Without any gainsaying, the last elections were fought on several fronts, with men and women making huge sacrifices, as some went against their kith and kin and made huge financial contributions to the campaign, especially at a time of severe naira scarcity, accentuated by the now infamous naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria… These believers persevered and made sacrifices, while other loyal party men and women strategised day and night, while utilising copious amounts of time and resources to ensure that the All Progressives Congress (APC) came out victorious.
Since the inauguration of the current government on the 29th of May, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been championing life-changing policies, appointing advisers and setting up a solid foundation for the building blocks of his presidency. It is interesting to note that even with the intense lobby going on, no one has come out to publicly project that they are a potential candidate for a ministerial position, except Professor Muhammad Pate who quietly let it slip through the press announcement of his colleagues that he was passing over the highly important leadership of GAVI, a global vaccine health behemoth, to return home to serve his country.
Even if this were to be true, it appears to be forcing the hands of the president to nominate and appoint him as the Minister-designate from Bauchi State, in a not-too difficult assumption to superintend over the affairs of the Federal Ministry of Health.
Without any gainsaying, the last elections were fought on several fronts, with men and women making huge sacrifices, as some went against their kith and kin and made huge financial contributions to the campaign, especially at a time of severe naira scarcity, accentuated by the now infamous naira redesign policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
These believers persevered and made sacrifices, while other loyal party men and women strategised day and night, while utilising copious amounts of time and resources to ensure that the All Progressives Congress (APC) came out victorious.
Bauchi State was one such battlegrounds during the last presidential election, even as the party hierarchy was firmly in the hands of a lackluster political operative, the former Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu and an equally uninspiring gubernatorial candidate, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (retd). Hence, it took the combined efforts of the traditional and reliable APC structure in the state for the APC to achieve the 37.1 % of the votes cast, that gave Tinubu the required 25% to tick the box as one of its wins, adding to the overall victory at the polls.
This context is very important because despite being a global health actor, nothing is known about Pate’s contributions to Bauchi State APC or the centre when it mattered the most. He was ensconced in pursuing his GAVI briefs, which is not bad thing on its own, only that this largely fosters his personal career growth, while others were in the political trenches ensuring a much-needed victory at the polls.
One very important aspect to look at is that given his prominent relationship with the former President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, his interests and sympathies might even have aligned with that of the PDP candidate, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, for all anyone knows.
As Saraki played a prominent role in the political structure and campaign of Atiku’s last push for the presidency. It is only natural that the relationship with the latter would very likely have inspired Pate’s political inclination.
To further buttress how Professor Pate is not a die-in-the-wool party man, he was one of 28 candidates who vied for the governorship of Bauchi State in 2019 under the aegis of APC, at the time he had described himself as an accidental politician. It wasn’t far-fetched that he lost out and continued his candidature under the more ideological left Peoples Redemption Party (PRP).
Other fears harboured against people like him are the fact that the so-called technocrats have used national positions and assignments to propel themselves to global appointments, and the headship of global organisations, after stints in Nigerian MDAs. We saw this in the recent history of the likes of Amina Mohammed, who served for a year as Minister of Environment before leaving for the UN; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who went to the World Bank after her stint as Minister of Finance and recently became the President of the World Trade Organisation, Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture; and Mr Adewunmi Adeshina, who had the entire goodwill and machinery of government thrown behind him to emerge as the African Development Bank (AfDB) president. Pate is in great company as in the past he had resigned his position as Nigeria’s minister of state for Health at a time Nigeria needed him most, in order to further his professional career at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
We must stop this disrespect of politicians, using them only to serve our purpose, and onboarding technocrats who come to reap where they have not sown anything. Let’s remember that not only technocrats are meritorious nor are the smartest Nigerians around. There are politicians of great experience who can get the job done. The slot of Bauchi is too important politically speaking to be filled up by individuals who contributed little or next to nothing to the electoral victory, like Professor Pate. In this instance, Pate is already late to the party. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu must get it right.
Misbahu Shehu a public affairs analyst is based in Bauchi, Bauchi State.
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