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5th Trust Annual Dialogue : A participant's diary
Author: Abdulaziz Ahmad Abdulaziz Fagge | January 24, 2008



Started five years ago, the Annual Trust Dialogue is a kind of annual ritual where participants brainstorm over topical national issue of the time. Previous dialogues were on National economic reform, free and fair election etc. This year’s theme was “Challenges of Democracy in Africa”, perhaps considering how the democratic barometer of Africa is high and how democracy is at crossroad in some African countries. Since unveiling this year’s timetable for the dialogue, I made up my mind to attend it. Though I admired the idea since its debut in 2004, but I have never been to the dialogue until this year. I discuss the journey with some members of our online group (www.uk.groups.yahoo.com/trustwritersforum) However, I was in dilemma of whether to attend the dialogue or not when other personal commitment suddenly overwhelms me. It was only on the morning of Wednesday (some twenty six hours to the event) that I finally resolved to be part of the august, knowledge-sharing event. I arrived Abuja some minutes after four in the evening of that day. The man to watch –J.J Rawlings A long serving president of Ghana, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings was among the African leaders who made their way to power by the power of gun and later transform into a ‘democrat’, hence he was twice elected as head of state before he lost his third term bid to president Mr. John Kuffour with due respect to president Rawlings, he has almost identical political career with our own Baba–Iyabo, who also ruled in khaki and twice as civilian. Their only difference however is that Obansanjo’s third term bid was illegal and thus failed in per-election times while Rawlings own third term was legitimate and only failed at the ballot box. A huge character and courageous, from his own appearance, President Rawlings symbolizes the name ‘soldier’. Though in his sixties, Rawlings still stands firm and upright. The inseparable couple! Where are the youth of this generation? Come and experience what really companionship is all about. “Sincere affection at work!” I gasped. The duo of Flt. Lt. Jerry J. Rawlings and his better half, Mrs. Nana Rawlings are indeed a couple to watch. One would wonder how a man of that age as Rawlings still finds great comfort in being in company of his soul mate. Mrs. Rawlings was with him at Abuja for the Trust dialogue; she sat next to him by his right. They would exchange some glances and whisper some words from time to time. I guess even those charming smiles of Mrs. Rawlings are enough to make her husband feel lone and bored without her (she had being smiling all the time, I was monitoring her!) Rawlings the orator! Kai! Never in my life have I listened to an old man who speaks with such vigor, apart from the erudite Emeritus Professor Eskor Tayo, than President Rawlings. He spoke with audacity and dynamism of a young man in his zenith. He treated the topic with efficiency as an insider hence citing as many personal experience is possible. The old Rawlings was speaking at the top of his voice in a mood that translates his inner mind: Expression of disappointment, pan- African activism, distain for onslaught on democracy, passion for Africa’s development, revolutionary thoughts etc. I quite agree with the MC, Mr. Tunde. Asaju who said Rawlings was sixty years but young at heart. The ironies of life. I can’t believe my eyes when I saw one former governor, one of the ‘golden’ governors then. He came in alone, only been ushered by a member of the Trust management board. He was visibly overwhelmed by what I can call shame because he only waved and increase his pace when someone waved in greeting. That former governor was only laboriously dragging along his huge shoe like the Jack Sauna’s. But that governor was perhaps luckier than his counterpart, another former governor whose presence was acknowledged by the MC, but I doubt if any body had seen him in the crowd. He sat unrecognized among us the commoners. That is an irony of life! Rawar yanmata! The Humorous and kind Mahmud Jega. “Are you the Barr. Wushishi?” Said the indefatigable Daily Trust editor, Mal. Mahmaud Jega as I introduced the Chairman of Trust Writers’ Forum, Barr. Danlami Alh. Wushishi “I thought I would see a big retired Barrister” continued Jega “Ah! You are not like your writings “he commented. I met Mal. Jega together with the famous columnist, Ishaq Kawu Modibbo. They were both charming and welcoming, I have met both before for different occasions. Mal. Mahmud Jega proved more humble and humorous when we met him later as a team. We exchange pleasantries laughingly as he teased our chairman, Barr. Danlami Wushishi. Never attempt meeting Mal. Mohammed Haruna! This sounds absurd and paradoxical. But if you didn’t believe me ask my good friend Rahman Raheem. “Is that Mohammed Haruna”, “Is that him?” Rahman kept asking. Like most of us, Rahman was disappointed by the Mohammed Haruna he met; a different man from the one he pictures. “His (Mohammed Haruna’s) words are bigger than him,” commented Rahman I also share the view. This is a man we have being reading; a prolific writer, a journalist per excellence yet he is jinka ya fi ganinka. A very humble person despite his enviable personality. Mohammed Haruna is an astute of journalism who raised from reporter to an editor and later Managing Director of a national newspaper. …other members of Trust family Writers (Journalists) are disguisable, deviant and people in their own world. You would be reading or listening to someone for long, but you cant believe him when you see him, just like the case of Mallam Mohammed Haruna. I met many directors and junior staff of media Trust and almost everyone betrays his popularity. Those we met from the Trust family include the uban tafiya (leader), Mal. Kabiru A. Yusuf, Alh.Ishaq Ajibola, Mal. Munir Dan Ali (formally with the BBC), Haj. Aisha Umar Yusuf etc. when I heard someone yelling “Idang Alibi” I couldn’t believe that man who shook hand with the former is the Idang Alibi, a celebrated writer. Go and see Mal. Mannir Dan Ali; the erstwhile most popular correspondent of BBC Hausa service. It was another bred of the BBC stock, Mal. Ado Sale Kankia that introduced me to Mannir Dan Ali. Kai! That could not be the Dan Ali I have been hearing! The Trust Writers’ team Trust Writers’ Forum is essentially an online community consisting of prolific and upcoming writers who contribute to national discuss in our newspapers. The forum however as the name suggests is basically for those contributing to Trust titles. Six of us from the forum attended the dialogue. These were; Barr. Danlami Wushishi, Rahman Raheem, Yakubu Mohammed Rigasa, Yushau A. Shu’aib, Ibrahim Sabo and myself. We were there as a representation of the forum which has eighty seven members across the wide and length of the country. Some of us were meeting for the first time, but the trio of me, Rahman and Wushishi has met late in 2006 when we paid a courtesy visit to Media Trust headquarters in Abuja. So the convergence was a great opportunity for us to see one another. Behold, the Gentlemen of the road! We took off to Kano at 4:30 pm but stopped to refuel the car in the town before we finally took off. The return journey to Kano was exciting and went smoothly at least up to the time we made a stop over at Dankande travelers’ mosques near Kaduna. We stopped at this travelers’ resort where we said our magrib and Ishai prayers and then help ourselves with suya and assorted drinks from the mini mart near the mosque. The five of us in the car made the journey more enjoyable through an interesting and knowledgeable discussion. We ponder over many national issues of interest and also some of societal ills. We discussed issues from the public life to business, from politics to scholarship. I wonder when the rehabilitation of Kaduna- Kano road would come to an end. The distance from Zaria to Kura in Kano state is especially more dilapidated and pot-holed. I was sleeping when we passed Zaria but when we bumped into a pot-hole I revived myself, but as destiny has it, I woke only to have a glimpse at the gentlemen of the road on duty. After leaving Makarfi by some few kilometers, before reaching Kwanar Dangora our driver suddenly saw some cars stopped on the road. There were about three people stopping the cars and another scallywag overlapping quietly by the shoulder of the road perhaps trying to attack us unaware as we advanced towards them. Alhamdullillah! The energetic driver jammed his gear stick to reverse and lucky us; there were no coming vehicles thus we covered a reasonable distance before we turn to face the road. Seeing that we were far from the dare-devils we stopped and in a moment we decided to follow a tanker since such robbers do not stop heavy duty vehicles. Note the armed robbers were using local weapons, and I guess that is why they did not attempt to do anything when we reversed as we spotted them. We followed that tanker but before we reach the place, terrified we turn back again. We then made the final decision to go back to Zaria and spent the night there (it was already close to 11:00pm). I wonder and ponder over this manifold problem. The insecurity in Nigeria and the temerity, mercilessness and timidity (yes, they are cowards!) of the local armed robbers. I doubt if there is any police (or any security) checkpoint or camp from Kano to Kaduna, vice-versa. In a country like Nigeria where the level of insecurity is alarming that absence of security points is a grotesque inability. The menace of armed robbery between Kano and Zaria is recently becoming unprecedented. I have heard some days ago from someone that, Zaria-Kano road is hell especially at early hours of night. There are several reports of armed robbery recently on this highway. Then come to the armed robbers. To my belief (many people are of such opinion) those armed robbers, popularly called in Hausa Yan kwanta –kwanta), are from the neighboring villages. They used simple techniques and devices (arms). They simply use big stones or fallen trees to block the road and used sticks (gora), machetes and other local weapons for their ‘operation’. I thank God for giving me the opportunity to attend the 5th Trust Annual Dialogue and for saving from the wrath and mercilessness of the rude gentlemen of the road.

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josef iroko,accra,ghana    ACCRA, GHANA    January 25, 2008
Dear Mr. Abdulaziz, fmr. Prez. Rawlings never stood for a 3rd term.He was entitled to a maximum 2 terms in office which he duly completed.It was his party's candidate who lost to Mr Kufour.He never tried to extend his rule beyond his 2 terms.Please get your facts right so as not miseducate your readers!.
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