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Opinion: The trials of brother Kefas

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By Emmanuel Bello

As it finally ended in praise today at the Supreme Court, I couldn’t but reflect on practically the long road to freedom both for Governor Agbu Kefas and the rest of us. What an experience! Let me attempt a summary.

Memory lane.

In 2014, Lt Colonel Agbu Kefas(rtd) told me he’s running for governor of Taraba state. He had just finished his tenure as Chairman, Governing Board of the NIMASA- a very highly placed federal board. He had an excellent career there as he did in the military where he had earlier resigned from.

The first governorship attempt

I was excited by his announcement that he wants to run but I was also aware of the long and tortuous paths he would travel. To start with, I did not see him as a hard nosed politcian being a thoroughbred soldier. And even when we used to meet in Jalingo, when I was a commissioner, he didn’t give the impression he was interested in anything political. All we did was catch up on our childhood and church things. I however noticed his closeness with late Governor Suntai and his affinitywith Gov Jolly Nyame. Besides all of these, it was the uncertain days of Garba UTC as acting governor of the state. Various things were happening and the intrigue was deepened by the crisis of succession. At a personal level, I was caught in the vortex. However, and for whatever reason, Colonel Agbu Kefas (rtd) never abandoned me. Apart from ensuring I remained afloat in the harsh weathers, he carried me along on his plans. As soon as he told me of his gubernatorial ambition, I instinctively keyed in. At the time, there were tough contenders too on the horizon. Then there was also my personal dilemma. I was easily associated with one of the camps but I was completely invested in the Kefas for Governor project due to the long standing friendship.

Bold steps

We joined him to start the early journey by going round Taraba and introducing the Kefas brand to the small circles we could find. His message at each stop was a very simple one: if elected, he would work for the people. I was so convinced that he would make a fantastic Governor. And when I saw his circle and the influence he exerted in a silent way, I knew I was not wrong.

Gen Danjuma choice.

In those difficult days of the 2014s, the politics of Taraba was undergoing a tectonic tremor. Jalingo was torn between UTCs men and the resistance movement in Abuja codenamed “the cabal”! The Cabal knew only the former defence minister, Gen TY Danjuma, could break the logjam. And that’s what he did. He waded into the fray and made to pick a candidate for the upcoming elections. I was very convinced he would anoint Colonel Kefas! Espirit the Corp apart, Kefas was young and very amenable. Kefas was also close to the Danjuma clan in various ways. But that was not to be the case. A former minister and an architect, Darius Isyaku, emerged from the rigorous process. I still remembered how I felt back then at the announcement. Darius wasn’t someone I knew too well but I had interacted with him when he was minister. I wasn’t convinced he was better than Kefas or the other aspirants. But providence kicked in and it was the Darius show.

Kefas Next Move

After the choice of Darius from the process, Kefas collapsed his political machinery and backed the candidate. He supported him whole heartedly, telling his fans to work hard for the emergence of the PDP candidate.

When the government was formed, Kefas went back to private life but decidedly stayed in Jalingo. Between pastoring his church and doing business, it was doubtful if he was interested in anything else. Then came the North East Commission job with the Gen TY Danjuma led body. Again, he did very well.

PDP Chairmanship.

One fine morning, Kefas told me he would like to be the PDP Chairman after the tenure of late Hon Victor Bala Kona. At the time, I was in the opposing APC but was happy for him. I told him he would make a fantastic party Chairman. I was right.

Governorship tussle.

There are many who will tell you today that Governor Kefas push to Government House started in that PDP Chairmanship position. I’m yet to find out from him if he wanted the PDP position to launch his governorship bid. But that will be a story for another day. What is clear is that at a certain point, the talks were already making the rounds that Kefas was being positioned for governorship. The talk was that the PDP Chairmanship was preparatory grounds for the main thing.

In the late months of 2022, the governorship tussle was hotting up. Big names from the Northern part of the state were springing up. The name of Kefas was not in the mix. The issue of power shift was very emotional as the Northern zone of the state said it was their turn. As party Chairman, Dr Kefas played the role of an unbiased umpire.

You can then imagine the joys and shocks when Colonel Agbu Kefas emerged the Chosen One. The intrigues and dramas that led to this development is still stuffs of a blockbuster. It’s a tale for another day.

The troubles

After his emergence, the travails of Candidate Kefas started in earnest. Talks were rife that the sitting governor did not like the choice of Kefas. There were doubts when the campaigns themselves will kick off. Normally, the incumbent leads the charge at the campaigns. For the first time, the candidate and the incumbent appeared to be divided leaving the entire state confused. Kefas navigated it well by staying above the fray. He exhibited uncommon patience through out the ordeal. If there was a cold war, he was nice about it and did not allow matters to boil over.

Election battles.

Kefas had only a few weeks for his governorship campaign and he made a massive use of it. He eventually won resoundingly. Even the announcement by INEC was dogged by intrigues. When the returning officer eventually made the announcement, he said he did it “under duress”. And that opened the floodgates of litigations that officially ended today.

I have never seen a political drama with plenty intrigues and twists as this one and the man Governor Agbu Kefas is indeed the hero of this epic. His composure, inspirational words and long-suffering is the stuff of Greekan gods. Shakespeare famously said all is well that ends well. This is it!

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