Kwara Versus Saraki 2019: Lest APC Misses the Modibo Opportunity -By Tikeh Suleiman Babakodeh

Filed under: Political Issues |

I confess to a certain irredeemable bias as I set to write this.

And it’s because these are indeed doubly grave times in our beloved nation and in the much politically repressed state of Kwara.

I should be the first to admit that it is precisely the periliousness of our political clime that calls for the scrupulous eschewing of emotions in public discourse. The gravity of Nigeria’s unfolding situation, the sheer monstrosity of the stakes that are implied in the 2019 national elections and the nauseating cacophony of diatribes with which Nigeria’s political gladiators continue to mutually hack each other – their primial ferocity as they wrestle in endless street brawls, these would seem to demand that any treatise that will provide a semblance of illumination to an utterly confused electorate must demonstrate a veritably dispassionate bent on the part of the author.


Modibo Ishaq Kawu

Now, therein lies my dilemma.

For while unabashed endorsement of some and scathing opprobrium for others mix like the scalding lava of an angrily erupting volcano inside, seething anger thundering, like a category five tsunami through the sturdiest levees of the soul, how can one yet deadpan, in a futile affectation of dispassion?

Heck, what patriot needs anymore this toga of respectable restraint when the mockers of Nigeria are so passionately sold out to their own deathly craft, when suave and debonair mercenaries of Nigeria’s eternal destruction continue to run their sharp toothed ‘katapila’ of graft so mercilessly over 200 million groaning preys?

It has been, for far too long, that just as a hellish host of implacable demons continually turbo-charge the insane greed and drunken recklessness of Nigerian political gangsters, so also has an enervating stupor seemed to perpetually sustain the smug inertia of Nigeria’s bulging community of the apolitical elite. Doesn’t sheer decency demand – says that cowardly guardian angel of the status quo – that one simply stay above this bloodied fray of jungle claw fights?

So, this treasonable apathy thrives, a cowardly abdication of historic duty, allowed to flourish in a rancid medium of irradical respectability. Just stay away from their grime encrusted political chess games, we all seem to say to assuage our troubled social conscience. And, do good, just as the holy book enjoins. Worship your creator and reach out in pious personal kindness to as many of these trampled masses as your means and your heart can possibly accommodate, but stay away (yes, just please stay far away!) from the poo pit that politics in Nigeria is.

Except that born rebels that they are, a few hard headed individuals, leading lights of change advocacy in the land, defied such all pervading capitulation. Among this elite corp of nationalist path finders, a certain ancient Fulbe warrior incarnate by the name of Modibo Ishaq Kawu.

In a Kwara that is so completely swallowed up in Saraki’s magical spell of mass immobilisation, Lanre, as he is also fondly called by friends, dared to breach again and again, the impregnable den of the state’s lion prince, serially rattling a reputedly vicious savager of untutored political irritants in his very lair. This wasn’t just taunting of state power for mere political gimmicky. This MODIBO delved into key issues of fiscal accountability, transparency in governance, strategic clarity of developmental projects, challenging empirical manifestations of administrative deficiencies in an evidence based, serial scrutiny of government apparati.

That Modibo sustained his one man battle against Governor Bukola and his successor with such mindless focus, in stark contrast to the criminal self restraint of the Kwara elite, isn’t by any means the most definitive reason why he ought now to be heir to the throne of the man for whom he has been such an implacable nemesis. True, the debilitating self-derogation that perpetually kept the tongue of Kwarans tied found its catalytic anti-thesis in Modibo’s singular courage, tenacity and impervious stance against appeasement and inducement, what really should recommend him to us is the more substantive definer of his lifelong commitment, an obsessive, unyielding fixation with the state of the human condition, as being core to all political activity.

What gives one such deep comfort and confidence at the thought of Lanre governing Kwara is that anyone who can truthfully claim to have known him from his very early youth can testify that change, to this dogged fighter, is not a political cliche to opportunistically cling unto, just because President Muhammadu Buhari is in power. The Modibo we know sowed his entire being into a life time of quest for an actionable path to real, tangible material, cultural and spiritual upliftment for the poor. Well over four decades ago, this Modibo committed his heart and soul to the idea of finding and waging sustainable progress for the masses of Nigeria. And, as one can personally bear witness from over 40 years of privileged observation, Modibo Kawu lived, breathed, read, ate and spoke revolutionary change. Not the confounding jingoism of the pseudo militant, but real, gritty immersion in the nation’s ecosystem of progressive activism. I am certain that many who witnessed Modibo’s irrepressible passion for progressive ideas of governance over these many decades, long before his concerted tabloid exploits made him a celebrity of the pen, are happily noding their heads in agreement as they read this piece.

This singularly distinctive pedigree as a warrior for change marks Lanre out as an authentic poster child of the APC message, fraught, as these past three years may have been, with sometimes sorely vexing frustrations. This deep root in proletarian struggle, this same obsessive optimism that saw a barely past teenage Lanre, organise fellow youth and rural folk into political education clusters, is what gave the later day anti-Saraki crusader his fortitude, his implacable aggression against what he rightly saw as the brazen rape of Kwara people, their dignity, resources and future. This is where the grating stridency so characteristic of Modibo’s war cry against the Saraki machine found its unquenchable fire,

As a mere child, who should still have been indulging in the frivolties and trivia of youth, the Modibo I knew was a voracious reader, not of Mills and Boons or Hardley Chase, but of doctoral level literature on political economy, challenges of governance in Africa; pathways to the sustainable emancipation of the poor working masses. It is a testament to the heuristic power of the radical education he received so early and which he so generously and so passionately sought to impart to us his fellow child-adventurers, that he is still able to fully function within today’s re-interpretation of progressivism, in all of its current socio-economic, cultural and spiritual dimensions.

For so long, Kwarans have swallowed their pride, scampered off the road when their oppressors’ hard metal motorcades roar past, even as smouldering anger, like an eternal fiery furnace, roared deep within. Where is the place for nonchalant aloofness for the APC Kwara’s rank and file, as they line up to choose their flag bearer, when brazen perpetrators of our nation’s endless rape continue to gloat and prance around under the national klieglights with reckless dare, continually taunting with the most insufferable arrogance of their own perceived invincibility?

I have no doubt that Kwara APC is going to its governorship primary with outstanding candidates. One can not but wish everyone God’s very best. But as a mere mortal, I can only speak from my own heart. The time to rally for the liberation of Kwara is now. I think APC should not miss the Modibo opportunity.

In sharp contrast to armchair change agents and chamelionic power-mongers so characteristic of this dispensation, Modibo Kawu laid his very life on the line for hapless Kwarans, taking on, all through this past decade, truly formidable foes. Petty politicking aside, any well meaning person must know that in his strident public advocacy for leadership accountability in the national polity, Modibo sold his very life to a perilious but oh so noble cause. Sadly in our nation, such harzadous undertaking often turns out to be a thankless mission, fueling the cynicism of the political ass-licker. For a lionhearted fighter like Modibo, it is obvious to the sober observer that his fearless implacability can only have been rooted in a simple childlike faith and submission to the will of the almighty. A reassuring maturation from the day, in 1981, when he gave me his well worn copy of the dialectic of nature.

As a mere glimpse into a lifetime of admirable faithfulness to a lofty cause, this is Modiboa Kawu. A true hero of our people’s struggle and a gift to Kwara, a gift to APC, to the whole change movement in Nigeria, a gift to Alhaji Lai Mohammed and the entire leadership in Kwara, a gift to Asiwaju, to the entire national leadership of the party, a gift to the venerable patriarch from Daura himself.

For so long Kwarans have groan, and if ever there is that one window of opportunity for deliverance, it is here. And I can say with every fibre of my being – this miracle is a phenomenon called Is’haq Modibo Kawu.

Enough said.

Tikeh Suleiman Babakodeh, a public policy analyst and political economist wrote through [email protected]