Mariam Mohammed Maktoub
In the affairs of man, there is always the cynic, the traducer, the proponent, the indolent, the diligent, so on it goes. For those who understand this simple principle of life, they become enigmas and a matter of several conjectures by those giving to mischief or plain foolishness.
On the occasion of the 80th birthday celebration of the man some Nigerians cannot understand, therefore, are wont to peddle half-truths, white lies and absolute falsehoods, it calls for some sort of reminder to a cardinal norm of life; be yourself.
On November 9, 2019, Mamman Daura, the famed ‘influential’ nephew of President Muhammadu Buhari, clocked 80.
And to celebrate the auspicious occasion, his family and close friends had a birthday dinner for the grand old man in London. Since the event, owing to a calculated video circulated on the Internet, some of our countrymen have gone into overdrive, anyway, they have always been so once it has to do with Mallam Daura, throwing darts and making their illogical premise that because he is related to President Buhari, he is responsible for all of Nigeria’s economic and social struggles since 1960!
It is somewhat disconcerting that a man that has worked and walked all his life in the elite echelon can no longer afford the basic minimum of luxury speaks to a much sinister agenda by those who are persuaded, albeit wrongly, that those who have their relatives in power are not entitled to the good life.
In a matter such as this, a little historical perspective will offer a profound perspective into what happens in the corridor of power.
Just a few years ago, Chief Edwin K. Clark, the Ijaw protagonist and former Minister of Information in the First Republic was about everywhere when his kinsman, former President Goodluck Jonathan was in office.
It was not just a rumour, but a matter of fact, that Chief Clark was ubiquitous in most affairs of government, dishing out patronage, taking barbs, imaginary or otherwise, for his ‘son’ Jonathan. There was never a day that Chief Clark was not attacking and countermanding directives of appointees of the then administration.
Owing to the pervasive nature of Chief Clark in that government, the engaging Reuben Abati, former Special Adviser to Goodluck Jonathan on Media and Publicity, was compelled to pen “Clark, The Father, Jonathan, The Son’ when the once overbearing ‘Father’ Clark disowned his son, Jonathan, after he fell from his perch as president in 2015 to President Buhari.
In every successive administration in Nigeria, there are people that have been garbed in mythical political power and influence other than the one with the mandate. So, adorning Malam Daura, who by the way grew up alongside the president, with a larger than life abilities is nothing new.
The difference between Mamman Daura and other powerbrokers in the past is that he cannot really be said to direct or countermand any presidential or ministerial directive other than the fable of being head of a nebulous cabal at the Presidency.
Owing to his fortitude, borne out of deep experience as a editor of Northern Nigeria’s gem in the 1960s’, the New Nigerian, Malam Daura has remained the true companion and gentleman he is, while the bellows of those who ought to by now realize that he runs his course as powerful current that cannot be fazed flail wildly.
It is to his credit that besides the market place rumblings, Mamman Daura has continued to demonstrate that gentlemanliness is an honourable trait which only those groomed in the best traditions can recognize.
In the days before the Buhari Presidency, Nigerians know those who because they were from the presidents’ parts of the country wielded enormous powers that even ministers and governors had to go genuflect before them to get things done.
For a man who had the best of British education, speaks impeccably and has shown fidelity to his nephew and largely stayed out of public engagements save for family related gatherings to often be demonized is to say the least vile and shameful.
As to the birthday matter, I should commend Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode who has called out those who have shown a remarkable disdain for family values and seared only by loathe to query why Mamman Daura’s family and friends should hold something as simple as birthday celebration for him in London.
For all I could see, and those who choose to be objective in the various videos and still photographs, there was nothing out of the ordinary in the celebration. I could not see the most exotic caviar or choice wines and delicacies. It is in this Nigeria that we have witnessed how people who have not worked as hard or invoke the kind of influence of Mamman Daura carries celebrate in sheer ostentatious manner.
However, it is not something of a wonder because the Mamman Daura known to people is frugal, Spartan and given to just the basic ‘luxuries’ of life.
One thing I remain persuaded of is that some of those who have taken to speak ill of him do not even know him or why they do so. Some have to be seen amongst the small but vociferous crowd that have to blame someone else, especially one close to the president, for Nigeria’s struggles.
It is a certainty that if Malam Daura were to pass in front of most of the baying crowd, they would not even recognize him save for now that his birthday pictures and videos are about everywhere.
Nigerians have to come to terms with the fact that one single individual is not the reason why electricity is epileptic in our country. We ought to accept the fact that not one single cabal is responsible for the pervasive corruption that has held this country down for over five decades. Rather it is a collective failure of leadership and followership.
To this end, the vilification of the Mamman Dauras of this country will further expose our insincerity and ingratitude to those who have given their time, resources and abiding faith in our collective destiny.
In case this group of Nigerians do not realize it, Mamman Daura has not only suffered his own losses, but has earned his epaulets as a journalist, public administrator, business owner, consummate investor, boardroom titan and philanthropist.
But his enduring legacy remains that he is a loving husband, doting father, delightful grandfather, enduring uncle and cherished benefactor to hundreds.
Here is a toast to your triumph and for living your life. Happy Birthday, Sir!
––Ms Mariam Mohammed Maktoub is an Abuja-based Publisher/Political PR Consultant