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Column: Lessons from Engr. Sale Mamman’s Fall

By Iliyasu Gadu

I refuse to join in the gloating over the sacking of Engineer Sale Mamman as Minister of Power by President Buhari on Wednesday September 1, 2021. Those who did it are pathetic, puny minded persons who deserve the contempt of decent men and women with a more nuanced view of life. If you rejoice over the misfortune of someone are you sure in your own life's path you will not meet with a similar or even worse fate? ''Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it might well toll for thee'' a saying goes.

I prefer to face up to men of power and public responsibility when they are in office so as to ensure accountability to the people. When they are removed by the appointing authority, rather than beat drums over their demise, I try to focus on their tenure with a view to knowing what lessons we can learn and what not to.

For us in Taraba, the first lesson is that this is the second time we are losing out on a very important Federal ministry under which a two key national projects, the Mambilla and Kashimbilla power projects are domiciled. The first to occupy that portfolio was ironically the incumbent Governor of the state Darius Ishaku. He was then appointed as Minister of state for Power under the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.

We had an improvement on that when Engr. Mamman was appointed in full substantive capacity following the re-election of President Buhari in 2019.

Between the two of them having occupied the position, they should have worked to fast track work on the two game changing projects which would greatly improve the profile of Taraba state in the comity of states in Nigeria. There should have been a synergy where the Governor would have mobilized Tarabans and waived what was needed to be waived from his own end in order to advance the project. The Minister on his part would have taken the reins at the federal level lobbying the presidency and his colleagues in the federal cabinet to get all the necessary support to pull out all the stops that will deliver the two projects. The combination of the Governor and the Minister working in a non-partisan way robustly pushing the case from the state to the federal level would have gone a long way.

The second lesson which all Tarabans should reflect deeply on is on the low esteem which we are held at the federal level. During the Jonathan administration while other states had two ministers appointed, we had only one (present Governor Ishaku) who was actually deployed as a junior minister. He was first appointed as Minister of state Power and later as Minister of state Niger Delta. We were not good enough to occupy a substantive ministerial position.

With the coming of the Buhari administration, we were relegated even down the rank of ministerial appointments. The late Hajiya Jummai Alhassan, of blessed memory, a woman of no mean legal and political standing in the country (arguably the most influential female political figure in the country) was only fit to be appointed to the largely inconsequential Women Affairs portfolio. Where other states had two appointees to substantive ministerial positions, Taraba with a person of the calibre of late Hajiya Jummai Alhassan was derisorily given what I consider the lowest ranked ministry in the federal executive council. Even when Hajiya Alhassan left the cabinet on her own volition, President Buhari did not see it fit to fill the void for Taraba which was our constitutional right.

Now our own has been removed in a rather cavalier manner which smacks of the contempt with which Taraba has been held by successive administrations in the country. The reasons adduced for his removal goes for many of the ministers in the federal executive council, but it had to be the convenient whipping state Taraba which had to be kicked out.

The third lesson is that Tarabans are paying the price for their lack of unity and belief in themselves. In this regard it is sad but true that Tarabans are their own worst enemies. The impression the outside world has of our state is that of self- hate and a willingness to discriminate against ourselves. We have all too often promoted the idea of we-versus-them amongst ourselves such that where vacancies for positions exists in the state and outside we prefer others from outside the state to fill them than bona fide Tarabans.

It should therefore not come as a surprise to us that we are treated in so contemptuous and cavalier manner because there are copious instances where we have and are doing similar things to ourselves.

Because we all too often prefer to do ourselves in, we lack the confidence to face up to and defend our positions before other Nigerians who come from states more organized and focused.

Another lesson is that political correctness in our present day Nigeria does not pay. In Nigeria of today everybody fights their corner in pursuit of their interests. We are Tarabans, a unique people in Nigeria with unique interests. We are the heirs of two ancient Kingdoms of Kwarrarafa and Muri respectively from which we have a rich pedigree of history. Our state is the third largest by size and the most endowed naturally and culturally in the country. Diversity is our second name.

Our state has produced its fair share of outstanding personalities who have helped shaped the history of Nigeria. In General TY Danjuma we have the finest officer yet to wear the uniform of the Nigerian army. Late Professor Saad Abubakar was the first professor of History in northern Nigeria. Abubakar Barde was the first Governor of Gongola state. The Late Emir of Muri Umaru Abba Tukur was a minister in Ahmadu Bello's cabinet. Late Aku Uka Adi Byewi was the first black principal of the Benue Provincial School now Government College Katsina-Ala. Jolly Tanko Yusuf and Ibrahim Sangari were close confidants of Ahmadu Bello. My uncle Mallam Adamu Gadu was a classmate of Aminu Kano at Barewa College Zaria and later became the first black English teacher in Barewa College where he taught some of first generation of Nigeria's military rulers like Generals Yakubu Gowon and Murtala Muhammed.  John Mamman who is now the Chairman of the state civil service commission was a Divisional officer in Daura. The Dankaro brothers all have made outstanding contributions to national development in various areas. The list is endless. In terms of contribution to the development of northern Nigeria and indeed Nigeria and coupled with historical pedigree, Taraba's place is unassailable

So why should a state that has produced so much and sacrificed a lot for Nigeria is treated as a backwater in the scheme of things?

I believe one of the reasons for this is our proclivity for political correctness which sees us yielding or sacrificing our interests on the altar of a deceptive northern interest. Where other northern states are vigorously pursuing and getting what is due them and more we tend to docilely accept whatever is given to us without question. 

Having said all this we have to admit that Engr. Mamman must also accept a large chunk of the blame for what befell him. Following his appointment, he turned his attention mainly on becoming the governor of the state to the detriment of his core assignment. And among these were the Mambilla and Kashimbilla projects. As a homeboy he should have done his best to push these two projects as far as can go within the time left for this administration to wind up.

As it is now with the fall of Engr. Mamman, Taraba has lost on multiple counts; we have no Mambilla and Kashimbilla projects, no Minister and it is quite likely that when a new Minister is appointed to replace Engr. Mamman we are likely to end up with a junior position in an inconsequential ministry.   





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