On David Umaru’s Purported Remark on Niger State Transition Committee By Garba Aliyu
A matter of devastating consequence which needs urgent clarification has just been reportedly raised by Barrister David Umaru, the Senator-elect of Niger East Senatorial District. In his unfortunate statement that sought to discredit the composition of the transition committee set up to ensure smooth handing over of power by the outgoing Governor Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu to Mallam Abubakar Sani Bello of the All Progressive Party, winner of the April 11 Gubernatorial Election in Niger State, the senator-elect made several accusations without justifying any. For those in know of what exactly transpired in setting up the committee, and also aware of the antecedents of the members and their contributions to the political causes and struggles in Niger State, Umaru’s criticism of the committee may be understood as, at best, unnecessary and, at worst, hypocritical.
As a witness to the events that led to composition of the committee, I’ve every right to dismiss Umaru’s reaction as unnecessary. This is because David Umaru, contrary to his claim in the said statement, was actually consulted and even contributed to the selection of members of the committee. There was no way, whatsoever, that David Umaru was kept in the dark of any decision taken before the membership of committee was officially made public.
The most amusing irony in Umaru’s claim that “proper consultation must be done to recruit credible and capable people” is the fact he was not only consulted, as prescribed, but he even nominated a member who, out of respect for his view by the APC officials in Niger State, was chosen and is now a part of the committee he now makes a U-turn to dismiss as incompetent. So, if consultation is meant to ensure selection of credible people and Umaru is known to have been among those consulted, obviously his decision to go public over what he had contributed to wasn’t statesmanlike or carefully considered.
The man who David Umaru nominated to be a part of the committee may be just as stunned as me to read that a committee of which he is a part, and to which he was recommended by the critic, is being questioned and dismissed as a wholly incompetent. This is the most unfortunate thing to say about a committee led by the Deputy-Elect of Niger State. Or is it that the Senator-elect has no regard for the person and imminent Office of Niger’s Deputy Governor-Elect, HE Mohammed Ahmed Ketso? This is a believable inference because David’s accusation is an obvious doubting of Mallam Ketso’s competence, and a charge as that, against a democratically elected leader that hasn’t even been sworn in portends a clearly shaky relationship.
What also makes Umaru’s dismissal of the committee as mischievous is the calibre of highflying technocrats, bureaucrats and professionals invited to serve on it. The committee not only has on it Umaru’s professional senior, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Barrister Ibrahim Isyaku (SAN), a renowned Minna-based legal luminary but also well-celebrated academic, Professor Musa Galadima. Another incomparable asset on the committee is the accomplished technocrat, Mohammed Nda, whose name has been on Nigeria’s currency as the Director of Currency Operations at the Central Bank of Nigeria. This is to mention just a few on the 36-member committee. All of these people are internationally acknowledged experts who have excelled in their professions.
Since Umaru refused to mention any particular member or members he considers undeserving, we are now to beg him to mention names, because even in propagating political mischief, he cannot question the feats of the likes of Barrister Isyaku in Law, Professor Galadima at the Ivory Towers and Mohammed Nda at Nigeria’s highest financial institution, the Central Bank. Is it membership of some politicians that Umaru finds undesirable? Is there a way that a transition can be achieved without those who know the terrains or had once been there to guide or advise the political novices who joined from professions unrelated to the political? I think Umaru needs to be realistic.
What I also don’t get is, a transition committee is a government cabinet and none of the people on the committee is promised appointment. They are only there to serve this interest of handing over power to a new government. And so long as the Deputy Governor-Elect remains the Chairman of the committee, the fear of their activities being jeopardised is an obvious paranoia.
David mentioned General Muhammadu Buhari as an exemplar in the choice of members of APC’s presidential transition committee unaware that the same committee is the butt of all jokes and being furiously criticised in the media. The media is even awash with appointment of an octogenarian, Alhaji Ahmed Joda, as the head of a committee that seeks to represent the interest of an incoming government that promises to promote the ideals of a new Nigeria. Critics say that a man of Joda’s age, far older than Buhari, should be at home taking care of his great grandchildren and not be laboured with tasks this challenging. While I don’t seek to hold a view over this Joda controversy, mine is to point out that it’s impossible to please everyone and David really needs to start reading newspapers to be in tune with our political reality. Even a member of a Civil Society Organisation, Hadiza Bala Usman, is being criticized as member of the committee, partly for her civic associations and also because some see her as a product of sheer privilege and not professionally qualified. Is Hadiza a match of Mohammed Nda? No! Is she a match of Professor Galadima? No! Is she a match of Barrister Isyaku? No. So, what’s David talking about in advising the people of Niger State to imbibe the ways of the presidential committee?
If David holds a grudge against any politician as a result of past political discords, let him say it. It will, however, be unfortunate if Umaru is unable to get rid of past grudges for a united struggle to take Niger State to a greater height. The national officials of the APC really need to call David to order now that he wants to divide the house.