The Nurudeen factor in Kwara politics

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I HAVE been in Ilorin over the past two weeks, including even the days I spent in Lagos and Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, to attend a funeral ceremony, as I reported, last week. The most important political issue in Kwara state today, is Bukola Saraki’s ambition to become the next Senate President. Every stop is being pulled to ensure success; powerful emissaries are clocking miles across the length and breadth of Nigeria, in the most intense lobbying effort that this community has ever deployed, for the ambition of a single individual!

The story on people’s lips here is that many of our local Malams have even been flown to Saudi Arabia to pray for Bukola’s success.Malams who stayed at home are allegedly being corralled to organise regular prayers for success in local mosques, just as Bukola Saraki’s sidekicks and hangers-on of all hues, are already salivating; they are all looking forward to their ‘leader’ securing the much-coveted position, with hope that they will also get opportunities in the honeypot of Abuja.

The only fitting tale within Kwara’s political firmament must be whatever enhances Bukola Saraki’s chances for senate presidency. But today’s piece is only tangentially related to the race for senate presidency.

Enter Nurudeen Muhammed

All politics is local. And while the high wire politics of senate presidency consumes the space, there are subterranean movements in the political subsoil, which interest me as a Political Scientist and journalist. One such issue is the place of individual actors in the jigsaw of politics. And in the setting of contemporary Kwara, no individual fascinates me like Nurudeen Muhammed, TafidanKaiama, and a former Commissioner for Finance in the state.

I must make full disclosure here. Nurudeen Muhammed is my very close friend, and I have known him for close to forty years and followed the trajectory of his politics since the Second Republic, 1979-1983. He was one of the younger members of the ruling National Party of Nigeria, who was a very close aide of former politician, now Emir of Borgu, Alhaji Haliru Dantoro. Nurudeen Muhammed is a very intelligent man, with a broad vision of the workings of government and of society.

As far back as 2002, he organised a retreat on the problems of politics and governance in Kwara, which I attended as GM of KWTV. This was before those strutting the terrain of power today, ever entered Kwara state.

For a long time, he was part of the conscientious opposition that rejected the suffocating Saraki political hegemony in Kwara.

At a time when it was not popular to be associated with General Muhammadu Buhari, Nurudeen Muhammed stood firmly and loyally with GMB. In the lead to the 2011 elections, the Fulani people of Banni community in Kaima LGA requested a visit by GMB.

Nature of Kwara politics

Nurudeen Muhammed assured the community and he facilitated General Buhari’s visit. Within the cloak-and-dagger propensities of politics, GMB belonged to the opposition CPC, while Bukola Saraki, then Kwara state governor, was a member of the ruling PDP. Not even a request made for Government Quarters to accommodate GMB, a former Head of State, was agreed to by the government of the day! And in the nature of politics, different political groups merged to form the APC and for the first time since the Second Republic, Nurudeen Muhammed, became a member of the same political party with the Saraki group. He went into the APC, because of his loyalty to General Muhammadu Buhari. That is one of the most interesting aspects of the political situation in Kwara state today. The APC swept the polls here, not because of the record of the people in power here. They were smart and that must be acknowledged. They jumped the PDP ship as it started listing and they handsomely profited from the Nigerian desire for change. They rode General Buhari piggy-backed into power. On the other hand, many of those who reject Bukola Saraki’s hegemony have entered the APC, because it is General Muhammadu Buhari’s party and they remain loyal to their man and leader. So the APC in Kwara resembles an old mammy wagon, carrying contradictory baggage.

Within this contradictory ambience Nurudeen Muhammed’s political position continues to interest me. He is the authentic Buhari man; he was with GMB when many of those hanging unto his coattail today, had nothing to do with him. They despised him!

Hegemonic controllers of Kwara politics

But Nurudeen Muhammed stayed with him. The hegemonic controllers of the Kwara state political terrain have benefitted from GMB and would rather that no other person in Kwara state is a gate to GMB besides them. But Nurudeen Muhammed is an old loyalist of GMB and GMB trusts him. The hegemonic group and the hegemon of Kwara know that Nurudeen Muhammed will not be a slave. He is too independent-minded; he is a leader in his own right; he has an extensive network, especially in Northern Nigeria and is therefore an “aberration”, in the scheme of things in Kwara state. In the Kwara political pond, there can be only one hegemon in control of the hegemony of corruption and enslavement. So what will they do about Nurudeen Muhammed? That must be a serious headache for the hegemon of Kwara state. Nurudeen Muhammed is the ultimate enigma of Kwara state politics. He is a puzzle they have not figured out. Watch out!


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