The rumblings in the All Progressives Congress’ camps in Bauchi and Kaduna states are getting interesting by the day. The key actors are fighting dirty and creating unnecessary tension in the states. The impression hitherto created was that we are in an era of “change” and everything negative has no place in states controlled by this party. It is now apparent that malaise like corruption, betrayal, internal wrangling, ineptitude and the rest of them are ubiquitous across our nation regardless of the party in charge. Now, the reality is hitting Nigerians very hard. The “change” mantra seems apparently only on paper.
Take the case of Bauchi State; many were shocked when some chieftains of the APC from the state stormed the party’s headquarters in Abuja last week, to protest alleged wrongdoings, including misuse of funds, against Governor Mohammed Abubakar. They want the governor to account for the N8.6 billion bailout funds given to the state by the federal government. Big names in the protest team included the Speaker of House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, Senator Ali Wakil (Bauchi-Central) and Senator Suleiman Nazif (Bauch-North). By Wednesday, supporters of the factions were trading blows at the APC headquarters.
Clearly, the allegations against Governor Abubakar are weighty. According to Wakil, they are worried about non-payment of workers’ salaries and non-utilisation of bailout funds by the Bauchi governor. “You know that Bauchi is an agrarian and civil service state and we must do everything to see that workers are paid as and when due. We are not comparing ourselves with Osun or Edo or other states that have backlogs of nine months; it is not our business. Our people must be paid as and when due and the remaining balance of the stipends must be paid and all the unending verifications must end,” Wakil said.
Nazif agreed: “Everything is not okay with Bauchi APC. Therefore, we needed the attention of the APC at the national level to come to the rescue of the APC in Bauchi because there is fire on the mountain in Bauchi APC. There are so many issues, but these are party issues and we felt that there was a need for us to come and discuss with our leaders and those issues are being handled. The national chairman has assured us that he would take a drastic measure immediately and address the APC Bauchi pending problems. Nobody is against the governor, the governor is against himself.”
It seems that nothing has really “changed” in Bauchi State. But the story from the governor’s camp is that the protest was sponsored by Dogara. This is an issue for another day. The key point here now is that frightening corruption allegations have been made against Governor Abubakar. We all know how the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC and the Department of State Security, DSS, swiftly responded to corruption allegations against Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State. Will these agencies respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s body language and move to investigate Governor Abubakar? Will they seize his assets? Or, will the fact that Governor Abubakar is a member of the ruling party disable these agencies? These are pertinent questions waiting for practical answers. For now, the fact on ground is that precisely nine days after the protest at the APC national secretariat in Abuja, nothing has happened. Perhaps, the anti-corruption war is not meant for APC states.
Let’s move over to Kaduna State where Senator Shehu Sani has been battling Governor Nasir El-Rufai over his style of governance, particularly El-Rufai’s “demolition mentality.” This Kaduna war is getting bigger by the day. Sani recently remarked that the Kaduna governor was not making life easy for the common people in the state: Sani declared: “When the APC took over from the PDP, Kaduna people had expected to witness changes, but rather than change, the government brought policies that imposed hardship on them. The governor has been out of Kaduna for too long and so did not understand the pains and aspirations of the people. Since El-Rufai took over power, he has kept on unleashing one programme after another that further made things difficult for the people. We are still within the APC but right now, the problem has gone beyond me and him. It also involves stakeholders in the state: the party is divided.”
The senator added: “There are people who have invested heavily in the party. They are marginalised, not carried along and a seeming new group has emerged challenging his dominance and authority in the party. El-Rufai should treat people who contributed to the victory of the party in Kaduna as equals to ensure peace and reconciliations. The governor should also recognise the poor and refrain from policies that would further impoverish them. He should stop all unwarranted demolition in the state, especially when the land allegedly encroached on belongs to the federal government and beyond his jurisdiction.”
We all know how APC’s media managers lash out at anti-people policies in states controlled by the opposition party. So, what are they going to tell us about happenings in Kaduna State as alleged by Sani? So, internal wrangling and power play is not entirely a PDP affair as we were hitherto made to believe. Just like the PDP, an APC state can also be divided against itself. This is the scenario playing out in Kaduna State. The “change” mantra is still far away from this state. The Kaduna chapter of the APC has already suspended Senator Sani. The national secretariat is treading softly. This “change” is still a mirage as seen from the happenings in Kaduna, Bauchi and virtually all APC-controlled states.
War Against #BringBackOurGirls Campaigners
Twice this week, Police and the Department of State Services, DSS operatives prevented members of the #BringBackOurGirls group from matching to Aso Rock to face President Muhammadu Buhari. It seems the BBOG is struggling with the reality that the party with the Buhari administration is over. However, government’s action this week against them was heart-wrenching, considering the role played by this group in the emergence of Buhari as president. I thought the protesters would have been allowed to see the president, even if he had nothing concrete to tell them.
The Chairman of the Chibok Community, Hosea Tsambido, remarked: “Members of the Community and BBOG voted massively for Buhari in 2015 and against his predecessor, who they voted for in 2011. We regret our votes. We regret it. They tell us that our girls seen in the latest video was merely an arrangement. No one has spoken to the family of any of the Chibok girls since the last video was released by the terrorists. We were promised that the president would visit Sambisa, after becoming president. We were also told that within two weeks our girls would be rescued. But over one year now, there is no tangible statement about our girls. The presidency has stated instead that it is confused.”
The BBOG members, just like many of us, are yet to see any tangible measure that will lead to the rescue of the 218 schoolgirls kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorists from their school in Chibok, Borno State, in 2014. So, government should not expect them to relent. They have a right to seethe. Another dangerous dimension to the BringBackOurGirls campaign is the strategy of trying to divide the group. This is depressing. Some parents of the missing Chibok girls did not join the protest march in Abuja, due to pressure from a yet to be confirmed angle. Yakubu Nkeki, one of the leaders of the missing girls’ parents, who lives in Chibok, said the parents held a meeting last week and decided they would not attend the Abuja rally. Nkeki said: “All we want is our missing daughters and we are willing to work with anybody who will help us find our daughters. We do not want to antagonise the government which is in the best position to help us find our missing daughters.”
“The women leader of the group, Yana Galang, added: “We do not want to do anything that the government will not be happy about. We are not after any organisation that is against any party or religion, and we are supporting the federal government to help us release our girls.”
The secretary of the parents’ association, Zannah Lawan, also said: “Our own is that we want our daughters. Anyone who has the ability to help us to find our daughters is the person we will work with.” From the tone of Nkeki, Lawan and Galang, it is obvious that pressure is coming from somewhere, for Chibok parents to dump Obi Ezekwesili and herBringBackOurGirls campaigners. Everything is being done to humiliate madam due process. She must be sweating profusely. By the way, where was Hadiza Bala-Usman during the Monday protest? Your guess is as good as mine.
That Ranking of Lagos as 3rd Worst City to Inhabit
Instead of showboating, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and his men should request for details of the Global Liveability Index report released last week by The Economist Intelligence Unit and do a critical appraisal. In the report, Lagos maintained its position at the lowest rungs. Nigeria’s economic capital was ranked third-worst city to inhabit in the world, just above war-ravaged Tripoli and Damascus. The city placed 138th out of the 140 cities appraised.
The liveability survey assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions across five broad categories – stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. No doubt, living in Lagos is one big hell with frightening slums, tattered roads, kidnapping, armed robbery, decaying health and education facilities and all other negativities. Lagos has a lot to learn from the top five best cities to live in, in the world – Melbourne, Australian; Vienna, Austria; Vancouver, Canada; Toronto, Canada; and Calgary, Canada – in order to vacate this inglorious club. For a start, Ambode and his team must learn to be pragmatic and people-oriented with their projects.
Boko Haram Attacks in Damboa, Shawa
I have always maintained that Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in Borno State are unwilling to return home because their towns and villages are, in the real sense of it, still unsafe. Recent attacks by Boko Haram in Shawa village, in Askira Local Government Area and Kuburubu, in Damboa Local Government Area, reinforce my position. The insurgents struck in Kuburubu, last week Saturday, killing six persons and abducted about 13 others – seven women, five teenage boys and a teenage girl. Many other villagers were left injured. They also stole goats, camels, and chickens. After the looting spree, they set almost the entire Kuburubu village ablaze. The operation lasted several hours unchallenged.
Last Sunday at Shawa village, the terrorists killed an unspecified number of people. They also burnt the entire village, raped women and injured many residents. The truth is that most of the so-called liberated towns and villages are still largely insecure. This is why the IDPs are refusing to return home. This is a fact we must all face in this war against Boko Haram. Only the truth can set us free. May Allah continue to guide our gallant soldiers as they go after these terrorists.