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Governor Ibrahim Shema; Excellency Indeed!


BY MUKHTAR KABIR USMAN PhD mukhtarkabirusman@yahoo.com 
 Published January 4th, 2012

The feeble people of Katsina are today under the sway of an unprecedented phenomenon called Ibrahim Shema. Despite all that brought him in 2007, optimists kept hope on him. The governor’s style is based on twin foundations. First he surrounds himself and places key posts in the hands of ignoramus fawns. Secondly, he is dangerously dead mute to the voice of enlightened criticism and takes it personal with anybody who dare subject his prodigal political adventure to scrutiny. In pursuing this line of action he was always bound someday to jump into a pool far beyond his depth. Unfortunately, the provincials around him, instead of urging, like good advisers, restraint, tolerance and civility, cheer their boss into his waterloo. It is a classic comedy of the village Headmaster in a village council. When the Late Yar’adua bulldozed him to the government house as his predecessor in 2007, despite all reservations on the process that brought him, many regarded him as a promising young man. He was young, educated, suave and charming. Similarly, until recently many people took him serious. The Governor has cleverly used every occasion to mobilize the audience to shower praises on him and mounted a massive media campaign to cozen him.  This charade doesn’t stop at the otiose National honors apportioned to even felons in this country, but was carried off Nigeria’s shore; in the faraway Niamey of Niger Republic for another postiche National honors award from that country. All the massive media propaganda mounted for this parody over the years to neaten him has now been proven to be hollow, baseless and without any foundation. And are reflections of the kind of Excellences’ we have in the theatre of governance. And the result is the paradox of our times, transformation in stasis, reformation without motion, democracy without fairness that led to having; honorables without honor, Excellency without excellence. These are the true hallmarks of our contemporary politics in Katsina state.

If availability of resources is such a power full instrument of transformation, then the governor can count himself as the luckiest in the history of this state.  With N3.4 billion monthly and a salary of N1.2 billion and overheads of N1.5 billion, Shema still have N1.9 billion left to toy with. With N6.2 billion collected every month and a population of 6,483,429, Shema received a total of N1, 017 (one thousand and seventeen naira) for each and every man woman and child in Katsina which he had solely sworn to use for their security and welfare. There are no indications in terms of their living conditions that you have used these billions of naira as you have sworn to do, your Excellency.  For four years, from 2007 to 29 may 2011 the huge billions each of the 34 local governments received can only be imagined! Chairmen who were paupers at the time they assumed office had become super rich capable of hiring thugs to rig elections while the majority of our Katsinawa wallow in abject poverty. As if what these chairmen did with the public wealth while in office was not enough, the governor found it unnecessary to even ask for record sheets and instead simply re-cycle them as sole administrators to do his bidding on a ‘rainy day’. Two reasons were advanced by the Governor as responsible for that. One was that as an incumbent, it is a PDP tradition that such individuals whenever on stake for re-election or re nomination are accorded that PDP solidarity. I don’t question that and I believe it is in order. The second merit which of course is the main demerit in this case was the fact that these people were on these posts on the PDP ticket at a time when the party was not only bastardized but completely militarized in disregard to the yearnings and aspirations of Katsina people. No doubt that despite the claim that some people make about the size of the PDP, It is one group that was throughout their reign ran like a cult. It was a story of massive emasculation and disrespect for all the rules of political party and democracy. That was the time when the party was referred to as the garrison. It was run directly from Late Yar’adua’s government house and Obasanjo’s presidential villa and any opposition that emerged from no matter what quarter was squarely dealt with using all forms of oppression and intimidation, and Shema as the Vice Chairman of the party in North West as at then, was the henchman to wheel the axe. Any opposition that emerged from no matter what quarter was squarely dealt with using all forms of oppression and intimidation.

Lawal Kaita and late Iro Danmusa, the two most eldest politicians of the state were not spared in that ordeal. They were lucky because they controlled tremendous political influence. Many other lesser mortals were similarly dealt with in greater proportion by the party. When Shema eventually triumph as the chosen one, four years later he pounced on justice and decency.  Highly rated contestants like Lamis Dikko were stigmatized in most cases the opportunity to run for that  stage managed PDP primary elections on a fair ground in their respective constituencies because they pose a tremendous threat to the anointed PDP aspirants. The result of all that gave rise to what we witnessed on that morning of January 7th. Let’s leave that for another day.

Back to the fold, Three Hundred and Fourteen Million, Nine Hundred and Fifty Six Thousand Naira (N314, 956, 100) was said to have been released as payment for the 2010 WASSCE, NECO, NABTEB and other examinations for final year students in secondary schools across the state. A total of 51,961 students who that sat for the various examinations in 2010 were claimed to have benefited from the gesture, which is part of the state governments so called free education program introduced in 2007. This brings the total number of final year secondary school students that benefited from the payment of examination fees since 2007 to 149,262, during which the government has spent over N755.35 million on the payment of the examination fees. For the 2010 examination fees, the state government claimed to have  paid Two hundred and thirty three million, one hundred and sixteen thousand, seven hundred and thirty naira (N233,116,730) while the balance of N81 million was contributed by the 34 local government councils in the state. It would be recalled that N141.95 million was paid out in 2008 for the 41,176 candidates that sat for WAEC, NECO, SIS, NABTEB, Labour Trade Test and other examinations and N298.47 million for the 56,126 candidates in 2009. Having claimed to have done this much, On 28 December 2011, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) in Katsina State reported to have arrested 340 persons for different drug-related offences in the outgoing year,  58 of those arrested (most if not all youths that are supposed to be in university) were convicted by the courts and jailed. Contrastingly, from the available literature since the creation of the state in 1987 to date, only one candidate from Katsina has ever qualified for admission into Queen’s College – Yaba Lagos in 2004/2005 session (one Fagbuyi Seun with Exam Number 168761FH from Tinubu Methodist Primary School, Lagos Island, Lagos state) and that record has still not been altered. The level of parasitism on the part of those who ruled and are still rulers of Katsina state since inception is far-reaching. For funds allocated and formally assigned for educational development are systematically stolen by a highly organised education industry mafia, to the extent that the people of Katsina are among the most educationally backward in the country. The level of backwardness cannot be covered-up with the evasive tactic of calling Katsina “educationally disadvantaged-state.” There is no question of any disadvantage as the budget and spending of the state in educational sector makes clear. The Governor’s handlers growling and howling on public accountability is laughable. In a way there is nothing controversial about the need to ensure public accountability. The need for it is widely accepted not only in Katsina but Nigeria in general. The powerful  clique of friends he hired from metropolis surrounding him, with clearly fascist and super elite tendencies in the state bureaucracy who only pay a grudging lip service to this and only keep quiet because the conception of ‘public’ in Katsina at present is so fuzzy. But in spite of this super elitism and the fuzziness, the need to ensure that leadership is genuinely accountable to the public is widely accepted.

This prevalent attitude of disdain for systematic theoretical analysis is partly justified because statements of social, political and economic theories and analyses have been used, and are still used to impress and overawe the educationally plundered people of Katsina with long and obscure words and expressions, in order to demonstrate superior knowledge. The attitude is also partly justified because of the copyist orientation of most Nigerian intellectual life with its emphasis on and awe for book formulae and quotations and no concern for the concrete analyses of concrete conditions and dialectical relationship between theory and practice. But much as these obvious weaknesses of Nigerian intellectual life provide some justifications for this attitude, they are not its cause. The attitude of disdain and contempt for theoretical analyses and formulations is caused by a fundamental weakness. It arises, paradoxically, not because of the absence of theory, but because of the domination of one theoretical perspective, one way of perceiving the nature of society, economy and political system in Nigeria. This particular way of looking at things is so pervasive that it is unquestioned. It is regarded as something given, almost natural; in short, as common sense. And what is cherished and preserved of these abstractions is not even their meaning and relevance to our specific circumstances, but their form and ability to repeat them mechanically and smoothly, without concern for their meaning and substance. This capacity for mindless repetition of placing appearance above substance is what Shema and his ‘polished technocrats’ always extolled and worshipped as ‘exposure and experience’.

 

I do share the sentiments of the pundits that those retained to fly the PDP flags from the state merely represented the team slated to front for the failed Jonathan 2011 ambition. Perhaps the only missing item on the agenda is the thought of having it collapse. While agreeing with the pundits, it is equally important to observe that the world as is currently composed of is an unfair enterprise. Most if not all those that were retained to fly the PDP flag from the state at Senate and House of Representatives levels were third term apologists and were rightly swept away by the sophistry of cruel Nigeria’s politics.  While  the Late President Yar’adua wasn’t caught red handed to be a third termist, same cannot be said of the Shema  whose political fortunes rose to peak when the respected Late Iro Danmusa was forcefully removed by Obasanjo through  his late boss, the then Governor Yar’adua. While the late Yar’adua maintained his usual silence on Obasanjo’s third term especially in Katsina when the constitutional amendment public hearing went on, it is not on record that he staked his reputation in favor of that anti peoples’ agenda, as Shema did when that evil returns in 2011. People who think they can satisfy the urge of the moment with the crumbs of the day are only postponing the thirst of tomorrow and when it comes, water shall not be theirs to drink for they shall not be worthy of drinking from the fountain of integrity. The headache is much and may keep relapsing as long as we do not drop that apathy that caused the 2007 palaver.

MUKHTAR KABIR USMAN WROTE FROM FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE AND ENVIRONMENTAL DESIGN, INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY MALAYSIA.


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