It is now many days ago since when the former President, Olusegun Obasanjo sent his now famous missive to President Muhammadu Buhari, giving him what amounts to a dressing down for what he perceived as failures of his administration. Obasanjo’s assessment was so low that he called on Buhari not to contemplate going for a second term. Since then it has been the talk of the country. Probably to add more weight to Obasanjo’s assertions, another former Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida weighed in with his open letter. Definitely the last word is yet to be heard on this matter.
Meanwhile since my pieces on the subject matter were published in the last two weeks I have been inundated with messages. Many of these messages contain nuggets of wisdom that I felt must be shared with the readers today. Please read on.
Abbas: ‘Malam, your response is apt. Dr. Obasanjo has done a great service to APC by doing a mid-term, non-partisan assessment of the APC’s government. There should be a retreat to do an honest studying and re-alignment based on the aggregate complaints of Nigerians. The most important item is the President’s aloofness and distance. I liken him to Thabo Mbeki, the former South African President. While Mbeki’s attitude might be as a result of intellectual sagacity, President Buhari’s case might be the Parade Commander’s mentality, expecting everyone to behave in a certain way. In assessing problems there should be an equally profound solution. In our solution finding we should be careful not to end with Jacob Zuma solution.
Malam, what I meant by Jacob Zuma solution, we should not end up with a populist, who has no depth, everything he does is surface. Somebody that says the right words, present at every occasion, arouse passion at burial grounds, and political rallies, dances well at the party rallies, get dubious connections all over the country, pushing all sorts of economic and political theories for us (Nigerians) to argue about while nothing is been done. We shouldn’t end up with somebody that will short-change the country.
Malam, I believe our problems as a nation are the historic grudges that continue to colour the views Nigerians hold about each other. Real difficulties can be overcome; it is the imaginary ones that are unconquerable.’
Dr BKK: ‘It goes without saying that I follow your column regularly just as I follow most of the back page columns of Daily Trust. One of Obasanjo’s criticisms of Buhari was specifically on not reflecting ‘Federal Character’ in his appointments of Security Chiefs. I wonder why neither Lai Mohammed nor any of you that wrote on this subject decided not to remind Obasanjo that in his first term as President both the CDS and CAS were from the same ethnic group in Kogi State while the CoAS was from Benue, all in the Middle-Belt. The CNS was from Bayelsa and the DG SSS was from the South-West. IGP was from Katsina. While Buhari’s CoAS and CAS are both from the North-East, they are certainly not from the same State.
Sometimes in his first term when Obasanjo changed the Service Chiefs, he retained the CDS from Kogi, he appointed CAS from Plateau, and CNS from Kwara, again all in the Middle-Belt. The CoAS I think came from Edo. Talk about ‘Federal Character’!!!’
Prof OGW: ‘It is the fallout of lack of politics. When PMB was sworn in, he distanced himself from the political class and pretended he knew who should be where. He does not know that federal appointments are a balance of realities at the states. Caballing exist the world over, becoming a problem when government failed. Need I remind that Buhari has failed? Even where nepotism and cronyism exist, it should not be in such a large number as in his government. Even in kingdom states, our experience has become dated. The question is: is it right? Finally, sir, from 1983 to date, PMB lacks the capacity to run a modern state, QED’.
Garba: ‘Note that the performance of PMB must be assessed against the backdrop of the enormity of the challenges he inherited. The common verdict that he has underperformed in only 2 years of his administration or that he has over dwelt on ‘blame game’ is grossly unfair. The diversion of attention and enormous resources, to fight the BH insurgency far more effectively than the administration he succeeded, is a sufficient reason for his limited success in other areas. He also met a looted treasury. OBJ who inherited far less challenges deliberately overlooked all these. Haba!
Mela: ‘There is an absence of true elder statesmen in the country. Little wonder why the former President keeps having his way’.
Mike: ‘Lai Mohammed did not respond to Obasanjo’s statements about Buhari’s clannishness because even he, the acclaimed propaganda spin doctor know that Buhari’s action in this area is indefensible!!!’
Hamza Danboa: the Doyen of Headmasters
One of the last surviving headmasters of the golden age of primary schools, Hamza Damboa, died in Maiduguri recently at the age of 97. With schools everywhere now, many of my readers might not know that 50 to 60 years ago large areas of this country had only one or so primary school to serve their needs. When I was growing up in Maiduguri in the early 1960s there was only one senior primary school that took students from a handful of junior (class 1-4) primary schools spread around the town.
Malam Hamza – as he was popularly known – was Headmaster of the Senior Primary School which I joined in 1964 as a class 5 student. The school prominently situated on the Dandal, leading to the Shehu’s Palace actually started as the Middle School which combined primary and some form of secondary school education in that era. In fact anybody that had been somebody in the 1950s and 1960s from Borno passed through that school either as student or teacher. Even those that went to Katsina College in the 1920s such as Shettima Kashim Ibrahim and Zanna Bukar Dipcharima came and taught there before taking up higher duties at the national level.
Malam Hamza was a teacher in the school when the middle school system was discontinued in 1956. He later became the headmaster. Earlier in his career he had taught in Yusufari and Bama before coming into Maiduguri. When he took over the Yerwa Senior Primary School as headmaster it was a boarding school drawing students from all over Borno, from as far as Nguru, Shani and Abadam. However by the time we came in 1964, the school was in the process of being de-boarded and consequently restricted to only residents of Maiduguri.
We had high regard for Malam Hamza. He was very knowledgeable and stood apart from all the teachers. When he spoke to us at the daily assembly we always used to marvel at his impeccable English diction. It was an age when teachers treated their students as they would their biological children taking keen interest in their progress and welfare. Malam Hamza took exceptional interest in the progress of his students even beyond the time he exercised tutelage over them. I recall he was always asking for my progress even when I was so far away in Government College, Keffi.
His retirement from the teaching service coincided with the implementation of the Dasuki Local Reforms when he became the first chairman of Damboa Local Government. Eventually, Malam Hamza retired and the Shehu of Borno appointed him into the Borno Emirate Council so as to utilize his vast experience in community matters.