By HASSAN MISAU
In the first and second Republic era, the Bauchi region and state played a larger than life role in the nation’s political reckoning with redoubts like Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigerians first and only Prime Minister taking the centre stage of the political firmament while enthralling the nation and indeed the global arena with his sonorous and eloquent exhortations that lifted the mood of the people propelling them to higher levels of socio-economic achievement to the extent that he was widely referred to as the Golden Voice of Africa. Indeed the nation’s pioneer premier was highly respected as a leader of proven integrity, compassion and impeccable patriotic credentials who related to his countrymen on an equitable and transparent basis without regard to ethnic, religious, linguistic, sectional or partisan considerations.
In the Second Republican dispensation, Bauchi State continued to play its outsize role once again with political heavy weights like Dr Ibrahim Tahir, then Minister of Internal Affairs; Alhaji Suleiman Takuma, NPN’s national secretary, Alhaji Uba Ahmed, a prominent chieftain of the NPN as well as other political behemoths who tended to dominate national discourse and deliberation like an overarching collosus that could only be underestimated or wished away at one’s utmost disadvantage.
Indeed their political sagacity and leadership vigour and patriotic fervour was never in doubt despite the intense partisan rivalry and jockeying for position and leverage that characterized the 1979-1983 period before the military ousted the political class for decades to come. However in the 4th Republican dispensation that unfolded in 1999, Bauchi state rebounded once again in the nation’s political limelight with men of timbre and caliber like Rt Hon Yakubu Dogara, Speaker of the Federal House of Representatives, Hon Aliyu Gebi, erstwhile House of Representatives Member and presently S.S.A to the Honourable Minister of Interior, Ambassador Maitama Tuggar, late Senator Abubakar Abubakar, former Chairman Senate Committee on Appropriations, Alhayi Adamu Muazu, former governor and PDP national chairman, Mallam Isa Yuguda, former governor and minister of aviation, Senator Bala Mohammed, immediate past minister of the federal capital territory, Hon Ahmed Zailani, former member of the house of Representatives amongst other eminent top notchers.
While the aforementioned personalities have at one time or the other played decisive roles in moving Bauchi State and indeed the nation forward in the political and socio-economic arena, it must be emphasized that a select few of them have managed to remain consistent, tenacious and resilient in the pursuit of a progressive, people-oriented, anti-feudal and a result-oriented populist agenda that has the primary objective of liberating the Bauchi and indeed Nigerian masses from decades of state-sanctioned oppression, marginalization, pauperization and dehumanization on a scale rather unprecedented in the annals of global reckoning.
Indeed the undisputed paragon of this exhilarating and enthralling brand of progressive liberalism and democratic activism is no other eminent personality than Hon Aliyu Ibrahim Gebi, the enfant terrible of Nigerian politics and unassailable leader of the avant garde socio-political movement that has managed to shake off decades of political tyranny, absolutism, autarky and paternalism in favour of enlightenment, equity, egalitarianism and total empowerment of the of the long disenfranchised and disinherited holloi polloi. Without doubt, Hon Aliyu Gebi has emerged as the most courageous, the most resolute and the most rock-ribbed political supremo of all time both in Bauchi State and the nation at large who can take on the mighty and all pervading conservative political establishment and emerge unscathed, undeterred and unbowed. He unwavering battled the Babagida/Abacha/Abubakar military juntas to a standstill in his unequivocal and unconditional clamour for a return to democratic civilian rule and when it was heralded also stood eagle – eyed at the ramparts ready to take on any would be despot garbed in civilian robes attempting to trample upon the citizens, hard won freedoms. It took not too long for a principled Hon Aliyu Gebi to take the newly installed President Olusegun Obasanjo administration to the cleaners when the latter sought to undermine the independence of the National Assembly by willfully influencing the deposition of Senate Presidents and House Speakers that were opposed to his policies and programs.
Hon Aliyu Gebi was strident and uncompromising in his opposition to the Obasanjo regime’s anti-democratic stratagems warning that ‘any attempt to institutionalize a “garrison style democracy” would be resisted by the Nigerian people and we the people’s tribunes using all legal, legitimate and constitutional means at our disposal’. When the then Chief of Army staff restated the armed forces loyalty to the President Obasanjo administration in the face of nationwide protests against the regimes policies, Hon Aliyu Gebi was quick to remind the army chief that loyalty to the federal government did not only apply to the Executive Arm alone but also to the Legislature (National Assembly) and the Judiciary as they were also legitimate arms of the Federal Government.
At the height of the Boko Haram insurgency in 2013when the nation was buffeted by a series of bombings, suicide attacks, sackings of whole local governments and merciless siege of towns and cities including the FCT, Hon Aliyu Gebi courageously called on President Goodluck Jonathan to sack his entire service chiefs as they had shown unparalleled incompetence, willful neglect and lack of direction and focus in the battle against the insurgents. At that time few political leaders possessed the required honesty, integrity and sagacity to confront the President of the Federal Republic on such a sensitive and highly contentious security issue. But in taking on the most powerful office in the land, Hon Aliyu Gebi was not unaware of enormous political pitfalls and booby traps that lay before him, only that it was not in his character to keep silent or remain docile for the sake of self preservation or self actualization.
As far as the undisputed People’s Tribune and unchallengeable Paragon of Bauchi State Politics was concerned the hottest place in hell should be reserved for those who keep silent when occurrences of grave national tragedy or consequences unfold. For Hon Aliyu Gebi, his mantra will always remain unchangeable and immutable: ‘Speak The Truth Even If The Heavens Fall’. No More No Less
– Misau, a historian and political analyst sent in this piece from Bauchi State