By Joseph Edgar…
The report hit us like thunder. They said she, Aisha Alhassan (Mama Taraba), had declared support for her godfather, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubabkar. They said she vowed to support him if he declared and would not change her mind even if her current principal, Muhammadu Buhari, who is the President was contesting. I hesitated in sending out my comment believing that she may have been misquoted since this was alien to our politics. Politicians were not this forthright. They usually dealt in double speak, preferring to hide their thoughts in the usual babble of words that leaves you confused and scratching your head wondering what you had just heard.
But this was different as this madam came out once again to defend her statement, further claiming that she did not care even if she lost her job. This was mind-blowing. This to me is what we have been fighting for in this country. Sincerity, true sense of purpose and principled positions, pushing selfish benefits to the background.
I had a long discussion with my Editor, Sam, on this matter. Sam is an authority in Nigerian Politics and I usually sound him out before I put thoughts to paper. Like many Nigerians, he had immediately jumped into trying to decipher the reasons behind the unprecedented posturing. According to him this was Atiku sending the strongest message about his 2019 ambition. And, this was a very strong signal, not only getting someone from Taraba but someone from within the cabinet, there by sending a strong blow to the ruling APC. He continued by mentioning the fact that this same woman visited the PDP headquarters to felicitate with Ahmed Makarfi when he won the supreme court case. This, from a member of the opposing ruling party was also unprecedented. This to him, was Atiku warming his way back to the PDP.
But I have decided not to go beyond the utterance itself. For me, it is not the intention or after effect. For me it is the act itself. This was the highest sense of principle-led ledership. Absurd in our clime but, on the face value, a perfect illustration of politics with a conscience. For once someone has come out to say her mnd irrespective of what her principals feel or how it will affect her position on the cabinet. She has not looked at the immediate gains of being a member of the ruling party but has taken the risk of following her conscience which has told her very clearly that her support is with Atiku.
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This for me is the Rosa Parks moment and I have etched it in history. No matter what she does after this even if she recants as would be expected or even apologises and decides to claim being misquoted, I still will not agree.
I really do not care what pushed her or what her plans are. This is the kind of expressive conscience-led leadership that can deliver Nigeria and Nigerians. We have for too long been led by charlatans who have made a career of telling us what we want to hear just to get to a point and then show our true colours.
This has been a national ethos even down to our grassroots associations. From town meetings to Alumnae associations, we have been cultured to accept double speak and any attempt to be bold and ‘speak your mind’ is usually met with serious resistance and push back with you being castigated for being too forward. You are then advised in the background to tone your message, pleaded with not to allow people know your thoughts, ‘’keep your cards close to your chest if you really want to win this thing.’’ We have been trained to expect to be lied to and when that is not happening we resist. We prefer the lies, the double speak, the subterfuge. We are really a country of funny people.
I grew up learning that the great sage Awolowo may have lost the 1978 elections to his rival Shagari simply because he had said it directly that he would probe the military if elected. I was told that he should have kept quiet and said nothing until he got there. The one who kept quiet and kept his card close to his chest won and we all saw where he led us to.
So today, I believe very strongly in what this woman has done even praying that it catches in. But something in me tells me that that would be a long wait. Anyways, Mama Taraba should enjoy her Rosa Parks moment knowing that a small minority of us really remain grateful to her for this enormous boldness. Well-done ma.
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