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Friday, July 24, 2009

Discourse 257: Yuguda, What goes round...

Discourse (257)

Demolition of Gadi’s House
Yuguda, What Goes Round…

The Deputy Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Garba Gadi, did not seem to accept my advice for his resignation in light of the impending intention of his Governor, Malam Isa Yuguda to impeach him. Whatever wrong the Governor would accuse Gadi of, I know, he – the governor – has done many worse. However, I just thought it was not wise for him not to doge such a politically destructive missile. I saw it in military terms, a tactical withdrawal in wait for an opportunity to fiercely fight back in 2011. However, the Deputy, Gadi, sees it differently, not in that context of a long term strategy; or perhaps the advice simply came too late. This is a fight to finish, he thinks, challenging the Governor to prove his guilt and impeach him. That is history now as the outcome of the panel can hardly be doubted by any.
Today, my discussion borders on an escalation of that conflict, the intention of the Governor to demolish a house of the deputy. The article is not directed at Gadi, but at Yuguda who has been reckless with the exercise of his powers since he assumed office. This is self-destructive to a prince, undoubtedly, though it seems he has bought all the mouths that would tell him so. I came to know about the issue in Daily Trust of Wednesday, July 8, 2009, which reported as follows:
“The deputy governor, whose travails started soon after he refused to decamp to the PDP along with his boss, Governor Isa Yuguda, already received a revocation notice yesterday on the 1,463.76 square meter plot of land attached to his residence situated behind the Bauchi State Hotel in the GRA area of the capital city. The notice dated the 7th of July, 2009 with reference number GO/GA/S/BLD/9/S.1/T.9 signed by Mukhtar Hamid Alhaji on behalf of the state’s Head of Civil Service, which asked the deputy governor to liaise with the Ministry of Finance for the refund of his money, did not give any reason for the revocation. Speaking to our correspondent in his office yesterday, the deputy governor said he purchased the plot of land at the cost of N2.35m and issued a treasury receipt number 188005 on the 25th of December, 2008 after getting approval from the state governor and Certificate of Occupancy No. BA/33335.”
Now, I must confess that I was shocked by this report. The last time we witnessed something like this was in 1983 when late Sabo Bakin-Zuwo, a onetime governor of Kano State, terrorized his arch-rival, Abubakar Rimi with whom he contested the gubernatorial seat during the 1983 election, by issuing him a demolition notice and stationing a bulldozer near his house for weeks. It was really a drama which must have kept the mind of his rival disturbed. However, Sabo was not careless enough to carry out the threat, unlike Yuguda who seems bent on carrying out his.
Someone needs to tell him that this does not in any way serve his political interest, near or distant. There are many such colonial houses allocated to the privileged in Bauchi. Why only that of Gadi? That the revocation came barely after a panel to investigate him was constituted shows clearly that Yuguda is really alone, lacking good advisers, elders or scholars that will tell him the truth and prevent him from treading the path of self-destruction. Or is it true, as the Hausa adage goes, that “only the stupid would tell a prince the truth?” Well, today I have many times chosen to be stupid.
One would think that President Yar’adua will somehow restrain Yuguda, being his father-in-law and more experienced than the governor in politics. However, my hope was quickly dashed on two grounds. One is how Yar’adua himself engaged in such vindictive habits against people that he once had misunderstandings, people like El-Rufa’i and Ribadu. Have the two committed a sin greater than that Peter Odili or others that surround Yar’adua today?
The other was when I heard the President preaching the doctrine of Yuguda’s persecution on national television when he visited Bauchi two weeks ago, depicting him as a victim of a crime which the President himself has committed when he was a governor in Katsina and all other outgoing governors for that matter, which was, simply put, dictating who will be their successors. Listen to the President:
“Somehow, in the year 2006/2007 when we were preparing to face the 2007 election, Malam Isa Yuguda as a loyal and dedicated party member expressed his aspiration, and members of the PDP in Bauchi State expressed their support for him to contest for the governorship of Bauchi State. Unfortunately, at the time the party did certain actions that denied internal democracy in the PDP in Bauchi State and frustrated Malam Isa Yuguda out and the teaming members and supporters advised him to go and contest under the platform of the ANPP. He did and he won the election… What we are celebrating today, giving Isa Yuguda the PDP flag, welcoming him back as an honoured PDP member and receiving him into our fold again has a lesson… for all political parties and the political institutions and organs in this country… Not only the PDP, but all political parties, must ensure that they entrench internal democracy in all what we do... Malam Isa Yuguda what you did is the right thing…”
It is my strong opinion that by tradition it was immodest for the President to go this far in supporting the clearly unpopular defection of his son-in-law to PDP midway into his tenure. He should have advised him to remain in ANPP until the end of this term, then defect to PDP and contest for a second term; then no one would have accused him of cin amana, or breach of trust, which the masses are bitterly complaining of now. His reluctance to see through this mistake makes me lose hope in his ability to call the son-in-law to order on crucial matters that will affect the latter’s political future.
Since he became Governor, Yuguda has proved that he has zero tolerance for opposition. Many times he has listened and acted on rumour and relentlessly pursued every enemy, genuine or fake, using state apparatuses. As he decamped to PDP, he discounted the relevance of anybody’s contribution to his victory, except God’s, whose he acknowledges conveniently. He has dismissed the role of his party – ANPP which gave him the platform to contest, of Buhari who toured sixteen local governments in Bauchi, of very close political associates like Shehu Gabam whom he dismissed on frivolous matters, people that would have come to his aid in any future political battle. And now, even his fanatical supporter and former adviser on House of Assembly matters, Abdulmumini Kundak, is heading for his gulag on the basis of conspiracy. This prince has become paranoid since he assumed office and I am afraid to say that he may end up lonely.
I think the lesson that the President wants the nation to learn about internal democracy should be taught to Yuguda, first, before anyone else. His record card on internal democracy is not impressive. The governor did not exhibit the slightest internal democracy when he held the last local government elections in Bauchi State. He foisted candidates in all the 20 local governments and disqualified all the 13 formidable candidates in the opposition PDP. To prevent them from any access to justice, he disqualified them on Thursday evening, declared Friday a public holiday in the state, and held the elections on Saturday. When two of his commissioners, Shehu Barau Ningi and Ubandoman Jama’are, criticized the action at a stakeholders’ meeting held at the Banquet hall, Government House, Bauchi, on 7 July last year, he sacked them. All supporters of Baraden Katagum were also sacked, including Ibrahim Madaki, former Commissioner for Culture of Tourism who conducted the local government primaries in Bauchi Local Government and resisted the pressure of the Governor to rig the primaries in favour of Kabiru Barwa. These are not the best examples of a person who abides by the rules of internal democracy.
The press, law enforcement agents, the judiciary and his ulama have not helped matters. Early in the regime, he entered into a tacit agreement with many media houses, which in effect dispossesses them of the ability to publish anything against the interest of the administration, no matter how factual it is. That is why it is very rare to find even a paid advert against the Governor or his administration in any newspaper, particularly the northern ones. I stopped writing for a year since February 2008 precisely because a leading northern paper I used to write for became selective on the issue when I wrote Yuguda, Business More than Usual. I am equally not surprised to discover that one of the two leading websites hosted by northerners in the USA has kept the government’s rejoinder to the article as a lead article on its website for over fifteen months now, just as it has stopped publishing my articles! Even resident correspondents of foreign Hausa stations who are resident in Bauchi are compliant; one of them always sounds depressing.
So when a northern newspaper published as a cover story on the initiative of ANPP national secretariat to impeach him, Yuguda called the publisher who was in far away South Africa and demanded explanation. Do you blame him for asking why the piper in that single instance failed to blow his tone? The press must know that by this attitude it is not protecting Yuguda; it is contributing to his political demise. I am beginning to notice some changes in some of them, though; perhaps the contract has not been renewed!
The law enforcement agents in Bauchi, particularly, the former and present Commissioners of Police, have become insatiable agents ready to persecute Yuguda’s opponents at any time. When the press asked why the police arrested over a thousand youths from their homes on the eve of the President’s recent visit, he simply replied that it is a routine exercise aimed at curtailing bad eggs in the town. Even the EFCC are ready to respond to the call of the generous Governor as exemplified by the agency’s instant arrest of Sanin Malam, the State Chairman of ANPP, at the instance of Yuguda for opposing his defection to PDP. Sanin Malam is not a saint by any measure, I know, but the timing of his arrest shows that the persecution was clearly political. The same organ has been sitting on countless petitions against Yuguda and his administration for two years now.
The judiciary that is the last hope of the common man would not have saved Sanin Malam. For example, in the choice of who heads the commission of inquiry against the previous administration, Yuguda chose Justice Bitrus Sanga, thinking that the high court judge has a score to settle with Mu’azu, following a face-off the two had when the mother of the ex-governor was assaulted by Yuguda’s supporters in Azare in 2006. Sanga is now under pressure to indict Mu’azu and others who are in the bad books of Yuguda, while he was asked never to investigate the Governor’s favourites. The judiciary also approved his manipulation of local government elections; it said no wrong was done. Recently, the Chief Judge hurriedly constituted a panel of inquiry to investigate the Deputy Governor only for the panel to be embarrassingly dissolved by the House for violating constitutional procedures. The new panel, it is alleged, has some elements that are card carrying members of the PDP, in clear violation of the constitution.
The State Security Service (SSS), our version of KGB, is also not left out. Yuguda brands any discordant voice as security risk and requests the SSS to interrogate its owner. The most recent took place only two days ago, on 7 July, when ‘Baba Mai-Masara’, Kundak, Chairman of Alkaleri Local Government and his deputy were summoned early in the morning. Kundak was there until late evening, answering allegations of connivance with Kaura, the Senator of Bauchi South, against the Governor, while ‘Baba Mai-Masara’ was interrogated, for the second time, of distributing leaflets critical of the administration. This is appalling in a country where freedom of expression is enshrined in the constitution. Yuguda should instead task his media and information managers to rebut these criticisms in an atmosphere of freedom, not resort to using security operatives against innocent citizens. If there is a libel, he should resort to the courts. No one did this to him before to the extent that he instructed the former ANPP scribe to write a commendation letter to the SSS for remaining neutral during his 2007 campaign. It appears that his opponents, who are growing by the day, will have a raw deal as we approach 2011.
Finally, even ‘men of God’ are succumbing to the wishes of the prince. I remember when I met Yuguda for the first and only time at the plea of a young preacher I used to respect and an associate of Yuguda after the latter became Governor, some would even say he is his closest malam, going by the audience and gifts he enjoys from the Governor. When I saw how obsessed Yuguda was with his predecessor, I advised him to put behind him the malice of Mu’azu because it is a waste of the precious energy he needs to succeed in governance; moreover, I added, Allah enjoins us to return evil with good: “Repel evil deed with one which is better, then lo! He between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.” The malam suddenly defended the Governor by citing an abrogated verse that allowed retribution: “The reward of an ill-deed is an ill the like thereof,” but refused to quote the remainder of the same verse which says: “But whosoever pardoneth and amendeth, his wage is the affair of Allah.” Such is the pitiable behaviour of the ulama surrounding Yuguda. With lavish gifts of brand new Toyota Camry, Toyota Hilux pickup, sound proof generator and large contracts, I understand that it requires great effort for the malam to restrain the Governor. Such ulama are bound to approve any persecution their benefactor would inflict on his opponents. That is why the association of ulama with power throughout history, except on few occasions, is always at the detriment of the public because the former abandons the divine task of correcting the latter. In Bauchi it provides a dilemma like that of hitherto reputable elders who enjoy the gifts of new Toyota jeeps and millions of naira in cash from the Governor.
Iisa! Duuniya boodaa..

Enen fulbe faa aardiibe men bi’i laamu hoolataake. Eesa, kulaa Allah, kulaa laamu, ngam haande ngu maada njaango boo ngu nganyoo maada. Kala ko a jabbi haande fuu, a towai dum e dum hedi ma njaango. Ngan non Annabijo (SAW) bi’i to a wanyai tagu wanyu mo sese-sese; to a yidai tagu bo, yidu mo sese-sese, ngam a aandaa deengo ngayoo maada haande kanko wartata giddo mada njaango. Non non bo, giddo maada haande, sai warta nganyoo mada njaango. A burii koowa andugo haala ka…
Garba Gadi doo bo, Allah am, naa bandiraawo maada na, pullo, juuldo? Ngam dume habdataa bee maako faa bi’a a jabtai wuro maako? Ashe a fotaay mahanaamo nwongo ngo buri ngo o mari njoonta? Haani a tefa yimbe boodbe heddinaabe dab maada be hecce saawara ngooga. To a sali, to njoga ngoondi mada haande ngam bojji njaango. Sakka wala.
Min, Chuuso, mi tindiniima. Ko fe’i fuu, Iisa, mi wala shaka. To a nani nasiiha dum, a hoosii dum, a bo’inii laamu maada, a wadii sulhu hakkude maada e yimbe, Allah barkide. To bo a berni, Allah peunin berde sumpo.
Here, I must stop to salute the courage of Malam Idris Abdulaziz, the only cleric who supported Yuguda in 2007 but who did not fail in his duty as a malam. Yuguda included him in the Hajj team of 2008, to become ‘his eye’ on the committee. He did his job and reported to the Governor a fraud of N100million, right there in the presence of other committee members. Though the members did not deny it, Yuguda was not impressed by the cleric! The cleric opted out of the committee and the government promptly responded by stopping his preaching programmes on the state radio. He never received any Toyota jeep or Camry, sound proof generator or other gifts from the governor. He even returned the government’s gift of a bull and some rams during the last Eid el-Kabir festival. He should rule out enjoying any free hajj seat this year. I salute his courage, once more.
The demolition of his deputy’s house must therefore be seen in this context of political persecution. All supporters of Yuguda, including the President, should discourage him from going further on this self-destructive lane, if possible. Leaders must learn to tolerate and overlook petty things and, sometimes, even gross ones if doing so will further public interest. But that interest must be transparent not stained by the vice of malice, translucent not contaminated by the sin of vendetta. I have not found a more eloquent authority that epitomized this advice than the following verdict of the Federal Court of Appeal in Nwanko v. State (FCA/E/111/83 of 27th July, 1983):
“Criticism is indispensable in a free society. In view of the freedom of speech and of the press, those who occupy sensitive posts must be prepared to face criticism in respect of their office so as to ensure that they are accountable to the people. They should not be made to feel that they live in an ivory tower and therefore belong to a different class. They must develop thick skin and where possible plug their ears with wool if they feel too sensitive or irascible.”
Yuguda must expect more opposition voices as we approach 2011, when the level of Yuguda’s commitment to internal democracy and tolerance will be tested most. Going by his record as a governor, however, I am afraid that he will be found more wanting than his predecessor.
Sincerely, he has gone too far in handling the case of Garba Gadi, his deputy whom he used to address as yayana – ‘my elder brother.’ It would have sufficed him to impeach the old man if he could not tolerate his presence in his cabinet or he believes that doing so will help to further stabilize his government; however, picking on his properties surely smacks of victimisation. Gadi too should have been more intelligent in gauging Yuguda’s degree of intolerance beforehand. He thought they may never separate, and might have himself supported the persecution of others when the going was good between him and the Governor. However, he and his party must now be questioning their wisdom when they unconditionally surrendered its gubernatorial flag to a person whose intention they misjudged and of whose character they knew very little.
In conclusion, I plead with Gadi and with all those currently persecuted by Yuguda to forgive the Governor if he heeds my advice and makes amends, for no one is above error. If the Governor repels my voice, as he is most likely to do, then let them be patient, peacefully, and find solace in the universal law that says what goes round comes round.

9 July 2009


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