By Umar Farouk, Ifeanyi Chukwu Nwannah
In a bid to entrench democracy in Zamfara State, the people have cried out against the continuous rambunctious issues ravaging the State that have become so popular and making Governor Abdulaziz Yari and the State law makers to have lost their relevance just as the citizens are blowing the whistle against the entire system of governance. Reflecting on these unfortunate happenings, the citizens have expressed unhappiness and dismay declaring that the whole unfortunate system have taken a firm root in the government of the day.
According to them, what has dominated development issues across the State took its root from humiliating disgraceful and embarrassing happenings, noting that there have been series of newspaper reports arising from hurling invectives at Governor Abdulaziz Yari for bringing heaps of shame and embarrassment to the Shari’ah State.
Accusing fingers are being pointed at the system in all its ramification for having betrayed democratic ideals as there are public outcries against his government which political pundits say is fruitless to the development of the Sharia State by all estimation.
There are so many issues that have grabbed and sustained public attention in the domains of the state since 2011 since he took over the reign of power from former Governor Mahmuda Aliyu Shinkafi to pilot the affairs of the State. The politics and intrigues of handling the State affairs have been capturing the atmospherics and the nuances of the whole issue. There are so many burning and heart touching issues that need to be interrogated.
In Zamfara State, it shows that some of the most desirable component of a viable democratic environment only take the hold by dictatorship. But this is not an endorsement of military regime, it is a summation of how difficult it has been for both the Stakeholders and the citizens of the State to agree that they are in a democratic dispensation since from all indication nothing is subjected to the healthy rule of land.
There have been many notable clamor groups among other concerned citizens in the State seeking for a redress and this struggle is of genuine and altruistic motive but the possibility of realizing the goal seems far from sight as they have no blaming the State law makers who have chosen to remain as toothless bull dogs that can bark but cannot bite.
Almost all the Zamfara citizens see the law makers as self centered and economical with the truth behind their efforts to see a positive change in the State which they noted that they have been subjected to inhuman treatment by Governor Abdulaziz Yari. The aggrieved people however believe that the law makers are self centered group who have failed to act according to legislative rules and principles. They noted that the truth remains that they have been treated like slaves.
The aggrieved citizens alleged that the law makers are working against their interest, pointing out that it is a complex web of intrigues and political chess play. They strongly believe that the law makers have secret agenda, stressing that the underlying fast of the whole matter remains that both the Governor and the law makers do not care about the economic progress of the State but to use the State and their positions to accumulate wealth for themselves even when the state suffers a setback.
Most of the people said they are not comfortable with the whole system because they don’t feel a sense of belonging in even their so-called State of origin because the contract between the government and the people has failed woefully, since Abdulaziz Yari has failed t position his administration for public good or sharply focus on quality and adequate governance that blazes the trail to uplift the people of Zamfara but he lacks a visionary, trusted and transformational leadership style to achieve accelerated infrastructural developments, wealth creations and human capital development.
Majority of the analysts interviewed by this medium contend that it is disgraceful and humiliating for any responsible government to fold its hands and watch the electricity authority disconnect lights both in the Government House, the very seat of power and all the ministries and parastatals due to nonpayment of electric bills for months.
According to them, the government led by Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari could not even pay monthly electricity bills until it accumulated to over N500 million which they said forced the power authority to disconnect the entire Zamfara State government after all efforts for the government to pay even part of the debt had proved abortive.
They said it is unbelievable that the state government could not pay even electricity bills despite huge amount it has being collecting from the federation accounts, wondering how the Governor can justify all the huge sums of money he has been collecting from the federation account as monthly allocations, grants and even bailout funds.
The sources went further to wonder how Governor Yari can justify the N20 Billion bailout funds he received from the federation account to pay the entitlements of the State pensioners yet the pensioners continue to lament nonpayment of their entitlements since 2014. The question all of them are asking is where is the N20 Billion bailout funds for the State pensioners?
Some are even wondering whether the federal government has not released the funds to the state government, asking if the federal government had released the funds and pensioners whom the money was meant for have not still got it and the federal government still remains quiet explained that since the Governor is so arrogant, and proud and feels that he is above somebody anybody could query to give account of how the N10.2 billion bailout loan for workers salaries was used, N20 Billion bailout funds for the pensioners, the funds he received from the Paris Club which they said have not been accounted for by the autocratic Governor.
Continuing, the people told this medium that he feels that he is the alpha and omega in the state who is seen as a supper human to violate any constitutional provision of the country.
Recently, the state government was humiliated and disgraced when most of its operational movable vehicles were confiscated by the Federal High Court sitting in Gusau for refusal to pay back the loan it collected from the Unity Bank in 2010. Many of the vehicles were auctioned before the State’s Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs came to the rescue of the State Government by filling a notice to the court in collaboration with the 14 Local Governments claiming that some of the vehicles that were purchased by the State Government in 2012 belong to the 14 Local Governments and not the State Government even when the vehicles have not been distributed since then but were parked opposite the State’s Secretariat. The Court, following the notice filed, suspended the auctioning of the affected vehicles.
The counsels to Assets Management Cooperation of Nigeria, Barristers Lasco and Bashir Isah argued that the documents of the vehicles do not bear the nexus of any Local Government. The court therefore suspended the auctioning of the said vehicles pending the determination of the claim.
However,, the case was won by the Assets Management Cooperation of Nigeria but before the court could arrange for the auctioning the State Government was alleged to have evacuated some of the vehicles from where they were parked at the wee hour of the night before the security operatives intervened and armed policemen were dispersed to seal the premises.
Even though the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Shaba Alkali said he was not aware that some of the vehicles were seen along road sides suspected to have been intercepted by the police but eyewitness accounts report that some of the vehicles were seen parked along the road near the Secretariat with punctured tyres suspected to have resulted as the police tried to stop them.
Though the police boss admitted that he ordered his men to seal the premises as he got the information that some people were trying to evacuate the vehicles to unknown destination specifically the Government House adding that the concern of the police is to ensure the safety of lives and property in the society but he denied that most of the vehicles had already been evacuated before he dispersed armed police men to the premises.
He assure that the police is poised to restrict movement at the premises, decrying the impression that police could not be relied upon to protect sources of information regarding illegal activities hence people shy away with information for fear of reprisal. The commissioner said that due to high cost of providing security, Nigerians should share security information with the police about illegal activities in their neighborhood.
But in a swift reaction, the Registrar of the Federal High Court, Mr. Sabo Bissallah was not comfortable with resisting the court order, making the statement via telephone conversation with newsmen, expressed dismay over the illegal activity.
He frowned at the attitude of those behind the illegal activity saying that over 38 lorries were illegally evacuated which he described the action as contempt of court, stressing that the perpetrators would be fished out and prosecuted.
Sequel to the levy of execution by the Federal High Court, Gusau Judicial Division over a total of 139 number of vehicles for the recovery of judgment debt against the Zamfara State Government, the Ministry for Local Government Councils of Zamfara State filed an interpleaded summons claiming ownership of the affected vehicles. The court on 27th February, 2017 delivered it ruling in the interpleaded proceedings, dismissing the claims by the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs and the 14 Local Government Councils, with a directives that the Sherif should release the vehicles to Management Cooperation who will invite professional values and auctioneers to sell the vehicles of the judgment debt.
It was also gathered that top government officials immediately entered into close doors meeting that lasted for several hours which was presided by the Deputy Governor, Mallam Ibrahim Wakkala as the Governor who has been christened e-governor since he is not always in the state to address some teething issues affecting the state.
Though the outcome of the meeting was not known but it was strongly believed that the meeting sparked from the disgraceful action of the state government concerning the evacuation of some of the vehicles illegally which many people condemned the government action out rightly saying that the N502 Million debt that resulted to such shameful action is nothing compared to the huge sums of money that the governor wastes to charter aircrafts for his travelling without bring any beneficial result to the State since 2011 he assumed office as the State Governor.
Asked why Zamfara citizens are very timid in demanding good governance from their leaders. They replied swiftly that even recently in Talata Mafara, the home town of the Governor about four people were merely expressing their views and opinions about the entire system of the government when they were apprehended by the security operatives charging them of inciting public disturbances charging in the society.
Continuing, they explained that there was nothing to show that the people were inciting public disturbance, saying that there was no demonstration, no protest or whatsoever to warrant their arrest, which they said such was the main reason why they maintained that they do not want their names in print for security reason as they said the Governor is the law, the lawyer and the judge in the State, adding that nobody dares to questions his authority or decision not even the State House of Assembly.
To drive their points home, they recalled that the 1400 graduates that were employed by the State Government since 2012 have not received a single kobo as salaries, stressing that these youths have demonstrated peacefully to the state House of Assembly for a number of times yet nothing has been done after five years of working without any salary.