By: Inuwa Bwala
Trends in Nigerian politics show that disagreement between people who seek to control a particular political space is not an anathema. Examples abound of bitter quarrels amongst hitherto close political allies, at the end of which people often part ways. We have cases also where gladiators in political quarrels found ways around their disagreements and reconciled.
It is also a truism that, very often, such quarrels do not occur from personal dispositions of leaders towards each other, rather from allies who create friction between leaders by selling to them ideas that may tend to divide them. Little gossips grow into issues and eventually snowball into disagreements which often lead to major crisis.
While the principals may not have issues over which they quarrel, political foot soldiers in most situations push for the escalation of even mundane issues and impress it upon their principals to find ways of severing hitherto cordial relationships. How the gladiators handle the situation speak volumes about their political dexterity or Lack of it.
I recall my personal experience in a political quarrel between two prominent leaders in which I was caught in the crossfire, having been identified as a foot soldier to one of them. While in truth, I was trying to mitigate the issues and see to it that the fight did not escalate, some others were busy pushing for the crisis to get deeper, ostensibly for their own personal gains. The political system suffered, and those of us who were the eventually casualties know that promoting crisis between leaders for whatever gain is never a noble idea.
When I noticed recently that two of our leaders were heading towards political divisions over nothing in particular, but which could have been catastrophic to the politics of Southern Borno and possibly the state as a whole, I was quick to reach out to some people seeking for their intervention.
Thankfully, some people tried to nip the crisis in the bud, but not before open altercations and hidden insinuations rented the air, giving the impression of an impending political parting of ways between His Excellency, Umar Usman Kadafur and his longtime political soulmate, Honorable Betara Aliyu of the House of Representatives. Many people were of the impression that, it is a matter of time before the fight becomes open, in which one or both of the gladiators may face their political eclipse.
Those of us who hoped that, the union between the two could be the pathway to freeing the emirate and largely southern Borno from the perceived political estrangement were worried. And while we run from pillar to pole trying to find out what could be the problem and what might be the way out, some others were busy fanning the embers of political crisis, by manufacturing stories that were either outright falsehood or half-truths.
Interestingly, as my findings later revealed, neither Kadafur nor Betara ever spoke evil of each other, rather, foot soldiers and fifth columnists, manufactured issues and took to the streets with such issues, as if they were coming from the duo. I am aware that both supported each other during all their political outings, and never had their interests clashed. Save for those who know the antics, being employed to pitch the two together, one may wonder where the fuss was coming from.
In my interactions with both, none of them confirmed to me that there were serious issues to warrant the seeming animosity being demonstrated by followers. Our Governor, Professor Babagana Umara Zulum seemed to have spoken my mind, when at a function in Biu town, he outlawed all forms of political thuggery and street display in support of any politician or politicians. The Governor seemed to have been adequately briefed to the effect that, the near show of shame, in which the Deputy Governor and his closest ally, Betara Aliyu were portrayed as being on collision course.
Umar Kadafur, the Deputy Governor, whom I have been somehow close to, always spoke about Betara Aliyu in reverence. Very often they speak on the phone in my presence and exchange banters. As gentlemen, that they are, I know as a matter of fact that, none of them could have plotted to embarrass the other for whatever political expedience.
To me, while it may be true that Kadafur and Betara have not been sighted in very close contact at public functions for long, that may not be unconnected with their schedules which keep them very busy in their stations. Those who attribute other meanings to it, and use same as a façade to shield their retinue of deceptions, must have known by now that Kadafur and Betara are still the best of political allies. They should therefore hide their faces in shame, now that they have seen the two in recent times in hot embrace, even in the face of the COVID 19 protocols.
Kadafur not only organized the convoy that brought Betara into Maiduguri for the condolence visit to the family of late elder statesman, M D Lawan, but personally received him and went with him to all the places they needed to visit. That outing was enough indicator to those who beat the drums of war that, the duo is not prepared to dance to their music.
I know that, characteristic of political fifth columnists, those who wished there were a war will not go to sleep, but it is also apparent that the fight they envisaged may never come to pass. My take on it is that, we are better off with Kadafur and Betara working together, than we hope to ever be should they quarrel, Those whose pastime it is to cause frictions should better look for another vocation.