Clock stops for consummate politician, banker and journalist
Born on November 20, 1934, Mallam Ciroma hails from Potiskum, Yobe State.
His death in an Abuja hospital, yesterday, at the age of 84, came at a time the north is in a renewed quest for inclusive leadership.
Before venturing into politics, Ciroma had worked as pioneer Managing Director of New Nigerian newspaper, from where he went to serve as Central Bank of Nigeria Governor from September 1975 to June 1977.
It was from there that the young Ciroma joined politics as a foundation member and briefly, Secretary, National Party of Nigeria (NPN), in the Second Republic.
In 1979, Ciroma contested the NPN presidential ticket, but emerged second runner up behind Alhaji Shehu Shagari and late Maitama Sule.
After the party’s victory, Ciroma was appointed minister in the Shagari administration, serving in different ministries-industry, agriculture and finance, where he played major roles in the implementation of the president’s agenda.
He was particularly known for Shagari’s policies on food production and working with international agencies to develop the Agricultural Development Project (ADP).
In September 1983, he was made the chairman of a presidential transition committee, which further demonstrated the trust the president reposed in his capabilities.
At the inception of the Fourth Republic, Ciroma was among the founding fathers of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
And after the party won the 1999 presidential election, President Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Ciroma the Finance Minister; a position he held till 2003, when he was made Chairman of Obasanjo’s 2003 re-election campaign.
But, after Obasanjo’s re-election in 2003, for reasons best known to Obasanjo, Ciroma was not re-appointed to the cabinet. From there, Mallam Ciroma began his political recess, until 2010, when then President Umaru Musa Yar Adua died in office.
Yar Adua’s successor, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, who completed Yar Adua’s first tenure, decided to contest the 2011 Presidency, a move the North perceived as against the PDP zoning principle.
Then, Ciroma, a renowned Northern apologist, was among the vanguard of oppositio to Jonathan’s further presidential ambition. He was so vocal in the clamour for zoning to be upheld, without minding whose ox was gored. And based on the passion he exhibited in the pursuit of a president of Northern extraction in 2011, former out-spoken Information Minister, Chief Edwin Clark, took Ciroma to the cleaners in his well-publicised open letter.
In the scathing no-holds-barred open letter published in some national dailies, the elderly Ijaw controversial leader fired from every cylinder, describing Ciroma as a ‘light-weight’ politician, who has never won any election in his entire life.
He pointedly accused Ciroma of stoking the embers of national discord and beating the drums of ethnic confrontation.
Similarly, an aging politician, from the north, joined issues with him in a well-publicised attack aimed at exposing certain hypocrisy Ciroma was trying to hide.
Senator Uba Ahmed said Mallam Ciroma had “all his life opposed consensus in the choice of presidential candidates”.
Ahmed, who was former Secretary-General of the defunct NPN, added: “Adamu Ciroma was opposed to the principle of consensus in 1978, when he was a presidential aspirant and we wanted Zik to come.
When we wanted to merge NPP with NPN and for Zik to be presidential candidate and for Shagari to be his running mate, did he concede? No, he didn’t.
We had fixed the convention for December 8 to 9, 1978, he was the one who stood up and said never.
“During the NRC, SDP days, he was again a presidential aspirant when we met the senators for a consensus candidate, he refused when he realised that he was not going to get it.
How now does he expect someone else to do what he himself refused to do?”
In a bid to scuttle Jonathan’s presidential ambition in 2011, Ciroma was made Chairman Northern Leaders Committee on Consensus Candidate.
The presidential aspirants from the North, including, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, Governor Bukola Saraki, then of Kwara State and former National Security Adviser (NSA), General Aliyu Gusau.
That was Ciroma’s last major outing in PDP politics. Speaking in Abuja at the end of the tedious assignment, Ciroma said the committee was pleased to announce it has concluded the assignment of arriving at a consensus candidate and that one out of the four aspirants, Atiku Abubakar, who submitted to the process, has emerged.
“We are glad and proud that we have finally arrived at this outcome after several weeks of hard work and wide consultations.
We are proud because of the unusual honour and extraordinary privilege given us by the four gentlemen who placed their political destinies in our hands.
We are humbled by the strength of their faith,” Ciroma said.
He further said the committee appreciated their humility and cooperation and have been reassured by all of them that they will work together to enable Atiku Abubakar, clinch their party’s ticket in the PDP Presidential primary.
Ciroma thanked all Nigerians, supporters and critics alike for their views over these past several weeks adding that while the committee note these views and respect each one of them, it insist that no individual, organization or society dreaming of success and greatness can achieve these dreams without respect for others and honouring agreements voluntarily entered into.
He noted that the agreements have been transformed into a binding document, a constitution, which governs the conduct of those who subscribed to it and called on all Nigerians, especially the delegates to reflect on this and take into account while casting their votes.
In his acceptance speech, Atiku said: “A short while ago, the Consensus Committee of the Northern Elders Political Forum announced me as the consensus candidate from amongst the four, who submitted themselves to this process to endorse a candidate to contest the forthcoming primary election of PDP.
This came after what were obviously wide-ranging and painstaking consultations across the length and breadth of this country.
“I am humbled by this endorsement, and I accept it wholeheartedly, with humility and sense of responsibility.
I commend the Consensus Committee for this endorsement and for their sacrifice, their patriotism, their commitment and their integrity. They have made an important contribution to the unity and stability of this country.”
In his own remark, Babangida said that the exercise to search for, find and approve a Consensus Candidate from among the Presidential Aspirants in the constitutional zone of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) must go down in the annals of this great nation as historic and uniquely interesting.
“Founded upon a principled commitment for the public good, justice, equity and fairness in the pursuit of good governance and party politics, the ‘Committee of Wise Men’ under the leadership of Alhaji Adamu Ciroma, must be appreciated for its patriotism and the advancement of the frontiers of democracy and of politics with conscience.
“In between the Adamu Ciroma committee on the one hand, and the aspirants on the other, there is a fundamental lesson, which the Nigerian people, over time, will appreciate much more than now.
Democracy can only be sustained and flourish under the principles of justice, rule of law, equity, and determination, particularly on the part of leadership to respect, adhere and advance the framework of upholding the constitution, not only of the country, but also of various institutions, such as the constitution of the Peoples’ Democratic Party.
You cannot breach the rules and regulations of the party and yet pretend to foster the rules and regulations of Nigeria.
Human conduct is a logical system and not merely of opportunism; more so under a regime of democracy and constitutional government.
“The outcome of the consensus exercise, which the Adamu Ciroma Committee selflessly imposed upon itself in the past two months, must be loudly applauded for the rigour of their search, conduct, and foresight.
“The Committee inaugurated a process to tackle a challenge the result of which will outlive the politically induced crisis which called the Committee into existence.
The outcome of the Consensus Exercise has truly humbled all the Presidential Aspirants. We once again, thank everyone of the membership of this committee.
We all know the gravity of what the Aspirants have done. We know that in doing what they have done, this great nation and all Nigerians shall manifestly be served.
They did not submit themselves to this exercise so as to fail, far from it.
The machinery of success, which they inaugurated previously has become further strengthened and deeply rooted.
It shall be well with the Consensus Outcome, and it shall manifestly be well for all Nigerians.
“The IBB Presidential Campaign Organisation commits itself to all the elements of the Consensus Agreement and understanding.
On behalf of His Excellency, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, GCFR, we wish to congratulate His Excellency, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON as the Consensus Candidate. God bless Nigeria,” Babangida said.
Despite all these political intrigues and alignments among the Northern leaders and presidential aspirants from the region, President Jonathan did not only defeat their consensus candidate, Atiku in the PDP primary, he won Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari in the election.
Ironically, while Ciroma was so desperate about a Northern president in 2011, one of his wives, Maryam Ciroma was occupying the position of PDP National Women Leader and was working for Jonathan’s re-election.
With Ciroma’s political sagacity and pedigree at the national level, his home state Yobe, has never been under the control of PDP since 1999 till date. He was like a prophet that was not honoured at home, despite his commitment to the cause of northern interest.