An intervention by Ahmed Bulama Gulani, a PhD student, under the title “Still on Yobe’s strange politics” published recently by Daily Trust, offers a classic case of putting two and two and making twenty-two rather than four. It was a response to a rejoinder I wrote in which I called out some of the factual omissions and errors contained in an article written by one Adam M. Jajimaji on the Premium Times news platform under the title “Yobe’s strange politics”.
There is a reason I feel compelled to speak to some of the issues raised by Mr Gulani. Although we live in a Trumpian post-truth era, I believe the truth still matters, as are facts and reason and evidence. This is especially so for a PhD student, for whom reason and introspection should ordinarily hold a defining raison d’etre.
First, however, let me state from the get-go that I have no worries in Mr Gulani expressing his opinions. Although I disagree with many of his arguments, I concede that opinions such as his are opinions that we have seen during every election circle. People from different sides of an argument will always argue on behalf of their ideas and suasions.
But as a student of journalism, I also know that while opinions are free, facts are sacred. This is the truth that every objective writer is always called to affirm.
When Mr Gulani dismissed the progress that Yobe has made under Governor Geidam and queried the projects that have been undertaken by the administration as ‘recycled’, that raises a number of issues. Is having just a single teaching hospital within ten years, as Yobe currently does and as Mr Gulani has pointed out, so insignificant? Is there another state government in the country that has established two or more teaching hospitals within the same time-frame? Is there anything wrong in outlining markers of progress, as I did in my earlier rejoinder, especially when progress has truly been made? Is it a thing to be dismissed as wasteful when the Yobe State Government under Governor Geidam recruited over 600 doctors, consultants, nurses and other specialists to work in the new teaching hospital?
Is Mr Gulani so removed from the happenings in Yobe State that he would fail to acknowledge the new 77-km Damaturu-Buni-Yadi-Madgza road, which links his own local government area of Gulani to the rest of the state?
For those who do not know, Gulani local government area, where Mr Gulani hails from, is one of the local government areas that was cut off from the state by years of poor road infrastructure and the devastating activities of Boko Haram. Although it is a federal road, which was never repaired since the 1970’s, the Damaturu-Buni-Yadi Madgza road is a major thoroughfare that has just been rebuilt by Governor Geidam. It is part of the over 1, 200 kilometres of road that his administration has built or rebuilt throughout the state so far.
So, for Mr Gulani to write about only potholed roads in the state as if no roads were ever built by the governor is, to an honest observer, very disingenuous.
But this is beside the point. In the same article that I referred to, Mr Gulani doubled-down on his insinuation that the APC in Yobe State was not allowing a level-playing field in the contest for various elective positions and that there was a by-the-hook-or-crook intention to impose a governorship candidate.
Gulani said, specifically, that certain individuals – Sidi Karasuwa, Bukar Abba Ibrahim and Ibrahim Bomoi – were ‘side-lined’ and ‘shut out’ from attending the stakeholders’ meeting of the party in Damaturu in which the mode of primary election was agreed upon. The writer called this ‘political repression’.
But this is a baseless insinuation and a grossly dishonest characterisation. Stakeholders invited to the meeting by the State leadership of the APC came from each of the 17 local government areas of the state. Four of the five House of Representatives members from the state also attended; except for Sidi Karasuwa, who refused to attend. The Senate Leader, Dr. Ahmed Lawan, attended as has the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Hajiya Khadija Bukar Abba Ibrahim. If Bukar Abba Ibrahim’s own wife and a key party stakeholder would attend, can Bukar Abba Ibrahim claim ignorance of the meeting or when it was going to hold?
In addition to the individuals that I have named, the entire local government executives and leaders of the party from the grassroots attended.
It was in that meeting, in keeping with the provisions of the constitution of the APC, that the stakeholders agreed to adopt indirect primaries and consensus as the way to go, and also unanimously decided to ask Governor Geidam to name a governorship candidate.
Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim, Sidi Karasuwa, Ibrahim Bomoi and others who stayed away from the meeting have no grounds to complain since it is clear that their decision not to attend was deliberate. If they had attended, they would have used the opportunity to say whatever they wanted to say, and attendees would have heard from whatever arguments they wanted to make.
But for those three, procedure is apparently a no-no. And what could be a more self-inflicted wound, because those three individuals cannot reverse the decision of hundreds of stakeholders taken freely in accordance with the party’s constitution.
As Governor Geidam has said, however, it is within the right of those who disagreed with the stakeholders’ meeting to present themselves for primary election if the decision taken by the stakeholders is not acceptable to them. The APC in Yobe State has made this much clear. The dates for primary elections have been fixed and the choice is theirs to make.
That they appear more disposed to crying foul than aligning themselves to procedure as set by the party goes to show how desperate they are either to get it their own way or nix it. Which says a lot about whether they believe in democracy at all.
All said, the mode of primaries that would be used in the state is now already a fait accompli. And so is the person picked by the governor to succeed him. In a democracy, the APC will surely make a case for all its candidates among the people when electioneering begins. And if history is any guide, the APC will sweep the polls and use this moment in time to build on the legacies of Governor Ibrahim Geidam.
Mr Babande is a public and political affairs analyst.