Friday Discourse (235)
The Yuguda Revolution (1)
The last elections in Bauchi are described by many as a revolution. In many ways they were. The general belief is that people were determined for change. So they stood up and enforced their constitutional rights. They protected their votes and determined the outcome of the last gubernatorial elections. People with insight into the forces that came into play may not wholly agree with it. I think the truth was that there was a convergence of interests, between the people and the PDP in Abuja to humble the incumbent governor, Mu’azu, who is seen by many as power drunk and who might have stepped on many toes up there. The strategy adopted by the Federal Government to humiliate the incumbent was to include Bauchi among the states that will enjoy free and fair elections. And, behold, the people had their way in a spectacular manner. A kasa a tsare (vote and protect), Buhari’s popular dogma for protecting votes, worked marvelously here. In fact, they added a third article, a raka (and escort), to the dogma.
Immediately the opposition ANPP candidate, Malam Isa Yuguda, was announced the winner of the gubernatorial elections, the whole State went jubilant. In every town and village, youths carried their jubilations to the streets. And in many places, they even crossed the line of sanity. Instead of becoming contented with victory, they went further and attacked, wherever possible, the houses, persons and dignity of anyone who supported Nadada, the PDP contestant in the gubernatorial race. Once you support Nadada, you were automatically judged as azzalumi (tyrant), whether you belong to the PDP or not, and qualified for personal attack and humiliation. On the other hand, once you are a supporter of the triumphant malam (the acronym of Yuguda!), you are instantly considered a saint. It is this unfortunate development, which has its antecedents in the manner in which the ANPP mobilized the masses and carried out its campaign, that made elders greet the Bauchi revolution with deep apprehension. And now that the dust is settling, the state is gripped with the fear that, like its sister state, Gombe, Bauchi will very likely live under the nuisance of these rampaging youths for the next four years at least, unless Malam finds a way to contain them.
I do not see any fault in people yearning for change because it is human. I remember coming across a poem in Ana, the autobiography of Abbas Mahmud al-Aqqad. It says, “Man longs for winter during summer, but when the winter comes he detests it. Man is never satisfied with one condition, woe unto man, the ingrate.” And I have been a proponent of free and fair elections that will bring about meaningful development to people, for peace can only be guaranteed when power is accessed by people’s consent, rather than rigging elections which generates nothing but apathy and ill feeling. Perhaps, if the 2003 elections and the last PDP primaries in the state were free and fair, the PDP would not have suffered a humiliating fate during the last elections. People do concede that the incumbent governor, Mu’azu did perform, especially in the area of urban and rural infrastructure, but it was his overbearing influence which they protested against. A “NO” vote for the PDP was, therefore, in their calculation, a vote against Mu’azu, not against Nadada, my candidate, that is considered widely a quiet and amiable person who only happened to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
The purpose of this writing is not to narrate the past, but to look forward by alerting the governor-elect to the challenges facing him and the consequences of failure. I live in the village; l have heard and seen a lot from the common man since the elections. I’ve come to Bauchi twice and gauged the mindset of the people there. My honest conclusion is that Yuguda must listen; otherwise, he will suffer a fate worse than his predecessor’s. I have written a lot about Bauchi in the past, but it did not find a listening ear. This is the consequence. Yuguda and his supporters must not dismiss this as the rhetoric of someone whose candidate has lost. No. Today, he is faced with challenges and hopes higher than those faced by Mu’azu in 1999; and though deception could be used to gain popular support and to acquire power, only truth can sustain it. Both Yuguda and we, his subjects to be, must face the truth.
First, Yuguda must contain the nuisance of the irate youths he used during his campaigns. They have got accustomed to weapons, blood and uncouth language. No personality is too high for them to demean, and no crime is too great for their commitment. I have extensively dwelt on this last year when I wrote Goje, Yuguda and Mu’azu are Guilty, if my readers will remember. None of the trio listened. The security agents, who contributed to this sad development by turning a blind eye to the growing violence, and, in some cases, even aiding it, stand guilty too. I was shocked when I watched on NTA Bauchi how the Yuguda campaign train entered Sade and Darazo towns. The crowd was 90% made of youths carrying sticks and dangerous knives. One of them, who became a favorite of the camera, was brandishing a gun! On NTA! A civilian, carrying a gun, in public and aired on national television! What else could be more dangerous? In the run up to the elections, residents of the old city of Bauchi have also witnessed the unprecedented escalation of violence to the extent that many fled their homes and sought abode elsewhere. And so on. These are the youths who mobilized others to go about burning houses and molesting people in towns and villages.
Yuguda must find a way of disarming these youths. They will definitely like to determine the course of his government and, if he yields to their whims, he will find part ways with all reasonable people in the society; there will be no peace. And should he try to peg them down to their correct social status, then, they the lion will turn round to prey on its master, as al-Mutanabbi once said. It is a catch 22. That is exactly what happened to Goje in Gombe. He chose to allow them retain their influence. The youth leader is the de facto deputy governor and that state is the most politically violent states in the Northeast. Bauchi may plunge into the same pit, unless Yuguda displays an administrative dexterity more than Goje. Malam and his commissioners will be visited by these youths for extortion; if they do not oblige, there will be a night visit in which they will be robbed of what they withheld during the day.
This leads to the second problem. Finding them jobs would have been the best option. But Bauchi is a poor state with no industries to employ the army of over a million redundant youths. Part of Yuguda’s strategy during the campaign was to promise every youth employment. Or so the youths claim. And they seriously believe that he can do so, from the way they speak. I wonder how any person can think this is possible. The youths are not employable, at all, to begin with, and they don’t want to farm. Then how can they be employed? There is nothing that the Mu’azu administration didn’t try to satiate them in the past eight years. He bought many of them motorcycles for Okada. They sold them and refused to pay back the loans. He established skill acquisition centers, trained thousands of them, and gave them tools to use in the trade they learnt. They sold the tools. He abandoned them, and they decamped to Yuguda. Yuguda said, “Sit here with me. Mu’azu is a tyrant. He denied you employment. I will create jobs for all of you. I will bring industries to Bauchi.” The youths claim that Yuguda is rich and he will establish companies for them. I wonder how this tall ambition would be fulfilled.
The third is the expectation of the ordinary man. One of them in our village was heard saying, “shi ke nan, tun da malam ya ci, da mu da fatara mun raba gari har abada.” That is, “since malam has won, we are done with poverty, forever.” I consider this to be very dangerous. How do they expect Yuguda to do what God in His wisdom refused to do. This, coming from adults, is injustice to Yuguda for it is an expectation nobody can meet. Though the utterances of Yuguda during the campaign might have aided this idea, he must find a way of disparaging it from the minds of the masses. People must know that as an individual, man creates his own wealth, through a sequence of five variables: his skills, ideas, opportunity, hard work and prudence. There is no other way to sustainable wealth. Yuguda can only provide the peaceful environment and, possibly, the limited opportunity, for the wealth creation. Nothing more.
The fourth segment of challenge to Yuguda is the “Bauchi Formula,” the campaign promise to increase salaries of public servants by 60%. He even circulated, before the elections, the salary structure that reflects that increase, effective from June this year. And the strategy paid off very well. The civil servants joined the fray and canvassed votes for malam like never before. Now, they have delivered. It is Yuguda’s turn to deliver. How he will go about it and still match his predecessor in projects remains a myth. On the one hand, there are just no funds to actuate this promise if he intends to match the performance of his predecessor. On the other, the workers, as they did to Mu’azu, will not allow malam to retrench a single staff. By the time he implements the salary structure, 56.5% of the State’s allocation will go to salaries and allowances. I wish my state is as rich as the Niger Delta states, because our workers definitely require a better take home.
Presently, salaries and allowances in Bauchi State gulps N603million out of the average figure of N1.7billion that the state receives as monthly allocation. Adding 60% will raise the figure to N960million. Other recurrent expenditure of the state is up to N300million. If Yuguda will increase the staff roll in his attempt to find more jobs, this total recurrent expenditure will reach N1.5billion. Then what will the remaining N200million do?
Let us not forget that Yuguda is inheriting many capital projects whose beneficiary communities will be eager to see completed. And to be fair to him, he will not be there just to complete Mu’azu’s projects; he must initiate his own, given the debt he owes his party members who have been thoroughly ravaged by the Sahara of opposition politics for the past eight years. Yuguda himself needs to recoup, without profit, since he is a malam, the over N2billion he is said to have invested in his campaign. And do not forget the army of youths and party supporters who will come to demand their share… He has also promised to rehabilitate hospitals and equip them, repair all schools and employ more teachers, build an airport, and so on.
Yuguda should not renege on this promise. He should fulfill it because the workers were the backbone of his support. He can rely on excess crude to execute his capital projects. Spending over 80% on recurrent expenditure will circulate more money in the state, better than paying contractors. That means I will sell more yoghurt. I pray that Malam does not share the fate of Hashidu, who spent resources on rehabilitating people and lost his bid for a second term. Should the masses condemn Yuguda on this account one day, the civil servants and I will then rise to his defense.
There are other challenges to the governor elect which we will discuss next week before we conclude the article, God willing. Meanwhile, let’s join the masses to celebrate in the revolution.