On 06/09/2017, Premium Times online reported that, in an interview that Hajiya Aisha Alhassan, the current Minister of Women Affairs under the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari, granted to BBC Hausa she said that if Atiku Abubakar decides to contest for the 2019 presidential election, she will support him because he is her political godfather.
Let me quote what Premium Times reported about her:
“The Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan, has restated her position that she will support a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, for the 2019 presidential election.
“Mrs. Alhassan, in an interview with BBC Hausa, added that even if President Muhammadu Buhari decides to contest in 2019, she would still support Mr. Abubakar.
‘Atiku is my godfather even before I joined politics,” she said in Hausa. “And again, Baba Buhari did not tell us that he is going to run in 2019.’
“’Let me tell you today that if Baba said he is going to contest in 2019, I swear to Allah, I will go before him and kneel and tell him that ‘Baba I am grateful for the opportunity you gave me to serve your government as a minister but Baba just like you know I will support only Atiku because he is my godfather. If Atiku said he is going to contest.’”
As usual, her stance has attracted a lot of arguments and debates from Nigerians for and against. Giving their sundry reasons, some condemned her, while others commended her.
Beyond these comdemnations and commendations, I think the stance taken by Aisha Alhassan has raised a lot of issues about the political practice in Nigeria.
Politics in Nigeria is more about hypocrisy, deceit and lies. I always tell my friends that the genesis of “419” in Nigeria is politics. Honesty and sincerity have no place in Nigerian politics. Sincere people like Aisha Alhassan are few.
Let us be frank. How many Ministers and other political appointees in President Buhari’s cabinet and government can come out and sincerely tell the whole world where their real allegiance, loyalty and support lie in 2019? Even the elected ones cannot dare do that.
Some of them will not go with President Buhari if he decides to contest again in 2019, but the hypocrisy in them will not allow them to say it out the way Aisha Alhassan did. They dine and wine with him, but hold secret meetings in the dark to plot how to stab him in the back.
Aisha Alhassan is currently a servicing Minister. I do not see how her preference for Atiku Abubakar in 2019 will affect the discharge of her official duties. I also do not see how she will be officially disloyal or disrespectful to her Boss, President Buhari.
There is the need to draw a line between political loyalty and official loyalty. They are two different ball games. One can be politically loyal to a person, while officially loyal to another. This is common place in politics.
I will give two instances here. Firstly, if the President or Governor asks you to bring a candidate for appointment and you nominate your mentee, it will not be out of place for him to be politically loyal to you and officially loyal to the President or Governor at the same time.
Secondly, where an all inclusive government is being run with other political parties given slots for appointments, their political loyalty will certainly be with their political parties, while still being officially loyal to their Boss.
Aisha Alhassan has shown to all and sundry that despite the fact that she is a Minister in the cabinet of President Buhari, she is also entitled to her freedom of political thought, conscience, choice and affiliation which should also be respected.
Aisha Alhassan has exhibited courage and boldness which are rare in the Nigerian political space. She dares where men fear. She has proven that she is open and honest. Against some takes, she has also proven that she is trustworthy.
My only worry with the stance of Aisha Alhassan is that she has glorified the monstrous and ignoble edifice of political godfatherism in Nigerian politics.
I would have loved to hear her say that her support for Atiku Abubakar was based on his track records of achievements to Nigeria and humanity; or on his ability and competence to be that Nigerian leader we have always craved for.
Stereotyping her preference for Atiku Abubakar to godfatherism only takes the shine off her motive. She is blinded by selfish and parochial considerations in her preference for him. We are all witnesses to the ills and evil of godfatherism in Nigerian politics.
Be that as it may, the choice to either condemn or commend Aisha Alhassan is yours. And, you are entitled to it.