Yesterday, Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) presidential aspirant, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, met with former ministers of the party at the Lagos/Osun Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
The meeting which started at about 9 pm was animated by high-minded speeches that, at once, not only demonstrated the confidence they have in Bala Mohammed but the resolve of the PDP to wrest power from the All Progressive Congress APC, come 2023.
Former Deputy National Secretary of the PDP, Dr. Emmanuel Agbo introduced the occasion and set the ball rolling with his speech before inviting former Minister of State for the Federal Capital Territory, (FCT) Oloye Jumoke Akinjide to introduce Governor Bala Mohammed. Below are some of the takeaways from the consultation.
By Frank Ukamdi
- APC Has Failed, Nigeria Needs Redemption: Without exception, those who spoke lamented that the APC-led federal government has failed woefully. They bemoaned the unprecedented insecurity, gnawing poverty and huge loan situation of the country. To rescue the country, they insisted, is a task that must be done.
- Party Unity Non-Negotiable: There was agreement that, to acquire and sustain momentum leading to victory, the party must remain united, at all times.
- Place Nigeria above Sectional Interest: Amidst the zoning controversy that has become a major issue, in the party, many speakers counselled on the need to place Nigeria first, before any other consideration. Basically, the argument was like: Yes, the party should strive to adhere to its founding principles; should promote equity and justice. Yet, the relevance of the party lays more with ability to win and create the needed redirection of the country from the cul-de-sac in which it has been trapped by the APC
- Unanimity on Bala Mohammed’s Ability: Speaker after speaker, attested to Bala Mohammed’s ability to steer Nigeria’s ship of state away from the precipice that the APC is herding it. His sterling achievements as minister of the FCT resonated through the speech of particularly Olajumoke Akinjide who served as minister of state of the FCT during Bala Mohammed’s tenure. Also mentioned was his present era-defining infrastructural and other achievements as Governor of Bauchi State.
- Bala, a True Nationalist: Former colleagues described Bala as a true nationalist. Colleagues definitely had in mind his ability to deepen inclusion when, as FCT Minister, the Administration became the epitome of a pan-Nigerian dream bureaucracy. Some of the former ministers present reminded our correspondent of his proposal of the “Doctrine of Necessity” Motion that paved the way for Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to assume office as President, as iconic of statesmanship, democratic spirit and selflessness. Why they attribute selflessness to his action? Yes: akin to the situation where proponents of zoning are threatening fore and brimstone, some northern elements were prepared to pull down the roof should Jonathan succeed Yar’Ardua ‘prematurely’. Therefore, for a Senator from the North to spearhead opposition to their position was seen as the height of patriotism. Today, a similar scenario is playing out: the nation is in quest of nationalists, even within the PDP. Can they join Bala Mohammed to first rescue the country so that the parts can survive? That is the challenge the PDP must resolve.
- Bala Mohammed’s “Bauchi Problem”: It is possible that, if asked, Bala Mohammed will deny having a “Bauchi problem”. May be not. But one former minister asked him the uncomfortable question if the people of Bauchi whose appetites have been wetted by the Governor’s unprecedented performance would not feel disappointed by his planned movement to the Federal level. Did Bala Mohammed answer the question? His standard reply had always been that good government at the Federal Level, under him, would ultimately translate to the transformation of Bauchi State, in all ramifications.
- Consensus is Important: Displaying his celebrated nationalist posture, Bala Mohammed explained that the move for a consensus candidate was initiated to reduce rancour, promote party unity, give the people hope and channel all energy towards the urgent task of sending the Buhari-led APC Administration packing.
- Unite or Perish: Scary. Isn’t it? But that was the import of what Bala Mohammed told his guests. While deploring the plight of the common man who he said that been short-changed by the APC Government, he warned that the fate of the elite could be worse unless the unbearable hardship is quickly ameliorated. This again, was one reason why his admonition on party unity should not be ignored.
- Bala, a Team Player and Astute Manager of Men (and Women): No other person could have put this in sharper perspective than the suave Jumoke Akinjide. She testified that Bala Mohammed is the quintessential manager who was able to sync with members of his team despite differences. Using herself as an example, she disclosed that their differences never affected the overall objective because Bala Mohammed always had his eyes on the ball and not those differences.
- Great PDP Women Ready for Nigeria’s Greatness: If anyone needed evidence that Nigerian women were resolved to take their place at the driving seat of Nigeria’s political redemption, last night’s event was it. At the last count, there were not less than six former female ministers in attendance.
- Bala, a Pacesetter: Bala Mohammed’s political exploits received ample recognition. Jumoke Akinjide started the eulogy when she recalled how, on two occasions, Bala Mohammed defeated incumbent governors. First was in 2007 on his way to clinching the senatorial seat of Bauchi West when he defeated out-going Governor Ahmed Muazu. Then came the most outstanding in 2019 when he defied all odds, to defeat the incumbent Governor Mohammed Abubakar who was running for re-election. Chairman of the PDP Former Ministers’ Forum, Taminu Turaki, SAN reiterated Bala Mohammed’s pace-setting credentials as he attributed the formation of the PDP Former Ministers Forum to the Governor
Bala Mohammed’s tenacity and commitment.
- Older Colleagues Were in Attendance: Most often, people are not eager to identify with those who held office long after they were gone. But that was not the case at Bala Mohammed’s consultation with the former ministers. Quite a handful of his predecessors in the FEC were also in attendance, a development which one of Bala Mohammed’s contemporaries traced to the level of acceptance the Governor enjoys among many PDP stalwarts.
- The return of Labaran Maku! Remember him? Veteran journalist. Foremost development expert. Trade unionist. Former commissioner and later deputy governor in Nasarawa State. Minister of Information and one-rime supervising minister for defence in the Goodluck Jonathan Administration…all under the PDP. Then he left to the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) where he unsuccessfully ran for governor of his state before becoming national secretary of APGA. He is back to the PDP! And for effect, it will appear that the Bala Mohammed function was his first major public appearance. The PDP will be glad to have him back.
- Will Bala
Mohammed Run? If he wont run, why is he consulting? Well, for anyone who knows Bala Mohammed very well, it is never about him. Unlike those for whom the presidency is a life ambition, for Bala Mohammed, it is about Nigeria. It is about the people. It is about their welfare, their security, their happiness. It is about the future generation(s). It is about duty, a sense of gratitude to a country that has given him so much. Thus, he explained that if he does not emerge the consensus candidate, he will give his utmost loyalty and support to whomsoever emerges. That is what makes Bala Mohammed a leader.
- For Bala Mohammed, Loyalty is Everything: One of Bala Mohammed’s qualities that resonated through speeches and in private discussions is his loyalty to persons, causes and institutions. Both Olajumoke Akinjide and Taminu Turaki harped on that. The former, who worked with the Governor for four years disclosed that, for her, that was one of his strongest qualities, a point which the Governor himself would emphasize. To him, loyalty is what holds people with a common vision for the society’s good together. Looking for the evidence? Even in the face of very strong speculations, not even the vilest persecution or mischievous blackmail has made him to leave the PDP since on joining the party in 2008. Little wonder Prof Udenta O Udenta, the chairman of Bala Mohammed’s PIU was effusive in eulogising Bala Mohammed as dependable, courageous, nationalistic and all the epithets that would be used to describe a great patriot.
So, what do all these add up to? The ball is now in the hands of the PDP. And, as Bala Mohammed would always add: the will of God. Nigerians are definitely praying for a leader to rescue them from the present predicament. Will it be Bala Mohammed? Only time will tell.