Since the inauguration of the current government on the 29th of May 2023, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has been championing life-changing policies, busy appointing advisers and setting up a solid foundation for the building blocks of his Presidency.
It is interesting to note that even with the intense lobby going on, no one has come out to publicly project that they are a potential candidate for a ministerial position, except Professor Muhammad Pate who slyly let it slip through the press announcement by his colleagues that he was passing over the highly important leadership of GAVI a global vaccine health behemoth to return home to serve his country.
Even if this were to be true, it is rather too self-serving and manipulation of the hand of the President to nominate and appoint him as the Minister designate from Bauchi State -assumingly to superintend over the affairs of the Federal Ministry of Health.
Without any gainsaying, the last elections were fought on several fronts, with men and women making huge sacrifices, some went against their kit and kin and made huge financial contributions, especially at a time of severe Naira scarcity accentuated by the now infamous Naira redesign policy of the CBN.
But they persevered and made sacrifices, loyal party men and women strategized day and night, and spent copious amounts of time and resources to ensure that the APC came out victorious.
Bauchi State was one such battleground, the party hierarchy was deeply entrenched in the pockets of a politically naive former Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu and an equally uninspiring Guber candidate in the person of Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar it took the combined efforts of the traditional and reliable APC structure in the State for the APC to achieve the 37.1 % of the votes cast giving him the 25% requirement to tick the box as one of its wins adding to the overall victory at the polls.
This context is very important because despite being a global health actor, nothing is known about Pate’s contributions to Bauchi State APC or the center when it mattered most. He was ensconced in pursuing his GAVI brief, which is not bad, only that it largely perpetuates his personal career growth, while others were in the political trenches ensuring a much-needed victory at the polls.
One very important aspect to look at is that given his prominent relationship with the former President of the Senate Dr Bukola Saraki, his interests and sympathies may have aligned with that of the PDP candidate former Vice President Atiku Abubakar. As Saraki played a prominent role in the political structure and campaign of the Atiku’s last push for the presidency. It is only natural that the relationship with the latter would have inspired Pate’s political inclination and bias.
To further buttress how Prof Pate is not a party man or loyalist, he was one of 28 candidates who vied for the governorship of Bauchi State in 2019 under the aegis of APC, at the time he had described himself as an accidental politician, this wasn’t far fetched as he lost out and continued his candidature under the more ideological left PRP. Other fears harboured against people like him are so-called technocrats have used national positions and assignments to propel themselves to global boards, and attract the headship of global organizations after their stints of heading Nigerian MDAs, we saw it in the recent history of the likes of Amina Mohammed who served for a year as Minister of Environment, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who went to the world bank after her stint as Minister of Finance and recently became the President of the World Trade Organization, Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture Mr Adewunmi Adeshina had the entire goodwill and machinery of government thrown behind him to emerge as the AfDB President. Pate is in great company as in the past he had resigned his position as Nigeria’s Minister of State for Health at a time Nigeria needed him most to further his professional career at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ironically most times only self-serving.
We must stop this disrespect of politicians, using them only to serve our purpose, and onboarding technocrats who come to reap where they have not sown anything. Let’s remember not only technocrats are meritorious nor are the smartest Nigerians around. There are politicians of great experience who can get the job done. Bauchi is too important politically speaking to be left in the hands of individuals like Prof. Pate. In this instance, Pate is already late to the Party. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu must get it right.
Misbahu Shehu a public affairs analyst is based in Bauchi, Bauchi State.