…As intra party gladiators use Gov Abubakar’s ‘none performance’ and diminishing approval rating to unseat him
By Maryam Musa
The appointments into several key and sensitive positions of Bauchi indigenes by President Muhammadu Buhari when he took over from the PDP government in 2015 has demonstrated how important and crucial the state is to Mr. Buhari. It also shows that the state is dear to him at least in comparison to several other northern states.
The politics of Bauchi since 1999 is unique. It is a politics of ideology with preference to the credibility of personalities contesting for a particular elective post especially the coveted offices of the governor and the president. That was why despite the outstanding performance of former Governor Adamu Maazu, which to date is second to none, the citizens rightly or wrongly rejected his anointed candidate in 2007 and former SSG, Mr. Nadada Umar, and overwhelmingly voted for the then ANPP candidate, Malam Isa Yuguda, who decamped to the party from PDP because of an irreconcilable feud with his long term friend and outgoing governor, Mr. Adamu Maazu. Bauchi electorates did the same for Muhammadu Buhari during the three times he contested for the presidency and jealously protected their votes.
As the dark horse that eventually emerged as the APC gubernatorial candidate in 2015 even though he is not a political heavyweight prior to his emergence and was not the preferred choice of the people, incumbent Governor Muhammad Abubakar, a former commissioner in the state and a trained lawyer was accepted and eventually voted into power due largely to the Buhari factor that brought virtually all his colleagues into power. That was never in doubt and the record is clear. Mr. Abubakar did virtually nothing compared to his other colleagues but notwithstanding emerged as a governor. Naturally, the citizens are expecting him to perform even more than the hard working Mr. Adamu Muazu and to bring the change his party campaigned for. But nearly two years after assuming power and despite the occasional use of force and instrument of power to intimidate perceived dissenting voices and critics of his administration and style of leadership, opposition to the once admirable governor even within his own party is growing by the day, with both the APC elements opposed to him and the PDP vowing to unseat him in 2019. They said the use of security agencies which is becoming rampant and the practice of the governor to silence opposition will be resisted in 2019 and that the electorates whom are affected most by what they called “Mr. Abubakar’s mal-administration and autocratic approach to issues of governance and handling of the opposition”, will give their blood for free, credible and transparent governorship election in 2019. They said the silent relationship the governor has been developing lately with the Bauchi born Chairman of the electoral umpire, Prof. Mahmud Mohammed, will not be allowed to work in his favour in 2019. They said only performance and adherence to democratic norms and principles and not propaganda and political dictatorship can secure for Mr. Abubakar his second term ticket. Many concerned stakeholders interviewed by DESERT HERALD weekly are categorical that the hitherto influence and support for President Buhari will not work for any candidate that abandoned the electorates in the state in 2019 as was the case in 2015.
Bauchi state is indeed very dear and crucial to President Buhari as the electorates have played crucial roles for his victories in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 in the state. In reviewing the conduct of the APC government under Mr. Abubakar since 2015 those interviewed during the cause of filling this report lamented that it is unfortunate that instead of the electorates to enjoy the benefits of their efforts through good governance in their state, the state was thrown into series of political and economic crises. The current Government, they said, is “adjudged to be inept, clueless and twisted by toddlers and misfits. Bauchi elite, politicians and technocrats have deliberately kept their distance from the state and are lamenting how toddlers, neophytes and miscreants steadily mismanage the state while the governor operates either from Abuja or even out of the country”.
At an interactive session with selected Bauchi All Progressives Congress, APC, stakeholders penultimate week, Governor Muhammed Abubakar was reported to have stirred the hornet nest by almost declaring that come 2019, there would be no vacancy in Bauchi State Government House. While his speech gladdened the hearts and motivated the souls of his hangers-on and ‘supporters’, in the same measure, it acted as a clarion call on opposition to prepare for a battle for the sole of the state. Since then, several nocturnal political meetings are ongoing at the instance of influential sons and daughters of the state to plot the political graph that will crumble the governor should he attempt a second term aspiration. A stakeholder who craved for anonymity revealed that, “We have just ended one of the numerous meetings of changing the face and character of the political landscape in Bauchi state come 2019, people with progressive interests are meeting to change the misfortune that befell the state in 2015. Our state is in serious trouble of poor leadership and we are meeting, irrespective of political party persuasions, to change the course of the misfortune and the destiny that brought us where we are today. No one will be allowed in the future to use the name of Buhari again to deceive the people. We will only listen to Buhari and accept his choice if that choice truly represents the interest of the state and the people”.
Findings by DESERT HERALD weekly revealed that Bauchi state, which has lately been in the news for very wrong reasons, is at cross-roads as the journey towards 2019 may be rough.
GOVERNOR M.A ABUBAKAR’S STRONG POINTS
The political class in the state opined that the incumbency factor, coupled with the governor’s thinking of being stingy and not empowering his scanty supporters, may bring stiff opposition against him at the time of need. He knows the implication of empowering his only few supporters at the moment, and the philosophy that politics cannot be propelled without funds, forms why he is allegedly empowering only few party chieftains and a handful of parasites that cannot be threats to his ambition.
That strategy, according to analysts, is deliberate as the governor will have the latitude to use ‘public’ resources at his disposal for his re-election campaign possibly unchallenged (that is if the electorates will not do to him what they did to former President Goodluck Jonathan; collecting his money and working against him at the polls). As part of the governor’s misguided policy to woo support ahead of 2019, he has embarked in giving a gift of few fairly used vehicles (tokunbo) to what the people referred to as certain sycophants and giving some miscreants token amount to erect branded kiosks at strategic locations within the state capital to fool passersby into believing he is loved by the people and as a show of his ‘popularity’. It is believed that the bond may be of advantage to him as the few party chieftains and the hungry ones that feed from crumbs may threaten other credible contestants against defeating their ‘bread’ winner at the party primary election.
Dependable source in Bauchi Government House revealed that except for one Yusuf Ibrahim (Dan Yusufulle) and Yakubu Wowo, alleged miscreants of questionable character, the governor has no formidable political allies that can bring electoral fortunes to his ambition in 2019. Dan Yusufulle and Wowo are alleged to be political nuisance lacking morals, and believed to be recruiting youths and women of easy virtue to shout the praises of the governor at any occasion for a token just as some governors that are having personality and popularity crisis often do in their states. Their attitude to a typical Bauchi state electorate is eroding the confidence hitherto enjoyed by the governor. With or without such miscreants and political thugs, M.A Abubakar according to a strong supporter of Speaker Yakubu Dogara who preferred anonymity for security reasons may find it near impossible to defeat even the weakest aspirant from the Dogara Group. The likes of Senators Ali Wakili, Ahmed Yerima, Halliru Jika, Aminu Tukur who are seen as true indigenes of the state, have since declared full political battle against the Muhammed Abubakar style of governance and often dictatorship which recently saw the resignation of a cabinet member.
Insiders said even those that choose to remain in his cabinet do so for economic reasons while most of them are secretly working with the other rival group.
Our source maintained that the “glaring odds against M.A Abubakar are enormous. A factor that may overwhelm the governor is his alleged betrayal of the electorates by poor performance and relegating critical stakeholders to the back bench and favoring thugs and neophytes he can remote control at a token. The people may not be forgiven and forgetful of his decision to abandon them and under develop their state”.
In one of his radio programmes monitored on Ray Power station in Bauchi, Ahmed Yerima (member representing Misau/Dambam) Federal Constituency, appealed to the people to always ask politely where their resources are being channeled to as “no single project has been completed since May 29, 2015 when M.A Abubakar assumed office.
“The governor said he paid 80% of the N2.6billion total contract sum for the highly inflated 4-kilometre Bauchi township road renovation but it is now almost one year, not up to 20% of the job is completed and 80% of the total amount was said to have been paid. Does he own the contracting firm or he is a shareholder to have committed that financial atrocity against laid down financial regulations?”, the lawmaker queried.
Another problem the governor will have to contend with is the alleged victimization, harassment and intimidation of the civil servants and senior stakeholders in the APC who are being tormented with dismissal and suspension. The threat, which is believed to be unpopular among the majority, is raising the popularity profile of the governor’s opponents, particularly those of Yakubu Dogara, Ali Wakili, Shu’aibu Rahama, Harsanu Guyaba, Shehu Barau Ningi, Halliru Jika, Aminu Tukur and Ahmed Yerima and in the breadth, becoming a huge burden on his political future. Hon. Aminu Tukur once said, “We are true indigenes of Bauchi state. We have all our parents and relations here in Bauchi state. We are not claimants and we have to fight those tourists in our leadership and midst”.
Ahmed Yerima said, “Why is M.A Abubakar always proud to say he is a Governor? Is he the first and the last to be a governor? Were others not there before him? Even those who performed creditably were never proud or arrogant. If truly he sees himself as a governor, does he enjoy the support of the people as he claims? Why does he pay miscreants to shout his praises anytime he leaves the Government House for a jamboree visit within or to the airport and why all those erected billboards showing projects of other states? Who is he deceiving with those photographs of projects executed by real governors? Why is he always booed and humiliated by the same people that elected him?”
Part of the governor’s excess luggage towards 2019 are his commissioners, and senior civil servants who under normal circumstances are to help him realize his ambition, but most of them, especially the commissioners and other political aides, the source said, “neither enjoy the goodwill of the people nor that of the governor to win even a councillorship seat in their respective areas. Most of them have no option than to tolerate the style of the governor for the meager salaries offered to nurture their 2019 ambition not that they are with the governor in spirit. They see the governor as power-drunk, a misfit, an outsider, inexperienced and selfish. They are most of those that blackmail the governor in silence while pretending loyalty publicly”.
THREAT OF THE DOGARA GROUP
There is a clear case of disagreement between the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Barrister Yakubu Dogara and Governor Abubakar. The genesis of the disagreement can best be said by those involved but majority of the people apportion more blame to the governor for his refusal to support the aspiration of Dogara to the position of the Speaker in spite of Dogara’s unquantifiable contributions to his success at the time of desperate need. A source close to Dogara said, “The Speaker had forgotten about that mischief. It was the governor that ignited another trouble which Dogara refused to tolerate. He said the Speaker is more interested in the development of the state rather than wasting time on trivial issues. The people rate the governor childish, power drunk and in a class struggle. He surrounds himself with sycophants that are helping him to dig his political grave. We shall prove to him that we are the masters of the game at the appropriate time”.
Abdullahi Itas, a supporter of the governor, said, “It is Ahmed Yerima and his group that are diverting the governor’s attention from serving the people. The man means well but opposition seems stronger than him and he has no real fighters to defend him. They are beating the man too much as if he is a settler in Bauchi state. Let there be peace”.
YOUTHS AND WOMEN
Revelations from Bauchi shows that majority of the youths and women are against the governor because of his failure to meet their yearnings especially to fulfill his promises during campaign and inauguration. Muhammed Yusuf, a politician resident at Ilelah area in Bauchi metropolis, stated that “We were hoping that our lives and those of our parents would change, jobs would be created, our social status enhanced and security improved, while assorted food stuff would be made available at affordable prices but the reverse is the case. The governor is more interested in traveling to play golf than attending to our problems. Can you please compare the performance of our neighbor governor, Dankwanbo with MA?
“Our expectations are wishful thinking as our hopes are dashed with youths and women who assisted in saving democracy in the state in 2015 now threatened, with some arrested and languishing in various prisons allegedly on the order of the governor who was unpopular to have been elected”.
AGRICULTURE AND FERTILIZERS
Agriculture which is the mainstay of the state’s economy is suffering serious misfortune due to acute shortage of fertilizers. “Farmers who constitute the largest segment of the electorates are disenchanted due to persistent lack of fertilizers. The cost of the product is beyond the reach of a common farmer”, said Isa Dungal.
Dungal added, “The failure to provide farmers with fertilizers at affordable price like before contributed to the boycott by thousands of people even as bribe was offered to line the streets to welcome President Buhari when he was scheduled to visit the state that was later canceled”. It was learnt that from an impeccable source that the fertilizers supplied to farmers by the state government were those inherited from the Yuguda administration but re-bagged and resold at exorbitant prices to farmers and even then many had to resort to buying the fertilizer at black markets.
Majority of the electorates interviewed, believe that the governor lacks the capacity and sincerity to serve. They believe that he was mistakenly voted to an office above his capacity. Although some believe it was destined to be so, majority said the governor is the worst in the history of Bauchi state in all ramifications.
Maleka Audu, an APC youth leader from Dass said, “Our state is unfortunate this time around. We have a governor that was neither known politically nor interested in developing our state. The man has no interest in our welfare and progress. He is selfish and knows only how to improve his welfare. It was Yakubu Dogara who made us to vote for the man”.
RIGGING OF ELECTIONS
President Buhari’s theory of votes cast must be protected and escorted to final destination by the electorates will determine who occupies the Bauchi Government House in 2019. Informed sources said the APC might find it difficult if it intends to rig the next elections in favour of M.A Abubakar if it fields him as its gubernatorial candidate as the odds against him are phenomenon. A source within the Government House said, “As a governor, M.A Abubakar cannot boast of enjoying the support of a single electoral ward anywhere in the state. He is only buying time to survive before he is checked out”.
Analyzing the happenings in Bauchi state, a seasoned journalist who craved for anonymity said, “The failure of the government, to deliver dividends of democracy to the people is glaring. The governor is yet to complete a single project in spite of the resources at his disposal. Even the monthly civil servants salary is not guaranteed. He seems to lead a government of touts and riff-raffs at the expense of the state. His collection of aides lack seriousness and experience. It is an administration of toddlers and praise singers. His ‘achievements’ are only on the facebook posted by sponsored miscreants lacking the techniques to even convince the dullards to believe the lies.
“In 2015 because of Buhari’s influence, the media had sympathy for M.A Abubakar but the table has now turned against him for his insincerity and incapacitation to lead diligently. Most of the media houses saw him then as a progressive not minding his Rivers state 2007 alleged election atrocity but it is now clearer that he is an opportunist that must go in 2019”.
But some in the media circle see Mr. Abubakar as media friendly which was why so many sensitive issues of alleged corruption in his cabinet were either deliberately under reported or not even reported at all. Those familiar with Mr. Abubakar said he is working with the media closely to suppress the multiple opposition to his second term bid. But Speaker Dogara according to them is reaching out more to various media houses and spending so such to expose the ‘misgovernance, dictatorship and corruption’ in Bauchi and to give the governor bad publicity.
Critics of Mr. Abubakar and those that worked closely with him alleged that he has no second in the art of deceit. One of them said the governor “preaches the direct opposite of what he does. His administration is enmeshed in several scandals including shortchanging the media by his aides and other flourishing 419 activities redefining the APC change slogan. In a swift reaction to save what remains of the battered image of his administration, recently, he sacked his Special Assistant (scholarship) who is believed to be an experienced fraudster. The sack of the aide shows that the governor was not in control of his administration since its inception until now. The sacked aide is alleged to be a renowned fraudster who tricked the governor severally to pat with large sums of money under different claims including the National Youth Council. Such cases of fraud and tricks are flourishing in the M.A Abubakar administration. Therefore, the administration’s claim of transparency does not hold”.
There are also several allegations of over inflating mostly cost of capital projects and awarding same to the fronts of the governor while some members of the state executive council told DESERT HERALD that they are just being used as rubber stamps which was why one of their colleague recently resigned and stated same reason for his decision to leave the cabinet. Duo a civilian and a Democrat, Mr. Abubakar is being accused by the same people he appointed as highly autocratic and dictatorial even on issues affecting the well being of the people. They said corruption despite the mantra of fighting it by the governor and punishing lesser thieves is looming large especially in the ministries of works, finance, health, education and agricultural while the Government House has become a place for the few privileged dictating the tune and shortchanging the state. Several contracts awarded to those close to the governor were either abandoned or yet to reach appreciable progress despite claims of huge payments while recent bailouts to the state and the excess crude oil returns by the Paris Club running into over N10 billion is no where to be found. Mr. Abubakar had recently concluded a 21 day annual vacation abroad at a time the economic recession is bitting hard on his citizens and ended up wasting public resources in one of his many jamboree trips. Before leaving he officially announced that he handed over power to the deputy governor but in reality the poor deputy governor did not have the power for approval and taking major decisions in the absence of the governor which is not like that even at the federal level with VP Yemi Osinbajo acting for the president. While the Acting President, Osinbajo has powers to even sign bills, appropriate and approve money and take sensitive decisions it’s not the case in Bauchi under the ‘democratic’ government led by Mr. Abubakar.
CRISIS IN APC EXCO
Bauchi state APC is presently in crisis due to what pundits averred was because of the insincerity of the governor and the state executive members of the party. At the instance and probably the instruction of the governor and with a view to accommodate praise singers, the state exco without recourse, endorsed the suspension of the state deputy chairman, state treasurer, a serving senator and member State House of Assembly and some party stalwarts in the local governments. The action generated bad blood and large scale disaffection among members. As time progresses, keen observers of the polity are observing how the broken fence would be mended as its continued schism may spell doom to the ambition of M.A Abubakar and possibly APC victory in 2019.
POWER BLOCKS WITHIN THE APC
Although presently there is no visible contending force(s) to determine the political fate of the state, the opinion is seriously tilting towards invisible forces that have the capacity to determine who will be governor in 2019.
Investigation by DESERT HERALD weekly revealed that the popularity of former Governor Yuguda has bounced back as a result of M.A Abubakar’s mismanagement of the state affairs that came in the guise of non-execution of any tangible project since assumption of office. The few awarded projects are over publicized for cover. Yuguda’s achievements while on the beat speak volumes on his political profile and his teeming supporters, loyalists and political associates across party divide still look up to him for guidance towards 2019. Another factor is the influence of Speaker Yakubu Dogara. Dogara is an enterprising politician with tremendous goodwill at the grass-roots. His popularity rating is soaring by the day and this makes him a factor to be considered by any serious group that wants to form a government in 2019. As a grass-roots politician and mobilizer, it is common to hear in Bauchi that Dogara is the found messiah of the masses. While many said Mr. Dogara will not contest the governorship in 2019, a credible insider has confided in this reporter that the Speaker has resolved to back a very popular, grassroots and charismatic politician in 2019 and that the Speaker may use an alternative political party if power of incumbency and the current display of dictatorship works in the governor’s favour. The source said Mr. Dogara has been consistent in convincing both President Buhari and the APC leader, Bola Tinubu about the poor performance of Mr. Abubakar, his dismal approval rating and the risk of fielding him as the candidate of the party in the state. Dogara had reportedly cited the nature of Bauchi politics and warned that as long as the governor did not convincingly perform and play politics according to the game, the tremendous goodwill of President Buhari will never work for the party in 2019.
ABUJA DISCUSSION GROUP
Investigations show that the Abuja discussion groups have mobilized stakeholders and discussions are on to determine the political future of Bauchi state in 2019. The various groups are closely monitoring political developments in the state and have identified several key areas and sensitive issues to engage the governor on at the right time. Sources revealed that “so far, going by predictions and analyses, those groups may fuse together and present a candidate for 2019”. Series of meetings are on in Abuja, Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano and Jos where a consensus candidate may emerge within the Dogara Group.
THE KATAGUM FACTOR IN 2019
Since the advent of the nascent democracy in 1999, Bauchi North has been clamoring for power shift to their zone in fairness. The heat is still on and they hope to realize it in 2019. Katagum Emirate in particular and the zone at large since 1979 are yet to produce an elected governor and efforts are in top gear to realize the ambition in the next elections. The incumbent governor and his predecessors are all from Bauchi south and Katagum with seven local governments, namely; Jama’are, Gamawa, Giade, Itas/Gadau, Katagum, Shira and Zaki, have been repositioning towards 2019. Most, if not all the galaxy of dominant politicians and technocrats from the state, hail from Katagum zone. The zone parades heavy-weights like Sule Katagum, Dr. Adamu Aliyu, Dr. Yayale Ahmed, Adamu Adamu, Alh. Umaru Chakas, Prof. Dahuwa Azare, Prof. Laraba Abdullahi, Dr. Musa Babayo, Kaulaha Aliyu, Hamisu Mu’azu Shira, Senator Suleiman Nazif, Hon. Adamu Gurei, Senator Baba Tela, Magaji Duwa Udubo, Dr. Kaseem Gidado, Abba Halliru, Garba Gadi, Hon. Auwalu Gwalabe, Capt. Bala Jibrin, Senator Babayo Garba Gamawa, Abdulmalik Mahmoud, Engr. Nuhu Gidado etc. With this long list of dominant factors in Bauchi politics many of whom are credible, experience and competent, the political horizon of the state is loaded towards 2019 and Katagum is hopeful.
Hon. Aminu Tukur, a member representing Lere/Bula Constituency in the State House of Assembly said, “Instead of making another costly mistake to re-elect M.A Abubakar for the final burial of the state, it is safer for the electorates in unison to vote a truck pusher from Katagum that can read and write with the will to serve better than the incumbent”. The battle line has been drawn while we wait for the real battle in 2019. DESERT HERALD remained the only reliable medium that will continue to give you bold and authoritative reports on this issues and many more in the present Bauchi.
With all the glaring gloomy pictures that stand against Governor Abubakar keen political observers of Bauchi politics believe that if the governor decides to play his card well and wisely and becomes a Democrat rather than authoritarian, deploy massive resources to provide real democracy dividends to his people instead of deceptive and non workable propaganda and unite the party and reconcile with aggrieved stakeholders like Mr. Dogara and resist the pressure to be vindictive against the likes of Mr. Isa Yuguda, he may have his chances with destiny come 2019. But the situation in Bauchi today as a result of Mr. Abubakar’s undoing and many blunders is highly uncertain. There is indeed a cliffhanger today in Bauchi as the situation ahead of 2019 leaves almost every one including the governor in suspense.