“One of the privileges of the great is to witness catastrophes from a terrace.” Jean Giraudoux
If the disastrous collapse of the defences around the civilian populations in much of the north-east is not the tragedy it is, developments in and about Adamawa state will provide a fascinating subject for political discourse. Sadly, the enemy is already taking up residence in many towns and villages in Adamawa State, while it is within striking distance of Maiduguri and Damaturu. Refugres are swelling towns, terrified that they may have to move further, or into Cameroon, Chad or Niger, or prepare to live or die in the hands of terrorists who appear to have the run of a vast territory.
The pitch in developments in Adamawa state are at about the same level as the terror and suffering of its people. A part of Nigeria that should claim pride of place in contributions to nation building by its citizens also captures all the characteristics of a complex nation. No state has the mix of cultural pluralism and depth of passion around primodialism than Adamawa. This does not make it different; only more perfectly Nigerian. It is not something to be apologetic for, but it does provide a problem with unique challenges.
Adamawa State is the home of Vice President Atiku Abubakar whose drafting as Vice President by Obasanjo was celebrated as a political coup de grace, and whose ending has gone down in record as the worst political falling-out. Atiku is set to challenge the yet undeclared ambition of General Muhammadu Buhari for the presidential ticket of the APC, an action that will surprise few, and anger many. He will damage the Buhari mystique, and invite others to throw in their hats into the ring. He will force Buhari to run against him, or yield the ground to a coterie of ambitious politicians who think Jonathan’s spectacular leadership failure alone will give them a key to the Presidency.
Atiku has been at the heart of the rapid chain of events in Adamawa. He is reputed to have designed the submersion of impeached governor Murtala Nyako in the PDP’s plots. This left him as the only force in Adamawa’s APC, certainly powerful enough to see off the rump of Nyako’s former rivals in the APC all the way into the PDP. The remnants of the APC were swept into the PDP for good measure, leaving the only space for Atiku’s platform. This platform had no tolerance for Nuhu Ribadu, a man from whom Atiku had been on the receiving end for a long time.
Atiku’s Adamawa has titans such as Bamanga Tukur, Professor Jibril Aminu and ten PDP giants that will feature in anyone’s PDP Top 100. Their newest recruit is Malam Nuhu Ribadu, who has just been reminded that even Abuja has to defer to the powers firmly lodged in Yola. Ribadu has been told his probation has just been extended, and he will now have to trust the slippery assurances of a PDP which has no record of keeping its words. In an environment where gloves are never in use, Ribadu will have to carry the cross of betrayal of his old party with one hand, and, with the other, fight his way through the murky and treacherous waters of Adamawa politics between now and February 2015.
Just a few months ago, this was the state whose governor alleged a genocidal war against the North by the presidency. The legion of elites from his state, and most of the North was shocked or intimidated into silence. As the PDP federal government, with active connivance of his party worked to impeach him, a rampaging insurgency began to make inroads into Adamawa State. Its political elites scampered after the political fallouts. An untidy scramble for an 8-month governorship just took many casualties and left the state severely exposed. Mubi or Michika towns may have fallen by the time you read this, in a state which vehemently protested an extension of the state of emergency to it on grounds that it was unnecessary and politically-motivated. At the rate the insurgency is taking over Nigerian territories, Malam Nuhu’s ambitions of being a governor in Yola in 2015 may face more than the challenge of local PDP big-wigs who do not trust him; an APC firmly under the armpit of an arch enemy; and the rapidly shifting fortunes of his new and old parties.
Into this vortex of intrigues and fear steps in another distinguished Adamawa citizen, former Inspector-General of Police Gambo Jimeta. A new twist is being added within the small, powerful but volatile elite that had held all the political strings in Adamawa, this time with Alhaji Gambo Jimeta lending his considerable and distinguished weight behind the desperate fight of Vice President Arch Namadi Sambo to enhance his returns to Jonathan’s designs to break the resistance against his re-election. To say that many people even remotely familiar with the life and times of the former I.G.P were shocked that he accepted to be chairman of the presidency-funded and managed contraption called Northern Elders Council will be abusing the word understatement. Perhaps it is a sign of the times, a period when nothing shocks Nigerians anymore, that another Adamawa titan is making great waves in the wrong waters. To be fair to Alhaji Gambo, he does give a reason for his high profile endorsement of the presidency’s record. He said he and his colleagues in the N.E.C realize that “in the last three years, in particular, our country has had to contend with insurgency and terrorism in some parts of the North.” Still, they “recognize the efforts of the Federal Government under the able leadership of President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR) in managing the complex challenges with firmness and effectiveness.”
Since the respected former IGP and his colleagues all live in the same North with leaders of the Arewa Consultative Forum and Northern Elders Forum(and millions of simple Northerners on the recieving end of a weak and indifferent leadership), and they are all living witnesses to the serial and undignified collapse of our territorial integrity and the unimaginable consequences to which millions of Northerners are being exposed, it may be reasonable to ask if they intend to be taken seriously when they commend President Jonathan’s firmness and effectiveness. How much will they praise him if, God forbid, Maiduguri and Damaturu and many more towns and villages fall to the terrorists? Will they say he is the best President the nation ever had when terror takes over most of the North and prevents its citizens from deciding who their next leaders will be in February 2015?
The enlisting of Alhaji Gambo Jimeta into the whitewashing project is not a coup against the North, as the Tanko Yakasai group is trumpeting. It is a reminder that even the best and most committed can be a victim of the vicious combination of unpardonable incompetence and unlimited resources in the hands of leaders who must retain power even if they lose the nation. The elites of Adamawa have just reminded the nation that Nigeria breathes through them. One of them has entered the fray in a most unexpected manner. Perhaps, like most human communities, they are also made up of the best and the worst. There is something in the water in Adamawa State that makes its politicians run the extra mile in all directions.