Ahmadu Alli: A Man Of National Honor Or Horror?

by Yinka Leo Ogundiran

Recently, I read an advertorial in Guardian Newspaper with the caption “The Guardian’s Faux Pas: Apologia To Ahmadu Ali” by one Usman Jonah. With simmering curiosity, I paid punctilious attention to peruse through this advertorial but its import and the hubris of the writer have compelled me to come up with this rejoinder. After parsing through the logic and the intended impulse of Usman Jonah, which was to justify the conferment of the Nigeria National honour of CON on Ahmadi Ali, I can only, summarily, describe that treatise as PRIMITIVE NONSENSE. No other description will satiate this writer. His puny propaganda was a sheer attempt to deceive inactive minds about Ahmadu Alli but his incoherence and lack of intellectual depth woefully betrayed him.

Apart from the grammatical incoherence, intellectual sterility, superficiality and logical naïveté of this advertorial, Usman Jonah committed an abominable sacrilege by foolishly bringing the hallowed name of Nobel laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, under the same heading with Ahmadi Alli. I believe that must rank as a low water mark in his career correspondence. This narcissistic bêtise, among other things, got me distended to come up with this rejoinder. Now, regarding the burden of this advertorial, we shall now take a critical look at the life of Ahmadu Alli.

Just like typical maestros of casuistry and intellectual knaves, Usman Jonah glibly used Ahmadu Alli’s Medical profession and rank of Colonel as diversionary gambit to obfuscate the crux of his argument and swindle some idle minds but his lack of intellectual sophistication badly impaired the kernel of his sycophantic propaganda. Since many variables are responsible for the selection of recipients of Nigeria National Honor, Usman Jonah would probably have made sense if he had confined his propaganda within the ambit of Alli’s Medical profession alone but he landed himself in the labyrinth of obtuse argumentation by using his positional and political occupation to score some cheap points.

And conversely, in regards to his positional and political career as a leader in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which is the main thrust of this discourse, Ahmadu Alli’s name is synonymous to ignominy and wretchedness. First of all, during his misfortunate and inauspicious stint as the Education Minister in 1976, the sloganeering mantra of “Alli must go” sung by Nigerian students in those days is an eloquent index of his chutzpah. His inglorious ascension to the helm of education ministry was preludial to the gradual annihilation of our Nigerian educational standard. Records abound of how the promising lives of innocent Nigerian students were callously terminated by blood-thirsty and murderous policemen at the behest and instigation of Ahmadu Alli. The era of glorious days in our tertiary institutions, where the meals of students in higher Institutions of learning were subsidized, was mindlessly curtailed by Ahmadu Alli. The highlight of his tenure as the education minister, which Usman Jonah doltishly regards as “REFORMS”, was the REDUCTION OF FEEDING SUBSIDY which the then Government graciously accorded Nigeria students. In spite of this vacuity of Ahmadu Alli as the Education Minister in the 70s, Usman Jonah characterizes the baneful and inimical proclivities which Alli exhibited with unbridled ferocity as “REFORMS” in his treatise. My mouth was gagged with bemusement when I read that hogwash. I have asked myself this rhetorical question: “Is Usman Jonah undergoing a mind-bending therapy to refer to stark terrorism as REFORMS”??? Afterwards, I pulled myself together and I graciously said a fervent prayer for Usman Jonah: “If all that happened during those days in 70s were REFORMS as peddled by Usman Jonah, may such REFORMS never end in Usman Jonah’s lineage! May the progeny of Usman Jonah, just like he wishes for Nigeria, continue to enjoy the REFORMS of Ahmadu Alli till eternality!” Amen.

The idiocy of Usman Jonah didn’t stop at the ignominious juncture of attempting to bend the ugly realities of Ahmadu Alli’s monstrosity into his own hypocritical parallax; he went further by articulating these asinine and nauseating remarks:

By the way, we are at pains to understand what the paper’s perspectives on political party reforms, really. For one, even his implacable enemies would credit Dr Alli with restoring the principles of discipline and party supremacy in the PDP after his predecessors has left the party in tattersPDP is not just a Political party of Nigeria variety. It is false to call it a disintegrating party. The party is democratic in its internal workings, robust and open to new ideas and perspectives and has always reached out to make peace with itself, whenever splinter tendencies refuse to abide by institutional rules. What the party under Ali would not condone is the tendency of some of its members no matter how highly placed, to worship God and mammon at the same time.

This statement by Usman Jonah is loaded with complexities and opacities. First of all, I found the usage of the phrase “discipline” quite bewildering and esoteric in that statement and I was rammed to consult my lexicon to review its meaning. From the concise Wordweb dictionary on my personal computer, discipline has these following meanings:

i.The trait of being well behaved

ii.Training to improve strength or self-control

iii.The act of punishing

Let us now take these foregoing and apply them with the conduct of PDP so far and see whether Usman Jonah’s brain is not disconnected from his mouth.

Audu Ogbeh is Ahmadu Alli’s immediate predecessor. Some allegations of financial improprieties and misconduct were levied against him as subterfuge of justifying his removal. Meanwhile, prior to these allegations and his eventual removal, Audu Ogbeh addressed a cautionary and prophylactic letter to President Obasanjo urging him to moderate his acquiescence and condonation to the act of criminality and bestiality being exercised by Chris Uba in Anambra State. Audu Ogbeh further signaled some warnings to President Obasanjo about the way Nigeria’s participatory politics was relapsing into recidivism which, in reminiscence, almost drifted the ship of our Nation unto Iceberg before the Military take-over as it were. Audu Ogbeh’s advocacy for the elevation of PDP from the morass of venality, thuggery and corruption, especially the blatant acts of terrorism being perpetuated by Chris Uba in Anambra, was neither initiatory nor customary to Audu Ogbeh alone – he merely reenacted what the Alukos, Soyinkas, Nwabuezes, Achebes, Abatis and Ndibes of this World have been decrying over the years. But lo and behold, Audu Ogbeh was beleaguered for daring to critically address our dictatorial President openly and, therefore, accused of misconduct and consequently fired as the Chairman of the party in a shameful manner.

After the removal of Audu Ogbeh, Ahmadu Alli was imposed on PDP by President Obasanjo. One of his first set of exploits was the re-admission of Chris Uba, the man who had been previously expelled from the PDP for the abduction of Governor Chris Ngige and other gross misconducts, back into the party. This re-admission was quite beyond the ordinary: He was promoted to PDP Board of Trustee! Shortly after Uba’s re-admission into the party, the imbroglio between Lagos State Government and Federal Government over the legitimacy of the newly created local government councils ensued and the case was taken to Supreme Court for legal redress. At the end of the day, the Supreme Court presided over by Justice Niky Tobi made an indubitable pronouncement that Federal Government of Nigeria should release Lagos State’s

funds unconditionally but, alas, the PDP and the Presidency deliberately misrepresented, perverted and flouted the ruling of the Supreme Court just because of PDP was unable to rig itself into power in Lagos State. This flouting of Supreme Court ruling marked the first time in the history of Nigeria, be it under the Military or Civilian, where there has been a siege on the rule of law.

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1 comment

Prof Joe Essien November 23, 2006 - 12:48 pm

This is a beautiful essay. Thanks Dr Yinka Leo Ogundiran


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