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By: Sani Onyedikachi Obi (JP)

Published September 30th, 2010

It was a relationship that was doomed from the start, one bothering on political exigency and self-preservation, the sourly past quickly forgotten, a goodwill wasted and the purported pledge to stay on the side of the talakawa (masses) sacrificed on the altar of expediency, sacred vows now conveniently forgotten and only good enough for the waste bin of history – a marriage of strange bedfellows, one purely bothering on the marxim ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’.  But is this marxim always true?  Who is actually deceiving who? Let us examine the facts.


In the build-up to 2007 Elections, the options were clear and the tags unmistakably discernable – on one hand there was Aliero in the ANPP and later the PDP throwing his rather overbearing weight (albeit with a warped and selfish motive) behind the now Governor Sa’idu Nasamu Dakingari candidacy and on the other hand there was the Shettima Gwandu in the DPP fuming and brandishing the messianic tag of Dan Baiwa or ‘Child of Destiny’ and vowing to clinch the Governorship position and ‘save Kebbi state from Aliero and His plundering Cabal’ (after of course decamping from the ANPP in a rage for not winning the ticket due to what he would later term as the Aliero deception and the breaching of an unwritten and unknown ‘gentlemanly’ and ‘brotherly’ agreement). Many of course were brainwashed by the Shettima’s betrayal theory and talakawa-redemption rhetoric and the sympathy built up in many quarters. Aliero’s already dented political track record and maladministration wasn’t making it any easier for us in the PDP but we tolerated it at the time.

For Dakingari therefore, though untainted and somewhat of a political dark horse, it became a doubly daunting task selling his candidacy because of the straight assumption that ‘if you show me your friend, I’ll tell you who you are’.  The Shettima camp capitalized on that and fuelled the then prevalent anti-Aliero, anti-continuity phobia of the public. It was a simple and old psychology gimmick that worked well in Barack Obama’s favour during his tussle with John McCain for the White House – he simply tied the poor Republican McCain to all the administrative ills of the lowly-rated George Bush Presidency and left the American public to do the crucifixion. However Dakingari was a little luckier because in the end reason triumphed over sentiments. He won because he was judged on his own merit and proven track record of achievement as an impartial and detribalized leader and a prudent manager of men and resources.


In those days that tested the political will of even the most savvy, I must confess that I somewhat respected the Shettima for at least successfully selling his political ideology and giving us in the PDP a good run for our money. If nothing else, he had a genuine and sympathetic follower-ship and a stable though slowly-sinking party platform to push his ideas through. Even after the election, he seemed to remain consistent for a while. While Dakingari was busy asserting himself and becoming his own man by purging himself gradually of the Aliero excess baggage, many wondered for Shettima, ‘What next’.


Then suddenly like a man under a spell, he committed what many pundits would consider as his greatest political faux pass. Whether it was for the sake of political exigency or the irresistible lure of filthy lucre, the announcement came that Shettima had joined forces with Kebbi’s ‘Evil Genius’ – Senator Adamu Aliero. For many of his followers, it was an unbelievable bombshell, a betrayal of the highest order. His feeble attempt at conjuring an explanation fell on deaf ears and was at best considered as another well rehearsed liturgy, an extra sour addition to the litany of inconsistencies of the country’s political class. For Shettima, it was a move that sounded the death kernel on what was once a rosy and confidently cruising political career that was built on the underdog status and one that played on the sympathy of the poor and downtrodden. How could he possibly dump them for not in the least the very same person they ganged up with him against? Suddenly they could see through his game as  they realized the utter hollowness and absolute emptiness of his rhetoric and many vowed to punish him for what they regarded as the grand deception.


Even as he oils his campaign machinery for the 2011 primaries, the desire by the public for vengeance is still palpable and the people’s anger seething. Fortunately for Dakingari who has successfully purged himself of the Aliero toga, Shettima’s loss of the talakawa goodwill, public integrity, political legitimacy and constituency mandate would expectedly be his (Dakingari’s) gain.  ‘Haba Shettima, you should know better than to have come out for another election so soon’. The public now know better who his real sponsor and godfather is and wouldn’t touch his candidacy with a six foot pole. However he must have rationalized that the electorate are always gullible and that despite the glaring evidence to his currently poor public rating, politics is not always rocket science. He is therefore hoping that the same Aliero political machinery that he scorned and disparaged in 2007 would be able to do the magic for him.


And so the build-up to the PDP primaries is on course and once again the camps remain as politically divided as can ever be – there is of course Dakingari on one hand and on the other hand are Shettima, Tafida, the spoiler and attention-seeking Kangiwa brothers, all with their godfather and financier, Senator Muh’d Aliero. However, with the CPC vowing to upstage the apple cart and the theory in certain quarters of the plan by the Aliero’s camp to seize the CPC machinery (not necessarily by decamping) to pursue their avowed plan of unseating Governor Dakingari, possibly through a Kwakwalema (anti-party activity) in the event that the Aliero camp loses out in the primaries, the political permutations are becoming hydra-headed and unpredictable. The uncertainty and confusion still remain on whether the CPC will allow a man like Aliero into their fold.  That is most unlikely considering the CPC/Buhari’s messianic grand standing and the rumor in certain quarters that they’ve made up their mind to give the party’s gubernatorial ticket to the ‘less controversial’ Kabiru Tanimu (SAN). Of course, they say Aliero’s support and financial muscle is still welcome albeit if offered surreptitiously. For the Dakingari camp, they are keeping their cards close to their chest.


How these Machiavellian intrigues would play out in the coming days remain to be seen.  For now, the die is cast.  Will the people again swallow  hook, line and sinker the Aliero, Shetimma and Tafida deception bait or will they be wiser this time? Only time will tell.

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