Re: Can Gov. Shekarau lift Nigeria from the abyss?

In his above titled article published in the Peoples Daily edition of Saturday, August 28, 2010, the writer; Muhammad Sagagi rhetorically asked if Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State deserves the key to the villa.

In the writer’s attempts to support his thesis, he tends to commit academic suicide by speaking from both sides of his mouth. At first, he wholeheartedly accepted the basic fact of Shekarau’s outstanding performances when he extensively and rightly averts in his article as follows:

 “In fairness to him, yes! To re-engineer society and ‘establish a new order’, Shekarau has invested in new structures and institutions and in new initiatives to curve the menace of ethnic and religious violence and promote peaceful co-existence. In fulfilment of his pledge to rebuild the state economy for growth and economic prosperity, Shekarau has demonstrated willingness to reform, and to implement a formal development agenda: the Rolling Plan and Road Map for Economic Development; as part of a private sector revival strategy, the administration has set out to address one of the critical areas that need state intervention: the development of basic infrastructure; the state is opening new markets, establishing new industrial estates especially for SMEs and rehabilitating the Central Business District to ‘reinvigorate the age old commercial and industrial status of Kano state’.  A  huge chunk of state resources-close to N20 billion or 21% of capital expenditure since 2003- has so far been invested in the rehabilitation of  the water supply system: the Tamburawa Water Project, with a capacity to supply 150 million litres of water daily to Kano metropolis, has been successfully completed. The Watari water supply project, when completed, will supply up to 75 million litres per day to the outlying areas. These are undoubtedly positive undertakings which Shekarau will be remembered for.”

By this open admittance of Shekarau’s credible performances; Sagagi has in fairness achieved two basic things for Shekarau. One, he has clearly admitted himself into the governor’s self appointed spokespersons. However, unlike Ujudud Sheriff and Saka Raji, Sagagi is not in any way sure of his stance on the hardworking governor and whoever chooses to be in dilemma of fact should not be taken seriously. Two, Sagagi’s statement of fact about Shekarau as quoted above also justified why the governor earned his various awards across the length and breadth of the country, which Sagagi detests and by extension adduced reasons why Shekarau deserves the key to the presidential villa in 2011 to clear the mess committed by the Poverty Development Party (PDP) in the last eleven years of its governance.

Unfortunately for Sagagi, he suddenly realizes that as a PDP sympathizer (because he shows no reason why any one should criticize PDP poor outing in Nigeria), in academic attire, it would not augur well for him to make such open confessional statement, commending Shekarau’s unsurpassed achievements in Kano State. Sagagi therefore betrayed his academic sensibilities when he changes gear as chameleon changes colour in his second aspect of his article. In this aspect, Sagagi went on Self Assured Destruction (SAD), using the principle of hear-say and unverified thesis against the same man he said has done pretty well for his people in the same piece. Nevertheless, we should pardon Sagagi for his Double Standard Approach (DSA) to the issues he discussed in his Saturday outing in the Peoples Daily. This is in view of the fact that as a doctor, perhaps without philosophy, he failed to realize the difference between his theoretical frameworks of his academic environment and the practical disposition of the political environment. This is why people like our President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the former INEC Chairman, Professor Maurice Iwu, the late Dr, Tai Solarin and perhaps, the incumbent INEC Boss, Professor Attahiru Jega may not see reason why they should fail in their various national assignments.

It however beats our imaginations how Muhammad Sagagi wonders that “there is too much for the metropolis and too little for the rural folks.” Hear him again, “There is too much economic infrastructure-the three lane roads, the street lights, the solar panels, the drainages and roundabouts-and too little social infrastructure.” This is Sagagi describing the wonders of Shekarau’s performances in Kano. One also wonders too if Sagagi has ever been to Victoria Island and Ajegunle and Agege in Lagos state or still, has he visited the Abuja main city and its rural suburbs? It is not even quite long documentary news was aired on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), which portrayed the city of Lagos as a slum. Does this signify the poor performances of the hardworking Lagos State governor and his administration?

If in Sagagi’s frame of things, there should be equal development in rural and urban areas, why should there be too much noise about rural-urban migration? If “too much economic infrastructure-the three lane roads, the street lights, the solar panels, the drainages and roundabouts” as provided by Shekarau administration are in rural areas any where in Nigeria, why should many of us come all the way from our villages to town in search of greener pasture? This is however not to say that our rural folks should in any way be neglected by the government but we shouldn’t make mockery of our own realities just because Shekarau wishes to become President of Nigeria next year. In order to justify his thesis, Sagagi deliberately or otherwise borrowed archaic argument against Shekarau as if any of the previous administration in Kano state had done anything better than the present administration. Let us make an evaluation of Sagagi’s insinuations he champions in his Saturday piece to be able to ascertain who is fooling who. 

One, the matter of the so called fertiliser scandal is not an issue that Sagagi should busy himself with because the erstwhile EFCC boss, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu who investigated the matter was very clear about his finding when he said, “neither Governor Ibrahim Shekarau nor any member/official of his government was involved in any shady deal in the fertilizer scandal. Ribadu said that investigations conducted by his commission showed that the government was innocent of any blame in the contract. The EFCC Chairman then commended the Kano state Governor for his transparent and honesty in the running of Kano government. At the heat of the matter in 2007, Ribadu re-emphasized the innocence of Shekarau on 27th February 2007 via the interview he granted to media Trust, publishers of the Daily Trust. In the said interview, Ribadu bared his mind on his so called indicted politicians. According to Ribadu, “all allegations against Governor Ibrahim Shekarau could not be proven.” He said the EFCC investigated Shekarau based on the several petitions received including maintaining a foreign account but they could not be established.

Two, it is also very funny to observe that while some pockets of opposition would like to hold Shekarau for using Shari’ah to ‘deprive’ them of their social convulsion, Muhammad Sagagi on his part is holding Shekarau for not making the Shari’ah to ‘work in Kano’. We can see that as the popular saying goes, one man’s meat, they say, is another man’s poison. None of the two sides can hold Shekarau for their selfish reasons. Again, Sagagi knows pretty well that unless for reason of mischief, he could not have said that the present situation is indiscipline, knowing full well that indiscipline breeds disorder and disorder breeds crisis. Ironically, Kano has been living in peace and harmony for the past six years of Shekarau’s administration, mainly because the idle youths who used to foment trouble before the coming of Shekarau administration have been adequately empowered and are now busy with their empowerment. So, what is Muhammad Sagagi Saying about indiscipline now when in the pre-Shekarau administration, we hardly observed our Fri
day prayers without the heavy presence of armed chest looking mobile policemen?

Consequently, Shekarau’s sangaya project has also gone a long way in reducing the number of beggars and child hawkers on our roads in Kano state. This is a continuous process and not a one day job because the beggars and hawkers did not come to Kano in one day. If one may ask, where are the parents/guardians of these beggars, many of which come from neigbouring states as Katsina, Yobe, Borno, Jigawa, Kaduna and even the federal capital territory, FCT to impregnate the beggars’ population in the other states of the country?  If the parents/guardians of the beggars had not shied away from their parental social responsibilities on these neglected citizens, the problem of “street begging, hawking, stealing, political banditry, drug using and trafficking, prostitution, child labour, etc” in the north would have been reduced to the bearable minimum. But, see where we are today. No body wants to address the issue of parental negligence but to put the problem squarely on the head of Shekarau simply because he has offered himself to serve the people. I should think that parents should have endeavoured to complement the effort of government by trying to live up to their parental responsibilities to secure the future of their kiths and kin. Sagagi should have thought of this.

Sagagi also made sweeping claim that health and education sectors under Shekarau are under funded. If we are to go by this biased observation, then let Sagagi make available the statistics of Kano State teacher’s strikes and that of the Federal Government ASUU strikes in the last seven years as a result of under funding. Sagagi’s ASUU went on strikes many times without number on the issue of Federal Government’s under funding of universities, which led to dislocation of academic programmes of our students, and which at the same time pave way for the university teachers to use the lost hours for their Private Practice (PP). The problem of university under funding is still there today, in spite of many ASUU strikes. Unless Sagagi makes the statistic available to us, he should not act as kettle, calling pot blank.

It may also interest my dear friend Sagagi that recently, thousands of people in the northwest states were reportedly ravaged by cholera and measles epidemics and hundreds of the victims were confirmed dead. Is it not a plus for Shekarau government that only Kano State, out of the six states in the northwest zone was not affected by the ravage in the last eight months due to the state government adequate attention on this sector? Perhaps, Sagagi has not heard about this. The statistical data about the epidemic outbreak is with the Federal Ministry of health for him to confirm. 

The issue of ‘wasteful and imprudent expenditure’ by the government is just a figment of sagagi’s imagination as he did not provide any statistics to back up his spurious claim. In contradistinction to this, it is well known fact that in Kano State, all federal receipts and disbursements are usually disclosed by the state Finance Ministry at the end of every month through media briefings. This is aimed at giving an insight to money accrued and expended by the government on monthly basis. It also gives opportunity to every member of the public interested in the government incomes and expenditure, including Sagagi to know the statement of government accounts. This is not all. With the introduction of Project Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate by Shekarau government, every project and contract awarded in Kano are under serious scrutiny and are vigorously pursued to their logical conclusions. There is no room for projects or contracts abandonment as in the case of stories we hear from other states and the federal parastatals where billions of public funds earmarked for social amenities disappear with nothing to showcase for it. Has Sagagi ever heard of the N16 billion power sector fund diverted to personal by Obasanjo administration?

On the reference made by Sagagi to the publication of Abba Mahmud of Leadership Newspaper edition of September 18, 2008, he should know that truth heals and rebuilds, dear Sagagi. He may not know that conscience as an open wound, only truth can heal it. So, Abba Mahmud corollary of accusations on Malam Shekarau administration, deliberate as it may look like is baseless, malicious and unfounded. Such provocative and malicious allegation as we have in his squandering of goodwill in Kano is imaginary and could only be peddled by him because he has no grasp of the situation and perhaps, he did so to curry favour and sympathy from the idle oppositions since it is very easy to destroy than to build.

If Sagagi thinks that it is funny for him that Kano is the 15th poorest state in Nigeria, he should also know that Nigeria has once been rated as the 13th poorest nations of the world, not minding its richness in oil. The much talked about the high poverty in the North was in comparison with its Southern counterparts of the country. In order to put the issue of poverty in the North in its proper perspective, it is discernible for Sagagi to go down the memory lane to unravel the initial factor responsible for the situation in the North. This is better than putting the blame squarely on one man.

By 1957, the western region introduced Universal and Compulsory free primary education and devoted almost fifty (50) per cent of the region’s budget to education generally. At independence therefore, there was already a criminal gap between the North and the South in the matter of western education.  The Northern region had only a handful University graduates and probably no more than two thousand (2000) holders of school certificate. The South, which received western education earlier than the North and which also, sponsored more students abroad than North had these two categories of educated elements in their hundreds and thousands respectively. Ten years later in 1967, there were about two and half million children in the primary schools of Eastern and Western regions, compared with a half million out of the greater population of the former North. Besides these, 119,000 students were in Southern secondary schools, against 14,000 in the Northern secondary schools. Teachers in the South numbered 24,000 while teachers in the North numbered only 3000. In 1910, the first Director of Education for the North, Hanns Vischer was appointed, even though the education department for the protectorate of Southern Nigeria was established in 1903. The notorious educational gap between the North and the South could only be appreciated when it is remembered that while as early as 1859 when the Church Missionary Society opened a Grammar School in Lagos , the equivalent of such a school to be opened in the North was the opening of a government school in Kano in 1912. Despite these setbacks, the Northern region contributed tremendously towards the eventual achievement of independence of 1960 and has been a region in a careful hurry to catch up with the other regions. It is against this background that the high poverty level in the north should be seen and not for Sagagi to wake up from his deep slumber to castigate one man for everybody’s woe just because he does not want the man to become President of Nigeria.

Sagagi should therefore understand that PDP has not made any difference since it came to power more than eleven years ago. The country has no air carrier of its own but a whooping sum of N24 billion was expended on one man’s plane. Billions of naira has also been allocated to 50 years anniversary of the country to celebrate corruption, ineptitude, umemployment, rampant kidnapping, insecurity, epileptic power supply, smuggling, north –south dichotomy, abuse of office, etc. Those responsible for these problems are either looking for continuity or wants to come back to cause more havoc to the chaotic system. This is why in spite of Sagagi’s consistent inconsistencies in his article against the man of the people; Nigerians should try to endorse Malam (
Dr) Ibrahim Shekarau as President because he is the only person that deserves the key to the Aso Villa in 2011. If this is achieved, it means that Nigerians realize the problems and want a change in their lives and if they do otherwise, it shows that they have not appreciated their problems and want to postpone the evil day. We pray that God forbids bad thing and allow the best for the country.

 

Saka Raji Audu writes from Kano and can be reached on his email: [email protected]

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