Opinion: 2015 elections in Niger state – We should not sacrifice merit for zoning

by Ibraheem Yahaya

“Leaders must have that sense of trusteeship, that they are only temporarily in charge of the destinies of their people and that their duty is not only to discharge that trust, but also to pass it on to equally trustworthy and competent hands.” Lee Kuan Yew

A nation governs best when its leader governs free men. I do not pretend that in writing this piece, I have neither sympathies towards my restless fellow Nigerlite’s nor vexations against the shortcomings of the present and past administration. But, I try my best to write candidly, leaving at the doorstep my partisanship. Even then I ask the readers to be on their guard, when reading this piece, for any underlying partisan inclinations that may perchance surface. Since the Country’s return to democracy in 1999, many states have not fared well neither endowed with a kind of leadership and development anticipated by the masses despite the huge allocations they received from federation account.

We have been hurt, and we have been disillusioned. We have seen a wall go up that separates us from our own government. We have lost some precious things that historically bound us and our government together. We have been a nation adrift for too long. There is a fear that our best years are behind us, but with effective and honest leadership, our best is still ahead. Niger State falls among the category of States that dividends of democracy and good governance have not been so palatable. A journey from Suleija-Minna, Minna-Bida, Lambata-Lapai-Agaie-Bida, Minna/Sarkin-Pawa, Bida-Doko, Kwakwuti-Kafinkoro, Agaie-Katcha-Baro, SabonWuse-Garam-Bwari, Nasko-Auna, NewBussa-Babana, Bida-Mokwa, Lemu-Zungeru, Tegina/Birnin-Gwari, Bida-Katcha, and Kontagora-Rijauroad will tell the pitiful condition of our roads across the State. Education, healthcare, agriculture, job creation and social sector doesn’t have enough indication to justify the billions of naira’s been channel to them.

Today, hospitals construction, renovation and equipping across the state are mostly carried out by National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), while the majority of the capital projects and Staff development in our tertiary institutions have been taken over by Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND). A visitor to the state owned tertiary institutions will notice the countless signposts of the ongoing projects having full inscriptions of the TETFUND. It’s also obvious in many part of the State that majority of the Primary and secondary Schools remain dilapidated as they are since 1999. Transits along Abuja-Kaduna and Suleija-Minna road can justify my assertion by taking a look at Government Arabic Girls College Dikko, Government Girls Secondary School, Sabon-Wuse and Government Science College, Izomrespectively. The case of the two mentioned female schools are more pathetic; in early 80’s to mid 90’s, they both play host not only to the pupils from the State, but has been the darling of FCT residence mostly public servants who regarded it then as the best choice for their children because of its standard, facilities, environment and its proximity.

Today, the glory of the both schools is now a past event. It is an open secret that School construction, renovation and furnishing across the State today is now the responsibility of MDG’s, Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and political office holders mostly legislatures at the State and National Assembly who embark on the projects to enable them have an evidence for their re-election bids. Even the foreign scholarship scheme for undergraduate and postgraduate studies embarked upon by the entire Northern States to rapidly boost it manpower and self reliance in field of Medicine, Bio-Technology, Engineering, Information technology, Agriculture, Industrial Design, Architecture, Renewable Energy and Pharmacy; our state is only one yet to adopt the initiatives.

The State despite been purely agrarian dependant, many of its Local Government Councils today cannot boast of a single functional Tractor nor tell last when fertilizer, pesticides or seedlings where sold at subsidies rate to the farmers. The most deplorable situation is our State which was created in 1976 is now lagging behind Katsina, Akwa-Ibom, Jigawa, Gombe, Delta, Kebbi, Osun, Ekiti and Zamfara States created in 1987, 1991 and 1996 respectively in terms of physical and human development. Even the States of Yobe and Bornu that is engulfed with insurgent crisis for past three years has fair better well in terms of physical and human development than ours. The State deserves a leader that will be in command and humming of the economy, those that will reflect on the bigger and longer-term issues and contribute towards more rounded solutions. The masses need good people to have good government. Leadership is more than ability. It is a combination of courage, determination, commitment, character, and the ability that makes people to believe the leader. Our solution is to have men with right character, ability, and motivation and hope that when they encountered the inevitable crises, they would emerge as tested leaders.

We need a leader who can inspire us, unite us around the principles that we share and rally us to a common purpose. Nigerlites wouldn’t approve of candidates that are intellectually bankrupt, devoid of ideas, vision, or their mission is getting us mired and entangled into debating trivialities in this political contest, so as to create diversionary tactics to move away from debating the real issues at stake, perhaps because discussing the real issues will expose them as empty vessels and incompetent. The next governor we deserve must create an open-door policy. Because in a democracy, it shouldn’t be just the loyalists, the party men, the wealthy, and the well-connected that should have access and influence. When it comes to appointees, he must select only men/women of conscience and probity, as we are wary of sycophants and hangers-on who rely on government/masses treasury as sources of oiling and footing their domestic and personal bills.

As we count down towards the ground-breaking 2015 general elections, it has now become an open secret that the State’s top job is going to be battle among the elites. Notable among the gladiators are Engineer Mustafa Bello; former Commerce Minister and former Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), Alhaji Abubakar Sani Bello; Son of Col. SaniBello Rtd and Son in-law to Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar, Alhaji Umaru Nasko; the incumbent Chief of Staff to the Governor and Son of General Gado Nasko Rtd, Alhaji Muhammadu Babangida; eldest Son of General Babangida, Alhaji Mu’azuBawa Rijau; a serving Commissioner and Alhaji Ahmed Ibeto, the incumbent Deputy Governor of the State.

Every eligible voter in the State can play a significant role in changing the course of the State’s history. We merit a chief Executive and other elected officers who will initiate projects and policies that have direct positive impacts on the masses. As the measures will help root out corruption and waste from government agencies. This will guarantee that taxpayers can see how every of their Kobo is been spent. The State had had enough of elected officers who have turn the state agencies and programs into their own personal piggy bank, granting favors to their family, friends, God-fathers, thugs, ballot-box snatchers, election riggers, mistresses, rewarding donors, and furthering their own interests.

The State has waited too long for leaders who know that ‘quid pro quo’ should not be the status quo. The State’s graceful decline can be arrest if we have leaders that can run a clean, focus, accountable and transparent government. With this, we can overturn deficits into surpluses, reduce our state debts, increased our assets and reserves, and managed to save billions of public funds into proper use. It’s high time we move forward to an international and intelligent state – one that educates and nurtures talent; one that practices integrity, justice and people-centric policies. It is not in our interest to have anointed, scoundrels, half-baked, puppets and inexperienced person as our leaders. The State had tested products of anointing and the end results have not been too pleasant. In other to get our State back to pathway, we need to take a look at the pedigree of all those aspiring to represent us at various offices from a Councilor to the Governor. It’s time we vote for those with foresight and understands the unconventional challenges we face and who can lead us to overcome them. We want Niger State where there will be a sound, effective, reliable and affordable agricultural, health, education, job creation and infrastructural development policies. Our State has lived through a time of torment and 2015 general election is a golden opportunity for healing.

For Mr. Chief Servant Sir, far from asking you to give into the demands of the masses, which daily grow stronger from the government’s irresoluteness, I ask that you remove your paternal hand of guidance and allow the free-flow of political expression by allowing the masses choose your successor. It is better to allow society to cough and heal itself by small correctives, than to suppress an ill which might later cause a violent convulsion. You will not only remove the causes of their anger, but overawe them with your probity and humanity. Always remember, your Excellency that it is only natural for everyone to have a sense of justice and a desire to better oneself. Human nature is constant and any attempts to obstruct its movements against its natural inclinations will always be futile. And, democracies are the most dangerous polities to handle, not the safest.

The history of the Athenian democracy should remind all leaders of the inherent volatility of democracy if its leadership goes against man’s natural liberty. Your course should be to rely on institutions and procedures established by the rule. Politics should be game played on an established field with defined boundaries, and the personalization of politics together with the abuse of the privileges of office can never bode well for the ruler. All in all, your interest should lay squarely in allowing free men make their own free choices. Religion, for example, is truly grand not when the state supports it, but when, by force of faith and reason alone, it wins the hearts of men by itself. So too with your esteemed office, you stand to gain more when men adore you from freedom than from compulsion, or worse, from fear. To be loved for your liberality ensures your continued political success, and once you have decided to run or not again for another office, you can easily retire and become a genuinely honourable private citizen who is secured against all the calumny that your adversary’s can ever hope to rise against you. So, I ask that this advice does not go unheeded. To act with justice and to permit all Nigerlites to be truly freemen in politics would not at all be contrary to your interests. Rather, so much honour, glory and adulation await your generous liberality in allowing the masses to decide what is good for them.

To the gubernatorial hopefuls, you will all be doing a great favour to Nigerlites if you all emulate what Governor Fashola and Chief Obanikoro did in 2011 by engaging themselves in “Live National TV debate” so that you proof your worth’s, idea, vision and mission to the Nigerlites. At least this will afford the masses opportunity to have clear perspectives of the aspirants. The era of aspirants hiding under a certain influence, family name, cover, wealth and connections to win election is now fading out as the electorates are getting more educated on daily basis. We cannot continue to allow some few numbers of people to decide the fate of millions of Nigerlites from the sitting rooms. Former Governor’s Bafarawa and Adamu Mu’azu were seating Governor’s of Sokoto and Bauchi State’s in 2007 and their anointed candidates didn’t see the light of the day, Alhaji Mamuda Shinkafiand Alhaji Aliyu Akwe Doma were seating Governor of Zamfara and NasarawaState’s in 2011 and there were both booted out of their office by the opposition party. The case of Alhaji Adamu Mu’azu, the incumbent PDP National Chairman and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff is such a spectacular to serve as an eye opener to aspirants, as they were both defeated in a Senatorial seat as a sitting Governor in 2007 and 2011 respectively. In Niger State, it’s still fresh in many memories how the electorates voted out DIG Nuhu Aliyu Auna Retired of PDP on his attempt to go back to the Senate for the fourth time in favour of unpopular All Progressive Congress (APC) aspirant Senator Ibrahim Musa in 2011.

Finally, to my fellow Nigerlites, 2015 general election should not be about political party we belong to; it shouldn’t be about the personality, it shouldn’t be about the wealth or influence of the aspirant, it shouldn’t be about aspirant closeness to the government, it’ shouldn’t be about been an anointed candidate; but the integrity, idea, charisma, ability and the experience of individuals seeking to represent us. We want to have faith again, we want to perceive the evidence of good governance in every nook and cranny of the State, we want to be proud again and we just want the truth again. The verdict is therefore ours to either choose to rebuild our future, by voting the right candidates or sustain the legacies we will inherit; unfulfilled promises and disappointments.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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