the party, should his geo-political zone be recused from presenting a candidate. More importantly, as someone with an abiding faith in God, the source of all power, Bala Mohammed has never deluded himself that he could not lose. In fact, time and again, he has asserted that he would readily support whomsoever emerges as the PDP presidential flagbearer.
Despite the antics of Distinguished Senator Ehigie Uzamere, Governor Bala Mohammed will continue to hold Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the highest esteem and will indeed, despite his (Bala Mohammed’s) personal ambition, be happy if the Waziri finally achieves his life-time ambition of becoming the President of Nigeria.