Like Amaechi,Unlike Wammakko,By Ali M Ali



wamakkoFirst it was Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state that was ‘sledgehammered’. The embattled governor had the ‘temerity’ to stand eyeball to eyeball with an imperial presidency without blinking.He also had the balls to go against “ party convention”. Never mind that his party,the PDP,has explained to disbelieving citizens that his fate was not connected to his effrontery to refuse to bow to an incipient emperor who was actually the first person to breach convention by flatly repudiating an agreement.
Before the hammer fell,Amaechi has been dispossessed of PDP structure in his state.A rival faction led by a rebellious group funded by his political foes is bandying the ‘impeachment’ card. Amaechi’s foremost ally and estranged mojo domo now cozying up to his new masters in Abuja is the arrowhead. Politics is certainly not for the squeamish. Unless she had taken off this morning or overnight which is unlikely,the media reported that the wife of the president has relocated to Port Harcourt to seal the “operation flush Amaechi out” deal.

Emboldened by the Rivers “success”, the party suspendedGovernor Aliyu Magatakarda Wammakko ofSoot state.The governor must have chuckled with laughter when he heard of this by his ‘party’ in far away Netherlands. I imagine the governor who rarely travels out, asking what could possibly be his offence to warrant this kind of high handedness.But this was PDP.Its ways are truly confounding. One of the founding fathers of the party who nursed presidential ambition in the past told me, in a moment of Freudian slip in 2010,that the party he literally fundedvia cronies had become a “stranger” stoutly rebuffing his beckon.
In suspending Wammakko, the party has confirmed what has long been in the market square-that it is a party irretrievably hooked on drugs. Unlike Amaechi, there is no chink in the armour of this remarkably popular governor. If anyone is still doubt, they should first, assess the crowd that came to welcome him from his sojourn abroad on behalf of the people of the state. They should reckon with the weighty declaration of the speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. They should consider the words of the fiery governor, Sule Lamido of Jigawa state. They should remember how the zonal PDP has dissociated itself from the suspension. And more importantly, they should be mindful of the political history of Wammakko.
Now in his second and final term, Wammakko is a grassroots politician to the core. In 2007,departing President Obasanjo realizing that he needed Sokoto at all cost looked around and persuaded Wammakko to join the PDP.the PDP candidate at the time was not as popular as the estranged deputy governor Wammakko who had had a running battle with Bafarawa, the governor at that time who wanted to install a handpicked successor. Obasanjo and the PDP apparatchik were convinced of Wammakko’s towering profile. The rest is history.
Unlike other governors who had frosty relations with federal lawmakers that become Speakers, Alu as he is fondly called, has maintained very good interactions with Tambuwal. That may explain why in last year’s rerun election his challenger, YusufSuleman, who resigned as Minister at the prodding of some Abuja elements couldn’t even win dare to contest the primaries.
In suspending Wammakko,the PDP may have shot itself in the foot.This is not surprising.Under the umbrella, elephants daily pass through the eye of the needle without anyone batting an eyelid.
I know conventional wisdom calls it a camel but in this party’s high tech huggermuggers, it will amount to “culture shock” for a whale to get stuck in the eye of the needle.Unless the “ogas at the top” don’t desire it, that whale will either shrink to size or the eye of that needle expanded to let it through. In this party, boundaries are mere parameters. They can be violated. Agreements,written or oral, are only temporary conveniences. Party leaders are errand boys for the man in the executive mansion. Nothing is sacrosanct.Its history is replete with amazing intrigues.
It was a PDP Senator, for instance, in 2003,which became Senate President without standing for an election.It was in this party too, that Senators who stood and won election were not the ones that were inaugurated. It was in the PDP, a man who did not contest the primaries eventually won the gubernatorial election.
Political parties seek to have more members in its fold,the PDP sent its own packing in droves.
In the run off to the 2007 election for example,the party cleverly expelled its “belligerent” members in multitudes through a unique process of “registration”. And typically, registration cards were restricted to those who could call a spade a shovel to please the Oga at the top.
By now all Nigerians old enough to know the difference between “action” and “shakara” could discern that the biggest,largest party in Africa is actually a “ruining” one.“Action” and “Shakara” found expression soon after former Inspector-General Hafiz Ringim boosted that the days of dissident group Boko Haram were numbered. A few days later, Nigeria’s first officially recognized suicide bomber struck missing the police chief by whiskers. Sardonic Nigerians refer to that as the difference between “action” and “shakara”.
This may not go down well with Bamanga, theparty chair. His ascension held a lot of promise of reforms. He also mouthed a lot of such talks.He flaunts impeccable credentials. Except for a few, most of the governors in the PDP were school kids at the time he was elected governor of the old Gongola state thirty years ago.
Before then,he had made his mark as an excellent administrator of Nigeria Ports Authority for an unbroken period of 15 years.
In 1992,he was a presidential front-runner in the defunct NRC. So with a resume like this,no one thought that BMT was not the ‘mechanic’ that will fixthe asphyxiated engine of the party.This, again, may no go down well with the rest of the ruinous family members. But the story in town is that the PDP, is a junkieaddicted to raw power. It is in the DNA of junkies to act irrationally. And the PDP has been anything but sane.
This may seem uncharitable. I am aware that opposition parties betray varying degrees of the PDP affliction.They all suffer, for instance, a lack of internal democracy, which to me, is a patently PDP malady.
Bamanga has not walked his talk. And he clearly doesn’t seem to appreciate the history of his party and the power of the governors elected on its platform. They are the real owners of the party. Since Obasanjo exited, governors have controlled the affairs of the party as they wished. It was from their rank, for instance that late President Yar’adua and incumbent Jonathan sprang. And it was from their rank that Namadi Sambo was made Vice President. The Amaechi treatment of Wammakko will certainly backfire. I am skeptical thatthere willbe a politician confident enough to play a spoiler in Sokoto state.

Adieu Suleman,till we meet again

Few deaths had shocked me like the death of Suleman Ibn Muhammad, the late Managing Editor of Daily Trust, and last Thursday. We spoke often. Frequently on Fridays, he will send “juma’a Mubarak” regardless of my response which was irregular. Our friendship dated back to the mid 90s.Then I was in the Triumph while he was in the Democrat, both now rested. What stood him out then was his remarkable wit but years later, his kindness and worship stood him out. It was Zakari Nadabo who broke the tragic news of his passage when he called. May ALLAH (SWT) grant him eternal rest, Amin. Adieu Suleman till we meet again!

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