The recent Appeal Court’s ruling quashing the election of the member representing Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency of Kano State, Dr. Abdulmumin Jibrin, came like a thunder from the blues.
It was, however, a sort of re-enactment of reverses in the lawmaker’s political progression. Since the year 2011, when the Young Turk from Kano South Senatorial District graced the hallowed chambers of the lower House of the National Assembly, he has been showing promise of new breed capabilities, but most often, slumping like a premature banana fruit.
Despite possessing the gift of the garb and erudition, especially as a political scientist, there is a seeming fatalism about the lawmaker from Kiru/Bebeji.
When the Court of Appeal sitting in Kaduna quashed his election into the lower chamber of the ninth National Assembly, it was a sort of replay of sudden reverses that have come to define the political progression of the former chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations.
His rival on February 23, 2019; National Assembly poll, Aliyu Datti Yako, had challenged the outcome of the election, alleging that it was fraught with irregularities and violent intimidation of voters.
Although Jibrin rebuffed the appellate court pronouncement, assuring his supporters that he was sure of winning the re-run ordered by the court, the development called to mind such other painful interstices in the young politician’s career.
Shortly before the inauguration of the ninth National Assembly, Jibrin joined Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, who was tipped by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the position of Speaker of House of Representatives, to canvass for support of members-elect.
When on April 1, 2019, the Gbajabiamila Campaign Organisation chose the Kano-born lawmaker as its Director-General, many observers reflected on the connotation of the date, but the consensus of opinion among the legislators-elect was that it was a befitting appointment.
Given the apprehensions in certain quarters over the implications of the expressed interest of another northern ranking legislator to contest the Speakership, Jibrin was seen as a good salesman for the Gbajabiamila brand.
If those that recommended him did so out of quiet mischief or belief in his ability to play the spoilsport, Jibrin did not disappoint, because he took his assignment with unrepentant relish, knowing that after all, out of the eater, may come something sweet. Having undertaken a similar enterprise in the past, he knew how far such openings could go in making a way for the undertaker when the victory is won.
On June 11, 2019, when the ninth National Assembly was inaugurated, Jibrin used five minutes to eulogise his candidate, by way of his nomination speech. Although the majority had settled in their minds to cast their ballots for Gbajabiamila, some lawmakers-elect felt that Jibrin dominated the floor unnecessarily to indulge in vainglory and self-adulation.
It was not only his speechifying that attracted criticisms to the former chairman of House Committee on Appropriation, but Jibrin was also taken to task for devising a legendary ‘green card’ that facilitated vote alleged buying during the election of the Speaker.
The controversy over the green card, which was modelled after a credit (Automated Teller Machine) card, caused a great stir, especially when some of the legislators-elect alleged that the card, which was enhanced with micro-chips to avoid counterfeiting, entitled the holders to 10, 000 United States dollars.
Those who recalled how the Kano-born lawmaker accused the 8th Assembly of padding the national budget to the advantage of some floor functionaries, also accused Jibrin of being in a hurry to walk himself back to reckoning and ostensibly regain his seat as chairman of the salacious Appropriation committee.
If indeed Jibrin was working to earn what is in it for his position as Director-General, the experience was his guide, because in 2015, when he won his second term into the House of Representatives, he aspired for the office of Speaker.
But, in a dramatic fashion, he stepped down and began vociferous support and campaign for Hon. Yakubu Dogara, who eventually became the numero uno of the Eighth Assembly.
Although Abdulmumin was rewarded with the chairmanship of the Committee on Appropriation, which he served for one year, it was not known how his relationship with Speaker Dogara got ruptured, leading to his forced resignation.
At the height of his disagreement with the leadership of the House of Representatives, when it became obvious that he was to be replaced as committee chairman, Jibrin called for the resignation of the principal officers.
He told journalists during a press conference: “These members of the body of principal officers were not comfortable with my independent disposition and my refusal to cover up their unilateral decision to allocate to themselves N40 billion… Lately, I openly disagreed with some principal officers on the issue of immunity and budget issues. I still maintain I will never support immunity”.
The lawmaker has always gravitated towards finance, having served as chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Finance in the Seventh Assembly. However, the restlessness or irredentism has often doused his legislative composure.
The aluta spirit in him manifested shortly after he won the election into the Seventh House of Representatives, which disposed him to form the 7th Assembly Group, a political pressure group geared towards helping “members-elect to establish acquaintance and cross-fertilize ideas emanating from various constituencies for the overall interest of the country.”
Those close to Jibrin actually said the formation of 7th Assembly Group marked the onset of his ambition to occupy the leadership rung of the lower legislative chamber.
It could also be that desire to lead that informed Jibrin’s decision to join other PDP lawmakers to defect to the then opposition APC in 2013, alongside the then governor of his state, Rabiu Kwankwaso.
During the 2019 election, Jibrin’s supporters clashed with those of the former Kano governor in an unprecedented violent display that left many cars to burn and individuals injured.
Coming back to the House of Representatives for a third term, after the 2019 poll, it was obvious that the lawmaker has garnered more than enough scars from fights within and outside the Green Chamber.
Perhaps, it was based on quiet reflections of his more than eight years’ stay in politics and legislature that he contemplated going back to the academia, from whence he began his political odyssey.
On the flip side, his critics said the lawmaker was merely expressing doubts about the genuineness of his return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as the winner of the February 23, 2019, National Assembly poll for Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency.
Yet, the contemplation of early exit from the legislature could be out of frustration, because shortly after he led the Gbajabiamila for Speaker Campaign to victory, Jibrin was rewarded with disappointment during the allocation of committee chairmanship in the 9th Assembly.
Despite the fact that the 9th Assembly witnessed an increased number of standing committees from 96 in the preceding plenary to 102, Speaker Gbajabiamila named Mukhtar Baitara as chairman of the House Committee on Appropriation, to the dismay of those who expected Jibrin to be so favoured.
Not even Committees on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), or Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Foreign Affairs or Media and Public Affairs, was the ranking legislator from Kiru/Bebeji Constituency considered.
Sources said some influential APC leaders in the Presidency, which had been at the receiving end of Jibrin’s acerbic diatribe, flew the kite of an impending ministerial appointment to ensure that he missed out totally in the allocation of the House Committee chairmanship.
But, whether it was the ghost of his past altercation with the leadership of the 8th plenary that returned to haunt him in the 9th, or some powerful individuals warned Gbajabiamila against the ‘ides’ of Jibrin, the lawmaker took his fate with equanimity.
Taking to his twitter handle, he announced himself as Chairman Committee on babysitting and Member Babysitters party, stressing that it was the condition that made crayfish to bend.
While Jibrin displayed the photo of the babysitter and his baby, taken by his wife, Fatima; there was a tinge of nameless bile in the sarcastic imputation that he was denied committee chairmanship, possibly on account of alleged anti-party comportment.
The intricate web of deception that preceded Jibrin’s fall from the pinnacle of favour in a new House of Representatives’ leadership that he helped to enthrone, showed the difference between politics and political science.
Although he is a political scientist, Dr. Abdulmumin Jibrin could not help himself or extricate himself from the unfavourable fate reserved for him.
He worked hard and played along blindly in the conceited swagger of a godfather that has crowned underlings twice. In one of his social media posts he had conveyed the idea that, quite like during the campaigns, he was at the centre of the process of allotting the committee chairmen.
He wrote: “Walking Mr. Speaker to his car, after a surprise visit this morning. We have announced the leadership of committees and did our best to ensure merit and fairness. Mr. Speaker went through extreme pressure but as usual, he showed courage. History will be kind to him.”
But after the dagger had been put through his spleen, the narrative changed. First, it was a member of the House ad-hoc Committee on Media and Publicity, Yusuf Gaji, who came out to deny any rift between Jibrin and the Speaker.
Later Gbajabiamila also added his tweet saying: “Abdulmumin Jibrin was not excluded from the leadership composition. He was involved in the composition process and declined to accept any committee leadership. He had repeatedly made clear his intentions to leave the House (of Representatives). My persuasions and that of some other leaders convinced him, reluctantly, to stay a bit longer. Jibrin wants a fresh challenge and his preference will be to return to the university and pursue his professorial ambition…”
If Jibrin knew the definition of backstabbing, now he can describe it in lurid details with anecdotes. His public declaration that “very soon, I may be in the labour market. I will be a free agent. My CV is ready,” left a lot to the imagination.
As neither a ministerial appointment nor committee chairmanship in the House of Representatives came his way, it would be left to be seen whether the godfather of Nigeria’s Green Chamber would be content with his new office as Chairman of babysitters Committee or accept the offer of forced exit from politics as contained in the recent appeal court ruling upturning his election.