Alhaji Abubakar Rimi's Political Footprints

Friday, April 16, 2010

Late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi

First executive governor of old Kano State, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, breathed his last on Sunday night and was buried in Kano, after an armed robbery attack on his way from Bauchi, KOLA OYELERE, captures the major contributions of the late politicians in his 70 years sojourn on earth.

About 70 years ago, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, the first civilian governor of old Kano State, was born. The eloquent Fulani joined active politics under the tutelage of late Aminu Kano, who was considered as the great voice of the Talakawa. For Rimi, who until his sudden death last Sunday, totally embraced the Talakawa‘s ideology, he used the defunct Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) founded by late Aminu Kano being used as a political platform.

Rimi actually eyed the senatorial seat in 1979, but as luck would have it, the actual person nominated for the post was disqualified and without wasting much time, his political mentor and leader of the Talakawa, Aminu Kano, saw the qualities in him and instantly nominated him for governorship post of the old Kano State, now comprising Kano and Jigawa.

Rimi eventually won the election and became the first civilian governor of old Kano State. There is a saying in political circle that there is no permanent friend in politics, but permanent interest. This saying came to bear in the political career of Rimi as a crisis of confidence soon broke out between him and the leadership of PRP. It culminated in Rimi dumping the party and contesting the 1983 poll on the platform of the defunct Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP) led by the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, which he lost to late Alhaji Bakin Zuwo.

Right from the advent of the Second Republic, the name Rimi featured in the country’s political history. Same applied during the aborted Third Republic, when he mounted a campaign as a presidential aspirant on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP). Rimi demonstrated an admirable political sagacity, then, when he threw his weight behind the late Chief Moshood Abiola, against the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC), Alhaji Bashir Tofa, who ironically is a native of Kano, in the 1993 presidential election.

Rimi’s contributions to the political and economic development of the country during both military and civilian administrations in the country speak volumes. He was managing director of Nigeria Agriculture and Cooperative Bank during the regime of the late General Sani Abacha. He also served as minister of communication as well as chairman, Nigerian Minting Printing Corporation (NMPC) in the past.

His political association was part and parcel of various associations that metamorphosed into the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), then as the leader of Social Progressive Party (SPP). The then minister of labour, Alhaji Musa Gwadabe, led the defunct People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) in Kano; the present ambassador to China, Alhaji Aminu Wali, was the head of defunct All Nigeria Congress (ANC) and Rimi belonged to SPP. It was on this tripod that the PDP was formed in Kano and the sharing arrangement among the three platform occasioned the emergence of Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as governor of Kano in 1999, with Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje as his deputy.

The late Rimi dumped the PDP ahead of the 2007 poll, on account of former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s dream to succeed himself through his third term agenda and went to form the Action Congress (AC) together with likes of Atiku Abubakar. In the course of time, Alhaji Rimi’s political popularity suffered a serious setback, when the incumbent governor, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, won the second term governorship ticket, defeating Rimi’s governorship candidate in the process.

Shortly after the elections had been concluded and winners sworn in into various offices, the National Working Committee of the PDP and President Umaru Yar’Adua felt there was need to reconcile those aggrieved members of the party who had left the party for one reason or other. This led to the setting up of a reconciliation committee of PDP headed by Dr. Alex Ekwueme. The result of the reconciliation gave birth to the return of Rimi to PDP.

However, soon after Rimi and his supporters returned to their former party, another agitation cropped up. The reason was that before they re-joined the Kano State chapter of PDP, the elected executive had been on ground. Rimi and his group felt that they would not have a say in the party executive, since they didn’t have any representation in the party exco. That was the last political situation that Rimi was going through before the final exit.

Following the prevailing situation in the party before the demise of this northern political colossus, the questions that arise are: will the exit of Rimi affect the party in future election? What would be the faith of his supporters concerning the political vacuum he left behind and who is capable of stepping into his shoes?

National Vice Chairman of the PDP (North West), Alhaji Danladi Sankara, said nobody could obliterate the popularity of Rimi in politics.

Sankara added that his exit would go a long way in attracting sympathy to the party, as many politicians would troop to join the party and make the PDP to wax stronger.

“Contrary to series of insinuations being peddled around that the PDP will die in Kano because there is no other person within the party that is vocal as Rimi, this is far from the truth, many politicians would pitch tent with the party,” he said.

Rimi had also been quoted to have told his supporters not to allow personal differences to be a stumbling block in wresting power from the ruling party in future elections.

However, to Alhaji Isah Ibrahim, a chieftain of PDP, the death of Rimi would have a negative impact on PDP in Kano State “Tell me, who is there to fight people like Dr. Kwankwaso?” he asked.

According to him, the late Rimi had seen the PDP as his personal enterprises, describing the late politician as fearless and capable of confronting injustice and cheating.

On his own, Alhaji Mohammed Abacha, son of the former head of state, said Rimi was a force to be reckoned with. He added that Allah had reasons for whatever happened in life, concerning the sudden death of Rimi.


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