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Sam Nda-Isaiah: And our paths crossed

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Sam Nda-Isaiah: And Our Paths Crossed, by Hassan Gimba

 I first met Sam face to face in March 2015. He had the idea for in-depth coverage of states beyond “The governor said…” with which state reporters inundated their newsrooms. Yobe State was of particular interest to him. So he reached out to me through a friend, Hassan Maina Kaina of the Hausa Service of the Voice of America.

He might have known about me through my write-ups in various national dailies. Our parts would have crossed in 2008, but it didn’t. I was publishing Pen Watch (now rested) having shifted base from agrarian Yobe – where I had a newspaper, the Informant (and Mafadi) – to cosmopolitan Abuja. The Informant was a local, bilingual tabloid focusing on the North East. I set up an office at AMAC Plaza, opposite Heritage House, Wuse Zone 4.

I started printing with Daily Trust, but after realising Heritage House printed cheaper, I decided to cut cost and print with my neighbours. LEADERSHIP newspaper, which did not have a press at the time, publish there also. But it had a particular advantage. Whatever work was in line for printing would be dropped for it. Nothing could change that arrangement.

Therefore, while we might have known each other by reputation, he was the more accomplished.

It was that fateful day that brought us together. After the formalities of introductions by Kaina, we discussed happenings in the nation and world at large. He never talked about foreign lands the way our been-to do.

 When he talked about them, it was on how they achieved what they have achieved and how Nigeria could key in, how we could replicate, how we have better advantages, etc. In discussions, whatever the topic, his main concern was Nigeria, Nigeria and Nigeria. Its sorry state and the absence of quality leadership were of great concern to him. You get the impression that if he could take the mantle of leadership by fiat from those destroying his country, he would. He was so disappointed with the quality of leadership the nation had. At another time some months after this meeting, he told me of one of the presidential candidates “who went to the Church of Satan in the USA just to get power”.

As if he knew he hadn’t the luxury of time on earth, he was a man in a hurry to leave a mark that subsequent generations would look back at and immortalise his name. He was in a hurry to build a reputation, build businesses, build people, and build Nigeria. Perhaps had he joined the army, our history books might have a chapter for “I General Sam,….”

Our discussions, therefore, did not centre on employment but Nigeria. He sounded me out on many issues, and I got the feeling we were assessing ourselves. He never turned any discussion into a competition of who knew better or who will come out tops. No. He told you his mind and expected you to do the same. Mentally you assess each other’s contributions and instead of feeling “defeated” or “victorious”, you come out more knowledgeable and full.

More knowledgeable due to hearing a perspective you never thought of; full of conviction if he considered your views on point. I think Sam was satisfied with what he saw in me. He sent for the then editor, Shu’aib Shu’aib, and told him to get me a desk, telling him I would be a Special Correspondent. For two months, that was what I was. In that capacity, I wrote about what he wanted and more. Despite a colleague undeservedly adding his name to my bye line, I alone wrote a strong exclusive cover story on how Boko Haram insurgents finance their operations.

 Within this period, Sam, who I started calling Chairman, like everyone else, after my name entered his payroll, started Friday LEADERSHIP. It was the first of its kind in the country. Tailored after the best tabloids in Europe and the USA, he wanted Friday LEADERSHIP to help the reader unwind after a hectic week. On May 24, 2013, it took off with Baba El-Nafaty as its first editor and Pembi Stevens, his deputy. Some of its staff were William Orji, Production Editor, while Bode Gbadegbo, Adah Abah and late Paul Chiama were reporters. They were the pillars that anchored unique stories after unique stories. Later Kanayo Jubal, Andrew Essien, Hauwa Mahmud, and one Loretta came on board with Offiong taking over production from Orji when the latter moved over to The Authority newspaper.

The pathfinder publication immediately became accepted by the reading public, and sales soared. Were LEADERSHIP a quoted enterprise on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, its share price would have tripled.

One evening about two months after its birth, I was summoned to the office by Mr Azubuike Ishiekwene, fondly called Mr Azu by all. He was the Group Managing Director, GMD. I met him with Mrs Chinyere Adegbulugbe, the LEADERSHIP’s “discipline prefect”. Thus, she was nicknamed due to her strictness in whipping every staff into line – a disciplined way of life that left LEADERSHIP after her unceremonious departure.

Anyone conversant with LEADERSHIP knew that in most cases when Azu talked, it was only the voice of Jacob, but the hand was that of Esau. Sam was the Esau. That was the extent of the relationship between them; a relationship of trust and mutual respect, of taking the brunt or softening it for the other. Many staffers that feared contact with the charismatic and affable but fear-inducing Chairman preferred going through Azu for anything.

He sounded me regarding taking over the Friday title’s editorship as the pioneer editor was retiring to pursue other interests. He said my short stay there had shown my capacity and leadership qualities and that management believed that I could take the title up a notch or two. I acknowledged the honour and accepted the offer. He then briefed me on the title’s philosophy and what my target was.

I went through all this to show who Chairman was. Once he saw capability in you, that’s all, no matter what any person would say. Many who had been at LEADERSHIP newspaper were surprised or shocked. Not knowing my antecedents, having not started my career in Abuja, Kaduna or Kano, many thought a rookie had come. Some derisively said “a Malam from Yobe”. They questioned his sense of judgement.

For the seven months I left (between 2014 and 2015) to serve as spokesman for the minister of science and technology, Dr Abdu Bulama, the paper went through at least five editors. After May 2015, I did not return because I didn’t want those lining themselves for editorship to think I had returned to block them.

 Chairman was worried but could not call me. All through our relationship, he somehow viewed me with respect and someone a bit semi-independent. So he went through Dr Adamu Fika, the Waziri of Fika. He was the one that called me and asked: “Hassan, you don’t want to go back to LEADERSHIP?” I said I wanted to, and then he said, “Okay, call Sam and tell him you are coming back”. And that was how I returned for a second stint.

He gave us all the support to introduce a potpourri of contents according to the paper’s philosophy. We tinkered with the masthead and cover designs to make it look more pleasing to the eye. What in earlier editions looked like LEADERSHIP Friday was changed to highlight more on Friday, making it read as Friday LEADERSHIP. The publication went on to become a world-beater. It was the toast of vendors, a reader’s delight and an advertiser’s preferred outlet. It was selling more than all the titles put together per week, except for the Monday edition that sold like hotcake because of Sam’s back-page column, the Last Word.

 But as everything with a beginning must indeed have an end, my romance with Friday LEADERSHIP came to an end on June 21, 2016. I was promoted to Assistant Managing Editor, tasked with providing contents for all the titles. However, I remain the publication’s longest-serving editor and the only one to be its editor twice.

That he contested for the presidency because of his love for Nigeria was not in doubt. Did he believe he would win? Yes, and we can forgive him for that. Politicians are incurable optimists. Moreover, many things happen in Nigeria that gives a contestant the belief that he has already won. A whole village can come out and be shouting “sai kayi!” (you must win) at his motorcade and he will believe that village was his. But after the vote count, he may end up getting nothing there. And this is even after the village head would have told him: “We have been waiting for people like you to come out”.

Therefore, Sam believed he could be president. And he was prepared for it. Like all contestants, he thought the people he wanted to lead understood him and believed in him and what he had to offer. We, his employees, did our best where we could. I could remember I commissioned Hausa musicians from Kano to do a song for him. I gave him a copy of the CD plate in one of our Northern Publishers Forum meetings at Yar’Adua Centre, Abuja. I also recall calling Aliyu Mustaphan Sokoto of VoA Hausa and protested when he did his programme (Tsaka Mai Wuya) with representatives of four of the All Peoples Congress minus that of Sam. He gave his reasons and promised to repeat it with the five representatives, which he did, and requested that Sam send his representative’s contact. I called the Chairman at around 6.40 am after this discussion and relayed to him what had happened. That may be the reason he specifically requested that I (though someone else later did it), instead of any of the reporters, write the story he syndicated to various national dailies of Bashir Tofa’s interview in which he mentioned the APC’s five aspirants and declared them all better than the incumbent.

As courageous as he was, taking risks head-on and making forays into uncharted waters, Sam was a man like any other man. He could be confused or frustrated or afraid of what he did not know. Anytime an editor signs off, usually between 1 and 2 am, he awaits Chairman’s call with bated breath. One only relaxes with the approach of sunset.

There was a story Friday LEADERSHIP did on former presidents entitled Exclusive Club of Former Presidents. In it, General Yakubu Gowon was mentioned as owning a house in Abuja. At about 3 pm that Friday a call came to me from Azu asking me to come to the office pronto. Chairman wanted to see me.

 When I arrived, he was with Azu in his office, and he blurted out, “Who, who told you that, that Gowon has a house in, in Abuja?” Before I could answer that, he asked: “Who wrote the story?” I just kept mute and assumed a blank face. Whatever he said and did to squeeze a word out of me fell on deaf ears. I became temporarily deaf and dumb. I thought it would amount to a betrayal to tell him who anchored the story. Again, I could not say I did not read the story because I signed the pages. My silence was, therefore, indicative of me taking responsibility. He just looked at me and blurted out, “I am very, very afraid of you. I am very, very afraid of you.” I was laughing within me as Azu told me to go. He followed me out of Chairman’s office, and we went into his. He gently asked who had written the story, and I told him.

Again, it is when you come close to Chairman that you can understand Sam, the man. He was a man filled with empathy. I realised that almost 50 per cent of the LEADERSHIP staff were there for many reasons other than merit. I used to liken the organisation to a charity foundation. You found widows of friends and family who may have no means of livelihood having a lifeline there. Some were orphans trying to get their footing. And you can even meet some downright unserious characters but with huge responsibilities on their shoulders. And he did not care from where you came or what religion you professed. If you were in need, when you found it tough to survive, Sam, the man, would give you a hand.

 Many times he would refer people who wanted the world to hear their views to me. He didn’t care what your opinions were as long they were not divisive, pitting one tribe or religion against the other. Many budding writers came to me through him, and we encouraged them by polishing their write-ups and publishing them. They grew in confidence and belief in themselves.

I have written a book that may be presented to the public next year if God pleases. In the acknowledgement, I spoke about him and intended inviting him to deliver an address at the occasion. That can no longer be. Death has made sure of that. No one can fight off death when it comes calling. Had it been otherwise, even death would have ‘feared’ before coming for a man like Sam now. Some people believe that those that God loves die young. In any case, at 58, Sam had achieved what a majority of humankind may not achieve were they to live till 88. May his good soul rest in peace. Adieu, Sam, the man.

Hassan Gimba

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Opinion

Mai Mala Buni: Independence of Political Diplomat And Consensus Builder

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Mai Mala Buni: independence of Political Diplomat And Consensus Builder

By Sadiya Shelleng Hussaini

Change presents humanity with a confounding paradox. Whereas change is constant and inevitable it forebodes a vague sense of unease. Fear of the unknown taunts the nerves of even the valorous of men. Men of destiny however prepare for change, meeting it at the doorstep with secure pace .June 25,2020 was Nigeria’s governing party –APC’s date with fate, a day of a dramatic change of baton and democratic transition of powers from the ruling Oshiomole led national working committee to Mai Mala Buni caretaker/convention planning committee.The date may have caught some clay footed but quite a handful had no illusion as their mandate was terminated through “doctrine of necessity ” to curtail the crisis that bedeviled the party.

The hype and political intrigues that have characterised the tenure of Adam Oshiomole led National Working Committee of the All Progressive Congress (APC) would not come as a surprise to political pundits. Being the governing party and one which prides itself as the largest growing political party in Africa, the successful transition of the party to a new leadership portends a lot for the polity and the 2023 permutations.

Following the leadership tussle, that consumed the immediate past leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, leading to the constitution of a caretaker/convention planning committee under the leadership of Yobe state Governor Mai Mala Buni, as part of move ahead the party requires everyone amongst its members and supporters to reflects on what should be the best for the future of the party.

Taking cognizance of the renewed support for our great party from the ordinary citizens of Nigeria as evidenced in the recently conducted elections , massive membership registrations across the country and ward congresses with leaders of the party largely emerging through consensus. It has shown clearly that even Nigerians believe that our party, APC remains the only party that can restore the country to the path of sustainable peace, progress, national unity and economic prosperity.

Therefore, the party now more than any other time, requires a courageous, fearless, thoroughbred politician, committed party man and patriotic personality who understand the political history of the country as well as dynamics of the APC, its antecedents since its creation.

Yobe State governor ,Mai Mala Buni has put the party on sound foundation as demonstrated by his political pedigree and diplomatic approach in managing the party affairs. The history of Buni’s political struggle has proved his extraordinary tenacity in Nigerian politics.

Based on the foregoing, Mai Mala Buni standout based on his 14 months score card as the Caretaker Commitee Chairman of the party. Opinions across the country among party leaders and stakeholders indicate a thunderous applause on the APC CECPC for resetting the party back to glory days.

Depicting the sound attributes of a great leader, the two -time APC scribe a highly detribalized, humble, focused, amiable and thoroughbred personality with good sense of direction. These are the qualities he is applying now to take the APC out of the doldrums.

He is man that is naturally loved and admired by the people; a democrat and pivot of mass mobilization; a man who achieves greatness through assiduousness, self -will and sheer determination; a good listener; a man that remains unruffled even at the height of unwarranted intimidation and provocation; a man with critical thinking-skills. He is a strong advocate of unity, peace and progress of our great country, Nigeria. He believes in mega- changes in the social, economic and political sectors and theses must be driven by the current generation of Nigerians.

Within his 14 month on the saddle of the party, Hon Buni has clearly demonstrated to Nigerians that APC will certainly form the next government and entrench party supremacy, internal democracy, party cohesion and internal harmony among elected officials and the party.

There is no doubt that his legacies shall remain eternal source of inspiration for many generations to come. APC on his assumption as the Caretaker Chairman had 64 senators then now has over 70. He has also made three PDP governors throw away the umbrella and his broom. This is not the end on his yeomen duties he is working hard to bring in more serving and former governors, legislators and top party chieftains from the opposition.

President Muhammadu Buhari recently said the All Progressives Congress (APC) has been revived, energized and repositioned for its national convention and future elections, while commending the National Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) led by Governor of Yobe State, Malam Mai Mala Buni.

Speaking at the APC CECPC meeting at the State House, the President said the fortunes of the party had been brightened by the re-organisation and reconciliation of members across the party, saying “with the work done by the committee the party has bounced back to life.’’

“I have listened with great interest the remarkable job you have done so far,’’ he said. “We are all witnesses to the crisis that engulfed the party leading to litigations and presented a picture of selfishness and division.’’

One cannot but wonder from which source he drives his rare aggressive energetic zeal and tenacity, in solving party matters within a snap of a finger. To borrow the words of the classical Greek writer Homer, he is both a speaker of words and doer of deeds. Despite the monumental achievement of Hon Mai Mala some forces are bent on dragging his name twist to a supreme court judgment to rubbish the achievement,let me warn them that the Yobe State Governor Hon Mai Mala Buni who doubles as Chairman National Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) will have the last laugh and would hand over party affairs after a successful national convention .

Shelleng wrote in from Yola .

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Opinion

Who is Afraid of Gov. Buni?

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Who is Afraid of Gov. Buni?

Fatai Olagunju

For very obvious reasons, the successes recorded by the Caretaker Committee of the All Progressives Congress in repositioning the party and massive defection of prominent figures into the party mean different things to different people.

There are those who celebrated the party bouncing back to life, others didn’t like the giant strides of the committee, while others who feel threatened by the reconciliation and coming of new members also felt bad.

For the opposition party, it was its most trying moment  after loosing three serving governors to APC and still counting.  The Caretaker committee under Governor Mai Mala Buni, has remained PDP’s most terrible nightmare.

The interpretation of the Supreme Court Judgement on the Ondo state governorship election by the Hon. Minister of state for Labour and Employment Festus Keyamo, generated some arguments. However, Keyamo’s postulation now in public court, has attracted a lot of arguments in support and against.

The provisions of Section 183 of the Constitution as amended which forms Keyamo’s arguments, has been defined by other learned gentlemen clearing ambiguities.

Deputy Senate President, Keyamo’s kinsman and legal colleague, Senator Omo Agege, took time to define the said section 183 of the Constitution, making it clear, unambiguous, unequivocal and in explicit terms.

According to Omo-Agege, “From the explicit provision of Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is absolutely impossible and untenable to argue that the provisions of Section 183 bars a Governor from being a Chairman or member of a Caretaker Committee set up by his or her political party. More so, the position of the Chairman of a Caretaker Committee cannot by any sense of imagination, logic or simple common sense be classified as a being a salaried Executive office.

“There is no law under our legal jurisprudence that bars or prohibits a Governor who is a member of a political party and won elections under the political party from carrying out specific assignments on-behalf of his party. How this will amount to holding an Executive office is beyond every stretch of human comprehension.

“In the light of the foregoing exposition, it is humbly and firmly stated that Section 183 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) only bars a Governor from holding Executive positions like being a Minister, or any other executive positions for which he shall be paid for. It does not by any scintilla of imagination, render the appointment of Governor Bumi as APC Caretaker Committee Chairman incompetent and will not in anyway, affect the legality or competence of the APC scheduled Congresses” he argued.

Chief Adeniyi Akintola, Counsel to APC in a press conference opined “let me make this clear: this isn’t the first time we would be having minority judgements. A minority judgement has no value. You can’t cite it as the authority. It has no effect”

He cited “In 2008, Abubakar Atiku versus Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, there was minority judgements given by Justice George Oguntade, Justice Walter Onoghen and one other justice while Justice Niki Tobi delivered the majority judgement. So, there has always been precedence.

“There is no value attributed to minority judgement. So, what happened yesterday isn’t strange. So we are worried that some lawyers are attaching value to it”.

It is pertinent to note that, the APC constitution is very conscious of such critical circumstances and it made a clear declaration in  article 17 (iv) which states
“No officer in any organ of the party shall hold executive position office in government concurrently”. Therefore the party couldn’t have been careless in handling this matter.

However, in a very politicised country like Nigeria, other factors came in to define section 183 of the constitution.

MEMBERSHIP REGISTRATION AND REVALIDATION EXERCISE

The membership registration and revalidation exercise of the party which has accommodated new and more members seem to have threatened others who are not comfortable with the new converts and returnees. They feel their positions would be taken over by the new converts. They opposed the registration, attempted sabotaging the process and now fighting the party leadership. The membership registration and revalidation exercise opened the party to many members who were hitherto refused membership. Prominent members who claimed ownership of the party lost the acclaimed ownership of the party.

PERSONALITY SUPREMACY 

Local politics between stakeholders of who controls the party in the state came into play. The conflict of  personalities between Senators, Members of the House of Representatives, Ministers and other stakeholders had also manifested in who controls the party in the state. Unfortunately those who lost out are blaming Governor Buni for their trivial and now fighting back. They also define Section 183 to mean “Buni must go”.

 For instance, the personality clash between Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo Agege and the Minister of state Labour Barr Festus Keyamo in Delta, Sen. Ngige and Sen. Andy Uba in Anambra, Zamfara state Governor Bello Mutawalli and former Governor Abdul Azeez Yari.

ALLIAMCE WITH PDP

Recent discoveries by the party revealed that some desperate party members seeking to contest positions are liaising with the opposition to discredit the leadership, the party structure and all other processes.

It is also worrisome if all the barrage of legal luminaries now interpretering the Supreme court judgement, could not realize any lacuna in the constitution of the Caretaker committee this all the while except now, 13 months after, then, something must be fundamentally wrong with their patriotism and commitment to serve the government rand the party, honestly and creditably.

PDP CRYING MORE THAN THE BEREAVED

PDP is crying more than the bereaved. The party seem to have developed more interest than APC members. They have temporarily forgotten their problems to fight on behalf of other members of APC. The reason for this poke nosing into the affairs of others, is not far fetched. The Buni led Caretaker committee in the last 13 months had deflated the PDP, subtracting three governors along with hundreds of thousands of their supporters from PDP. The Buni committee has no doubt made PDP very jittery and vulnerable.

 

 Who is afraid of Governor Buni?

folagunju24@gmail.com

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Opinion

Tunji Disu: The Making of a New Super Cop

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Tunji Disu: The making of a new Super Cop

By: James Bwala

Yesterday I posted a story from the Press Release issued by the Force PRO, CP Frank Mba. As I go through the story this morning, I said to myself indeed a chapter has closed never again would Abba Kyari come back to this position even if at the end of the matters that matter at this moment of his life and career defines him innocent of the allegations as indicated by the US agency – The FBI.

Kyari was a super cop who receives acculiat and praises from men who loves and hates him on the line of duty even as truth about their friendship is being exposed by the predicament he found himself whether guilty or not guilty. The Kyari saga has further plunge the unity of this country in questions with regional inclinations and expressions from the current situation butterfilling both the traditional and social media.

Nigerians massively are hypocrites. But there are still few ones who a still holding the truth as would a pastor and his Bible even if their position was a negative one. For the first time I came to agree 100 % with a senior colleague, Malam Yakubu Ahmed BK over his write up on DCP Abba Kyari. I mean without reservations – religious, regional, ethnic or when he falls on the political side. I had had reservations on most of his piece base on either of these but not this one.

Kyari has guffed. That is the right words but we are not bringing him into judgement knowing that to err is human and to forgive is devine as we said always in Nigeria. However, we do not know how the Americans defines this in their terms. Hushpuppi is caged and he is already vomiting. If he had been caged here in Nigeria, we have herbs that can stop him from vomiting but the white man has his laboratory to test, experiment and bring out result. So is the case with Kyari our one time super cop.

Whether as Nigerians we like what is happening or not the FBI has spoken. Our IGP has responded and Kyari is waiting for fate. If the gods have mercy on him, he may yet have some years to wear the uniform and redeemed himself in another capacity serving the nation, else a chapter on his career as a Police Officer is close and we salute him.

As I was going through my Facebook page, I come across a piece of writing where the writer was so exposing the sentiment of the southwest region over the suspension of Kyari and appointment of Tunji Disu. The write up reads in part:

“Patriotic Oduduwa blooded TUNJI DISU, takes over as head of IRT from Super cop Abba Kyari who was suspended for proper investigation.”

Patriotic was Abba Kyari when he was holding sway as every hand was clapping while he leads his team. These are the kind of songs Nigerians like to sing for occupants of dreaded and fearful position to do and to undo. If I were Disu, I will begin to count my enemies from this point because these same songs were sang by people like these ones to Abba Kyari and the same people are mostly behind the songs he is now hearing on his way to sit before the investigation panel.

It continuous: “Disu was respected/real national asset Jagaban’s ADC when he was Lagos state governor as such the blood that flaws from his professional veins is that of nationalism & patriotism.”

That is it! I now see the political game in play. Indeed as the writer says we shall
collectively, effectually and fervently offers prayers for Tunji Disu to succeed. But the questions is that, would Disu be Pariotic and Nationalistic in his dealings with Nigerians as head of Police Intelligence Team knowing the hand that has pushed his rising? would he be apolitical coming from the political strings? Indeed he needs much prayers but his first move will determine our prayers either to pray more lifting or cry to the Almighty to deliver Nigerians from the Pharaoh who place their moles in places as monitoring spirits over Nigeria.

  • James Bwala is a Nigerian Journalist and writes from Maiduguri

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