Opinion: The AURA Of A Statesman, By Umar Sani
Arc Mohammed Namadi Sambo GCON, fnia former Vice President of Nigeria is indeed a respectable and responsible statesman, he needs no one to blow his trumpet as his personality, deeds and characters are sufficient testimony of his innate qualities. As one comes close to him you perceive the aura and ambience of an accomplished technocrat. As you even draw closer to him you find him unassuming, shy and accommodating. His magnetic appeal has some radioactive elements that tend to magnify his personae. He is blessed and imbued with the radiance of a halo such that when viewed from an objective prism sparkles and shines like the twinkle of stars making his environment look unique. He surrounds himself with young, pragmatic and energetic intellectuals whose value he truly appreciates. As an accomplished Architect he easily recognizes talents and taps from their wealth of knowledge and experience. His allergies are sycophants who rather than contribute meaningfully to intellectual discuss engage in praise singing, mudslinging, scaremongering and alarmism. He is philanthropic as he is charitable. His religiosity is never in doubt so is his passion for work. You can never fail to notice his cool, calm and collected demeanor. He is detailed as well as meticulous in whatever challenge posed to him, you need no soothsayer to foretell you his acumen making you appreciate his dexterity in the face of daunting challenges and complex situations. If you are opportune to be within his immediate precincts you will appreciate his sense of humor. Succinctly put whenever you meet a perfect gentleman consider that he is in the mould of Arc Sambo.
His silence in the wave of heated conflict or challenges should not be mistaken for weakness or cowardice. The gentle strides of a leopard is not a symbol of cowardice. His initial foray into partisan politics was greeted with a mixed blessing. His first reaction was that of disapproval. Sen Musa Bello (MUBECO) himself a seasoned politician had overtime pressurized him to contest for the Governorship position of Kaduna State under the defunct Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) to the extent that Ibrahim Yaro Suleiman who was a critical stakeholder in the defunct party and was the foremost chairman of the people’s
Democratic Party in Kaduna state was appointed as his campaign Director General. Despite the insistence by his admirers and associates the gentleman in him refused to kowtow to the many persuasive vagaries as tempting as they were to coax him into a contest against his friend. While his friend defected to a rival party the United Nigerian Congress Party (UNCP) chaired by Alh Tijjani Ramalan he opted to remain steadfast and loyal to friendship and camaraderie by keeping his cool. Had he opted to contest and the election took place the coast seemed much clearer for him than his friend in person of Sen Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi CON. Makarfi’s defection to UNCP was not without its hiccups. It could be termed almost as an exercise in futility since the party had already adopted Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida as its gubernatorial candidate. Notwithstanding his alliance, agreement and the understanding he reached with Prof Ango Abdullahi assuring the Prof of his unalloyed loyalty and a promise to step down for the Prof should he at any point decide to want to contest. Had that election taken place it will have culminated into an explosive contest TJ a short aphorism for Tijjani Ramalan was a sobriquet his admirers and political associates fondly refer to him. He was ebullient, strong, resilient, emphatic and decisive. He had reviewed the delegate list of his party and had ensured that no delegate will betray the aspirations of Dr Dalhatu Sarki Tafida. Anyone suspected of doubtful allegiance or loyalty was substituted as a delegate without hesitation. At a point he was so confident that Dr Tafida will triumph that he declared that there was no vacancy for the position in the party.
Almost at the nick of time when all hands were on deck the transition program of Gen Abacha collapsed due to his demise. This heralded the emergence of a new 10 months political transition program of the Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar administration.
The People’s Democratic Party was formed sometime at the tail end of August 1998. Each state had a convener who was saddled with the responsibility to lead in selecting some prominent members in their respective states to form a fully , strong, virile, people oriented Democratic Party which shall stand the test of time. Below is the list of the conveners in the 36 states of the federation and the federal capital territory.
1. Abia : Chief David Ikoro
3. Akwa Ibom: Obong Victor Atta
4. Anambra: Chief Edwin Umezuoke
5. Bauchi: Alh Bello Kirfi
6. Benue: Chief Dr Barnabas Gemade
8. Bayelsa : Prof Isoun Turner
9. Cross River : Sen L Imoke
10.Delta : Dr Soho
11.Ebonyi: Chief Okeagbu Ogadah 12.Edo: Alh Abdulmalik Afegbua 13.Ekiti : Prof Tunde Adeniran 14.Enugu: Chief Jim Nwobodo 15.Gombe: Dr Suleiman Kumo
16.Imo: Chief Emeka Echeruo 17.Jigawa: Sule Lamido
18.Kaduna : Prof Ango Abdullahi 19.Kano: Alh Aminu Wali
20.Katsina: Dr Abubakar Danmusa 21.Kebbi: Nasiru Isa
22.Kogi: Maj Gen David Jemibewon 23.Kwara: Gbenga Nawekpo
24.Lagos : Chief Dapo Sarumi 25.Nasarawa: Abdullahi Adamu 26.Niger: Prof Jerry Gana
27.Ogun: Chief Titi Ajanaku
28.Ondo: Dr Olusegun Agagu
29.Osun: Alh Shuaibu Oyedokun
30.Alh R Haruna Eleri
31.Plateau: Chief Solomon Daushep Lar 32.Rivers: Alabo T. O Graham Douglas 33.Taraba : Abu Fari
34.Sokoto: Muhammad Modi Yabo 35.Yobe: Alh Adamu Ciroma 36.Zamfara: Abdulkarim Yahaya 37.FCT: Sen Hassan Tanda.
In Kaduna State Prof Ango Abdullahi who was involved in the Presidential campaign of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo delegated his responsibility and on the 6th of September 1998 at the National Teachers institute conference center (NTI) a new party was borne .The interim management of the party headed by Ibrahim Yaro Suleiman was inaugurated together with an Administrative Secretary .
The events that followed afterwards were interesting as they were historic which will be relayed to readers in due course.
In 2006 as the democratic process took shape, aspirants wishing to Succeed Sen Makarfi threw their hats into the ring and the Governor kept his choice close to his chest. Although no one knew who his successor would be, however the rumour mill was awash with permutations. The pendulum tended to swing in favor of Arc Umar Balarabe Kubau who was the Governor’s ally and close confidant and a commissioner for works and housing in his administration. Unfortunately as fate will have it he died on his way from Kubau to Kaduna at Rigachikun. Sen Makarfi was thrown into a quagmire and dilemma as to who to choose to succeed him. All the aspirants in contest didn’t fit his profile of a successor as he was scared of them. They included Sen Isiaiah C Balat, Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, Lawal Samaila Abdullahi, Patrick I Yakowa, Garba Ali Madaki, Shuaibu Idris Mikati and Falalu Bello. He was determined to find his successor and his gaze and direction was lowered towards his accomplished friend with the needed pedigree, financial muscle and temperament to steer the ship of the State. His first attempt was to send emissaries led by the erstwhile state PDP Chairman Yaro Makama Rigachikun to convince Arc MN Sambo to take up the gauntlet but he politely declined the offer. As all entreaties seemed impossible to achieve and unable to persuade his friend to accede to his request, he personally visited Sambo at his old residence located at Link Road Kabala Kaduna. They had a lengthy discussion where he consciously and practically begged him to come to
his rescue against what he termed hawks who are hell bent on taking over the government and the party with the sole intent of humiliating him. After the marathon meeting Arc Sambo finally succumbed to the entreaty but under some stringent conditions one of which was the sharing of the financial burden between both parties to which an agreement was sealed. After throwing his hat into the ring all the promises were not only broken but flagrantly jettisoned. He was left alone to navigate the murky waters and shoulder the responsibility alone. However,sensing the enormity of the challenges that lay ahead and afraid that Sambo could withdraw from the race at any point in time, he decided to offset Sambo’s company’s. Outstanding (Nalado Engineering and Construction Company) contractual obligation owed for the reconstruction of the famous Ranchers Bees stadium. This was a tactical ploy of evading contributory costs as agreed. Undaunted the aspirant continued till the last moment when he became the candidate.
After his emergence as the candidate Sen Makarfi approached him with a weird offer. He told him that should he ( Makarfi) win the Presidential nomination Arc Sambo will step down for a southern Kaduna Candidate since both of them cannot come from one particular region and constituency of the state . The reaction of Sambo was that of despair, disbelief,disappointment and dejection. He felt that he was lured into a venture to be treated and used as a pawn in a chess game to be tossed around as a rag doll. When eventually Makarfi lost in the power play at the upper echelon he was left with no option than to proceed with the initial arrangement.
What is baffling is that since Sambo was sworn in as Governor there has been no love lost between him and his predecessor. It was on a regular basis one crisis after another. When the vacancy for the office of Vice President existed due to the demise of President Umaru Musa Yar’adua , Makarfi who was then a senator became interested in occupying the vacant position . He lobbied Chief Edwin Clark , the senate under Sen President David Mark and the House of Representatives. In fact the senators conducted a poll between him and late senator Kanti Bello who was only able to poll two votes. However while the Senators were busy preparing grounds for one of their own to be the nominee the
Governors forum was not left behind. What played out for Sambo was the various committees’ he had the privilege of having worked together with President Jonathan. The Presidential Task force on power and new PDP secretariat building committee. Sambo needed not to lobby anyone as Jonathan’s mind was made up on his choice as the Vice President. Mike Oghiadomhe who was the chief of staff to the President was reported to have mentioned that the body language of Jonathan all point to Sambo as the chosen one. This also was another point of contention. Why should Sambo be the Vice President. Perhaps the planned configuration and power equation of the state was been altered undermined and violated. Possibly in another episode I will dissect other germane issues arising from the Vice Presidential position impasse.