Editor’s note: The recently unwrapped long-awaited list of the ministerial nominees has successfully continually divided the polity as Nigerians keep up with either supporting or criticising every move that the president makes. Eustace Dunn, a social commenter and Naij.com’s senior editor, in this opinion article examines the ministerial nomination of one of the prospective ministers on whether it was based on merit or compensation.
When Henry Thoreau said that if we will be quiet and ready enough, we shall find compensation in every disappointment, he may have envisaged that the likes of Senator Aisha Jummai Al-Hassan would one day have a feeling of dissatisfaction that results when an expectation is dashed.
With the nomination of the former Senate member as one of the prospective ministers to work in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, one begins to think whether the president’s nomination was majorly based on absolute recompense or political virtue.
First female governor
Al-Hassan who is popularly known as ‘Mama Taraba’ had left the representation of the people of Taraba North at the Senate to contest for the governorship seat in April 11 Taraba state poll on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress. She is known for almost becoming the first democratically elected female governor in Nigeria before a re-run was done.
Although, in the history of Nigerian political and democratic dispensation, there was once a female governor in Anambra state. Virginia Ngozi Etiaba was instated from her position as the deputy governor to the-then governor Peter Obi when the governor was impeached by the state legislature for gross misconduct. Etiaba was governor for just three months as she soon transferred power back to her boss after an appeal court declared the impeachment invalid.
In the case of Mama Taraba however, she would have become the first to be elected female governor, but she was left defeated by the incumbent governor, Darius Ishiaku. Thus, Etiaba remains the only female who sat as governor, albeit perchance.
Obviously, there had been jubilation in the whole Jalingo as she led in the vote counts. Regrettably, panic set in as the election was declared inconclusive. Speculation had it then that Governor Ishiaku who had vied for the seat on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party was at the top of his game to arm-twist the Independent National Electoral Commission. Alas, ‘Mama Taraba’ lost in the governorship bid.
Mama Taraba’s visit to President Buhari sealed the nomination
Without doubt, the senator’s visit to the-then president-elect was a clear indication that she needed a federal might to reclaim what she believed to be a mandate stolen from her. By all means, she had won a part of the president’s heart on the basis of an inclination to share in her plight.
On the account of the senator’s defeat, President Buhari during the visit had to admonish her using his own presidential failure and eventual success as a perfect illustration to resuscitate her confidence. “Don’t give up,” he told her.
As a matter of fact, the former lawmaker’s nomination is what one would be forced to call ‘a choice of sympathy’ simply owing to the fact that on the one hand, she deserted the former ruling PDP for the APC and on the other hand, it was on the point that the federal government simply wants to promote the idea of women in politics.
This is evident especially as Buhari had urged Taraba natives during the electioneering campaigns that the APC was committed to rights and empowerment of women. Or is there more to the relationship between the president and the senator? Your guess may not be inconsequential.
In the light of this, the nomination is more of compensation than merit. On the aspect of merit, she has done well as a legal luminary in the history of Nigerian judiciary as one time attorney general of Taraba state and first woman to be appointed secretary Federal Capital Territory (FCT) judicial council. But then, an onlooker would be able to detect that apart from these legal and political achievements, the president chose her as a prospective minister based on political consolation.
The federal might factor
Be that as it may, the president during the senator’s visit encouraged her to continue the legal action against Governor Ishiaku saying that he hoped Al-Hassan wins in the governorship election petition tribunal. It is on record that the application of federal might in fighting court cases is very effective in legal resolutions.
Nevertheless, If she eventually gets screened on Tuesday, October 13, and is confirmed, there could be very promising chances that the federal might and legal connection factors would help her penetrate the judicial system to manipulate any decision from the tribunal.
By and large, if this was the plan President Buhari had when he expressed optimism for the senator’s tribunal victory and nominating her as a minister to be, then there would apparently be a rape on the judicial system and the true essence of democracy in Nigeria.
Thus, on comparative terms, it would have been better judged in future if Mama Taraba won the case at the tribunal on a neutral basis than when she eventually clinches on her pyrrhic victory on the groundwork of federal might.
The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of 234Forum.com.