Mallam Yakubu Aliyu, a student of Prof Ahmadu Jalingo as well as a versatile student of Nigerian politics in his own right has sent a ‘rejoinder’ to Intervention’s piece carried yesterday on Mallam Adamu Ciroma. His is a reaction to the sentence that ran as follows: He could have won the party’s presidential primaries, having been a top contender until he yielded grounds to Alhaji Shehu Shagari in what might have been a play out of the dynamics of Sokoto – Borno relationship”.
Mallam Aliyu, a former Bayero University, Kano academic and policy expert’s contestation of the above sentence makes it all the more interesting, especially when placed in the narrative of that process in the biography of the late Dan Masanin Kano, Alhaji Maitama Sule by Ayuba Abubakar. But, more than that, the rejoinder brings back the question of the role of the conflict between the Northern Oligarchy and the Kaduna Mafia, (the much talked about modernising elite in the Northern regional expression of the Nigerian ruling class) in the making/unmaking of contemporary Nigeria. This has been the subject of a long debate featuring as diverse as the late Dr Ibrahim Tahir, Gen TY Danjuma, Bala Usman, The defunct Ife Collective, Uba Ahmed, Abdul Raufu Mustapha, Rufai Ibrahim, Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, S. G. Ikoku, Mathew Hassan Kukah, Shehu Othman, Bala Takaya/Sonny Tyoden, Jonathan Zingwina, Tajudeen Abdulraheem, Jibrin Ibrahim, Sule Bello, M. M. Yusif, Alkassum Abba, Yakubu Aliyu and so many others between 1978 and 1985.
Each of the above named person participated by way of either a newspaper opinion, interview, an academic essay, a doctoral thesis or a book about which most politicians, activists, academics and critics in Nigeria are either not aware or not interested. Below is the short rejoinder in full:
Note that his contesting in 1979 for the presidential ticket of the defunct National Party of Nigeria, (NPN) was never defined by the dynamics of Sokoto–Borno relationship as plausible as it may sound. It was a contest between a modernising elite groomed under the technocracy of military rule stepped in Weberian rationality and vision of an efficient state (articulated by the Kongo Campus ABU Zaria intellectuals) in the process of the development of dependent capitalism on the one hand and the more traditional political elite still stuck to allegiance to the feudal order on the other hand.
Hence, while late Gen. Yar’adua, then Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters was leading the campaign and funding for Ciroma, alongside late Hamza Zayyad Rafindadi, the first qualified chartered Accountant in Northern Nigeria (along with Balarabe Musa and Aliko Mohammed Misau), then Chairman of New Nigeria Development Company, (NNDC), the entire traditional political establishment in the North with roots in the pre-independence and first republic politics was rooting for Shagari. Both the Sultan and Shehu of Borno along with emirs of Kano, Katsina, Bauchi, Adamawa, Nupe, Muri, etc were in cahoots on the Shagari candidacy.
That was how the December 1978 Convention of the NPN in Lagos played out, when this traditional political establishment led by the late Makaman Bida, then Chairman of NPN Board of Trustees, (BOT) put pressure on late Maitama Sule to withdraw from the race and team up with Shagari during the second or is it third round of the contest to defeat Mallam Adamu Ciroma.
So one would argue that it was partly an “ideological” contest within the establishment, which began to emerge during the Constituent Assembly in 1978. It was partly a contest of world views and values as how to manage the neo-colonial capitalist order. And it was partly generational, since you find people like Gen. Yar’Adua, whose father belonged to the Shagari camp, yet he, (the son) was secretly funding Ciroma.
The late Tajudeen Abdulraheem discussed these intra-class contestations and how they bear on the coup of 1983/84 extensively in his D.Phil thesis at Oxford: ‘Politics in Nigeria’s Second Republic’, 1990.