Perhaps, President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura, did not know he was stirring the hornet nest when he decided to comment on one of the most heated topics in the nation’s polity. Recently, the renowned industrialist shared his views on rotational presidency, which he said was no longer useful.
In an interview he granted the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Hausa Service, Daura said, “This turn by turn, it was done once, it was done twice it was done thrice. It is better for this country to be one. It should be for the most competent and not for someone who comes from somewhere.”
No sooner the interview was aired than the elder statesman came under brutal attacks from various socio-political groups and individuals both in the traditional and social media. Some Nigerians across the country condemned his postulations with incisive vituperations, alleging that his statement was pinpointing the plot by the north to cling to the presidency farther than 2023.
Apart from the die-hard critics who are wont to habitually pick holes in everything associated with President Buhari and his government, there are others who may be opposing Daura’s stance from an infantile point of view. We all know that when children misconstrue metaphors, idioms, and proverbs, they often do so in terms of literal interpretations of their constituent words.
But coming to know Daura over the years and what he stands for, he does not pass for a man whose views on rotational presidency would border on people’s negative perceptions. He is more concerned with competence and merit instead of rotating the presidency. But his statement set the country’s political space on overdrive, with groups such as Afenifere saying it was Buhari giving a hint through his closest associate.
Sensing the mischievous elucidations skewed into the innocent and modest opinion of a citizen with his freedom of expression, the presidency came out to clear the air on the matter. It said the views expressed by Daura were personal to him and did not, in any way, reflect that of either the president or his administration as claimed by many.
Meeting Daura for the first time in Kaduna in 1983, it didn’t take me much to confirm that he was a different person from what many would think about him. That hot sunny Saturday afternoon, we arrived in Kaduna for our annual December holiday with his sister in-law, my mother. It was during that festive period that we visited his wife Gwaggo Ummu who happens to be my mother’s first cousin.
I saw the president’s nephew sitting on a sofa reading newspaper. I still recall how he paused at intervals and sipped his tea like a Tuareg. As a young boy then, he appeared to me as a conservative, introvert and intellectual who minds his business. Since that first encounter, it became obligatory for me, at the prompting of my mother, to go to his house and greet his wife, Gwaggo Ummu, whenever I go to Kaduna.
Before my next encounter with him as an adult aboard the British Airways flight to London, I was already part of the group of Nigerians who read and believed anything shared on social media platforms. This stereotype had become conventional by the time his uncle, President Buhari assumed in 2015.
It became so easy for an average man in Sokoto, PortHarcourt, Maiduguri or Makurdi to blame Daura at the slightest mosquito bite or anything bad under the sun. Many of us caved in to this stereotype despite our maturity, level of education and exposure. It was appalling how I remained glued to this group despite my level of education and exposure. For someone who lived in London for five years and has visited almost all the major countries across the continents it was foolhardy to enslave your conscience to the cock and bull stories on social media.
My encounter with Daura aboard the British Airways flight enroute London reincarnated my first meeting with him 37 years ago. As usual, he was gently seated with his bunch of newspapers. On sighting him, I reluctantly greeted him after my auntie had compelled me to. I greeted him involuntarily because of the social media (mis)information at my disposal.
But my subsequent encounter with Daura a couple of years ago after General Buhari had become president changed the negative perception I had about him. A close friend of mine had an important issue to discuss with him and he sought my intervention. Without hesitating, I made contact to book an appointment with him to discuss the issue. I told my friend that from the information I read on social media about him, it may take up to a month or more to secure the appointment but to my greatest surprise, I was asked to come at 5pm to see Daura the same day I booked the appointment. This, to me, was indeed incredible.
I was enveloped in trepidation apparently out of the uncertainty of the kind of man I was going to meet. Immediately I was ushered in, I was dazed by another shocker. Despite the over 30-year age difference and his accomplishments in life, Daura still stood up to me and said, “Ranka ya dade, Magaji.” I was dumbfounded, particularly as my mind raced back to that Kaduna encounter when I first saw him. To say that I was both awestruck and humbled by his humility is to say the least in the mildest way.
Then we turned to the issue that brought me to him. We had a honest and free discussion and he suggested to us ways to go about addressing the matter frankly. As he saw me off to the car, the impression I had about Malam Mamman Daura from the views of self-appointed social media anarchists took a 360 degree turn. And since then we have continued to interact at my request.
The point here is that contrary to what pestle-wielding critics would want Nigerians to think, Daura is one Nigerian who has been unfairly misconstrued. A God-fearing man who prays five times a day in a congregation, he has kept his obligation to the Almighty Allah as a patriotic Northerner and a Nigerian. Those of us who know him have continued to pray to the Almighty God to become like him. I hope gullible and ill-informed Nigerians may have the opportunity of meeting him to know the real Mamman Daura.
His interview with the BBC Hausa Service in which he voiced his opinion on 2023 and rotational presidency was a modest rendition of a man who is always burning in an unquenchable desire to contribute to national development. Daura only shared his personal views which he is duly entitled to as not just a Nigerian but also an elder statesman of high repute.
It will do our democracy good if Nigerians recognize the fact that every citizen is entitled to his opinion on whatever issue that is affecting the country. It is only democratic and moral for those who don’t share Malam Mamman Daura’s opinion to come up with theirs without maligning or vilifying him.
From past historical records, there is no doubt that those opposed to Daura because they don’t know him will certainly apologize to him for writing and spreading falsehood against him. He is indeed a gentleman and a patriot who is wrongfully vilified by armchair critics and maligned by gullible Nigerians. But history will always vindicate the just.
– Danbaba is the Magajin Garin Sokoto