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When Binani’s Banana Republic declaration meets Hakimi’s dubious hikmah

The electoral drama in Adamawa State completes a week of unfortunate fails for women that have generated significant chatter in various discourses spaces in Nigeria.…

The electoral drama in Adamawa State completes a week of unfortunate fails for women that have generated significant chatter in various discourses spaces in Nigeria. It started with the failed asset ‘heist’ of one Hiba Abouk, the estranged wife of Moroccan footballer, Achraf Hakimi, to the failed electoral heist in Adamawa and a possible political self-immolation of Aishatu Dahiru Binani, the APC gubernatorial candidate in the state.

First, win or lose, what would have been a triumphant moment for Senator Binani this weekend in the rerun elections, turned out to be a dramatic unravelling for her and those who have championed her candidacy for her gender. If she became the first female governor in Nigeria, it would break a glass ceiling for other women and lots of women across the country championed her candidacy on this ground.

But what transpired in Adamawa this weekend was nothing short of a failed electoral heist. It was calculated and sinister. But then again, all electoral heists, of which Nigeria has had many, have always been. What made this one shocking was that at its centre, allegedly, is the figure of a woman.

The illegal, yet annoyingly comical, declaration of Binani as governor-elect by the Resident Electoral Commissioner, Prof. Yusuf Hudu-Ari, was shockingly brazen and numbingly cringe-worthy. The effrontery of a person who had no authority to carry out such a task and the fact that he did it with police protection should concern every Nigerian. But then again, many things, too many perhaps, should concern Nigerians—like inflation, insecurity, cash and fuel shortage, presidential retirement packages and the last-minute looting of public treasury that is ongoing as some public official plan for life after retirement. Yet, getting the electoral process right is an important step in getting good governance that could possibly set the country aright.

Binani’s claims of innocence in the whole charade are worth considering, of course. Yet, after due consideration, it leaves more questions than answers. Whether she paid a N2 billion bribe to facilitate the heist remains to be proven. It is her word against that of her accusers. But why would a federal lawmaker, who I believe has a competent legal team around her, embrace a fraudulent declaration of results that have not yet been fully collated, by an official who did not have the authority to make such a declaration? Why did she make that acceptance speech that was meant to validate that hocus pocus at the collation centre in Yola?

The timing of the two incidents, and how they were perfectly streamlined is suggestive of the possibility of a connivance that investigations should probe. Her action of running to the court with the prayer to allow that illegal declaration stand has however eroded the last vestiges of credibility trailing off the tail of her veil.

The chaos that followed, in which an INEC National Commissioner, completely innocent of the earlier shenanigans, was beaten and stripped down to his boxer shorts could have resulted in his lynching. Some of his tormentors were heard telling him that they would spare his life if he told the truth, which in itself connotes the intention to kill. The crisis could have escalated and cost lives. Thank God it didn’t.

Was there a crime committed? The court would have to determine but what is obvious to the naked eye is that there was evident illegality, one that calls for the arrest and prosecution of the actors and instigators of it. The state government has written to the IG to do the needful but who knows? Electoral brigands have had a history of going Scott-free in this country, and that false declaration would not have happened without the connivance of personnel in the security services.

All these have amplified the vilification of women that began with a domestic squabble between a Moroccan footballer and his wife in faraway Paris. For some reason, PSG right back, Achraf Hakimi’s divorce from his wife fascinated Nigerians. A narrative was championed in which Hakimi’s estranged wife, Hiba Abouk, was branded a gold digger and the footballer was praised for living up to a derivative of his name in Arabic (hakim=wise).

Hiba’s petition to earn 50 per cent of the player’s assets seems excessive, true. She had known the player for a total of five years and they have been married for two years with two children between them before they separated. The optics sure don’t look good for her and men thought that Hakimi putting his assets in his mother’s name, thereby denying Hiba’s claims, was a masterstroke.

I don’t see how two years of marriage entitles her to half his wealth, leaving aside that as a successful actor, she has her own money. But the glee with which Nigerian men celebrated her fail suggested an underlying mischief on their part. Especially in a country where such laws hardly apply and the concept of alimony is as foreign as snow on Dala Hill.

The optics are truly not good for Hiba, as they are not for Binani, to whom I shall return in a bit. Hiba is 12 years older than Hakimi. That in itself is not a problem but could be at the time the relationship started. Then, she was 31 and he was 19. He was already on his way to making millions (at least 10 million euros a year from his current salary at PSG) when she met him. If he were my son or relative, I would have misgivings about someone that young getting into a relationship with someone that old. Again, the age gap is irrelevant but his being only 19 at the time raises questions for me.

If his mother had any misgivings about the relationship then, we didn’t hear about it but we have now. She recently told journalists in Morocco that if her son had not done his financial acrobatics, which she said she was unaware of until now, he would “never get rid of that woman.”

There are larger contexts involved in all these stories from Hiba, Hakimi and Binani. For one, Hakimi is still under investigation for rape. While this allegation came about after his separation from Hiba, she had taken to her Instagram account to defend him, proclaiming his innocence and saying the “accusations are false.” She even suggested that he was being framed. At that time, her heroism to stand by her man, even if they were separated already, did not resonate with the people who are quick to deride her now.

As for Hakimi, the presumption of innocence is always there until proven otherwise but for all those celebrating him or his wisdom, there is still a real possibility of him being outed as something other than a hero worth celebrating. If I were those people, I would gloat with some restraint.

In Binani’s case, being a woman running for governor in Adamawa has projected her as a heroine candidate for the women’s cause, until this brazen electoral heist and her attempts to validate it. There seems to be disappointment that she is not the heroine they had wanted her to be. That she might be just another desperate politician who happens to be a woman. Yet, if they had looked closely, they would know there had always been questions around her going back to her days in ABU, Zaria and a scandal in which she and her eventual husband were indicted.

With people, nothing is ever black or white. There are a lot of greys in-between.

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