Atiku Bagudu and the Legitimacy of Incumbency

Gov. Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State

By Abubakar Danladi

Politics has a way of exposing those who double deal or play it against the run of play. In Kebbi state, the renewal of hostilities and the underhand intrigues that have, of late, taken the center stage, are to all discerning observers the handiwork of politicians of yesterday who brooked no dissent during their time, but who wish to undercut the legitimate powers of the incumbent Governor Atiku Bagudu.

Their target is to cut corners, corner the party and skew the party machinery to do to Atiku Bagudu what no one would have dared attempt doing to them when they were in power.

The power or legitimacy of incumbency is real in Nigerian politics and examples abound where predecessors who run foul of that reality paid dearly for their foolhardiness.

Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, will, for example deal dicisively with any attempt to test his will while his years as Governor of Kano state lasted, but is on record to be rather whimsically contemptuous of the current Governor in a way that suggested that he was trying to run the show for Ganduje.

It is about the same case in any of the states where there were cases of friction between serving Governors and their predecessors.

In Kebbi state, all the brouhaha in the politics of the state and especially within the APC family that has been reported and on the basis of which the media is currently feasting on, are nothing but the natural reaction of an attempt by former Governor Adamu Aliero to still call the shots or usurp the powers and privileges of the Governor and leader of the APC in Kebbi state Senator Atiku Bagudu. Ironically, Atiku Bagudu, for those who know him, is one hell of a patient and peace loving person who has proved his capacity to tolerate all sorts of dissent – all in his desire to keep the APC family intact for the sake of peace and development of the state. This explains why he has looked away in the face of all manner of provocation from the same quarters which were on record to have descended heavily on dissension far less in their level of contempt.

There has never been any democratically elected Governor in the history of democratic governance in Nigeria who allows anyone else to control the ruling party, usurp his powers, decides who gets what position and act like he is the power broker of the state. That was why Bukola Saraki, then Governor of Kwara state fell out with his late father Olusola Saraki when the old man wanted to control levers of power after he had successfully used his resources and structures to make the son Governor. That was between a father and son.

It may be an unwritten norm and could even be antithetical to party laws. But the fact is in our kind of environment, every Governor, including those who are currently breathing down the neck of serving Governors takes the right of first refusal in deciding who succeeds him.

How some people want it to be different in Kebbi state simply because Atiku Bagudu is the taciturn and peace loving type is what I am trying to come to terms with. When Adamu Aliero was leaving office at the end of his tenure in 2017, was there anybody who stood in his way when he anointed a seeming lackey to succeed him? Was it constitutional or democratically right for him to unilaterally push the candidature of a Sa’idu Dakingari even when it was as clear as day that Dakingari was a fringe politician and non-committed party man?

Have we forgotten so soon, that Aliero failed to condone the apparent excesses of a Sani Dododo who had become a pain in the neck and had to be cut to size by imprisoning him? Dododo is still alive to attest to the harrowing experience he went through in the hands of Aliero when he was locked up severally for daring to just criticize the government then.

Examples abound where decisions were taken not because they conform with the law but because they looked convenient to the powers that be and such decisions prevailed and up to today, they were not upturned.

The sad part of it is that Governor Atiku Bagudu has not even anointed anybody as yet, but the politics of Kebbi state has been made to reach a freezing point simply because some people felt the body language of the Governor had tilted towards a particular person.

The question is, even if it is true that Atiku Bagudu has indeed shown his preference, what is new or wrong in it? Was there no precedence in Kebbi state? Who ever raised an eyebrow then? Why should it be different now? What has changed to make it out of passion now? But as I have pointed out, Atiku Bagudu has maintained a dignified silence and carriage on a possible successor, apparently allowing natural party currents to flow and decide who takes over from him.

The current friction as a result of tempers that have arose out of mere suspicion is therefore needless and unhelpful to the maintenance of peace and tranquility of Kebbi state – Nigeria’s most peaceful state.

The truth is that the same privileges which the leaders of yesterday enjoyed even when they were at cross purposes with the flow of nature and of law, must, as a matter of right and privileges be accorded to the current Governor and party leader of the state, even if the music is not sweet on the lips of the usurpers of today. After all, what is good for the goose …

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