Friday Discourse 237
The Yuguda Revolution (2)
In the first part of this article, we discussed the challenges before the governor-elect of Bauchi State, Malam Isa Yuguda, who is often simply referred to in the state as Malam or Yuguda. We mentioned the challenge of containing the menace of irate youths who are hell bent to share the booty of government with him or else they would turn against him as they did to his predecessor. We also mentioned the issue of employment which he, or his handlers during the campaign, promised the hundreds of thousands of idle youths in the State. Succeeding in this will undoubtedly solve a lot of social problems. But achieving it to the extent of getting even 100,000 jobs in a poverty ridden state like Bauchi is one of the most difficult challenges before the former banker. This category of youths, in addition to the irate ones, is also waiting for him to deliver on his promise. Then we mentioned his promise to drop the practice dubbed “Bauchi Formula” by restoring an additional 60% to the salaries of civil servants. We gave the statistics of the State’s income and advised him to be courageous and keep his promise; though doing so will cut deep into the coffers of government to the extent it will reduce the capacity of the administration to execute capital projects.
Today, we will address other challenges, largely concerning him and the people he will work with. First is the delivery on the promise that he will run a transparent government without breaching the trust of the electorate. This, as a goal, is the essence of good governance. He has repeatedly asserted this promise and one can say without any fear of contradiction that it was the main article of his manifesto. Even after the election, Malam continued to assert that he would not be like his predecessor, Mu’azu, whom he casts to the masses and the media as someone who has breached the trust of his people. “Our brotherhood remains, and so does our friendship”, Yuguda told Voice of America Hausa Service last week on his relationship with his old friend and predecessor, Muazu, “but the difference between us is in upholding public trust.” Mu’azu, on his part, listens to such sermons with a lot of reservations. Knowing his former close friend very well, Mu’azu was once reported saying, after learning that Yuguda is now addressed as malam, “In Isa malam ne, to wallahi ni liman ne.” That is, “If Isa claims to be a malam, then I am an Imam.” Literally, Mu’azu was saying that he is personally at a higher moral pedestal than his successor. On who is morally better, we the public must keep our lips sealed. The two know each other better.
Yet, every citizen of Bauchi state, including Mu’azu, must wish and support Malam to succeed. We must not tolerate failure at all. There are many instances in history where leaders shed their past and attain a high moral standing immediately after their ascent to the throne. We pray that Malam will do exactly that. And to do this he must know that he needs two things – one, taming his selfish desire and that of his followers, and, two, the support and understanding of people. A society characterized by poverty and kleptomania is prone to selfish pressures from various segments and institutions.
He must not be, neither must we allow him to be, a lesser “malam” than Mu’azu. Doing so will end him in a disaster. “If Malam will fail to deliver justice to us, we will ensure that he fails the next elections, just as we ensured the failure of Mu’azu through “a kasa a tsare”, a youth leader in Bauchi said on a BBC Hausa Service parley last week.
Isa might make up his mind and render himself a servant to his people. But he carries an excess luggage that will prevent him from running a transparent government unless he rids himself of its weight. It is our duty to point this out to him. This luggage is no other than many of those presently surrounding him. There are many among his followers with the good intention to assist him deliver, but there are also many whom we know very well are just there to deliver public funds into their pockets. They have been dumped by “liman” Mu’azu for the same purpose before; and, now, riding on the ignorance of Malam regarding their character, these wolves are parading themselves as the sheep devoured by Mu’azu. Malam must know how to handle this garbage. As a politician he must not dismiss them for they will constitute an opposition against him, but he must not entrust them with any public responsibility either. If he does so, he will fail woefully, and “a kasa a tsare” will be waiting for him.
I am surprised to find out that even among civil servants there is the insidious perception that Malam will allow people the free hand to use their offices corruptly. Part of our trust before Malam – we the common people at the receiving end – is that he must guard our wealth from these wolves that are now rejoicing in anticipation of the forthcoming feast. If he does not watch them, or block all their pilfering channels, his personal piety will not shield him from the wrath of the electorate.
This leads us to one of the pressures that these groups are exerting on Malam right now. They want to use Malam to avenge their fall out with Mu’azu, while, wallahi, they were the very people who, before, supported Mu’azu’s every wrong, granted his every wish, rationalized every mistake he committed and collaborated with him against any opposing view. They are calling for a probe. Well, if Malam will abide them, please let the probe be thorough and, I am sure, they will find themselves behind bars along with Mu’azu. Malam does not need a list of these people. I assure him that within six months into his tenure, he will discover them and water will, naturally, find its level.
There is another category of people who would like Malam to belittle every achievement of Mu’azu and undo his every legacy, no matter how noble it is, simply because such legacies are not in their interest. I have heard some wide mouths, for example, speaking about the abrogation of the Special Schools project. I know them very well, one of them a unionist, and the other an Emir, both of whom could get their children admitted into the schools through the back door. It is sheer envy and jealousy. They are riding on the wind of change to press for the scrapping of the only viable secondary schools in the state. They want a flat world where both the lazy and the hardworking will be treated equally.
Yuguda is not mad, by all standards. As he will come to learn, the Special Schools were formed by the Mu’azu administration not despite the other secondary schools, but because of them, since their condition was and is still far short of the national standard. No administration, no matter how hardworking, can instantly bring the standard of the now over 180 secondary schools in the state to such a high standard of secondary education is not about classrooms and books alone, which anybody can provide; it is also about nurturing a successful primary education that will provide the competent candidates for secondary education and getting the qualified and dedicated teachers to teach them.
So once Yuguda is able to raise the standard of students and facilities in other secondary schools to those of the Special Schools, he can scrap the latter, for their raison d’être is defeated. But unless he could achieve that, abrogating the Special Schools will only turn him into a laughing stock. On the contrary, I enjoin Yuguda to support the schools and fund them more than Mu’azu was doing recently. More importantly, they need his political backing to continue to treat all children as equal during admission: they must pass the Board’s entrance examination before they are admitted, regardless of whether they are wards of a unionist, an emir or even the governor. Mu’azu did so; Yuguda must not be a lesser Malam.
Regarding the legacies of the past administration, Malam must not rely on hearsay. The usual thing to do is to conduct a ministerial briefing where different organs of government are called to inform the State’s Executive Council of their activities. They state their rationale, list their successes, mention their failures, give reasons behind the failures and advise the Governor on what do, in their view, in order to move forward. Having heard from the horse’s mouth, the Governor can use his independent judgment to make up his mind. He then discards the garbage of his predecessor and upholds his good works. By so doing, Malam will be imitating Moses. When he was summoned to Sinai and was to spend forty nights there, he called his brother, Aaron, appointed him as his deputy and gave him two terms of reference, saying, “Oh Aaron, deputize for me among my people, and reform, and do not follow the path of those who destroy.” Listening to petty minds that only want to destroy is the surest road map to failure.
The last challenge before Yuguda is that which concerns the public and its contribution to the administration. His success or failure will also be determined by the amount of support and understanding he receives from both the elite and the common man. Right now, people are expecting him to do the impossible especially on creating jobs to all our youths overnight, exterminating poverty, and running a corrupt free government. Except in the public service, which is already saturated with staff beyond the carrying capacity of the government, there are no ways anyone can create jobs overnight for hundreds of thousands of youths. Yuguda may do so, ultimately, when allowed the time – between now and eight years, perhaps. Meaningful jobs that will provide employment to thousands need at least two years of establishment, while, I agree, there are some few ideas that could provide jobs to some few.
Likewise, nobody – no matter how rich, and no government – no matter how egalitarian and resourceful, can run on liberal principles and exterminate poverty completely. The expectation of the lazy commoner who refuse to work hard and earn a living is therefore a mere utopia. Even God did not choose to do so. In His wisdom, the economic hierarchy of a free society is inevitable. The Most High said, “And we raised some of them above others in degrees of wealth) such that a portion of them will hire labor from the other.” The communist tried it and failed.
The current pervasive envy, which is characteristic of poverty-ridden societies and which was maximally exploited to canvass for votes during the last elections, is also unfounded. Someone, after witnessing the defeat of the PDP at a polling station in Azare two weeks ago returned home saying, “Ba gara da aka kada su ba. Haka kawai, su na shiga mota da AC suna wa mutane kallon banza.” That is, “It is better that they (the ruling PDP in the State) are defeated. For no sake, they ride air-conditioned cars and look down upon us.” I wish Malam’s commissioners would be humble enough to ride donkeys, as Malam Aminu Kano once promised, or old 404 pick-ups not cars with AC. And when his council will one day visit Azare, they can spend a month enjoying the comfort of their donkeys before they arrive! Envy. Envy. Nothing else.
Finally, public servants in the State who supported Yuguda must be ready to sacrifice their kleptomaniac tendencies for our common good. If, however, they decide to keep them, then, their hero will woefully fail, largely as a result of their undoing.
The elite in Bauchi, therefore, have the responsibility of helping the new governor dispel this mountain of unfounded expectations. This is their civic responsibility. The common man doesn’t know what government is. All that he knows are the promises of manna that he heard, rightly or wrongly, during the campaign. Once he does not see it on his table as early as six months, he will start to grumble, then begin to call Malam names, and, finally, stage an intifada against him. And the revolt will not stop at Malam; it will also claim the lives, property and convenience of any body riding an air-conditioned car.
These two articles were precisely written for this purpose. They are intended to remind both Malam and the public on their mutual responsibility. If he and his followers listen, it will be fine for all of us; if he turns back arrogantly against my piece of advice, oho, “a kasa a tsare” will be waiting for him.
The editor just informed me that there were some rejoinders to my last article. I am yet to read them, if I will ever be opportune to do so. I write not for the world to rejoin, but I will be proud if an hour of my pen occupies the nights of some little minds. They can say what they wish at their level. “I compose a poet,” al- Mutanabbi once said, “and the world is obliged to spend the night disputing over its source and meaning.” However, if there is one person who will be happy with these articles, I am sure he will be Malam Isa Yuguda himself. The throne is there waiting for him. I wish him success.