By Bala Kuta 

Professor Ango Abdullahi is an amusing character at his octogenarian age. He is a Northern varsity don, an intellectual, administrator and former minister in Nigeria, whose name should ordinarily strike profound memories. But in his latter days in life, he has proven to be a negation of whatever an elder should represent.

He is loquacious and consistently parrots too generously. He talks like a dunce in leadership. At 82 years or so, one expects to see a calm and very calculated elder statesman. But he loathes everything associated with respect.

Those who know Ango Abdullahi, the former Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, (ABU) Zaria closely should whisper into his ears that he is over-parroting and, in the process, denigrating himself. An academic anywhere is a tranquil person, who speaks wisdom and knowledge, as against sentiments. 

Academics strive to see a better society for the benefit of all. And when he is prompted by any burning public issue to make suggestions, his panaceas are religiously trusted as a remedy to a public affliction.  Ango Abdullahi defends herdsmen atrocities against Nigerians but thinks President Muhammadu Buhari should berth peace from heaven in Nigeria.

When commentators or public affairs analysts postulate that some Northern elders are behind insecurity in the North and other parts of the country, it sounds strange to some ears. But those who doubt it should not look far to find answers. With Ango Abdullahi’s public utterances, it’s clear to discerning minds that he is one of the shadows behind insecurity in the North.       

Nowhere in the entire globe where an intellectual is wasted, even when it is reasonably assumed that he has reached the age of senility. Professors emeritus are even more respected because of their treasure of knowledge. They are considered reservoirs of wisdom, decency and uprightness, virtues which endear society to them in veneration.

Unfortunately, Prof. Ango Abdullahi embodies the opposite of everything sane or these sound virtues.  He served as Minister under the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and,  so sees nothing wrong with that administration. He will not tell Nigerians who introduced Boko Haram into the country and nourished it because he served as Obasanjo’s minister. He has never criticized that administration which laid the foundation of the national malaises bedevilling the country now.  

But President Buhari is a bad and incompetent leader in the estimation of Ango Abdullahi and his ilk because he is not patronized with an appointment. Therefore, President Buhari must be rubbished on whatever efforts he is making in correcting the ills, which a government, Ango served dutifully introduced in the system or polity.

The game of politics is played in Nigeria differently and very oddly. Only in Nigeria one plus one cannot always be two. One must look farther and search deeper to find answers to ordinarily very easy puzzles.

This country is populated by too many people who have no scruples. Do not mind the age, experience or exposure. Even the elderly, focus their lenses only beneath the abdomen alone. Plead with these elders to gaze at the open space, to see the scenic beauty of the environment and perhaps, grasp the alternative messages conveyed by even the tantalizing breeze is like the proverbial forcing of a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

Prof. Ango Abdullahi is a prominent Northern son and intellectual, no doubt. Ango leads a group of eminent Northerners and elder statemen under the aegis of Northern Elders Forum (NEF). But it’s obvious Prof. Ango Abdullahi has hijacked the association and runs it in the fashion of dictators.

He is a sole administrator of NEF. It’s been ages Nigerians read any public press statement from NEF on any decision concerning national issues. Ango Abdullahi thinks alone; takes the decisions solely and talks alone. Even at that miniature level of leadership, Ango Abdullahi has so mindlessly abused the etiquette; yet has the guts to frequently criticize the leader of an entire nation.

Ango Abdullahi has usurped the thinking of every Northern elder in that forum, so he speaks on their behest. Ask him when last, the group held a meeting, he won’t remember. It’s doubtful if Ango Abdullahi can still count who and who are still members of this otherwise revered association.  

He functions alone; thinks and initiates action for every member of the association. What baffles more is his effrontery to question the government of President Buhari on poverty in the North particularly and pretend in sycophantic ululations to be also concerned about my entire Nigeria. 

In his region, the North and despite occupying a vintage position, as leader of an assemblage of Northern elders under the umbrella of NEF, he has done nothing to alleviate the poverty of his people. He has no plan; no agenda or thought about it.  

It’s certain that Ango Abdullahi is barren of his basic responsibility for his immediate constituency, as a Northern elder. Since he assumed leadership of NEF what poverty alleviation agenda and schemes has he contemplated? None till tomorrow. Yet, he commandeered the position of chair of NEF. Give someone else that position, he would spring surprises for the benefit of the people.

Ango has forgotten that the people who should know their problems better and contrive ways of solving it are the Northern elders in NEF. The association should not just be an assemblage of respected personalities, but it should be a platform for solving some of these problems. Ango, have you ever contemplated it? This former minister lacks the capacity to galvanize the forces at his disposal for the benefit of his people.

Talk is cheap; criticisms of those in leadership easier. But when the same people assume lesser responsibilities at lower rungs, they fail woefully, as evident with Ando Abdullahi. Prof sir, you cannot continue to live in self-denial. If the Northern region is poor, with almajiris everywhere, its also your responsibility at this octogenarian age to strive to improve the situation. The North is a community which gave birth to you, fed, nourished and gave you the global fame in academics.

NEF as a forum, chaired by a sensible intellectual would have used to it to prod Northern elders to use their wealth in assisting the upcoming generation of the North to understand the meaning of existence in a region and county which breathe life into them.  Insecurity in the North is fueled by poverty.

Had the likes of Ango performed their responsibility as expected, poverty in the North would have been reduced and violent sects would not have had access to idle youths to recruit into their fold.  The mindless killings in the North would STOP or at least be reduced! Leadership does not start and end with the person wearing the crown of a nation, community or a particular enclave alone.   

Ango Abdullahi in fairness to you, NEF ended with the leadership of a passionate nationalist, detribalized Nigerian and international elder statesman, Alhaji Maitama Sule.  If only the dead could rise, Sule, NEF’s pioneer chairman would have wept at your personalization of NEF.  You are just leading a band of elders in your family and local government, but certainly, not the North.   

Today, Ango presents himself as a contradictory personality and a talkative. That’s not the philosophy behind the formation of NEF.   If President Buhari is not a good leader as admitted by Ango’s recent interviews published by several media platforms; it’s also difficult to discern or even understand his preference for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

It is now clearly partisan. It means Ango has gleefully taken a partisanship position as leader of other Northern elders in the association he self-crowned himself as chairman. But the congregation or its members belongs to different political affinities or persuasions. The bitterness Ango harbours on the Buhari presidency permanently cannot make NEF better.

Ango should reposition NEF first before expending energy on thinking about Nigeria. Professor Sir, asking President Buhari to resign over insecurity in the North is the most thoughtless utterance. Please, tell Nigerians which administration brought Boko Haram into Nigeria. Ango should help Nigeria and the North by telling the sponsors of the killings that the North is tired of the bloodshed.  Ango, the sponsors are your friends and partners in crime and so, prevail on them to halt the killings. 

Kuta is a former member of the National Assembly and wrote from Minna.


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