News Analysis: Wider Implications of Atiku’s Nationality Debate

Buhari and Atiku

Atiku says Buhari's government muzzling press freedom

Buhari and Atiku

By Ademola Adegbamigbe

What happened that day in Maiduguri was akin to the drama in King Solomon’s court in Israel over 3,000 years ago. Solomon, in the presence of Queen of Sheba (great matriarch of Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia) who had come to witness the Israeli king’s prodigious wisdom, ruled between two women who were both laying claim to be the mother of a baby. To get the real universal mother-to- baby feeling, Solomon ordered one of his chamberlains to cut the baby into two, with each woman taking her own half home. While the real mother begged that the baby be spared and given to her rival, with the hope that in the fullness of time, he would know his real mother, the non-mother approved and was actually excited that the king should have the baby butchered. Solomon ordered, therefore that the former should have her baby back. Case closed.

In Maiduguri, the case was not about a dispute over a baby but a real adult Kanuri man, an alangoro, who could chew real “goro”, own cattle and even, after his daily grind, coil his hand around the waist of his wife. The man who a woman was also laying claim to was Abdulrahman Shugaba Darman (1920–2010), a Nigerian politician from Borno State. He held sway the same time the late Sir Ahmadu Bello did. Not only that, Shugaba Darman was a founding member of the Great Nigeria People’s Party GNPP) on the platform of which he was elected as a member of the Borno State House of Assembly in 1979 where he also became the house Majority Leader.

Trouble started for Shugaba Darman because he constituted a pain in the neck of the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN). As one biographer pus it, “Shugaba Darman was a charismatic politician who attracted large crowds at political rallies, the crowds were drawn to his speeches in which he criticized the ruling NPN government.” The party decided to do him a mischief; it claimed that Shugaba’s father was a Chadian, hence he was from Chad! Thus, GNPP went to court challenging the deportation order, through Chief D. O.A Oguntoye, a senior lawyer. The NPN government, to prove its position, brought a Chadian woman who claimed that Shugaba was her biological son and she wanted him back with alacrity. For dramatic effect, she burst into tears in the open court.

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To Shugaba, the woman should tell that to the Marines! He vehemently denied knowing her from Adam or Eve or Cain. How come the impostor did not look for her so called son, while he had been occupying public positions since? Shugaba insisted that his mother “was alive and well known in Maiduguri even though her sight was now poor.”

There is nothing that ruling parties in many country cannot do. Like the claim that Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 presidential election is a Cameroonian, Shugaba Darman was, on 24 January 1980, arrested by Immigration officers on the strength of a deportation order signed by the Federal Minister of Internal Affairs, Alhaji Bello Maitama. The deportation order entitled “Shugaba Abdurrahman Darman’s Deportation Order 1980”, stated amongst other things that “…Shugaba Abdurrahman Darman at present in Nigeria ought to be classified as a prohibited immigrant” and also that “Shugaba Abdurrahman be deported from Nigeria by the first available means….” Thus, as the media reported then, he was promptly deported to a village in Chad. This brought great public outcry as it is the case with Atiku now.

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