It was a typical day in the Kano metropolis; Wednesday, the eve of the 2003 General Elections. The political temperature of the city had reached a boiling point. The incumbents had their backs against the wall, for the enemy was not just the opposition party challenger; the intra-party squabbles and anti-party activities of some had created in-house adversaries and opponents.
Around midday, a rumour emanated from discussion circuits and political forums that the late Muhammadu Abubakar Rimi had died earlier in the day, though nobody could pinpoint the source of the news or relate from which authority the assertion was confirmed. Indeed by mid-afternoon the information had reached a fever pitch; opportunist politicians started preparing eulogies of the fallen comrade, more so as earlier in the week, he had bravely declared his intention to contest the presidential elections against the northern establishment’s much loathed President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Thus everybody, from the self-important public personality to the obscure nonentity of a Kolanut seller, waited with a baited breath for the commencement of the afternoon’s edition of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Hausa news, with the expectation that the ever reliable short wave radio broadcaster would, as usual, be the conveyor of information that was yet to attain certainty in the public realm.
As expected, the beginning of the news heralded an interview with the reportedly deceased politician. In fact, by the mode of questioning adopted, it could have been conducted by Chief Olusegun Obasanjo himself, as it was similar to the later telephone enquiry of the former president on Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s state of health at his German hospital bed, on the eve of the much controversial 2007 presidential elections.
The British Broadcasting Corporations journalist asked the People’s Democratic Party presidential aspirant, “Rimi are you dead?”. The question drew a fast and furious response with a tinge of venomous rage.
“I am not dead. In fact, it is them who wished me such evil that would die”.
He further added that it is those who do not want him to contest the incoming presidential elections that engineered the rumour.
When the interviewer prodded him on who he referred to as ‘they’, there and then, the popular trend setter of Kano politics explained how President Olusegun Obasanjo had planted Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), as the managing director of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company, to find cause to implicate him in any scandal possible, be it financial or otherwise. The main aim was to destroy his ambition of contesting against Chief Obasanjo, in the upcoming 2003 People’s Democratic Party presidential election primaries. However, with his usual characteristic gumption, Rimi averred that they have already failed, as he challenged the presidential incumbent to probe his tenure at the chairmanship of Nigeria’s premier minting company.
Though the self-acclaimed leftist politician had to admit that it was one of the most terrible times in his long political career; he said his erstwhile managing director did everything possible to implicate him in a scandal- from calling for meetings in faraway London, with all the available distractions (whatever that meant), to contract splitting at the expense of other board members. As he admitted, it is not an easy thing for a Nigerian politician, to be given such an opportunity for personal enrichment to reject it. But anytime he remembered the dragnet of President Obasanjo that awaited him, as a politician with an ambition of contesting against an all-powerful incumbent, he had to let go of any thought of such official lucre.
Unfortunately, that is the secretive reality in the life of a security operative; with different flip sides of successes and failures in tow unlike the fairy tales related by the hapless Nigerian media, searching for a white knight to proclaim the end of the current security challenges afflicting the polity.
Since the appointment of the new National Security Adviser, it has been a retinue of stories of the genie legends, in the past activities of the decorated military officer; while some have solely attributed success of the 1983 coup to his organizational genius, others have sought to credit the reformative stance of the Babangida administration to his young intellectual mind.
Indeed some have even taken the sycophantic posturing to such a ridiculous extent, by asserting how he stopped the Major Gideon Orkar Coup in the early 1990’s, from the sanctuary and comfort of his bedroom in London.
Perhaps it is because of the fear of raising too much of false hope that last Thursday, the new security adviser openly complained at the Kano state government house. After all, some have started attributing the current lull in the activities of the insurgents, to his presence on the saddle of the nation’s primary security agency claiming that it is only a Fulani prince who can check the menace since it is widely believed that it is his brothers that have promised to make Nigeria ungovernable for the president.
As he stated, “everybody is trying to translate what I said and somehow in the process of translation, the meaning is lost and some things I say is not necessarily reflected and those that I didn’t say are somehow presented as having been said; it is all sensational journalism.”