By IFEANICHUKWU NWANNAH
As the political terrain continues to heat up with the approach of governorship election, interesting things are happening on Zamfara landscape. Most of these events are horrified as it has turned to character assassination. As the scenario unfolds; it because pertinent to examine the claims of Governor Abdulaziz Yari, the performances of Governor Yari and ex-Governor Governor Shinkafi’s tenures.
For reasons that will become bare in the course of this article, interest will be centred on Shinkafi who many observes said he is the economic, political and social messiah that has come to salvage Zamfara State from its economic woes.
Governor Yari has accused the former Governor of squandering N25.6 Billion between 2007 and 2011 and diverted the money to his own personal use to establish a private investment for the family which the Governor added that ex-Governor Shinkafi was duped of the N25.6 Billion by a Chinese firm an attempt to establish the private investment.
He disclosed that the former Governor entered into contract agreement with the Chinese firm to construct a private cement company for him at Amanawa Area in Sokoto State using which was to cost N75 Billion out
of which he said N25.6 Billion was paid to the Chinese firm in advance with the state resources in 2011 but the Chinese firm according to him escaped with the funds.
The Governor further alleged that the ex-Governor received 99.5 Million U.S Dollars financial refund from the Paris club on behalf of Zamfara State government but was diverted for selfish interest. He noted that his administration set up a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the where about of the money, saying that investigation revealed that the money has not been remitted to the state government account and that no official record to trace that. Governor Yari said the ex-Governor is now planning to siphon another N20 Billion from the state treasury if he happens to win the 2015 governorship race to invest in the same cement company. He called on the electorates to be wiser not to vote for Shinkafi to protect the state form economic collapse.
But all these accusations were coming on the heels of several accusing fingers raised against Governor Yari by PDP chieftains on financial misappropriation including Ambassador Bashir Yuguda Gusau, the Minister of State for Finance challenging Governor Yari to provide evidences to backing his claim that President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration has deliberately refused to refund to the state government the sum of N28 Billion used in reconstructing some federal roads in the state.
The minister said Governor Yari is very much aware that there are procedures which he said many state governments followed the due process and had all been paid but Governor Yari refused to comply. He noted that the Governor is only interested in the character assassination of President Jonathan and former Governor
Shinkafi saying that such political gimmick cannot help him because he has siphoned public funds and Zamfara people are beginning to wonder why the capital market refuse to give loan to Zamfara State Government. So there is nothing to tell Zamfara people.
When Abdulaziz Yari was sworn in 2011, he constituted a judicial commission of inquiry to investigate the financial activities of Shinkafi’s administration between 2007 and 2011. The commission, according to eye witnesses, end inconclusively, one because the commission has no tangible materials to work with. Again Governor Yari who set up the commission abandoned the commission because he did not empower the members.
Though he claims that findings of the commission revealed that the money was diverted for Shinkafi’s personal interest. If this is true why didn’t he raise alarm since the last four years to inform the general public about such monumental corruption? Why did he has to wait until election period. These, some political scientists have
dismissed his claims as a cheap propaganda to outscore the former Governor and his PDP.
This, the minister of finance said the Governor has the habit of character assassination of his political opponents. He warned that if Governor Yari continue to attack Shinkafi unjustly, he the minister will open up some secrets of Yari’s administration, noting that politics should not an avenue for bitterness or damaging the
personality of persons because he needs power by all means, challenging Governor Yari to open up to Zamfara people the real truth about the financial position of the state with facts and figures so that they can judge and from where the Zamfara economy began to collapse.
Again when he took over in 2011, he said his administration inherited a liability of N42 Billion but when he went to the State House of Assembly to present his budget he told the law makers that it was N17 Billion. He was inconsistent about the actual figures. That brought controversy even among news men.
The news men cornered him, he said the N42 Billion was the total liability including money borrowed from capital market by Shinkafi’s administration. He said that N17 Billion was the money borrowed from banks which he said that already N13 Billion out of the N17 Billion has been serviced remaining N4 Billion as a debt.
It was surprising again when the same Governor who presented 2015 budget proposal that the state federal allocation have been directed to services of foreign and domestic debt to such an extent that the capital markets had refused to grant Zamfara government financial bonds. They wondered why state Government has been refused loan if the state has not gone beyond its stipulated bonds. Some economic analysts said before Governor Yari leaves the Government House, he would leave a liability far beyond what he claims former Governor Shinkafi left.
In 2014, documents and information from public accountability league indicated that Governor Yari alleged purchased a $950,000 Dollars house in USA, a month the report said after he awarded a N25 Billion road contract across the state in June 2012.
The documents which was titled “DEED showed that the house was purchased by Governor Yari on August 27 2012 at Oak Creek II iic, a Maryland Limited Liability Company that was also the guarantor to Abdulaziz Yari. The report went further to state that the Governor allegedly bought the house with the kickbacks he got from the contract of road construction, saying that the whole money was paid a week after he awarded the N25 Billion road contract.
But in a swift reaction, the Governor who spoke through his special Adviser on media affairs, Hon. Sani Abdullahi Tsafe denied the report that the Governor bought a mansion worth 950,000 U.S Dollars in
Maryland, united state of America through the kick backs he got from road construction deal. He however blamed the unfounded allegation on the opposition.
Former Governor Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi wondered why Zamfara State should be broke when the present administration refused to pay minimum wage of N18,000 per month. The government gives only N20 Million to
each of the Local Government Council out of hundreds of millions of naira from Federation account when there is no financial autonomy for the Local Governments. In spite of the billions borrowed from capital markets, Zamfara is still economically backward as there is no economic impact in the state.
Governor Yari’s administration he said has put the state into the season of economic pandemonium and economic tragedies. Political observers said his administration has been associated with monumental
corruption and many failures. The evidences of corruption abound everywhere and the governor is very much aware of corrupt practices in his administration.
On commerce and industries, Yari’s administration had done practically noting according to the rating of the people of the state.
They said that the state solid minerals processing factory which former Governor Shinkafi constructed and commissioned could not be put into operation by Yari. The investment house which Shinkafi had almost
completed has become homes of cockroaches, rats and reptiles.