Bafarawa is a committed ideologue
By Kande Ibrahim
Thursday, January 26, 2012

I refer to BROKEN TONGUES of Thursday, December 23, 2011 on Sokoto politics especially as it concerns Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa and wish to interject as follows.
Since the return of Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa, the former Governor of Sokoto State, to his original party, the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), many of those who are not familiar with his politics have tended to give a mischievous interpretation to his action. While some feel that Bafarawa is not committed to any political idea, others are of the impression that his main objective is to grab power from whatever political platform.

Those who hold these views have their right to speculate or guess. Unfortunately, their guess or speculation is very much off the mark. As a politician, Bafarawa is driven by the belief that the people are the fulcrum of governance. His interest always is to adopt an approach in governance or in politics that will ensure that the dividends of democracy reach the people, especially those at the grassroots.

As one of the founding fathers of ANPP, Barafawa ensured that those who were elected under the platform of the party respected this guiding principle of the party. That was why as the Governor of Sokoto State, he embarked upon projects and programmes that impacted very positively on the people. It is an indisputable fact that Bafarawa’s record in the area of road construction, for instance, remains unequalled by any Governor, past or present, in Nigeria. Even the former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, was so impressed by Bafarawa’s stride in this area that he christened him ‘Road Master”. But this is just an example. The fact is that Bafarawa has a political idea which goes beyond the confines of political association.

As someone who made ANPP proud as a performing Governor, Bafarwa left the party not because of any selfish political pursuit. He left because the then leadership of the party was infiltrated by external elements who, with the backing of the Presidency, ensured that the party was weakened and incapacitated for serious electoral contest. When he could not rescue the party from the stranglehold of the quislings within and the scavengers from outside, Bafarawa left to form the Democratic Peoples Party (DPP). However, the fact remains that even though the DPP was different in name, it was one and the same thing with ANPP in terms of ideology and focus. What this means is that Bafarawa may have left ANPP because certain circumstances forced him to do so, but he did not leave behind the kernel of the party. He went away with it and nurtured it afresh in DPP.

It is significant to note that the powers-that-be at that time who dictated who would be what from Abuja were very much aware of Bafarawa’s game plan. He wanted to use the DPP to keep Sokoto State intact. They had destabilized the ANPP believing that it was the end of Bafarawa’s political journey. But when he took the soul of ANPP and relaunched it in DPP, the forces after him were afraid. They became jittery. That was why they entered into an emergency coalition with the ANPP they had destroyed. They got the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to acquire the remnants of ANPP with the aim of fighting Bafarawa at the polls. But the alliance could not muster the strength to face up to DPP. But because they were desperate to shove Bafarawa aside, the presidency moved in, using all instruments of coercion and suppression. That was how they manipulated the 2007 elections in the state and awarded victory to PDP which did not have a stronghold in Sokoto.

Regardless of what the Presidency did to decapitate DPP, the fact remains that the party was the people’s choice because its leadership broadly represented by Bafarawa was focused on better life for the people. It did not therefore matter that Bafarawa left ANPP at the time he did. What was important was that he remained committed to the ideology that recognized the primacy of people in politics and governance.
The reason behind Bafarawa’s exit from DPP should also be properly understood. Those who know anything about party politics will appreciate the fact that expediencies play a big role in deciding or determining the direction of politics. In Sokoto State, DPP fought a good fight at that material time. But it was muzzled out of the way by a high level conspiracy that included the judiciary. Of course we all are living witnesses to how the political perfidy visited on DPP by powerful forces destroyed the very fabric of the judiciary in Nigeria. But that is a story for another day.

The point being made is that DPP served its purpose. But the need arose for Bafarawa to join forces with other democrats who want to wrest power from PDP in order to bring about good governance in Nigeria. Thus, the idea of a mega party came up. The arrowheads were General Muhammadu Buhari, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa and Alhaji Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Unfortunately, the idea of a mega party could not fly. The political actors who were supposed to make it happen, for whatever reason, went their separate ways. Buhari joined the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and was later to become its presidential candidate. Atiku returned to PDP. Bafarawa was left alone with Tinubu. At this point, the idea of a mega party had died.

But one thing was clear-Bafarawa did not lose focus. He still remained committed to his political ideals.
At the time the idea of a mega party fizzled out, the ANPP in Sokoto State had also been milked dry by PDP. The PDP had got what it wanted and did not need ANPP anymore. But what gain did the people of Sokoto State derive from this? The people took a hard look at what PDP was giving them in terms of governance in the state and decided that they will bring back their man, Bafarawa. Thus began the move to get him to return to ANPP and reinvigorate it.

Since Bafarawa’s political philosophy and ideas are still embedded in those of ANPP, he had no difficulty making up his mind. The decision to return to ANPP was not borne out of selfish motive. It was done in the interest of the people of Sokoto State.
If Bafarawa were a political prostitute as some uninformed people would have us believe, he would have joined the PDP. After all, there was much pressure on him to join PDP in 2007 so that he would retain power in the state. Bafarawa rebuffed such overtures because he does not believe in PDP’s philosophy and ideals. It is only a committed ideologue like Bafarawa that will remain true to his political convictions. If he were not, he would have joined the PDP where anything goes.

Bafarawa therefore needs to be commended for his decision to return to ANPP. He is on a rescue mission. He has come to bring back the lost glory of the party. The party used to be strong when the likes of Bafarawa held sway. It lost steam following its decapitation by the Presidency. Today, some of the founding fathers of the party like Bafarawa are poised to reclaim has soul.

Ibrahim writes from Abuja.

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