There is a popular philosophical axiom which avers that everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not to their own facts. This is because opinions are free, facts are sacred and truth is constant. Frankly I find it difficult to understand why is it that some politicians have made it a habit and a way of life to turn truth on its head whenever they fall prey to the ever waiting cold clutches of irrelevance. This indeed is the pitiable but shameful drama that the Senator Roland Owie played out recently when he ran into the market place to insult two great Nigerians who have paid their dues in their patriotic service to Nigeria.
Most Nigerians must have read with indignation the news recently of Senator Owie shouting himself hoarse maliciously accusing former president Olusegun Obasanjo and Senator Amadu Ali as the architects of Nigeria’s security challenges and the emergence of the terrorist group Boko Haram. The attention seeking Senator went further to unfairly accuse Senator Ali of attacking President Jonathan’s government. Now, under normal circumstances, the appropriate step will be to ignore Senator Owie’s unprovoked tirade. However, because silence could be misconstrued to be acquiescence, because the gullible may be deceived and misled and also because, more importantly, the silence of good men often is the reason why men like Senator Roland Owie prevail and prosper, we have decided to set the records straight and prove beyond doubt the insincerity of Senator Owie’s allegations.To achieve this, let us take a quick but enlightening walk down memory lane and back into history.
President OlusegunObasanjo is, ofcourse, the man who anchored and stabilized our democracy from 1999 – 2007. Like every successful leader in the world, he recorded great achievements in a number of sectors and also performed below expectations in others. But on the balance of verifiable facts, president Obasanjowill receive a score that is not less than 70% anyday for laying a solid foundation for the take-off and consolidation of democracy, development and progress in Nigeria.
Senator,Dr.Amadu Ali who Senator Owie reserved his most malicious critique, is like a colossus bestriding the political, medical, educational, humanitarian and military terrains of Nigeria. As a military officer, Senator Ali served meritoriously and retired with honours. As a medical doctor, his legacies remains visible and endures in Enugu, Kaduna, Ibadan, Kogi, Lagos, Abuja, etc. As a pillar of educational development in Nigeria, he remains one of the most significant personalities that has positively impacted the educational sector in Nigeria. In this regard,Senator Ali served meritoriously as Federal Minister of education.
The records show that it was during Senator Ali’s tenure as Education Minister that Nigeria achieved its greatest progress in educational development. Most Nigerians may not be aware that it was Senator Ali, as Minister of Education, that conceived and established the New National Policy on Education; established the Universal Primary Education Scheme (UPE); established the Nigerian University Commission (NUC); established the Joint Administration and Matriculation Board (JAMB); established the National Board on Technical Education (NBTE); established the National Teachers Institute (NTI) and many other laudable initiatives for the development of education in Nigeria. Indeed it is a fact of historical recordthat Senator Amadu Ali is largely responsible for putting in place most of the physical, policy, institutional and educational infrastructure that underguide our educational industry.
Furthermore, Senator Ali’s love for youths and believe in Nigeria’s unity is second to none. Not surprisingly, it was Senator Ali who, under the government of President Gowon, conceptualized and established the National Youth Service Scheme (NYSC) in 1973 and served as its first Director General. As a philanthropist and humanitarian, Senator Ali is second to none. Because of his love for education, he has been giving full board scholarships to indigent Nigerians. But it is not Senator Ali’s style to talk or make noise about his humanitarian activities or his sterling service to Nigeria. Very few Nigerians are aware that Senator Ali has and funds a robust Medical Centre. This centre is housed in the Federal University of Agriculture in Makurdi, Benue State. The Amadu Ali Centre is devoted to research in Zoonolic diseases.
As a politician Senator Ali remains one of the few Nigerians who have been thrice elected as Senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. A fact which clearly reflects the immense love and respect his people in Kogistate have for him. He served with distinctionas National Chairman of the ruling PDP at a most difficult time in the political history of Nigeria. He became the first and only PDPChairman to complete his term and handover to a successor chairman. He became the first and only party chairman to leave a huge sum of 2billion Naira in the coffers when he left office - an unprecedented fit in probity, accountability and integrity, which is yet to be replicated. His tenure as National Chairman saw the restoration of discipline and party supremacy. Senator Ali emphasized the role of the party in setting the policy agenda and direction of the government in power. This led to the first significant reworking of the PDP manifesto and the articulation therein of two visionary key policy agenda which still holds sway today: 1. the Vision 20-2020 economic objective for Nigeria and; 2. the Irreducible minimum development objectives for PDP States and Local governments.
That is the quintessential Amadu Ali. Vibrant, visionary, creative, positive and productive. Senator’s Ali’s time at the PDP remains arguably about the best era inPDP history. What’s more, the outstanding electoral successes of the PDP under Senator Ali’s watch clearly indicates his extraordinary leadership attributes. To cap it all, it was Senator Ali as PDP National Chairman that conceived the idea of building a permanent and befitting secretariat for the party as a testament to the durability and sustainability of our party democracy. These are the bold facts, the sterling record, the exemplary service, the compelling history of leadership and democratic reform and achievements of Senator Ali as PDP Chairman, which Senator Owie mischievously set out to rewrite.
The story and history of Senator Ali is one of loyalty, patriotism, selfless service and compassion. To date, Senator Ali has served in one capacity or the other under Gowon,Murtala, Obasanjo, Shagari, Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and the current president Dr.Goodluck Jonathan. None of these men have found Senator Ali wanting in loyalty or patriotic service. Neither has Senator Ali been found guilty of any crime or offence in his life. Senator Ali is profoundly respected across all political, social and religious divides as a man who approaches his work with equal parts of patriotism, passion and positivity. A man who speaks his mind but remains true to his friends, family and associates.A man who can be trusted and counted upon in the darkest hours of crises. A man who stands for what he believes and queues behind his friends even in the most testy times when courage fails the brave and the weak take to their heels.
The truth is that Senator Ali has served and given so much to Nigeria and Nigerians for Senator Owie and his co -travellers to attempt to be little his sterling reputation and matchless integrity. In appreciation of his long history of patriotic national service, a grateful nation awarded Senator Ali the second highest honour it can give any citizen: Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) in 2006- an honour so high that it was previously reserved for only serving Vice Presidents. Senator Ali received this award 27 years after his first national award of: Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON).
It has become a growing problem in our country today that men of integrity who should speak remain quiet while charlatans parade themselves in public with borrowed robes and lecture us on who and what is right and wrong, all in their bid to position themselves for imaginary political appointments. President Jonathan and the leadership of the PDP will do well to avoid rabble rousers whose only stock in trade is to sow seeds of dissent, disunity, distrust and needless conflict then position themselves to reap from the eventual crises. Never again must we allow our heroes past to be insulted by mean spirited men who lack honour. We must celebrate those who by dint of hardwork and God’s favour achieved greatness. Yes, the incidence of corruption and poor leadership at all levels of our society have over the years grown significantly. However, we must not make the mistake of condemning everyone including those like Senator Ali who have made modest but discernible inputs to the growth and development of our country, its security and democracy.
On Senator Owie’s allegation that Senator Ali is critical of President Jonathan.It is a matter of public record that Senator Ali has stood strongly in support of President Jonathan right from his days as Governor of Bayelsa State. In the early days of President Jonathan’s campaign for president when most notable northerners were afraid to publicly identify with him, it was patriotic men like Senator Ali that came out publicly and identified with President Jonathan and his campaign for president. Senator Ali does not and has never believed in pulling down the house he helped build and he has no intentions to start learning bad habits in the twilight of his life and career. As it is said in local proverbial parlance, a man does not learn how to use his left hand in old age. Senator Ali is publicly and privately a PDP man and an avid supporter of the PDP -led federal Government of President Jonathan.
•Amu, a public affairs analyst wrote in from Edo state and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org