By IFEANYI CHUKWU NWANNAH
Sixteen years after creation, Zamfara State still remains a traditional rural State due to some lapses, gross non-performance and corruption by virtually all the previous administrations of the state. In this analysis, IFEANYI CHUKWUNWANNAH take a peep at the state and the impediment that deters the progress and revealed that democracy still stand a chance of survival only if the main actors can give the necessary inputs in real term.
For quite a long time, Zamfara has prayed for salvation and solace especially when former Governors Ahmed Sani politicize Sharia and used it as a conduit pipe of not only mismanaging state and local governments resourses but using the Sharia as a means of manipulating and shortchanging the conscience of the largely improverished citizens of the state while his successor and former deputy, Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi introduced another orgy of terror unleash on the citizens only to promote his second term agenda which never saw the light of the day. However, the MAS two terms agenda could not become a reality due to the selfish activities and greed of those Shinkafi hitherto believed are the most loyal and loved to him. Efforts to make Shinkafi believe and realize the dangers of trusting the likes of Musa Zubairu Mailayi, Ibrahim Mallaha etc through newspaper reports and even the ex-governor’s wives was unsuccessful until he (Shinkafi) was consumed by the funny characters he trusted most and made them overnight millionaires at the expenses of the yearnings of the electorates that brought him to power. MAS therefore woefully failed in his bit for second term as a result of these and other factors. This came because many people see leadership as a process of moving people in planned direction by motivating them to actions that can produce beneficial results and not through compulsory means. Good leadership therefore moves people in a direction that is really in their interest in the long term.
This is what the political class here in Zamfara lacks, a sense of dedication, patriotism and commitment. Most of them are not even fair to themselves much less for those that gave them the mandate. Pundits averred that the attitude in itself is inimical to democratic ideals and consequently anti democratic and by extension autocratic, a situation where anything can go when money is involved is very disastrous and unfortunate.
Truly, democratic set up in Nigeria were full of corruption or corrupt practices. It is the same practice that had hindered the state from economic growth and infrastructural development despite collecting over N370billion as statutory allocation from the federation account within the period. Sixteen years after creation, all the administrations of the state including that of Col. Jibril Bala Yakubu who was the first Military Administrator between 1996 to 1999 have failed by the judgment of majority and infact by their own admission and to register and appreciable success. Their failures were indeed followed by their inability to fight corruption or better still their choices to allow carefree attitude of people in the corridors of power to continue dominating the system. Infact everything remains as it was even worse.
Money from the public treasury like we have seen during wasted presidential campaign of Senator Yerima and that of the MAS two terms were used to achieve political ends, an episode where their governments tendered cash allegedly forwarded to top politicians for victories is still the public funds. And none of them has given any explanation in that matter.
The past administration has not made any sincerity and dedication as their hallmark which is why they have not built strong economic base and conducive Zamfara State. The money they were alleged to have looted is more than the little they spent for public projects during their various administrations. The evil calamity they inflicted on the masses is still haunting the common masses. The state has been placed into a waste basket. Ask them, is money they stole into their accounts not enough to service the debt the state owes? After robbing the state of its resources, they still went to disgrace its image in the world.
According to a local politician close to former National Security Adviser, Gen. Aliyu Gusau, “the MAS two terms agenda was the remnant the dogs awaited. They were shaking their tails in propagandist signal that they have sharp teeth to tear the state into pieces but the people could not understand, they help them in campaigns – Yes in real term things needed to be seen on ground and not empty words or stolen public money but concrete projects. If a politician can use public money to force the people to give them their mandate again, they are placing them in a waste paper basket and the power drunk people are coming back to devour the remnants. That is the case of Zamfara politics”.
This reporter gathered that former Governor Shinkafi initiated 483 projects in his four years tenure but could only successfully execute no fewer than ten of the projects. Although the claim has not been properly verified by this reporter, DESERT HERALD learnt that Shinkafi left a liability of nearly N80 billion which the present administration headed by Governor Abdul’azeez Yari inherited in 2011. About N26billion of the said amount was recorded as debt owed various contractors while the rest is noted to be debt from various banks.
Governor Yari on assuming power worsen the debt crisis in the state by securing illegal loan of N4billion allegedly with high interest rate in a supposedly Sharia. The facility was secured without the approval of the state House of Assembly and before the constitution of the state executive council. Questionable projects that are not priority to the immediate needs of the people but were created to favour the economic interest of friends, associates and condute pipes was awarded by Yari in violation of due process and from all analysis over inflated.
Governor Yari is perhaps today the most widely travelled state governor in Nigeria with a record of spending over N2billion according to an insider that pleaded not to be mentioned on expenses incurred on hotel, food and air craft charter across Nigeria. His frequent travels to Dubai, London and Suadi Arabia according to the source has cost the poor people of Zamfara state more than N500million with the period of less than one year according to the source. Within the same period, Zamfara owing to Yari’s negligence and disregard to the welfare of the people has lost the services of more than 20 medical doctors due to non payment of their salaries and failure to effect the payment of their allowances and salary increament.
Investigation by DESERT HERALD also reveals that nearly 50% of the highly substandard but inflated projects Yari has embarked upon was concentrated in his home town of Talatan Mafara, a move condemn by citizens of the state as inresponsible for a leader that was elected by all the people of the state.
Another source who pleaded anonymity told this paper that Yari was warn by his Malam not to relocate to the Government House hence his illegal decision to remain in his home at Talatan Mafara since he was elected nearly one year now incurring huge expenses in the process and subjecting the police and other security agents to divide with in the Government House in Gusau and the the governor’s house at Talatan Mafara.
Among all the former governors of Zamfara state according to those interviewed by this paper, “Yari in less than one year through his conduct, policies and vision has proven to be the most insensitive with no clear policy direction.
From creation, the state has never got any direction or focus due to poor financial management by the past leaders of the state. The whole system has become faulty democratically as there was no trust or truth in the system. The general accepted opinion is that, the culture of wasteful government was cultivated by the First Executive Governor of the State, Senator Ahmed Sani Yarima through the state resources, using public money for unnecessary human development to the extent that the youth who were noted for farming activities in the rural areas began to troop to the urban areas for quick money which everybody believe can come through politics. The influx of the youth to the urban areas increased the rate of political thuggery in the state.
The same culture persisted during Shinkafi’s rule. The bitter politics and rivalry between him and Yarima has cost the state fortunes including lost of innocent lives and throwing people to prison in the name of politics. Among the many victims of Shinkafi’s dictatorship is Chief Yomi Tokoya.
According to Malam Bello Gusau, “it is shameful and disgraceful that the world has stepped into a global village, yet Zamfara is yet to locate its level, in dare need of development. The failure of all the government is because they did not have the sense of purpose, direction and focus. Former Governor Ahmed Sani Yarima said he was very passionate about solving the existing abject poverty in the state and bring about even development, but it turned out to be a bloated exercise because after eight years in the Government House, the situation remains the same as Zamfara still remain a traditional rural state”, he lamented.
The gravity of the whole offence lays drastically and terrifyingly on the past leaders who left power to Governor Abdul’azeez Yari. While Yari had continued to plunder as the case of his predecessors, pundits believed that he inherited virtually nothing from the past governors. But considering the kind of leadership and lack of accountability Zamfara witnessed in the last ten months under Yari, the incumbent governor and his predecessors are to be collectively blamed for the backwardness of the state and for allowing so called contractors to defraud the state with nothing commensurate in return.
Pundits also averred that if Yari is indeed serious in fighting corruption he must start with himself by stopping his unnecessary foreign and domestic trips and ensure sanity and transperancy in awarding government contract and in determining who or which company is qualified. They also said that Yari should start the war on corruption by subjecting his blood brother, Ja’afaru Dan’ auta to the EFCC for investigation because according to them the stupendous wealth Dan’auta is intimidating the people with which he didn’t have prior to the emergence of his brother as governor must be investigated to convince the people that Yari is sincere and committed to fight corruption. They said virtually all the commissioners of Yari are redundant because all issues that has to do with money is now under the authority and monopoly of Dan’auta, Usman Sahabi Kaura and Alhaji Sani Jega. “The situation in Zamfara is unfortunate. Dan’auta is illiterate and has nothing before his brother became governor. Usman Sahabi has been cheating Zamfara and making millions since Yarima was governor. If the governor is serious Dan’auta, Usman Kaura and Sani Jega must go to jail for the financial crimes they are committing against Zamfara and its citizens”, Bello said.
But a close associate of Yari believes that despite all odds his mentor is bringing sanity in the conduct and business of government. He told DESERT HERALD that “Yari’s new policy has already been causing him different names from different people because it is aimed at sanitizing the wrongs of the past. He has introduced various policies at the moment to discourage some of the ills in the state and to encourage productivity and the way forward from the other side. Some of these policies include clearing away all the financial mischief by ensuring accountability and for every worker to justify his or her monthly salary”.
He said further that “we are made to understand that his plans are targeted towards achieving a sustainable macroeconomic stability. The down trodden masses he said are the greatest focus of his administration in the state”.
If Governor Yari finally succeed which many believe will be impossible considering how business of government was limited to few cronies and relatives with government projects hugely concentrated in Talatan Mafara, Yari may write his name in gold in view of the glaring failure of his predecessors. But many believed that if the way Yari has started by reducing government to impact on the economic lives of few privileged in the state is anything to go by, he will go down as the worst governor Zamfara state has ever had. For now and in view of the typical leadership direction of Yari, the hope of getting a governor that will transform the state and its economy has been dashed in Yari. For an insight into the massive corruption in the ministry of local government and how local governments in Zamfara are being shortchanged by those that are very close to Yari, read subsequent edition of DESERT HERALD.
With additional report by Maryam Musa