Activists, others raise posers over multi-billion funds, predict APC victory
‘Ministry of Finance under Yero excessively Corrupt’
By Our Roving Correspondent
A visit to the defunct headquarters of the Northern region, Kaduna, particularly in the night, will give even the most ardent supporter of incumbent Governor Ramalan Yero a clear verdict that there is actually no government in place. Despite increased insecurity and threats of attacks in recent times, DESERT HERALD findings reveal that the state capital and all the major towns within the northern and southern parts of the state are without the basic requirements for the enhancement and supervision of adequate security, particularly in the night.
In the state capital, for example, all the major streets are without street lights even though some of the old and dilapidated poles can be seen conspicuously in daylight. But even in broad daylight and due to the limited number of the street lights that can be seen intervals after intervals it is very clear to residents and in fact even visitors that Kaduna is without street lights, just as it goes without saying that a dark city at this time of unprecedented security challenges is by implication sitting on a time bomb. It is on record that the dreaded Boko Haram insurgents have severally took advantage of absence of security lights, notably street lights, to unleash terror on some cities, towns and villages in the north east.
Investigation by DESERT HERALD weekly, however, reveals that there was actually provision for, and release of money by the Kaduna State Government some months ago to resuscitate the street lights. This is considering the fact that if the government is security conscious and committed to beautifying the city the number of the lights and their locations wouldn’t have been as grossly inadequate as they are. In Kaduna State under Mr. Yero there is a complete departure of maintaining important government properties even though in some instances money is being appropriated for such services. Members of the state executive council under Yero’s watch hardly embark on their primary duty and instead sycophancy, politics, intrigues and struggle to get the governor’s favour and recognition as a ‘loyalist’ reportedly dominate their conduct.
An insider told DESERT HERALD Weekly that top officials in the list of those that are misleading the governor for purely their personal benefits include the SSG Danmahawi; commissioner of finance Samaila; commissioner for local governments Shehu Giant; commissioner of works and several other friends and associates of the governor.
He said Governor Yero is under the siege of very greedy officials that don’t care what legacy the governor leaves or the opinion of the majority of the people he is leading but after their pockets.
In Kaduna the supporters of the governor insist that he is a ‘silent achiever’ and rely so much on radio propaganda, dishing out what is at best far from the opinion of the people, causing damages to Mr. Yero politically than the intended purpose.
Keen stakeholders and political observers of Kaduna politics, including prominent civil rights activists, see Mr. Yero or his blind campaigners as only being clever by half and that the people have advanced and passed the stage where political office holders desperate to be re-elected will concoct all manner of lies to deceive them. They said the term referring to Mr. Yero as a ‘silent achiever’ is clearly ambiguous without elaboration or specifying what exactly he has achieved. They also said that for an achievement to be determined and pass public scrutiny, if at all there is any, the public must know what the governor inherited from late Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa particularly in the local government joint account of the 23 councils. What the 23 local governments have received under his stewardship so far, the statutory allocation of the state, excess crude oil proceeds shared during the period, and the internally generated revenue of the state under him must all be made known to the public. They averred that such cumulative figures if compared to the record of the governor’s ‘performance’, will enable the public know whether he has performed or not.
A legal practitioner, human rights activist and an associate of Malam Nasir El-Rufai, APC gubernatorial candidate in the state, Barrister M. Soba, told DESERT HERALD weekly that those calling “Governor Yero a silent achiever are actually insulting him and making nonsense of the governor because like all other citizens they know the crisis of infrastructural decay in Kaduna and lack of government presence in virtually all the sectors of the state’s economy under Ramalan. The state capital as you rightly put it is worse than a remote village in the night. Youth restiveness and general joblessness under him are now a time bomb. Our collective resources instead of using them to develop the state are being siphoned to his master in Abuja. We have compiled a comprehensive record of what Ramalan inherited from late Yakowa and the allocation he got from the federal government since inception. What we are yet to finish compiling is the record of the internally generated revenue accrued within the period. We will embark on issue based campaign in Kaduna and we will challenge him if truly he is a democrat for an open debate. We will present to him during the campaign all the money he got during this period and challenge him to tell the people of Kaduna what he has done with the money. It is indeed a government of family and friends”.
Another independent legal practitioner and human rights activist, Barrister Sadau Garba told this reporter that the time of reckoning for the cabal that has diverted public resources in Kaduna and provided nothing in return has come. He advised APC to be very conscious and alert because, according to him and in view of the credibility of the candidate APC has presented for its governorship bid, it is only the rigging machinery of the PDP in the state that can deny the APC victory in 2015. He advised people to peacefully protect their votes and never succumbe to any form of intimidation from security agencies that may likely be deployed in Yero’s favour. He said Vice President Namadi Sambo can do anything, including deploying federal might on the people, to rig the election in favour of the incumbent and that for Sambo allowing the strategic city of Kaduna to fall in the hands of the opposition even if through popular votes will be a political suicide he cannot afford. Barrister Sadau therefore advised the people of Kaduna to be extra vigilant and be strong because, according to him, the change they collectively desire will never come on a platter of gold.
A public affairs commentator, Umar Abubakar Usman, on his part said the public and indeed the Kaduna APC should watch the state INEC closely if they are indeed interested in winning the election. He said the relationship between some people he has not mentioned and the state INEC is worrisome and that unless there is a divine intervention he has clearly seen the possibility of using the state INEC to deny the people of Kaduna what they will vote in 2015. He said as one who is privy to information in the cabinet of Mr. Yero, the governor and the cabinet are not only jittery and losing faith if free and fair election is allowed but are strategizing ahead of the poll on how best to ensure ‘victory’ for the governor through the state INEC. He said the associates of Mr. Yero are fully aware that he has never tested his popularity in the polls and has not been elected before.
Mr. Yero was nominated the Deputy Governor to late Governor Yakowa by VP Sambo and eventually became the substantive governor after the demise of Mr. Yakowa.
To give weight to his claim, Usman recalled the alleged role of the state INEC in denying the reported victory of the then CPC gubernatorial candidate, Haruna Saeed, when late Governor Yakowa was controversially announced the winner and the imposition of curfew which the opposition then said was used to rig the election and said if care is not taken the PDP will surprise the people again.
As the 2015 Kaduna gubernatorial election draws nearer, embattled Governor Yero is troubled on how to justify the many actions of his government which is clearly against public interest to the electorates. And more so how to contain a more sophisticated and highly coordinated opposition under APC’s El-Rufai in view of many alleged scandals and stories of corruption and glaring none performance is reportedly giving the governor sleepless nights even though he has the incumbency power/advantage and for now he also has the support of Aso Rock even though the president and the vice president are equally struggling to contain the greatest opposition and challenge to their political careers.
As a possible justification of the alleged romance between the Kaduna State INEC and the PDP government in the state, DESERT HERALD has gathered authoritatively and with supporting documents that there are questionable withdrawals meant to promote amnd finance the governorship ambition of Mr. Yero.
The source said recent withdrawals which were allegedly given to the SSG, Hamza Ishaq Danmahawayi was used by the SSG to settle PDP delegates before the Kaduna PDP gubernatorial primary election.
Insiders also said that the recently commissioned new Government House at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House by President Goodluck Jonathan despite alleged over inflating the cost to the tune of N10billion was actually never fully completed which was why, according the our source, Governor Yero who inherited the project and reviewed the cost upward could not yet relocate.
But in his response to some of our stories during their budget defense last week at the Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, Mr. Yero’s bosom friend and the state commissioner of finance, Mr. Aliyu Samaila accused DESERT HERALD of working for APC gubernatorial candidate, Mr. El-Rufai. He said DESERT HERALD was only blackmailing the KDSG and that despite giving work to the paper previously and giving one Hajj seat to the paper, DESERT HERALD, according to him, continues to attack the KDSG and Governor Yero. The finance commissioner specifically said one of DESERT HERALD’s reports that he is using a car far more expensive than that of the governor is not true. Mr. Samaila according to sources at Kaduna Government House is so powerful that he influenced a road project which link directly to his house along the WAEC office while many priority roads at Rigasa and other strategic areas were not attended to. Efforts by this reporter to also reach the SSG to respond to the questionable withdrawal of N230,000,000 million from the local government joint account in the name of mobilizing voters to register was not successful as he is not picking calls placed to him by DESERT HERALD. The commissioner for LG under whose office the said millions were allegedly diverted did not also pick our reporters calls or respond to text messages.
But DESERT HERALD in its response through the publisher, Mallam Tukur Mamu, said the commissioner of finance, Mr. Samaila, is not fair to the paper and had only exposed his ignorance and naivety about how the media works and why journalists are indeed the watchdog of the society. “Is it a justification for any serious media house that once given a Hajj seat voluntarily to compromise the ethical conduct of the paper to report as it is? Is the commissioner telling the public that the purpose of giving the said Hajj seat (if it was indeed given) to bribe DESERT HERALD not to report the so called negative stories against the government? How many times have we reported the so called positive stories on Kaduna? They will not care to find out.
And did they patronize DESERT HERALD with the said commercial he said they gave us for us to be blind even when all is not well? I have said it time without number that in the job we do in DESERT HERALD nobody and no amount of money will buy our conscience but we deeply respect those who respect themselves particularly Governor Yero. He is a very humble personality but the sycophants like Samaila are determined to change him. DESERT HERALD is not and will never be against the Kaduna State Government or Governor Yero. We consider ourselves as partners in progress. Our reports are not aimed at tarnishing anybody’s image but as a job we must do to contribute in building the society. That has been our style and ideology since 2005, 10 years now”.
Apart from few other individuals, the commissioner of finance, Mr. Samaila DESERT HERALD authoritatively gathered is the single greatest obstacle to the progress and success of the Yero administration. The influential commissioner who operates with wanton impunity and disregard for administrative procedure by his conduct created more enemies and more harm than good due to his official ineptitude and misconduct as the commissioner of finance. DESERT HERALD weekly investigation reveals that Mr. Samaila was sacked from Sir Kashim Ibrahim House as the Principal Private Secretary, PPS, to Mr. Yero on the prompting of the wife of the governor, Hajia Fatima. Insiders told this reporter that Mrs Fatima Yero became furious with Samaila when he virtually turns down a request for the repair of the bullet proof car that used to convey the governor’s children to school. He abandons the file as usual when the driver of the bullet proof car forwarded the request to his office as the PPS which prompted the First Lady’s anger and in turn, she reportedly lambasted Samaila and reports him to her husband. DESERT HERALD reports that cases of keeping official files deliberately either for his own interest, due vendetta or other motives even if against the interest of the governor is the hallmark of Mr. Samaila’s uneventful reign as the PPS in Sir Kashim Ibrahim House. But instead of punishing him after his encounter with Mr. Yero’s wife according to the source, Samaila was promoted to a cabinet member and posted to the sensitive ministry of finance. Perhaps that is the best Mr. Yero can do to his wife; to take Samaila out of the Government House. But the official misconduct of Samaila assumed a more disturbing dimension when he resumed at the helm of the ministry of finance.
The primary duty of the Kaduna State ministry of Economic Planning is to assess Government’s resources and consider issuing release or not base on the governors approval to the ministry of finance for prompt payment. Therefore if the government did not have money to effect approvals for payment in its treasury the ministry of Economic Planning will know and they will not send release to the ministry of finance until when there is availability of funds. But despite the excellent performance of the ministry of Economic Planning, Mr. Samaila whenever he deems fit because of his closeness to Mr. Yero selects specific vouchers that will be considered for payment and abandon the rest in K.I.V. Ironically, most of the approvals that are being kept indefinitely were approvals directly from the governor. Under Samaila as the commissioner of finance, ministries, agencies and parastatals as well as individuals doing business with the government must engaged in intense lobbying of the highly conceited commissioner of finance before they get paid if they are lucky.
A particular case against Mr. Samaila was the approval for Christmas welfare package for civil servants approved by Governor Yero since late October, 2014. But despite the approval DESERT HERALD investigation reveals that payment remains pending in the ministry and on the instruction of Mr. Samaila until a day to Christmas when civil servants have lost hope and proceeded for their Christmas break. The intended purpose has therefore been defeated.
Perhaps Mr. Samaila has emulated the gross abuse of office from his boss, Governor Yero, as the governor is similarly guilty of similar offense against the state. DESERT HERALD weekly’s authoritative investigation reveals that as at the time of filing this report no fewer than 600 untreated files wanting the governor’s directives and approval on issues affecting the state and the people were dumped in the governor’s office. This paper learnt that this has being the practice since Mr. Yero took over. “He hardly gets time to treat files. I have spent more than 18 years working here. Every single file forwarded to the governor is very important but for our governor some files are more important than others particularly such files he or his people have interest in. During Ahmed Makarfi you will hardly see up to 10 files in his office at one instance. It has never been worse until now”, a staff at Sir Kashim Ibrahim House who asked for anonymity lamented.
As the 2015 election closely approaches, it remains to be seen whether the politics of spending so much money on campaign billboards, indiscriminant placing of posters, the use of radio stations to insult and fabricate damaging lies against opponents instead of discussing issues and achievements or using money to buy the conscience of the highly enlightened electorates will work against those that reasonably restrict their campaigns on issues and asking pertinent questions regarding their lives and how their money is being spent. But if the fears of some pundits against the imminent possibility of using state institutions to rig the 2015 gubernatorial election in Kaduna and the desperation of the candidate(s) are anything to go by, then there is the urgent need to pray hard for innocent souls to be protected before and after the election.