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Presidential Politics: Naja’atu reminds of Akunyili, Jummai Alhassan

By Leo Sobechi, Deputy Politics Editor, Abuja
04 February 2023   |   4:04 am
When it broke, her words had the flavour of kiss-an-tell. But, shortly after, she pulled off the gloves, removing all traits of small talks that trail sudden and bitter rupture in a romantic episode.
Hajiya Najaatu Mohammed


When it broke, her words had the flavour of kiss-an-tell. But, shortly after, she pulled off the gloves, removing all traits of small talks that trail sudden and bitter rupture in a romantic episode.
Hajiya Najaatu Mohammed’s decision to quit her appointment as the Director of Civil Societies in the All Progressives Congress’ (APC) Presidential Campaign Council came as a thunderbolt: It was unexpected as it was thunderous.
“Let me tell you what really happened. In the first place, I did not support Tinubu as a presidential aspirant. My support was for Professor Yemi Osinbajo from day one.

“In fact, I had sent emissaries to Osinbajo to come out and contest. He is relatively young, well educated, proactive and brilliant. We noticed that each time Buhari leaves the country; we regain some semblance of sanity, including the value of the Naira.”
“When Tinubu emerged, he emerged in the most corrupt way. I knew how delegates were given money to go and vote, but it was not just to go and vote; the name Asiwaju was written on each ballot paper. They were only paid to go and drop it in the box. For that reason alone, I had no interest in that primary election.
“Yes, I was in the APC, but I couldn’t even liberate myself at that point in time. I waited, but I never attended any of the meetings, and I was not interested in anything.”
“He claims he made Lagos what it is today. He claimed that Lagos and the entire South West revolve around him. How else should I qualify him, if not as an emperor?

“Who gives him that right? How did he manage to get that right? Over 20 years after he left the governorship, why? Why was Akinwunmi Ambode removed? Ambode was doing a great job. He was removed because of the emperor.” That was the 66 year-old daughter of a Kano politician, who was a member of the Northern Elements Progressives Union (NEPU).
To cap up her romance with radical politics, Naja’atu did not only attend the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, she was also married to the irrepressible and firebrand, Bala Mohammed.
And, after turning her back on the APC Presidential Campaign Council, she released a statement, in which she underscored the crucial nature of this year’s general elections. She had stated: “We all recognise that Nigeria is facing many challenges, including insecurity, poverty, inequality, and lack of access to basic services.”
She expressed her commitment to supporting individuals truly interested in addressing the root causes of Nigeria’s challenges, stressing, “Quitting party politics at this point in time is one of such steps.”
Hajiya Naj’atu Mohammed was not walking alone on the path of political activism. She had other amazons cheering her up. Prof. Dora Akunyili and Hon. Aisha Jummai Alhassan, must have pointed the way for her to take Nigerians by the shirt collar and warn them of the seriousness of the impending Presidential election.
The activist bent of these women help to redefine national politics at critical junctures. Akunyili helped to shape the post Yar’Adua election. Mama Taraba fired a short against Buhari’s second term run. Now Naja’atu has shaken the table in the run up to post-Buhari presidential poll. 
One question from The Guardian, which Hajiya Naja’atu is yet to answer, is whether she spoke out of pain or plain and unadulterated patriotism. But, Nigerians could recall how late Prof. Dora Akunyili and Aisha Jummai Alhassan towered in truth-telling more than any male politician in Nigeria could be credited with.
These women do not honour the duplicity and ambivalence that has become the imprimatur of Nigerian politicians, otherwise called political correctness. For instance, in 2010, when the health condition of then President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua elicited a prolonged absence, leading to the whereabouts of the president being shrouded in secrecy, Dora mounted the rostrum of patriotism and vigilant citizenship.
In February 2010, Nigerians woke up to reports on how Prof. Akunyili, the then Information Minister pushed through a memorandum to the Federal Executive Council, urging that President Yar’Adua should transfer presidential authorities to his deputy, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan as he then was.
Although some Ministers raised their voices to shoot down the memo, Prof. Akunyili had succeeded in bringing national consciousness to the impending chaos and constitutional quagmire that Yar’Adua’s prolonged absence poses for the national stability and progress.
Yar’Adua’s failure to transmit a letter to the National Assembly before being admitted into a Saudi Arabian Hospital in November 2009, left a vacuum in the Presidency, even as concerns mounted over who would assent to the 2010 Appropriation Bill into law.
Similarly, in the build up to the 2019 presidential poll, the then Minister for Women Affairs, Hajiya Aisha Alhassan (Mama Taraba) told a reporter with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) how she would plead with President Muhammadu Buhari not to seek a second term in office based on his health challenges.
Seven years after Prof. Akunyili told the world that she was fed up with the lies from Yar’Adua’s aides, it was the turn of Hon. Alhassan to speak her mind. Precisely, on September 6, 2017, Mama Taraba, in response to speculations that President Buhari would seek a second term mandate, said the President opted to serve just for one term in office.

How she delivered her truth as well as the medium (BBC) made her points to resonate not only in Nigeria, but across the globe, especially given President Buhari’s on and off travels for medical tourism.
Aisha Alhassan had told the reporter: “In 2015, prior to the election, when Buhari decided to contest following intense pressure, he declared that he was going to serve one tenure, that is four years. And to date, no one can claim Buhari has expressed any desire to stand for re-election in 2019.
“If today, Buhari decides to go for re-election, wallahi, I will go and kneel before him and tell him, ‘Father, I’m grateful for the opportunity you have given me to serve in your cabinet, but you know Atiku is my mentor, staying around you will portray me as a hypocrite and I’m not one’, that is if Atiku declares his interest to contest.”
Only a woman fired by her convictions could make such public declaration, not minding the ominous implications such contrition posed to her appointive position as Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social Development in Buhari cabinet.  
It is not for nothing that women politicians have been calling for inclusion in decision making in Nigeria. Female politicians have shown that they much to offer to redefine leadership in the country.
Not long ago, the Presidential standard bearer of Labour Party (LP) announced in a Town Hall meeting in Yola, that women in politics are relatively more hardworking and honest than their male counterparts.
That disclosure could also have influenced the decision by the alternate presidential candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief (Dr) Chekwas Okorie, to choose Borno State-born female politician, Hajiya Hadiza Mohammed, as his running mate.

Speaking during her unveiling as APGA Vice Presidential running mate, Okorie declared: “I do not intend to repeat what has been eloquently stated about our highly respected Vice Presidential Candidate. But, permit me to reiterate that Hajia Hadiza Mohammed is an accomplished personality with sound education and varied academic exposure.
“She is an employer of labour, who has established striving enterprises in Nigeria and abroad. She is a virtuous woman and a mother of very successful and upwardly mobile children. Her nuclear family is very exemplary in all considerations.
“She stands out amongst both men and women as one who can communicate fluently in seven Nigerian and foreign languages, including Igbo, Hausa, Yoruba and Kanuri. A polyglot extraordinaire.
“I am confident that as l march side by side with Hajia Hadiza Mohammed to campaign across Nigeria our strong and progressive message, which will be launched in the days ahead along with the public presentation of our Manifesto tagged, REVOLUTIONARY AGENDA, shall resonate…”
Being the first female Vice Presidential hopeful, Hajiya Hadiza Mohammed comes out at a time when Hajiya Naja’atu has fired multiple shots to demonstrate the readiness of Nigerian women to pull their wrappers and fight for a better nation.
However, concerns have been raised that such brutal frankness and no holds-bared tantrums displayed by the former Director of Civil Society Groups in APC PCC, could explain why few women get the tickets of major political parties to run for election.

The experience of former Education Minister, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, in the hands of political actors during the 2019 poll comes as a case in point, showing that the inability of frank women to play as a team could be a function of their activist bent.
In 2007, for instance, Naja-atu contested unsuccessfully for the Kano Central Senatorial election on the platform of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). However, in her university days, she was elected as the first female Vice President of National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS).
Apart from electoral success, concerns about possible personal harm also surround such female activist politicians. For instance, when Naja-atu disclosed that a plot was afoot by the Northern oligarchy to replace Tinubu with his running mate, Senator Kashim Shettima after a brief stint in the Presidency, many people flinched.
She did not stop there. Naja-atu went further to declare: “Let me tell you what our prophet said, when they said Muslim-Muslim ticket, hhhm, because Islam is explicit on the question of leadership. It says a chosen atheist is better than an unjust Muslim.
“The first law chosen by God is the law in which Allah himself put on himself. The first law was that if he had denied himself the right to oppress, that is the law and then he went on to say that he had denied injustice within my creation.”
As the Kano woman caused the stir and ruffled the governing APC candidate, she received equal verbal slammer. First, the Adisor Public Affairs in the Tinubu Media Office, Mahmud Jega, disclosed that Naja-atu “was sacked due to incompetence and for leaking vital information.”
In a statement, Jega had pointed out that Naja-atu Mohammed’s resignation was hasty and pre-emptive, remarking that the campaign council had discovered that as a political jobber, she was leaking sensitive information to opposition political parties.
“Ms Mohammed had succeeded in deceiving the gullible public by claiming that she resigned, when her sack letter had arrived at her desk. Her desperate, fact-free, machination-filled and imaginary utterances since her sack from the PCC had proved beyond doubt that she was unfit to serve in the first place, until it was discovered that she was actually a mole.”

Doubling down on Jega’s repartee, spokesman of the Tinubu Presidential Campaign, Prince Kassim Afegbua, said by alleging dementia to the APC presidential contender, Hajiya Naja-atu should seek urgent medical examination.
Drawing a contrast among female politicians in Nigeria, Afegbua threw up the imagery of the flower. He stated: “Compare Najaatu with Hannatu Musawa, you will see the beauty of roses in Hannatu and petals of thorns in Najaatu.
“Hanatu Musawa is not only cerebral, urbane, suave and knowledgeable, she combines her beauty with the grit of a cosmopolitan lady whose exposure is obvious. That is how to be a Lady of intellect, not the Najaatu’s way of barking for relevance.”
But, whether thorns or roses, Nigerian women have shown capacity to hit and be hit in the murky waters of Nigeria politics. With female politicians, two can play.