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Katsina on my mind (1)

I would have gone to Katsina on the day President Umaru Yar’adua was buried, but I reckoned it will be a carnival, and that many…

I would have gone to Katsina on the day President Umaru Yar’adua was buried, but I reckoned it will be a carnival, and that many of the big men in town will be there harassing people everywhere.  I also suspected that the Jama’a will be angry, and anything could happen.  So I put off my trip to Katsina and appeared instead on an AIT program at which the subject of the Life and Times of Umaru, was discussed.

The opportunity for me to pay homage came recently, when a certain gentleman, Usman, read one of my articles and sent me a text commending my views.  The next week, he sent me another text and asked if I was able to pay my condolences personally to the family of my ‘friend’, the president, and the only sane individual in the whole of PDP.  I replied in the negative, and on Wednesday the 9th of June, 2010, as part of a business trip to Kaduna, I made a dash to Katsina to see for myself and pay homage in the hometown of our great departed president.

The journey was an eye-opener. It was even tortuous.  I and my driver missed the way a couple of times and then rain descended on us in a fierce manner at some point, that I wondered if the trip was never meant to be.  But perhaps the first surprise was the attitude of all the people we asked for directions on the road.  People left their work to come and explain directions, some were so eager to help, even if they were not sure of what the right answer was, and ALL of these people part us with a prayer. ‘Allah ya ki yaye’ (safe journey, or if interpreted literally, perhaps God will protect you on your journey).  I kept wondering why our safety had to concern these perfect strangers, so much that they will remember us in prayers.  When asked ‘Yaya Aiki’, the instinctive response of the people was ‘Allah ham du Lillahi’, meaning ‘We thank God’, not ‘We are trying our best o…’, as would have been the answer elsewhere.  The total ‘surrender’ to God among the people of Northern Nigeria is remarkable.

I arrived Katsina around 7pm, and checked into the Liyafa Palace Hotel, where their ‘Standard Room’ is as big as any I’ve ever seen.  I reckoned I could share it with my ‘pally’ driver.  A little while later, Malam Usman, who had magnanimously paid for my one night stay even though I had the money on me, showed up.  And after a while we were off to pay the condolences to the few people that Yar’adua left behind.

I visited Hajia Turai Yar’adua, the long-suffering widow of Umaru.  I was expecting to be ushered into a mansion paved with silver and gold.  I was imagining a ‘megalomaniac’, who will be busy sharing dollars by the second.  After all, the Nigerian press has claimed that she spent N40billion just to make sure her husband clung to power.  And they said she stole the country blind.  When we arrived at her house, which has a fairly tall white fence around it, there were about ten policemen lounging around in two clusters, looking very bored.  I think this is the sort of security provided to ex-First Ladies.  But they weren’t on the alert.  Usman drove his car tentatively to the gate and then reversed, all the while trying to make contact on phone with the ADC.  The policemen just looked on disinterestedly.  In other climes, where suspicion abounds, they would have charged at us.

We eventually went inside the premises, and much to my surprise, it was a mere bungalow.  Nothing spectacular.  Even my house in Abuja could be said to be more elaborate.  We went in to the sitting room, where Hajia Turai sat on a low settee, and some other ladies (all covered as good Muslims do), were sitting around.  There could have been seven of them.  She greeted me in a small voice and said ‘thanks for everything you’ve been doing’.  She coughed slightly.  I don’t know what she had been told about my write-ups, or if she had time to read them herself.  But I am proud to say that I’ve erred on the side of the truth.  I paid my condolences and went out of the house.  We were done in three minutes.  It was when I stepped out of the house that it hit me.  This couldn’t be the woman who shared all the monies that our pressmen, and those who deliberately put the country in jeopardy, said she did.  This couldn’t be the powerful cabalist that Dora Akunyili and co alleged she was!  I broke down and wept…

How so wicked we are as a people…  Why should anyone bother to put in his/her best to help Nigeria?  Why would Nigerians deliberately destroy their own, just to serve selfish ends?  I know that the USA had a hand in all that happened in Nigeria and to Umaru Yar’adua.  I cannot be convinced otherwise.  The strategy has been used in too many countries in the past.  What they do is to stoke local anger, and bribe so-called civil society people to cause riots in order to remove governments.  

It is because most journalists, columnists and so-called intellectuals in Nigeria don’t read that they were used, and they in turn infected the rest of the populace with their misplaced anger.  It is because of the dastardly actions of the USA, in collaboration with their local cohorts, that the Saudi King refused to meet with the latest Nigerian contingent in Riyadh.  The Saudi King tried hard to save the life of the best president we’ve ever had.  Now he knows we are not worth it.

For Umaru was our own Mwalimu Julius Nyerere.  He sought to walk the walk like a true leader should.  Umaru Yar’adua NEVER BUILT OR BOUGHT A SINGLE HOUSE IN HIS ENTIRE LIFE.  His only house in Katsina is a single bungalow given to him by his father.  I visited the place.  Nondescript.  I began to realise the kind of person he was.  Ascetic.  Incorruptible.  Disinterested in worldly acquisitions.  And that is why he had to go.  Obasanjo DID choose him because of his honesty.  But Umaru became an embarrassment to Obasanjo, because the USA and our other oppressors could not understand why he had to be so different.  He couldn’t be swayed by greed.  Obasanjo is deemed a fairly straight person, but even he was seriously compromised by these foreigners who turn around and accuse all of us of corruption.  Every other Nigerian president was equally bought.

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