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Procrastination: The Thief of Time -(A Personal Tribute to Bimbo Odukoya)

Sokoto State: of Despots and Mercenaries

Author: Dahiru Maishanu
Posted to the web: 12/23/2005 11:12:06 AM

“It is not life that matters but the courage man brings into it”
Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909 – 1987)
Before anybody points out this to me, let me remind the readers of my earlier Article in 2004 where I commended the efforts of the Sokoto state government for its infrastructural developments. I still own up to my opinion at that point in time and I’m ready to do the same if the government or any of its agents does anything commendable. However, like the above quotation from the late sage, chief Obafemi Awolowo says; it is not life that matters, but the courage man brings into it.
This piece is an observation as opposed to a rejoinder on a curious and suspicious new trend in the Sokoto political discourse. The aim here is not to deny anybody of his or her inalienable right to freedom of speech no matter where he or she comes from in the country, but to present a sober reflection of the present trends. I must also make it clear that I’m not holding brief for Umar Bello or Aminu Aminu whose names would be frequently mentioned in this piece.
Essentially this piece is about recent rejoinders authored by Etim Inyang-Mbakwe of Lagos (Sokoto: It is a debate—I will not be cowed ) and Akpang Inyang of Airport Road, Sokoto (Aminu Aminu’s open Letter ) in the continuing political discourse of the state. These rejoinders were directed at recent write-ups of Umar Bello (Sokoto: A flouted legacy of leadership ) and Aminu Aminu Sokoto (Open letter to Alhaji Umarun Kwabo, AA )
First it was Etim that engaged Umar Bello and almost in the same fashion his ‘brother’ Inyang followed with another critique reacting to Aminu Aminu’s open letter to Alhaji Umarun kwabo. Both writers were openly in support of the present leadership of Sokoto state particularly that of the state governor and his bosom friend and associate, Alhaji Umarun Kwabo.
In both write-ups, the scenario seems the same. Here we have both Etim and Inyang obviously from the same part of the country writing rejoinders almost simultaneously on issues bordering on political issues of Sokoto State. They both seem to have a lot of vigour and conviction to finish the ‘war’ as quickly as possible. Both of them presented some insider figures with which they struggled to justify the thieving actions of the political leadership of the State. Both names have never been heard before now.
Etim, while trying to inject in us, the relevance of his arguments, accused Umar Bello and by extension, the pool of the recent resurgence of writers on the Sokoto political affairs, of waging an ethnic war against the dominant Hausa tribe in the state. The point here is Bello and the others are originally from the Fulani extraction.
In Etim’s attempt to give an ethnic coloration to the debate, he accused the Umar Bellos of writing against the Bafarawas because they are by and large Hausas and not the so-called feudalistic Fulanis of the Caliphate. He further suggested that Umar Bello and his friends are trying to instigate a coup of sorts for the rejuvenation of the Fulani (Fulbe) hegemony over the present crop of Hausa (Habe) leadership in the State and some other states in the North. I don’t know what gave him the impression that Umar Bello, Aminu Aminu, Dan Azunmi Kofar Mata, Prince Charles are all from the Fulani stock.
Secondly, here comes Inyang with another rejoinder responding to Aminu Sokoto’s earlier article on Alhaji Umarun kwabo brazing for a show down or else the heavens would fall. The amazing thing is, this Inyang seem to be ready to defend kwabo with the last drop of his ‘blood’. Just like some Bafarawa apologists before him, he pointed out the distance between London and Sokoto as an impediment for Aminu from getting in touch with what is happening in Sokoto. What he forgot to add however was whether his home state of Akwa-Ibom, over a thousand kilometres away had a vantage position for him to get in touch with Sokoto at the expense of his own people in Uyo.
After reading both rejoinders, three scenarios came into my mind. History has taught us that there is a connection between despotism and guerrilla warfare, which often results in hiring of mercenary soldiers to execute war for one side or another. Mercenary soldiers are therefore a rented crowd that are ‘purchased’ for a fee in order to execute an agreed agenda. Now back to the three scenarios.
The first scenario that came to my mind is a situation where some people that are sponsored by our light fingered, (apologies to Aminu Aminu) despotic leaders to write for them are so spineless that they hide their true identities and thus resort to borrowing names from far away Calabar and Uyo to ply their pleonastic trade. This is perhaps to avoid the larger society from holding them responsible when the hype is cleared and at the same time satisfying their present sponsors.
Scenario two: Our leaders have now decided to hire mercenaries from the restive south-south region of Nigeria with a history of aggressive tendencies to fight an imaginary war instead of addressing the issues raised by those indigenous writers. The point here is at what prize will this be for the citizenry of the state?
Scenario three: The leadership of Sokoto have no hope, trust or confidence in their PR people and therefore have to go out to ‘rent’ people from other states to do their media spinning for them. Again, what does this say about the competence and savvy of our indigenous journalists and public relations practitioners from the state?
In any of the above scenarios, it is rather a shame that things are degenerating to this level. I for one do not care from where any body comes from in the country, but my concern is the interpretation and consequences of all these in the long run for our dear state.
If Sokoto state has suddenly turn into a haven for half baked writers coming from over a thousand kilometres away and these people are not only accepted but given government or official patronage, then it is too bad for all of us. Come to think of the reverse in this case. Is it possible for Mohammed Haruna, Haroun Adamu, Adamu Adamu or Paul Mamza with all their intimidating credentials to be hired to launder the image of the Akwa Ibom or Cross-River state governments? How would the people of Uyo and Calabar take that?
If it is true that these people are not using pseudo names, then they should be told with no uncertain clarity that Sokoto is not in want of intellectual minds that can project the good efforts of government in the state. If they have so many drums to beat in singing the praises of leaders, they need not to pass the borders of their states where both governors (Obong) Victor Attah and Donald Duke are busy looking for drummers to sing their songs to the ears of their master Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. Both governors are renowned yes-men and ‘vanguards’ of the President and his PDP quantum. If they are not satisfied with that, they could have gone a little further to the neighbouring state of Bayelsa where a ‘prodigy’ with the name of Alamieyeseigha      had been hiring all sorts of drummers before his final descent recently.
Although I don’t want to dwelve into specifics, as I believe both Umar Bello and Aminu Sokoto are capable of doing that, I would like to comment on the issue of ‘metamorphosis’ as Inyang called it. To say that some people have become Billionaires suddenly because of their relative long stay in business of being middlemen in sales doesn’t hold water. This is more so if there is no corresponding           itinerary of genuine and legal businesses done and also when the ‘metamorphosis’ suddenly decided to ‘happen’ only after the coming of politics.
We do not have to go far to ascertain some measure of truth in this assertion. If people with relative long stay in business could suddenly become Billionaires why our teeming, tested and experienced businessmen from Kanwuri (Sultan Palace) to old Market did not hit the billion marks? Why did the financial dynasties of the late Tafidan Sokoto, Alhaji Aminu, Sarkin Gobir Adiyya, Shehu Malami (Sarkin Sudan), Sarkin Magori Gwadabawa, Garba Dikkon Gande, Altine Longman, Attahiru Kamba, Alhaji Bawan Allah and Alhaji Altine Daudu did not ‘metamorphosed’ into the billions in the last six years? As Prince Charles Dickson once said, leave matter .
My candid opinion is that without government patronage and official connection or connivance, Inyang’s ‘grass to grace’ theory would have remained at the grass level for the Jarma. However, I stand to be corrected with evidence of business and product lines, financial statements, turnover and share holding capital and independently verified audits of the companies in question. With this, the hiring of mercenaries would not be necessary because the facts would be there for every one to see.
In conclusion, the all important question is, does it have to take our leaders to employ others to be able to put their points across to their people? Does the reading public have to be bombarded with faceless names and innuendos in order to get at perceived opponents? When the energy of the leaders is diverted into unnecessary media war, who will be left with the business of governance? My appeal is for the leaders to face the task of governing fairly and diligently for the sake the present and future generations of our state. Happy New Year to all.

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