By Maiwada Dammallam
Much as I tried to avoid discussing the recent albeit long anticipated defection of Malam Mustapha Inuwa, the immediate past Katsina State’s SGS, from the APC, I’m constrained by a recent report of Thisday Newspaper to chip in few words to shed more light on the intrigues that climaxed with Malam Mustapha’s rather hasty decision to switch camps and pitch tent with the PDP, a party he fought gallantly to deactivate in 2015, with a repeat stellar performance in 2019.
Let me say I have enormous respect for Malam Mustapha Inuwa and I’m sure this respect is mutual. I’ve benefited from his mentoring while I served as SSA to Governor Aminu Bello Masari between 2015 and 2016 and even beyond. I have related closely with him in both turbulent and rosy moments of the Masari administration. He’s a good person whose pragmatism and charisma I admire a lot. So, this rejoinder is more to correct some misperceptions embedded in his defection report as carried by Thisday Newspaper under review than to condemn his political choices. The rejoinder will also serve as a belated farewell message to Malam Mustapha and to wish him well in his new political station, the PDP.
To begin, let me assure Thisday that there’s no dilemma in APC over Malam Mustapha’s defection. Of course APC mourned his defection as it will any member. No party will not mourn the defection of a member given the baseness of numbers in politics but certainly, his defection is not of dilemmatic proportion. The only dilemma ingrained in the saga is the foreseeable dilemma Malam Mustapha will face in his new political station, the PDP, which Thisday’s reporter refused to highlight for reasons best known to him. If any other, then it’s the dilemma of reconciling the roles of Malam Mustapha as a frontline APC stalwart in Katsina State and major contributor in the authoring of its successes of failures in its 8-year, two-term tenure which is few months to expiration as at the time of his defection.
Let me segment the report and pick the area which deals with this conundrum to highlight one of the two dilemmas facing Malam Mustapha. Thisday wrote and I quote:
“Citing APC’s failure to tackle security and economic challenges, widespread poverty and unemployment bedevilling Katsina state as well as the decay in education and other sectors as his reasons for defecting, Inuwa said he and his supporters suffered severe persecution from the leadership of the APC and its members in the state.”
Thisday’s juxtaposition of Malam Mustapha’s political wellbeing and Katsina State’s by lumping the issue of the state’s insecurity, economic challenges, widespread poverty and unemployment with the unfounded suffering and persecution of Malam Mustapha and his supporters as supposedly inflicted on them by the leadership of APC and its members in the APC is a trick of making a simple issue complex. The two issues are entirely different and in no way related. Security and economic challenges of Katsina State are state affairs while persecution of party members is a party affair and the two are under constitutionally distinct supervisions; one by the Governor and the other by the Party Chairman. If the intention of Thisday Newspaper is to enlighten rather than create unnecessary confusion the polity, it must separate and deal with the two issues independently. Not doing so smacks of partisanship and deliberate abandonment of professionalism.
Having said that, let’s analyze Malam Mustapha’s newly founded core disagreement with the Katsina State Government. Agreed, Katsina State is facing challenges in the areas of security and economy. Yes, there’s poverty and unemployment. But these challenges didn’t start last week. Malam Mustapha mentioned these same challenges in the numerous campaign tours he appeared in 2015; claiming they were caused by PDP’s incompetence and corruption. He also mentioned same challenges in 2019, claiming things were getting better and APC was well on track tackling them. He maintained this position until few weeks ago when preparations for his defection were in top gear before he shifted position. So, how did the problem of insecurity, poverty and unemployment found its way into the list of core reasons for his defection?
Malam Mustapha’s citation of insecurity, poverty and unemployment as a base for his decision to defect from the APC is self-indicting. Until his resignation, he’s the most powerful SGS to hold that portfolio in the history of Katsina State. He has the ears of Governor Masari and enjoyed his confidence to the last day. It’s logical, then, to say he’s amply qualified for a loud mention in the success or failure story of the Masari administration. It then begets the question, where was he when the Masari administration is writing its “book of failure?”
Take security for instance, Malam Mustapha is in the best position to say how well the Masari administration did in tackling insecurity because his office was directly in charge of this aspect of the Masari administration. Much as the credit for any success goes to Governor Masari in that regard, the greater part of it will go to Malam Mustapha who proposed, presented and executed policies and decisions employed by the administration to tackle insecurity. This explains why he’s the worse hit by the baseless attacks unleashed by Malam Mahdi Shehu against the administration for which he (Malam Mustapha) and KTSG are still in court with Malam Mahdi seeking for restitution against the libelous revelations contained in series of videos numbering about 100. It’s truly a dilemma how Malam Mustapha will stand before both judicial and public court; trying to justify the efforts of the Masari administration in tackling insecurity while on the other hand he’s blaming and accusing it for not doing enough to tackle the problem.
Ditto, the poverty and unemployment Malam Mustapha cited as a reason. Various components of the Masari administration’s policies to tackle poverty and unemployment were/are warehoused in the SGS’ office, the office he supervised for 7 years. I know the office is responsible for the S-Power Programme which was a replica of the FG’s N-Power poverty alleviation program. Under these programs, NCE and Degree holders are employed and posted to schools to fill the deficits of teachers in the state. The concept as developed by the FG was for a 2-year tenure but the Masari administration adopted a non-stop tenure and even make the S-Power some sort of a pool from where the state source for replacement where vacancies are made available.
And to prove the success and popularity of the program, majority of youths who benefited from the program formed the bulk of Malam Mustapha’s support base among youths. If we add this to the fact that government operates with inadequate and very limited resources, we can’t help but appreciate the efforts of Masari administration to deal with the twin-problem of poverty and unemployment. Of course, we have Malam Mustapha to thank for applying the policy in a manner that translated into the huge success achieved. It’s only fair then, for Malam Mustapha to say how much Masari administration achieved in this regard and within which revenue and or limited resources. We should appreciate the incontrovertible fact that, Masari administration, like every administration worldwide, cannot operate outside its limitations, especially financial limitations. This, Malam Mustapha should appreciate more than ordinary observers given his experience in governance.
Just as much, Malam Mustapha is yet to recant his pre-2015/2019 election positions about PDP being the architect of Katsina State’s underdevelopment and APC’s “well-on-track” viz-a-viz insecurity, poverty, unemployment and sundry negative matters, yet, he is asking the people of Katsina State to abandon the “well-on-track” APC lane and go back to the PDP whose incompetence and corruption he educated them about back in 2015. Is it a new conviction that PDP is now an upright and saintly party conscious of public responsibility which will not ransack Katsina State’s treasury while insecurity, poverty and unemployment thrives?
But PDP has been out in the cold for 7 year — quarantined and removed from public affairs. It’s difficult to say if it’s now a devil or an angel hence, making it overly dangerous to experiment with it. At least we will agree, if PDP launch back and, as will be expected in cases of recurrence of symptoms of a disease after a period of improvement, if it relapses into the old ways Malam Mustapha fought gallantly to chase it out for, the results will be as catastrophic as in all cases of disease relapse.
And Malam Mustapha is in the best position to see and say PDP’s unreadiness to change its ways. I’m sure, being an academician of repute, he can easily see the glaring disconnect between PDP’s hollow promises of re-writing the fate of Katsina by its choice of fielding a candidate with a not so grounded educational background. Actually, after the dilemma of extricating himself from the failures of the Katsina APC he cited as his reason for defecting from the APC, his second biggest dilemma is how to justify campaigning for Sen. Lado against Dr. Dikko Umar Radda, PhD.
Outside the few dilemmas mentioned above, the next daunting dilemma facing Malam Mustapha is PDP’s reliability. Malam Mustapha has left APC for PDP for the supposed reason of being persecuted and disrespected by the APC. How much respect is Malam Mustapha planning to score in PDP with nearly all his political foes like Barr. Shema and Malam Mahdi pulling significant shots in the PDP? If you ask me, the “disrespect” Malam Mustapha “suffered” and that which he may suffer had he stayed in APC is a lot better than the proposed respect promised him contained in his agreement with the PDP. More than many people, he could say PDP’s lack of respect for covenants, especially those entered in election seasons. To the Malam Mustapha I know, I will expect every promised written to him by the PDP to be less in value than the paper on which its written. PDP at the moment is like a suitor who is desperate to win the heart of woman. It could say anything and everything to mask to appear user-friendly. Problem will only begin when the honeymoon is over.
To the most perplexing allegation of being persecuted. Honestly I don’t see how. I knew of numerous overtures made by Governor Masari himself to placate and induct Malam Mustapha into the mainstream Dikko project after the initial dust caused by reckless supporters of both camps of Dr. Dikko and Malam Mustapha in the euphoria and disappointment frenzy of winning and losing the gubernatorial primary elections. Governor Masari tried as much as humanly possible to settle the dust almost to the anger of the remaining 8 candidates who felt they were somewhat neglected or treated with less importance in Masari’s reconciliation drive. Also, I’m not aware of a single individual, a politician or a government employee who’s treated differently by Governor Masari or the APC. Malam Mustapha himself is yet to mention an individual or a single case of persecution against his followers to buttress the allegation of persecution he listed in his grievances. Why then should the allegation remain a component of his decision to defect?
The last but not the least of Malam Mustapha’s dilemma is the fate of his loyal supporters who stood with him to his last day in APC. Among them are many diehards who are involved with and deeply subscribed to the APC at different levels from federal to state down to local levels. Some of these diehards are presently contesting various positions in the upcoming elections under the flag of APC. How is Malam Mustapha going to pay back their loyalty? Would he, as expected of a loyal party member, fight them to give PDP victory in the various positions they are vying or, will he undermine PDP from within to support them sail home to victory as a true and loyal friend.
Honestly, I will not like to be boxed with these two limited options. On one hand, Malam Mustapha is boxed with the option of proving his loyalty to his new party, the PDP, and he can only achieve this by the amount of energy he will deploy to score the expected electoral area covered by his political relevance, standing and status. On the other hand, his true political friends, who fought by his side and put him a near-second in a keenly and hotly contested primary are now the enemies he’s supposed to devour to prove to PDP he’s worthy of consideration in its futuristic permutations. That’s, if one is to jettison caution and assume PDP’s considerations are reliable and a sound base for building political decisions on.
Joined to this dilemma is the fate of Malam Mustapha’s supporters who will join him in the PDP. That his stake holding in the PDP is still a serious source of concern should question his ability to negotiate the stakes of his supporters who will defect along with him. What will happen to them when (not if) PDP reverts back to normal after the election season as it did countless times before — dumping new converts who veered off the road and into its lane in the dusty election season?
These, if anything, are the dilemmas Thisday should analyze to improve the quality of Nigerian politics. I’m of the school of thought that “Ba’a hauka a warke” hence, have no reason to assume PDP is cured of its sadistic tendencies. My sincere advise to Malam Mustapha, my boss and whose mentoring and confidence I benefited enormously from is, Sir, every agreement between you and PDP should be taken with a pinch of salt. A leopard never shades its skin. Every step you take in this journey, take it with your eyes looking backward. You said it numerously before and I will repeat it, PDP is unreliable and not trustworthy. While wishing you well in all future endeavors, accept my deepest and saddest farewell.