ABDULLAHI VS MUSTAPHA: Between “Integrity” and “Spendthrifty”

By Dr. Abdulfatai Dare Magobon

He went for one, came with two. It was for Ministerial confirmation he stood before the MPs, but he left the hallowed chamber with a name in addition. A kind of rebate that one gets after purchasing an item when the saleswoman is pleased with ones bargaining skill. David Mark, Senate President and Chairman, National Assembly, while announcing approval of Bolaji’s nomination simply said: “Omoluabi”, you may now take a bow and take your leave”. Thus began the reference to him as “Omoluabi” by the general public till date. But could it be for nothing that Mark, a non- speaker of the Yoruba language, so called him? Isnt he truly an Omoluabi? Of course he is. Yours truly can vividly recall a particular occasion when he was passionately expressing lamentation, almost to a point of tears, that the pupils and students in the public schools must be made to receive the best of academic instructions, else they become potential dangers to the children of the so-called afluents. And on daily basis, he walked his talk. If he was in Offa today to monitor pupils in school and teachers at work, he was in Baruten the following day for the same reason. It went on like that, all through the period he superintended the education ministry. This was apart from the series of other reforms that were aimed at repositioning education delivery, courtesy his intellectual ingenuity.

So, Nigerian cabinet minister he was. Highly impactful commissioner he was. Shrewd strategist to a Governor he was, and versatile journalist of international repute he continues to be, apart from being an author, whose texts are found useful and usable by the West African Examination Council ( a body which handles examination and certification for thousands of Senior Secondary Schools Students in seventeen African countries). What an eagle Bolaji is. Capable of flying high above his peers and so could see far into the future. What about the agility of the eagle that he possessed.

Like the eagle bird which is “fully feathered {often crested} head and strong feet equipped with great curved talons”, in him is great and big ideas. But his opponent in the legislative contest is large, or should i say, big, in size like the elephant. But aside that, anything more? None.
In retrospect, way back 1994, I wrote an article which was published in the Herald Newspaper, captioned: “Day the Eagles Rode on the Elephants”. The Super Eagles of Nigeria walloped the Elephants of Ivory Coast to win the 1994 African Cup of Nations then.
There, i drew on the metaphor of the size of the two creatures by which each team is called, and alluded to the fact that, though mighty in size the Elephants, the Eagles showed themselves as being more skillful in a game where the ne(s)t is the target. It is this same metaphorical Eagle/Elephant contest that is about to play out, as it concerns the PDP/APC candidate for the Kwara Central Senatorial contest, come February 2023.

Yes, the Elephant is big and large just as “money” (crudely made or not) makes a bigman in the sensibilities of the hapless and uninformed. For the impending contest, one party candidate is big in money and flaunting it, the other is big in ideas and spreading it. However, in the expressed wisdom of the fourth Khalif of Prophet Mohammed, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, knowledge is greater than money. According to him, Money diminishes by spending, Knowledge grows by extinguishing. Following this, it’s easily understood that we have before us in the central, a contest between integrity and Spendthrifty. Should we then go with the one that dangles the easily fleeting carrots or pitch tent with the one who parades a treasure that lasts, endures and can even multiply?

The elephant is big no doubt, but see how slowly it walks on ground. After the mighty animal falls to sleep, see the difficulty it undergoes to rise back from the ground. Refresh your memory of the centuries old tortoise/Elephant moonlight tale. Was it not for want of intelligence in the elephant that the wise tortoise was able to hold it in captivity, amidst: “A o merin joba, eweku- ewele” rhythm?
So, when money makes a man look like the giant Elephant, and integrity moulds another as the Eagle with wit and dexterity, shouldn’t we allow big ideas to vanquish big cash? Should true and effective representation become an item for purchase by an intellectual lilliput? Certainly not. Not when a community with over one hundred Professors in different fields of study are to be represented. Not when the community for representation is one that parades such an aray of Islamic scholars of international repute as the Ilorin Emirate. Not when a community which had once produced the second and third citizens of Nigeria (in the personalities of General Tunde Idiagbon and Dr. Bukola Saraki) is to be represented. Certainly not a community from which United Nations permanent Representative had once been produced for Nigeria.

Fact be said, the National Assembly is like an Olympic, where different countries go to compete for laurels. The one to compete for the Ilorin Emirate must be talented in the kind of skills to be on parade at the hallowed chamber. And the skills with which they play there are ‘ideas'(big ones for that matter), language ‘proficiency/eloquence’, ‘tact’, ‘exposure’ bravery, ‘connections’ swiftness in thoughts, and lots more. These are what it takes to facilitate and ganner infrastructural development and other resources to the constituent, atop law making. Certainly not money.

In fact, what is even at stake now for every Nigerian constituent demands throwing not just ‘anyhow’ Representative into the field. Today’s Nigerian situation is such that every constituent had had its own share of bashing from the present APC government. Not a single Nigerian community is spared of dehumanisation in the last eight years. As such, the forthcoming 10th Assembly is going for a reconstruction. What is at stake is a crucial, and a must win match. Any constituent, serious with what it wants from the fast approaching Olympic, must therefore go with its first eleven. A kind of squad as already assembled by the PDP in Kwara, perhaps under the captainship of Bolaji Abdullah.

Nonetheless, I love to ask, who on earth doesn’t like the Turaki? None I believe, except haters (and they are just inevitable). Handsome, cool headed, soft spoken the shy type, and a good dresser. Relatively rich and rave of the moment in Naira rain. These, no doubt, are fine attributes that endear. But they don’t add up, when legislative representation is the issue at stake. Or, they could even do, if complimented with requisite level of education, beyond the constitution-specified minimum. No one says the 4th Turaki of Ilorin should not make it to the Senate, since that is the level at which he so much desires to serve us. Its just the timing that is wrong. And this is where I will speak with love to the Turaki:
A university first degree is obtained within 4 academic sessions that span 36 months. So, within an approximation of 3 calendar years, Mallam Salihu is good to go, ahead of 2027.

Take example of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Rtd. General, former Head of State and former two- terms President who inspite of every other thing he’s known to have achieved in life, not excluding money, still enrolled with the National Open University to bag a degree. What about the Yoruba fuji musician, Alhaji Osupa Saheed, who dragged himself into the University and in no time, was out of it, brandishing his certificate. Mallam can likewise borrow a leave. As someone I hold close to my heart, I do not wish him to make negative history on two grounds as he seems bent at doing:
First, Mallam needn’t be the first Kwara Central Senator with least academic qualification in history.

Right from when Nigeria was still operating on regional system, the likes of late Alhaji Yahaya Ori-Okoh (madawaki), late Alhaji Mohammed Sanni Okin, late Alhaji Saadu Alanamu, all went to the Northern House of Assembly at different times, on very sound academic footings. One of them, Alhaji Alanamu, was even popularly called “Saadu Gbogbo-Iwe”, becsuse of the level of his erudition. And that has continued to be the trend from the second Republic till this very moment that Dr. Oloriegbe is representing us.

Secondly, Mallam Mustapha shouldnt be the least educated Turaki to make it to the National Assembly. It is understandable that he doesn’t want to be an exception among the wearers of the highly revered title of Turakin Ilori, because true to history, all the three (3) previous Turakis also made it to the National Assembly, beginning from late Alhaji Buraimoh Olarewaju Sanni Okin, late Dr. Olusola Saraki and the living and kicking Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki. But none of them did with just a diploma certificate.
Since the title is life long, more than enough years still lie ahead for our man, during which all inadequacies could be remediated.

Meanwhile, it is surprising that almost all those who had spoken or written on this subject of PDP-Bolaji Versus APC-Mustapha candidatures dwell mainly on only the issue of academic certificate, neglecting yet another crucial criteria of experience. Experience, so to speak, is more significant and relevant to performance, so much that employers of labour give more preference to it than even paper qualifications.
Before late Alhaji Sanni Okin went to the Northern Regional Assembly from 1961 to 1966, he had prior been court registrar, provincial supervisor of accounts, Ilorin Native Authority secretary, among others. Same with late Alhaji Saadu Alanamu who before his election into the same Assembly was head of administration for Ilorin province, head of forestry, accounts and education as well as chief recruitment officer. Needless to recount the wealth of experiences (private-cum public) of the other later times senators: Olusola Saraki, Olomoda, Isiaka Salman, Gbemisila Saraki, Bukola Saraki, and the incumbent, Yahaya Oloriegbe. And as for PDP’s Bolaji, his paraphrased resumè in the opening paragraphs of this piece speaks volume about his wealth of experience and expertise.

Popularly and rightly said to be unobtainable in the market but acquired over a long period of time, experience equips the possessor with broad-mindedness and the right sense of judgment. Experience, alongside requisite qualifications are what translate to ‘preparation’ by a man, for service or positions of authority. And when opportunity meets preparation, success is inevitable.
Mallam Salihu sure lacks such preparation, just as it is the absence of same that continues to drawback the present Kwara helmsman, thus justifying the long passed mediocrity verdict.
So, if the entire state continues to agonisingly endure one mediocrity, hoping it would soon end, must we in the Central prepare to take yet another, to be endured for yet another 4 years? Great disaster, that would be!! Hence the need for the Kwara Central populace to shun money-induced sentiment, avoid being myopic and ardently resolute to vote right, for the betterment of our tomorrow. The forthcoming 2023 elections is about us not them. If you find the money they offer irresistible, collect, but vote for integrity that Bolaji Abdullah and other PDP candidates represent.

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