That dutiful Amina Mohammed recently exited the cabinet of President Mohammed Buhari as Minister of Environment for a higher calling to serve humanity at the United Nations is a positive development. One, it has put Nigeria further on a global stage of international politics and diplomacy.
Second, it has demonstrated again that good human resources abound in northern Nigeria, especially in our home state, Gombe, where myriads of wrong impressions have been created about the girl child and her likely educational attainments.
Since 1999, Mohammed had contributed her expertise in various offices within and outside the presidency before occupying her current position as the Deputy Secretary-General at the United Nations. Unarguably today, she is one the few most powerful women in world affairs and global strategies.
However, underneath the euphoria that greeted Mohammed’s advancement few days ago lays the political challenges that such has thrown up at home in Nigeria. Of particular concern is the tension that is brewing in Gombe, the former minister’s state of origin, over who steps to her big shoes. As expected, politicians and various interests are already scrambling to take a shot at grabbing this vacuum in the federal cabinet.
Deft political moves and desperate attempts are being witnessed by those who have always believed the state an extension of their fiefdom, or a kind of their birthright.
Though by provisions of the 1999 Constitution (Section 147), a state is entitled to produce a minister who automatically becomes a member of the federal cabinet, but there is a growing concern about how such could eventually emerge in Gombe.
It is of note that since her creation in 1996, Gombe has not been lucky with political leadership, most especially when it comes to ministerial slots. In the days of PDP at the helms of our national affairs, men and women have been summarily penciled down to become ministers.
This is on the ground that such individuals were ready to do the bidding of whoever nominated them, especially the state governors. Frankly, one of the setbacks that All Progressives Congress (APC) as a ruling party has faced in Gombe is this same scenario of wrongful emergence of individuals occupying political offices at the national level.
Before and after the 2015 election, so far the three federal appointments coming from Gombe could not be said to have met the political exigencies of the state; that of Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim, the new Director-General of National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and that of Ibrahim Dasuki Jalo-Waziri as the National Youth Leader of the party.
In the same spirit, do I need to refresh our memory concerning the controversies that almost marred the nomination of Mohammed in September 2015, coming from our brothers and sisters in Gombe? It is strongly believed that despite her competence and academic qualifications, and that such a sensitive appointment going to Gombe must be given to a consummate politician whose name rings a bell at the grassroots.
The viewpoint of these pundits is often favourably disposed towards someone who had led the party at a time of serious political assignments or contests at the state level. The logic in this narrative following Mohammed’s exit is that Gombe is currently under PDP and as such, appointment of a politician as a minister will likely counter-balance the activities of the state government.
Equally, there is another standpoint that Gombe needs a ‘political’ minister who will serve as a rallying point for APC members in the state. The refusal to do this has no doubt left the Gombe APC in obvious disarray, with internal contentions.
The just-concluded political charade tagged local government election by the PDP-controlled state government is an example in this unfortunate direction. Meanwhile, the mistakes of the past can still be corrected and Gombe APC be returned to the path of mutual benefits, pride and hope for party followers and leaders alike. Only if all hands must be on deck to ensure that Abuja hawks who had often cornered everything meant for Gombe do not succeed this time around. It is a call on Mr. President and every individual who means well for our dear state to take a look among the state APC leaders and human materials within its fold, put a round peg in a round hole and forge a united front for the party in Gombe.
This ministerial slot is another opportunity to sheathe our swords and let the people have both their say and their way. Any attempt to do otherwise may spell another political doom; like we have seen in Kogi, Delta and Akwa Ibom. We need to take over Gombe in 2019, and the journey begins now.
•Mohammed writes from Nafada, Gombe State.