By Inuwa Bwala
I have covered political gatherings in the past as a reporter, I have organized and participated in political rallies as a politician. It presupposes thetefore that, no crowd could move me anymore.
But the one witnessed in Biu town, where the ancient town came to a virtual stand still for Honorable Muktari Betara Aliyu on Saturday was however something else.
It was not a rally as such,as it was not meant to be, given that the ban on political activities has not yet been lifted formally.
It was meant to be the symbolic presentation of the Expression of Interest and Nomination forms donated to Muktari Betara Aliyu by his constituents.
I have witnessed other presentations and even declarations, but I must confess that none matches this one. One could see and hear that, this one is a genuine expressions if the people, that tends to rubbish the old saying, that, “Prophets are not honored at home”.
The old and the young, men and women: including women in purdah; politicians and non politicians, the weak and the mighty, all trooped out to be counted.
I joined the trip to Biu out of curiosity, given rumours of attempts by some forces to change the lawmaker and I, being a witness to the numerous accomplishments of Muktari Betara: member representing Bayo, Biu, Kwaya-Kusar/Shani Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
It is a truism that, with his performances, Betara may not have only set a new standard for the evaluation of fellow members, but has created a big problem for them, as none dare beat his chest as having performed, compared to what Betara has done.
The presentation of forms to him was an eloquent testimony to the fact that, the House committee Chairman on Appropriation may be running against himself in the coming elections.
His, was akin to a Presidential declaration, where aspiring Governor’s, former Deputy Governor’s, serving and former Senators, serving and former members of the House of Representatives, serving and former members of the State House of Assembly, serving and former Commissioners and Special Advisers, the clergy, traditional rulers, the business community, clubs and associations, all turned out to welcome Betara into Biu.
Led by former Deputy ,Governor of Borno State, who is also the Wazirin if Biu, Adamu Shettima Yuguda Dibal, Betara’s constituents may have sent a very clear message ahead of the general elections, to the effect that, Betara’s seat is a no go area for any intending new comer.
Two private jets flew supporters, who included Biu elites and from Abuja into Gombe, where a retinue of SUV vehicles, Coaster buses and so many private cars, motorcycles and tricycles waited, to escort him all the way from Gombe.
As the long convoy moved from Gombe to Biu, enroute Bayo, and kwaya/Kusar, having arrived early enough for an event that was slated for 10pm, multitude of supporters blocked the road at the entry points to every town, chanting Betara’s praises.
Just when we thought the reception in Bayo was complete, with the tumultuous crowd, the convoy was confronted by even a larger crowd who abandoned their wares at Kwaya/Kussr market to join the frenzy.
Biu town was more electrifying as all activities in the ancient town came to a virtual standstill, with hundreds of thousands of people trooping out to catch a glimpse of their new political hero.
As people surge onto his vehicle to touch him or even catch a glimpse of him, movement was halted from all directions, making the short trip to the Emir’s palace: venue of the event a tasking one.
Security personnel were overstretched, forcing the anchors of the programme to skip protocols and allow the symbolic presentation to take place without the usual speeches.
Betara and Dibal merely acknowledged cheers from the podium before retiring to pay homage to the emir of Biu, Alhaji Mustapha Umar Mustapha II.
Select members in Betara’s entourage were allowed with him into the Emir’s palace where prayers and goodwill messages were made for the lawmaker.
Journalist struggled with the crowd at the palace to get shots and side chats from dignitaries, while policemen, had to draft reinforcement from sister security agancies to ensure passage by dignitaries.
Before presenting Betara to the royal father, Adamu Dibal informed the palace that bc although the emir is a non political player, Betara; as a worthy son deserves his royal blessings and prayers.
To him, no politician before Betara has achieved so much feat in developing his or her constituency.
Responding to the situation, Betara Aliyu, virtually in years of joy reeled out new projects he intend to execute in his constituency, a pledge which attracted thunderous applause from the Emir of Biu and other title holders in the emirate.
The event could be best surmised in the remarks by Senator Haliru, a Governorship aspirant in Bauchi State, who said, “I have been involved in politics for decades, but I have never seen a people shower so much love on a particular politician, in this magnitude. I have seen crowds, but I have never seen any from just one Federal Constituency, however big, as I have seen today in Biu”.
Even people who wish to seek Betaras position from both the APC and the opposition have remained reluctant, sensing that, the people of Betara’s constituency seem to have made up their minds, long ahead of the elections, that the time for change is not yet ripe.
So it seems for Betara, that by accepting to return to the green chambers, it is victory yet before election day.