Aisha Yesufu: Victim of Partisan Savagery

  Aisha Yesufu has been in the news for the right reasons. What got her in the line of partisan fire was her account of the meeting between President Muhammadu Buhari and parents of the abducted girls of Chibok, which she witnessed and reported last week. She wasn’t impressed, and wasn’t also afraid to admit so. For this brave indiscretion, a tribe of partisans has risen and formed a counterforce against her activism. Their outrage was a betrayal of what she advocates as a strong pillar of the #BBOG campaign.

Aisha is a private citizen, businesswoman, wife and mother. She’s an advocate of good governance, she is not a member of the political establishment. I know her well enough to express that she has no political affiliation, nor ambition. Born and bred in Kano, she’s of Edo State descent. A sketch of her biography is all one needs to realise the extent of her sacrifice in a clime of “federal character principles”, where the cartographers of ethno-religious bigotries will never even let her aspire to a political office. One may thus see now why she’s misunderstood by the fire-spitting minions who always lurk around to pounce on any critic of Buhari.

Her account of the meeting portrayed the President as emotionally absent and his Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Aisha Jummai Alhassan, as contemptuous, insensitive and mischievous. Even Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, in challenging reports that the President left the meeting visibly angry, corroborated claims that parents of the missing girls present “didn’t feel him”. Both the President and his Minister, according to various accounts, were uninspiring. The summary of the meeting was: the group was mounting too much pressure on the government even though the abduction took place in the last administration.

On Twitter, Maureen, another extraordinarily resilient member of BBOG, reported a troubling exchange between Aisha Alhassan and Aisha Yesufu. The Minister, according to Maureen, asked grieving parents to leave everything to God. In their defence, Aisha Yefusu asked why she went to court and not God on losing the Governorship election in TarabaState. Poignant!

If there’s one voice I will always regard as unquestionably credible in this campaign, it has to be Aisha Yesufu’s. Unlike the others who’ve had a stint with a government or have been politicians, she IS neutral to partisan allegiances. She’s only pitched tent with the better alternative, and furiously supported Candidate Muhammadu Buhari in the period running up to the 2015 general elections.

Some of the cyber-thugs who have taken up a challenge to shame her, have never done in their entire life what she does in a single day, committing, for the about 750 days past, her hard-earned resources to advocating for the rescue of our Chibok girls. At the time many were reluctant to lending their voice to the story of the abduction, she emerged from absolute oblivion and challenged the Jonathan-led government to be honest in admitting its poor response to the condition of citizens abducted in northeast Nigeria.

Of Chibok girls, while some bigoted people attempted to deemphasize them for being mostly Christians, this Muslim woman defied the polarizing scheme of mediocrity in championing what has now become symbolic. She drew the attention of the world to the previously overlooked cases of abduction of our innocent citizens in that terrorist-infested region. She was so notorious in her confrontations with Jonathanians that when the veteran journalist, Hajiya Bilkisu Yusuf, died in a stampede in Saudi Arabia, some, mistaking Bilkisu for Aisha, put up a picture of of the latter to celebrate the death. Because she was a bogey to those agents of darkness who promoted the tragedy that was Goodluck Jonathan.

Aisha’s only flaw, which her critics fail or refuse to recognise, is that she’s not politically correct. Unlike Dr. ObyEzekwesili, who’s friends with prominent people in our political establishment, she does not belong in the elite class, and doesn’t give a damn how she’s perceived by them.

A day to ministerial inauguration, Barr. Solomon Dalung, then a ministerial designate, was at the BBOG sit-out, and Aisha, being Aisha, looked him in the eyes and said, “You are one of us. Tomorrow you will be a part of them. We don’t know your portfolio yet, but we want you to represent our interests there. And if you don’t… ” And then she shook her head. Dalung got her message.

This is the Aisha these partisans who have never done anything different to promote justice in this country seek to shame. It doesn’t matter to them that her account of theBBOG group’s meeting with President Buhari was simply her honest perception of the man’s attitude towards them. She hadn’t come to look at a deity in reverance, but to meet ahuman elected to do better than a failed human before him.

Some of her traducers, in the last bid of their desperation to shame her, resorted to sharing a 5-minute video of Aisha Alhassan to present the events of a meeting that lasted for hours. I hope they see the cruelty of their mischief. And those who are asking the campaigners to “give up and face reality”, such damning absurdity is not a surprise coming from partisan savages. I just hope they know what it means to imagine their own biological daughter alive, and being abused, among a cult of their fellow savages who differ from them only in the style of their savagery

If the girls of Chibok were of famous surnames, children of the criminally wealthy somebodies of Maitama, Asokoro and Aso Drive districts of Abuja, and abducted at Loyola Jesuit, Whiteplains British School, El-Amin International School, International Community School or Nigerian Turkish International College, there would never have been a loss or lack of intelligence on their whereabouts, and no government would ever risk not making them its priority. That we have a kind-hearted woman such as Aisha Yesufu, who’s neither a politician nor political, losing her resources and health to amplify the voice and publicise the agonies of the nobodies whose children were abducted, is one heroism we ought to support. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter

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Dasukigate: Beyond the Last Abuja Yam Festival

 As the hunt for those who took part in the festival of thievery organized by President Goodluck Jonathan between 2011 and 2015 continues, what haunts the mind of many observers is the perception that everybody who was loyal to the past government and had either offered a service or asked to “perform” one – even if a mere expression of moral solidarity with the government – benefitted from its gifts of Yam sent through the embattled former National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki. Statistically, that’s a scary number!

Sadly, some of the people who participated in that brazen sharing of our N1 trillion security vote and other extra-budgetary “allocations” proposed for our country’scounterterrorism have ended their allegiance to the GEJ-led administration a few days to, and after, the presidential election. They’ve built a new nest in the new ruling party.

This week, I saw a list of firms that had dealings with the Office of the National Security Adviser during the infamous festival, and it’s easy to tell that, if fairly investigated, the scandal may consume a sizable population of our political elite across all the political parties in the country, including the APC.

I know this son of a National Security Adviser who’s notorious in Abuja for drag racing in an exotic Italian sports car that even his father couldn’t have afforded if Nigeria were an institutionally strong place. A boy much younger than me could only afford that if, one, he experienced the “Mark Zuckerberg luck factor” or he’s a sports personality who’s secured endorsement deals with Automobili Lamborghini. No, he’s not Dasuki’s son. This is why we must shift the date backward to see the evils of all the wolves who defected to the APC when the music of that Abuja Yam Festival stopped. 

The reason for the financial recklessness isn’t because GEJ was weak; it was because our institutions are weak, because it would’ve been impossible for even the president to have such amount of money withdrawn for dubious purposes with the complicity of the Minister of Finance and the CBN Governor, if our institutions were strong and designed to resist frauds and graft.

 Buhari, like GEJ, is just a personality who, like all of us reading this, will only exist on the pages of newspapers 100 years from now. He’s not an institution, not immortal, and neither is his leadership meant to be forever. He’s a man who also thrives on personal reasons, emotions and sentiments. He’s not infallible, that is. 

My point is, our advocacy for a new Nigeria shouldn’t be a call for a nation built on a personality cult. For Nigeria to be rescued, what’s needed is civic vigilance of both patriotic individuals and the Civil Society Organizations to “dictate” to the President what’s required and desired for a viable nation. These are strong institutions.  

If our institutions were strong, President Buhari himself wouldn’t have considered it wise to frown at the judgment of the judiciary in the cases of Dasuki and Kanu. It’s not a personality cult that builds a sane nation, it’s the wisdom of its leaders to give up their illegitimate rights and selfish interests for all institutions to uphold the values on which they are built. 

Aside from our dysfunctional institutions, the other culprit in the ruin of this nation is compliant society. Our people, instead of frowning at obvious acts of corruption, celebrate the existence of the evidently corrupt. And those who have escaped media trial are praised by their community as heroes of unjust and bigoted system. 

The last time I was in Minna, a relative asked, “You should be thinking of building your own place.” And even though she was only being candidly concerned, it’s not her ignorance of my ability that made her say so. It was her endorsement of the path of dishonour on which many before me had made fortunes. We both knew one “successful” neighbour who, occupying the middle-management cadre in the federal civil service, have acquired houses in Utako, Gwarinpa, and Katampe, alongside the four in Minna. He was a role model in this material society. He won’t be judged, because it’s already established that the pathway to financial glory is presentation of a fat proposal on the desk of a compliant principal or friend. I won’t be shocked to see that he’s a director on the board of one of the firms publicized as recipients of the presidential Yam delivered by Dasuki. 

All this is so because it’s already a tradition for the heads of a ministry, department or agency to ally and rush to Corporate Affairs Commission to register a company and bid for the very contracts advertised by their office. At the end, they invite the nosy juniors who are likely raise brows about the dubious procedures, for shares of the blood money. Because “gofment money na our money; if you no steal am, another pesin go steal. If you no gree take am, another pesin go take am!” May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter 

Thoughts on the Presidential Media Chat

  President Muhammadu Buhari’s first interaction with the nation this Week highlighted the hope of a new Nigeria, as well as the potholes, speed bumps and roadblocks ahead. It’s perhaps the most honest ever revelation by a Nigerian president, even as such blunt and frank positions may undermine the efforts and popularity of the government he heads.

I’ll leave the praises of Buhari’s performance at the chat to his media handlers and their fire-spitting minions, and address a few issues not exactly impressive.

The revelation that our security agencies have no intelligence on the whereabouts of the girls of Chibok is saddening, and perhaps even worse is the statement that the government has no credible means of establishing contact with the leadership of Boko Haram. What have the intelligence units of our various security agencies been up to all these months? This, to say the obvious, is reckless and not something any leader should say without feeling a sense of guilt or embarrassment. So, who have we been fighting all along? Ghosts? We’ve people like Ahmad Salkida and Barrister Aisha Wakkil around to serve as consultants in contacting this terrorist group and Nigeria still confesses to cluelessness.

The president’s seeming disinterest in the Shiite—Army clash is only a leeway to an imaginable disaster. Despite claiming to have no conclusive report on the clash yet, he’s already judged the clash and couldn’t even mask his disgust at the activities of the sect. His reaction was more of old military elite losing his mind over the audacity of a gang of teenagers to dare confront members of the active military elite class.

The Shiites have already lost on moral grounds, and perhaps only need an unbiased foreign court, through interested human rights organizations, to file a case against the government of Nigeria for the unjustifiably brutal use of force to decimate their erring members. This court may interpret and exact the rule of engagements employed by the militaryand point out the moment their traffic offence degenerated into criminal offence, punishable by such horrible death.

The probability of banning the hijab, if the suicide bombings continue, is just a joke taken too serious. And if we apply a certain logic in understanding this, we may have to argue that perhaps cars used in bomb attacks should also be banned in public places. If hijab was marked a threat to national security for the fact that it’s easy to conceal an object inside it, how is Agbada or Babban Riga any less spacious for hiding explosives? We should ask everyone, including the President himself, to stop wearing Babban Riga to public events. The last I checked, suicide bombing wasn’t carried out by the female alone. What our security personnel need, instead, are effective bomb-detecting devices.

President Buhari dismissed the possibility of the Nigeria Police Force investigating a civil case involving members of the Nigeria Army as an abomination, that “it shouldn’t be the other way round.” That wasn’t a joke. He meant it. That was apparently a military officer yet to understand that the system has changed, and that the present arrangement is such that the police are to investigate the Shiite—Army clash.

One confusing puzzle from the chat is a rhetoricby the President. “How can (the Shiites) create a state inside a state?” The question is, at what point did they know that the Shiites had actually created a state inside a state, knowing that investigation into their clash with the Army is yet to be concluded? If the Shiites were actually running a parallel government long before December 12, why was the present Governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, romancing with them, despite knowledge of them being enemy of the state, in the course of the campaign season? Or is it that Nasiru el Rufai is a cluless politician? If the Shiites had created a state inside a state, or are running a parallel government, why didn’t the President take the decision to declare them as criminal before the clash, and dismantle their organizational cohesion judiciously? This could’ve saved us the December 12 tragedy.

It’s obvious that the President wasn’t prepared to answer questions on forex restrictions. His honesty was a buzzkill. Rough roads ahead for Nigerians overseas or likely to have private interactions that involved forex. The president seems to have no clear idea of its impacts on both the economy and social life of Nigerians. He really has to confer with the CBN Governor on the way forward. The position on forex is also a bad news for those wishing to hoard dollars in anticipation of rumoured devaluation of Naira.

The trials of Sambo Dasuki and Nnamdi Kanu, in court on charges of corruption and treason, respectively, may be one of the instances the President suspended his adopted political precepts as a reformed democrat. It’s clear that the President won’t adhere to the rule of law. Even though he claimed that he won’t interfere with the outcomes of the judiciary, the positions of the institutions trying Dasuki and Kanu, on bail applications, are already an interference with the judiciary.

Overall, the media chat is a commendable effort and, despite dampening the spirit of some Nigerians, it shows that we are finally free from a regime of mendacity, as witnessed in the years of the Hat-wearing zoologist who, without blinking eyes, and aware Nigerians were watching him, claimed the state of the nation was better; and that power supply had improved. We would be proud of a president who has not claimed to being a know-it-all, and moderate in his endorsement of lies as done on the question of N5000 stipend for the unemployed youth. To which he said, “When my VP was quoted, how can I come here and disown it?” This may be the most honest man we could have for this job. May God save us from us!

By Gimba Kakanda

@gimbakakanda on Twitter