By Ehichioya Ezomon
“Two wrongs cannot make aright” is a popular axiom turned on its head in Nigeria’s political arena. Here, the wrong can only be righted if it’s wronged again!
It’s a season for payback, as newly-inaugurated State Governors offer a dose or two of the bitter pills their predecessors had also administrated to their forebears.
This exhibition of “what goes around comes around” is brewing tension in several states due to certain actions taken by mostly Governors in opposition parties.
Rather than aim to right alleged governance “mistakes” by their immediate predecessors, the governors come with a mission: to avenge personal grudges and/or fight a proxy war on behalf of their godfathers or specific interests.
They pursue the mundane rather than prioritise the harsh economic fallouts from the Naira redesign of the Buhari government, and fuel subsidy removal by the Tinubu administration; and insecurity that severely affects the states.
Thus, the governors have created unnecessary tension, and raised the prevailing despondency, and anger in the states.
A leader in a mission to serve the people shouldn’t rank dissolution of elected local government councils, as Governor Caleb Mutfwang of Peoples Democratic Party did in Plateau State, which’s under siege by unknown killers of hundreds of residents in the past months.
Former Governor Simon Lalong of All Progressives Congress had sacked Plateau’s 17 councils in July 2015 when Mutfwang’s Chairman of Mangu council. So, Mutfwang somehow wants to avenge that termination!
Dismissing a court injunction by the sacked councilors, Mutfwang’s inaugurated transition committees for the councils, “to pave way” for the State Assembly to investigate the income and expenditure of the councils.
The Police, on orders of the Inspector General, have sealed the council secretariats, “to avoid possible threats to lives and properties in the local government councils as a result of leadership tussle…”
A statement by the state Police Public Relations Officer, DSP Alfred Alabo, on June 15, reads in part:
“The Inspector General of Police, IGP, Usman Akalai Baba, (now retired) has ordered the Plateau State Commissioner of Police, Bartholomew Onyeka, to sea up all the 17 Local Government Secretariats of the State.
“This has become necessary as a result of tensions around the leadership of the Local Government Areas, and the possible threat that supporters and Local Government Chairmen are posing to critical infrastructure, lives and properties in the State.
“The decision to take this action is in accordance with the exercise of our constitutional responsibility as the Nigeria Police Force, to ensure that the above doesn’t hold sway.
“To this end, the Nigeria Police Force cannot sit down and watch things go wrong under our watch, hence the need to make this critical decision of sealing up the Local Government Secretariats.”
The Police Command warned that, “it will not take it lightly with anyone who tries to disrupt this process or cause any confusion around the local Government Secretariats, as we will ensure that the law takes its full course on such persons.”
In Kano State, a shocked citizenry watched as bulldozers pulled down iconic structures in the city centre, and nothing seems untouchable, as many fear that the magnificent interchange bridges could go next.
Governor Abba Yusuf of New Nigeria Peoples Party has ordered the demolition, as he looks set to rubbish former Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of APC and his legacy.
Yusuf had campaigned to remove or revoke the edifices – on alleged vendetta to assuage Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, former Kano State Governor and candidate of NNPP in the February 2023 presidential election.
Yusuf, son-in-law and former Personal Assistant to Kwankwaso, was defeated by Ganduje in 2019.
Ganduje’s deputy to Kwankwaso as governor, but since 2017, the former allies have been estranged, with Yusuf practically siding with Kwankwaso, who sponsored him against Ganduje’s re-election in 2019.
Though he survived the poll on a re-run, Ganduje had touched the tiger’s tail when he carved five Emirates from Kano, and dethroned and banished Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi – a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria – on alleged failure to support Ganduje’s second term bid.
Even as he pursued his failed 2019 guber run up to the Supreme Court, Yusuf had vowed to reverse the balkanisation of Kano Emirate – a pledge he (and Kwankwaso) repeated in the 2023 poll cycle.
While that maybe in the pipeline, the governor had to kick-start with demolition, seizure or revocation of property allegedly acquired by Ganduje for official purposes or to allocate to private interests.
Throw into the mix a hint of religion in the destruction spree in Kano – particularly the popular Roundabout caused by a Christian “cross” sign, as revealed by the Secretary to Kano Governorment, Baffa Bichi, in an interview on Freedom Radio.
Bichi said: “Over 99.9 or 100 per cent of Kano indigenes are Muslims. So, you can’t have a structure with a large inscription of the cross on it. It’s against Islamic values.”
But defending his actions, Yusuf said: “The structure (in the Roundabout) is too tall to be placed in front of the government house, as it defaces its main gate which (and) blocks the view for security surveillance.
“Additionally, it poses traffic challenges around the area because of its size, blocking the view of drivers accessing all routes linked through the roundabout.”
Did the motorists complain, or Governor Yusuf merely wants to satisfy partisan interests and powers that draw the strings behind the scenes?
In his inaugural, Yusuf declared: “We have what it takes to move Kano State to the next level through massive infrastructural development… We shall govern for all, for the peace and prosperity of the state.”
Will his demolition, seizure or revocation of property benefit Kano residents faced with accute shortage of housing, education and health facilities and services? Is it in tandem with his pledge for infrastructural development, and governing for peace and prosperity of Kano?
In Zamfara State, Governor Dauda Lawal of PDP and former Governor Bello Matawalle of APC feud over property Matawalle allegedly took from the Government House, and private property Lawal seized from the Matawalle holdings.
Matawalle reportedly divested the Government House in Gusau, the capital city, of furniture, electrical and electronic appliances, and vehicles of varying brands.
When pleas, and threats to return the movable assets failed, the governor sent armed security operatives to lay siege to the Matawalle property, as officials “retrieve what belong to Zamfara State,” including “40 vehicles.”
The Court has ordered the Police to transfer the vehicles to the court premises, pending determination of a suit by Matawalle, querying government’s action against his family’s interests. But Governor Lawal’s challenged Matawalle to show proof that the items are privately-owned.
It’s like a hurricane sweeping through the Benue State civil service, with hundreds of workers sacked, demoted or retired from the MDAs in one fell swoop.
APC’s Governor Hyacinth Alia – a Revd Father dubbed the “Miracle-working Priest,” who wants to “liberate Benue from poverty” – claims former Governor Samuel Ortom of PDP had appointed, promoted, or extended service to the affected workers from May 2022, “to hamstring his successor.”
Should Ortom have frozen governance for 12 months for an “Alia” to secure the APC ticket in May 2022, and win the March 18, 2023, poll, and fill vacancies and effect promotions and transfers?
Did the workers qualify for the positions? Were they engaged without due process, and need for their services? Will government re-fill the vacant positions?
The hullabaloos and shenanigans by state governors boil down to personal and partisan interests, and rivalry and inordinate crave for power that dominate politics. None is a fight for the good of society, and the Nigerian masses!
- Mr Ezomon, Journalist and Media Consultant, writes from Lagos, Nigeria.