In a recent Facebook post which appears to have been deleted, social media influencer Jackson Ude described the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) as “a failed assemblage of crooks, betrayers, opportunists and elements with no conscience”. In his words, “the party as presently constituted is a disgrace. It has failed to provide a vibrant opposition, it has failed to be a political party in tune with today’s realities”.
Not yet done, the self-appointed watchdog hurled undeserved expletives at the Governor of Bauchi State, Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed who also doubles as Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum. Ude attributed his umbrage to a photograph showing Governor Mohammed with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu performing a religious rite.
Aware that Ude provides media support to some high profile members of the PDP, his comment does not come as a surprise. What is surprising, to put it mildly, is his bellicose and scurrilous disposition that are neither supported by facts, commonsense nor logic. And he should not be allowed to escape with his bare-faced obscurantism, especially when he feigns ignorance of the genesis of the PDP crisis. If one may ask, where was Jackson Ude who had served as a special assistant to President Goodluck Jonathan, when, in 2013, the PDP was sent into its present tailspin by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar who had led a rebellion against the sitting President Jonathan?
Where was he when some desperate over-indulgent disgruntled PDP stalwarts led a renegade faction of the party under the banner of the n-PDP and, with some opposition elements, coalesced into the All People Progressive Congress (APC) to chase Jonathan out of power in 2015? If Ude is concerned about a weak PDP, let him tell the world if the party has recovered from that betrayal by characters whose impatience, deep sense of entitlement and obduracy explain what he now sees as the sorry state of the opposition in Nigeria today.
What about 2023 when, against all entreaties to respect Nigeria’s plurality, the same group of people, ignoring the well thought-out power rotation principle of the party, hijacked both the PDP party machinery and the presidential ticket, thereby condemning the party to the dilemma of going into the presidential elections with a divided house? Has Ude forgotten so soon how, playing God, some PDP stalwarts, rather than toe the path of reconciliation and inclusiveness, arrogantly disclaimed and dismissed voices of reason within the party as nonentities who were incapable of stopping what they considered to be their imminent victory?
If the PDP has indeed degenerated to the nadir characterised by Ude, those are the people to hold responsible, not Bala Mohammed or any other person. Before pontificating on the presumed speck in other people’s eyes, Ude and his co-travellers should first dislodge the gargantuan logs in their jaundiced political eyes.
Ude probably belongs to the school of thought that sees political opponents as enemies; that subscribes to the characterization of politics as a zero-sum game where the winner takes all, in fact, a war where the actors remain at daggers drawn, where there can only be victors and vanquished. To such people, compromise, conciliation and collaboration are alien constructs that should be securely quarantined like a virus. That is pretty unfortunate to say the least.
Irrespective of party or personal differences, we are bound to respect the fact that every argument about the presidential election ended with the Supreme Court decision affirming President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the winner. It does not matter whether we agree with the verdict or not. And within the context of inter-governmental relations, what anyone feels about President Bola Tinubu as a person is not important. It is within that context that Bala Mohammed’s involvement should be seen and understood, as respect for the rule of law and good governance.
Besides, history should be our guide lest we make the mistakes of the past. Refusing to relate with President Bola Tinubu who is the sovereign authority is tantamount to an unintelligent throwback to the less than noble posture of some governors in the Second Republic who threw caution to the wind by denigrating the person of President Shehu Shagari.
Some of us were witnesses to how some governors who, except for matters that were constitutionally binding, blatantly refused to co-operate with the easy-going Shagari on any issue. Indigenes of some states had to pay heavily for such unbridled partisanship when it became their lot to finance huge projects that the Shagari administration was ready to provide.
Is Jackson Ude recommending a relapse to that ignominious era? Or is he, with his co-travellers, surreptitiously agitating a derailment of this republic through unremitting crisis; akin to pulling down the roof of the house if one cannot get into the master bedroom?
Rather than the bitter opposition that Ude and his paymasters prescribe, the country would gain more from constructive engagement by all stakeholders. Has Jackson Ude not heard that it is the grass that suffers when two elephants fight?
Neither is Bala Mohammed stupid, nor is he one given to grandstanding. Years of exposure as a top civil servant, a Senator and a minister of the Federal Republic have equipped him with the political savvy to appreciate the dynamics of intergovernmental relations, the nuances that enable a Governor to leverage mutual collaboration with the presidency for the achievement of the legacy goals that have earned his administration deserved accolades and peer group compliments. There is no doubt that the Saudi trip is one of such engagements. If that to Ude is treachery, then anything would qualify to be so described.
If associating with a President from another political party passes for treachery, obviously, Jackson Ude would either have been ensconced somewhere in outer space or perhaps in a state of incurable blankness when Atiku Abubakar, even while angling to succeed APC’s Buhari on the platform of the PDP, was conspicuously present and actively participated at the wedding of Buhari’s son in 2021. Did Ude not see photographs of the Waziri as he grinned from ear to ear at the event, despite the economy already being on its way to its now parlous state? If Ude did not see anything wrong with our highly revered Waziri indulging in that personal gratification with his opponents, it is curious that he would consider an official investment trip that promises to benefit the people of Bauchi State and by extension Nigeria, as a betrayal. At any rate, neither Ude nor any other person can choose friends or enemies for Bala Mohammed.
It is instructive yet regrettable to note that in the aftermath of the 2023 presidential elections, several futile attempts have been made by some mischievous desperados to tar Bala Mohammed with the brush of a traitor. To their eternal disappointment, all such attempts will continue to crumble. Bala Mohammed has no regrets whatsoever being an unrepentant Federalist, a consummate nationalist and a genuine patriot whose every political step is dictated by the loftiest nationalist considerations.
Alluding to this, last month, at the closing of the retreat for top public officers and civil servants in Bauchi State, the Emir of Katagum recalled the controversies that trailed the much quoted Doctrine of Necessity, spearheaded by Bala Mohammed in the Senate in 2010, to clear the impediments that had tended to obstruct Jonathan’s ascendancy to the presidency. The emir who was a federal permanent secretary at the time, recalled how a prominent permanent secretary of northern extraction came to him in the middle of the night to ask if that “boy”, referring to Bala Mohammed, knew what he was doing; if he was not aware that his move was against the interest of the north.
Such was the groundswell of opposition that greeted Bala Mohammed’s principled insistence on upholding the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is the essential Bala Mohammed who, at 65, can only calcify into a more unbreakable nationalist always holding the banner of inclusion aloft as the irreducible mantra of his political engagement, now or in the future.
Had the Senate ably led by David Mark capitulated to the seething parochialism of the era and not endorsed the patriotic Bala Mohammed-inspired Doctrine of Necessity motion, chances are that the Niger Delta region would have seen the denial of Jonathan as a justification for throwing the country into a daunting security and economic nightmare.
As Nigeria stands on the threshold of another major dilemma today, Jackson Ude and his ilk, nay his pay masters, should shed the political glaucoma that is beclouding their accurate reading of the Nigerian political landscape; it is incumbent on them to see Nigeria beyond their insatiable quest for power, what many now consider as their irritating sense of entitlement. It is not just about allowing Bala Mohammed to breathe.
Back to the PDP. If those now shedding crocodile tears and pointing accusing fingers at everyone except themselves are sincere to themselves, they need no prodding to admit that had they listened to the voices of people like Bala Mohammed, chances are that they would have avoided the present state of regret and spared the nation, the spiral of serial political convulsions that has turned the country into a revolving nightmare.
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There is still a window of redemption: that window is squarely in the hands of President Tinubu. I expect the President to make inclusiveness, magnanimity, national as against particularistic hegemony, and the entrenchment of good governance in all facets of national life, the guiding principles of his administration.
The magnanimity that Tinubu is already demonstrating, must be complemented by deepening democracy, rebuilding confidence in Government among the youth and giving every stakeholder group, particularly the minorities, a genuine sense of belonging.
To succeed in these, President Tinubu needs the support of all those who profess genuine love for Nigeria, not the misguided and unjustified vendetta against the Governor of Bauchi State. Please, Jackson Ude and his co-travellers should let Bala Mohammed breathe!