He is a lawyer and politician. He is the senator representing Nasarawa West senatorial district in the Senate. His name is Abdullahi Adamu. You may have heard his name echo across the Nigerian political horizon in the heyday of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
He was a pioneer member of that party which used to advertise itself as the biggest political party in Africa. He would later become the Governor of his state, Nasarawa. That was no mean feat. While as governor of his state, he was chosen by his colleagues to lead them as Chairman of the Governors’ Forum. That alone meant he was well respected among his fraternity of governors. For the 16 years that the PDP ruled Nigeria, he was a member of that party.
Today, the profile has changed and so has his story. Adamu, the former governor is now Adamu the senator. But that’s not all. The story weaves its way to the divide of party politics. He is no longer a member of the PDP. Adamu, just like many of his colleagues has joined the All Progressives Congress (APC). He was one of those politicians who saw the future. Again, this makes him a smart politician. He stands out as one of the political geniuses(?) of our time.
The issue is not whether Adamu jumped ship from PDP to APC. He has a right to switch party to satiate his inner partisan questing. What baffles me, and indeed keen watchers of the polity, are the roles he played and continues to play at different times in different parties. He is the quintessential political Janus; two-faced, chameleonic and a situational democrat.
Just a little peek into history. In July 2005, Adamu, then Governor of Nasarawa State and a staunch member of the PDP, mounted the soapbox to tongue-lash a long-suffering Muhammadu Buhari who was then a member of the All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP). Buhari had gone to court to contest the 2003 presidential election won by PDP’s Olusegun Obasanjo. The case dragged as usual but the Supreme Court finally validated the victory of the PDP. Buhari was not impressed by the verdict of the apex court and he voiced his dissention. To Buhari, the Supreme Court merely validated coercion and violence as legitimate tools for election. Not so for Adamu. The Nasarawa governor carpeted the retired General and told the old man and his party to stop fouling the political air with their sour-grape tantrums.
At a lecture organised by the Senators’ Forum in 2005, Adamu seized the moment to fire broadsides at Buhari. He even asked him to quit politics and leave the stage for real democrats. He said: “We call on ANPP to condemn in very strong terms the utterances of Buhari. He should be called to order. He cannot continue to display contempt on the highest court of the land… Buhari’s utterances are capable of undermining the democratic experiment. If he cannot accept the tenets of democracy, he should quit politics for politicians… Elections have been fought and won. He should come to terms with reality.”
As governor and member of the PDP in 2005, Adamu was at the forefront in the defence of Obasanjo against any interloper and busybody the likes of Buhari. As an erstwhile Chairman of Governors’ Forum, he was Obasanjo’s defender-in-chief. But times have changed and so have circumstances. Today, Adamu the former Democrat is numbered among the Progressives. Cocooned in the protective confines of the APC, Buhari’s party, Adamu sees no fault in Buhari. The retired General is no longer a clattering busybody threatening our democracy. In the eyes of Adamu, Buhari, the yesteryears noise-maker is the only man fit for the job today.
The same Adamu who defended Obasanjo yesterday has turned the accuser-in-chief of the Ota farmer. He frontally accused Obasanjo of democratizing corruption when he bribed lawmakers with cash to elongate his term in office. He sees no good in Obasanjo. He reminded Obasanjo that but for Buhari’s large-heartedness and “selective fight against corruption” he (Obasanjo) would have been in jail since the dawn of the APC Presidency. This is typical of Janus-faced politicians. Their two faces gifts them with the uncommon clairvoyance to live both in the past and in the future.
Who would have believed that the same Adamu who stoutly defended Obasanjo against the fiery darts from a repulsive Buhari would now turn round to bash a repugnant Obasanjo for ever criticizing a rose-flavoured Buhari? But that’s what politics does to the likes of Adamu. He is a situational democrat; a circumstantial statesman or at the very best an opportunistic patriot. And there are many of them out there. They stand for everything depending on the tide of the wind. Such men lay claim to integrity but it remains just a claim. When put to test, they fall in a heap.
Adamu mirrors the archetypal Nigerian politician: flaunts integrity in words but not in practice; parrots patriotism but it is counterfeit patriotism; grandstands as statesman but it is dubious statesmanship. Otherwise why would Adamu wait till after he has left the PDP to tell Nigerians that Obasanjo is a thief, a briber and a dirty dealer? Why is he now serenading Nigerians with Obasanjo’s ignoble roles in the messy Halliburton and Siemens deals? I wager that Adamu who, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was not squeaky clean while in office as Governor of Nasarawa State for eight years has more to offer in his uncanny ability to mutate between two worlds. I wager even more that he would sooner than later switch allegiance from Buhari, the same man he now defends with Zionist zeal. Just watch this same Adamu when Buhari leaves office or the office leaves him. Such is the lot of political chameleons. They are unstable in all their ways.
Yet, the same Adamu is now a senator, a man who should be making laws for the good governance of Nigeria. It is a disservice to the people of Nasarawa West senatorial district that their voice in the Senate is sounding croaky and discordant, a jumbled note of soprano and tenor. Yesterday he stood by Obasanjo to fight Buhari, today he is standing by Buhari to fight Obasanjo. Where is political philosophy and ideology? Where is integrity of a man and consistency of character? They obviously do not exist for Adamu and for the thousands of political mutants in the nation’s political firmament.
Nigerians have suffered enough pain and abuse in the hands of bad leaders since Independence. A septuagenarian like Adamu should not prick the pain any further. For a man who forayed into politics in 1977 when he was elected a member of the Constituent Assembly, a journey of over four decades, he has garnered enough experience in administration and leadership. He must therefore put such experience to good use rather than dance to the whims of his stomach and caprice of demagoguery.
The manner he has bashed Obasanjo, a man he once sold to Nigerians as the best of the lot should serve as a warning shot to Buhari. It is the lot of political opportunists. To them politics is business, not service.