BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
It would be recalled that DESERT HERALD was the first newspaper that reported the collapse and illness of Governor Ibrahim Gaidam and how he was rushed to a Saudi hospital in 2010. When the governor returned from his medical trip in 2010 and unlike the cases of Governors Chime and Liyel Imoke, by which they made their health condition and subsequent medical trips known officially to their citizens, Mr. Gaidam denied DESERT HERALD report then about his illness and even orchestrated the arrest of DESERT HERALD publisher for what he called an offensive report.
But since then DESERT HERALD can authoritatively report that Gaidam has been frequenting the Saudi German Hospital for yet to be disclosed sickness. This paper gathered from a credible insider that all the huge expenses so far incurred by the governor and selected cronies like Ibrahim Ali Arab, Tijjani Tumba, Sanda Goni Kusur and the Chief of Staff, Sale Abubakar that are always with the governor during such frequent trips is being borne by the Yobe State government. This paper gathered from official sources that within the last three years Mr. Gaidam has travelled to Saudi Arabia not to perform the Umrah or Hajj but on purely medical ground 76 times and has conservatively spent from government resources over N569million. Our source at the Government House Damaturu confided that the figure if taken into account the expenditure of his aides during such frequent medical trips will be more than N600million.
Initially, close sources told this reporter that Mr. Gaidam is being treated for chronic diabetes at the Saudi German Hospital in Madina but if recent information available to this paper is anything to go by, it suggests that the ailing Yobe governor may be battling with a more severe life threatening disease. From available records and due to his health condition, the governor has since late 2010 never spent good one month in the state. It is equally on record that due to same problems, Mr. Gaidam is always conspicuously absent in most important functions including the council of states meetings that is being presided over by the president, while all governors and former heads of state are usually in attendance.
DESERT HERALD can also reveal that the last time Mr. Gaidam personally attended the Northern Governors Forum meeting and was consistent in attendance was late in 2010, while he has not attended virtually all the Nigeria Governors Forum meetings in recent times. The reason is not because of the security challenges in his state or the desire to stay with the people to provide responsible leadership as was fabricated by the government because in most of those occasions including when the security situation and the killings in Yobe escalated, the governor is mostly out of the country in faraway Saudi, reportedly managing his deteriorating health condition.
The situation and Gaidam’s tactics are almost similar to that of his late boss Mamman Bello Ali, who decided to be economical with the truth about his health condition even though and conspicuously from his looks is dyeing due to chronic liver disease. But even then, DESERT HERALD has reported his deteriorating health condition and why as a governor managing the affairs of over 2million people he decided to hide his actual condition to them. Our report on late Ali’s health condition was proven right when during one of the many attacks he suffered and sneaked to the United States for emergency medical attention and couldn’t come back alive.
The situation in Yobe as a result of Mr. Gaidam’s deteriorating health condition has affected government activities because while the governor spends much time in Saudi hospital than he does at home, he has refused to authorize his deputy, Mr. Danlami Ali, to act as the acting governor for smooth operation of government activities and programmes. Unlike before, when the deputy governor has some approval limits in case the governor was not around to allow government business to continue, Gaidam has decided since to strip his deputy of such powers for political and tribal reasons that have so far affected government activities and become the hallmark of the Gaidam administration.
In Yobe state, today and despite the frequent medical travels of the ailing governor, it is only the state SSG, who has a clear and proven record of corruption right from his days at the defunct Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF), Babagoni Machina, that was authorized by Mr. Gaidam to approve expenses not exceeding N5million. Sources told DESERT HERALD that Machina and Mr. Gaidam’s kinsman, Mohammed Abacha, who is the perm sec of the ministry of finance, are now having a field day in the state making millions through questionable approvals. The source revealed that “since Machina’s approval limit is not more than N5million, he and Abacha have initiated ways of siphoning millions. For example, they can decide to process requests of N50million with intervals of hours or days and present N5million or less for approval until all the N50million is approved. Machina today is one of the few people that possess the highest number of properties in Maiduguri. Just go to his house now at Old GRA in Maiduguri; it is undergoing major reconstruction. This is happening at such a time when poverty and unemployment are at unprecedented level in Yobe”.
The feud between Gaidam and his deputy became public knowledge when, according to close associates of the governor, the deputy governor, Mr. Danlami, orchestrated the failed removal of the incumbent speaker of the Yobe State House of Assembly who was Gaidam’s man and loyalist. Since then, most of the powers vested on Danlami were being systematically taken away. Unlike before when Danlami Ali used to represent Gaidam during most functions because of his health condition, even the recent all stakeholders meeting of the opposition parties in Lagos where all the governors of the opposition parties were in attendance except Mr. Gaidam, who was then reportedly at Saudi German Hospital, the Yobe governor did not authorize his deputy as usual to represent him but decided to instruct Mr. Danlami Ali’s political rival in the zone, Senator Ali Jajere, to represent him at the important political gathering. This and many other developments have further confirmed to pundits that all is actually not well between the governor and his deputy.
Those close to Gaidam regarded the deputy governor as brutally over ambitious and that he wants to succeed the governor by all means. But those that are sincerely privy to the politics at the Damaturu Government House said the deputy governor has been experiencing a lot of frustrations due to sycophancy and tribalism instituted by Gaidam as a policy of his government. They said it is now the turn of Mr. Ali to pay the ultimate price of tribalism, accusing his late brother, Mamman Ali, of institutionalizing tribalism in the government and politics of Yobe State.
During the recent trip to Saudi Arabia and due to his worsening health condition, Mr, Gaidam, according to DESERT HERALD investigation, has as at the time of filing this report spent four weeks abroad on a journey that was initially planned to last for ten days. Unconfirmed but credible insider confided in this reporter that Gaidam was admitted at the Saudi German Hospital immediately he arrived and that two weeks after when his condition reportedly deteriorated one of his colleagues, also a governor, advised that he be moved to London for better medical attention.
While the source confided in DESERT HERALD that apart from the diabetes that was reported earlier, Mr. Gaidam is also suffering from blood cancer; but another credible insider close to Ibrahim Ali Arab, who travelled with the governor, disclosed that the ailing governor is actually suffering from a chronic liver disease. Medical experts interviewed by this reporter said either of the two sicknesses (blood cancer or liver disease) are killer illnesses that can prevent the governor from discharging his responsibilities effectively and advised that in such circumstance the governor needs to be sincere by telling his citizens the truth about his nature of illness and to always write officially to the state House of Assembly whenever he is travelling and to allow the deputy governor to act in acting capacity for effective discharge of government activities. Four weeks after Mr. Gaidam sneaked out of the country on purely medical grounds the governor did not return to the troubled Yobe State as at the time of going to press and there is no official statement to refute and give reasons or to confirm the reported condition of the governor.
Expectedly and typical of Yobe politics, DESERT HERALD has monitored wide jubilation particularly in Potiskum town from the Ngizim tribal group of the deputy governor who they believe stands to benefit from either incapacitation or death of the incumbent governor while in office as soon as rumour of the governor’s health condition circulated. It was the same style of jubilation when late Governor Ali died largely by sections and tribe(s) that will stand to benefit the coming of Mr. Gaidam as the new helmsman. The jubilation this time around has irritated supporters and loyalists of Governor Gaidam, who has not yet died and cause disaffection among the two political camps. The Ngizim tribal group till date is largely suspicious about the circumstances that led to the death of Governor Mamman Ali. They largely believed the late governor did not die a natural death and see the “opportunity” of Gaidam’s reported illness as the only chance of getting what ‘rightfully’ (position of the governor) belongs to them.
DESERT HERALD leant from a crony of the deputy governor, who pleaded not to be mentioned, that already there is a well-orchestrated plot by those close to the incumbent governor to convince him (Gaidam) to deploy government resources and influence as soon as he comes back from his medical sojourn to organize and sponsor the impeachment of the deputy governor, Danlami Ali. The promoters of the plot, according to their calculation the insider reveals, is to stop Ali from becoming the governor in the event of Gaidam’s possible incapacitation or demise while in power. They argued that “Danlami Ali is more tribal and wicked than his late brother” and that he may not spare all those that are close to Gaidam whenever he emerges as governor. They believe the best option that will serve the interest of everybody, including the citizens that obviously don’t know the difference between Gaidam and his deputy is to impeach Danlami and get a liberal minded person with no exposure from the same zone as the deputy governor.
For now and what remains very clear to pundits and those that know Gaidam very well is that his appearance alone is enough to convince keen observers that all is actually not well with the once very active and energetic governor and that perhaps he is suffering from a life threatening illness and that as his condition deteriorates and his foreign (secret) travels increased while the state continue to suffer due to continuous abscondment of its governor from duty without official reason, there may be justification that time for the rubber stamp House of Assembly to act by giving the deputy governor the full powers of an acting governor or for the ailing governor to break his deliberate silence on an important issue that affects the life of every citizen of Yobe State, is now. In any case, late Mamman Ali has tried what Gaidam is now doing but at the end his creator has revealed what is being concealed.