BY MAHMUD IBRAHIM
Stakeholders in the North-Eastern State of Zamfara seem united in their no confidence vote on Governor Abdulaziz Yari’s tenure in the last seven years and are battle ready to stop the chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, from picking his successor in 2019 writes ……..
The fortunes of a state in any context are usually tied to its leadership and the quality of governance provided by the leadership and in this regard, Zamfara State since 2011, at least, has been adjudged unlucky to be led by Governor Abdulaziz Yari.
Stakeholders and political analysts in the state are on the same page that Yari’s style of governance has left so much to be desired, most especially since the commencement of his second term in 2015.
Indeed, the generous consensus in the state is that were he not running on the platform of the popular All Progressives Congress, APC, and the popularity of President Muhammadu Buhari for his reelection, stakeholders would have ensured he lost, but because the common political solidarity in the state was with the ‘Change’ movement of the APC, Yari was able to make a second term.
But the second term appears to have been a catastrophe of great proportions to the people of Zamfara State.
The situation in Zamfara is so precarious now that of all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, the state is now one which the United States’ government has warned its citizens in Nigeria not to visit, mainly because of the perennial violence and its negative standing on almost every index of human development in Nigeria. Zamfara State now enjoys the unenviable status of always coming last among the comity of states in Nigeria: only 23 pupils from the state registered to sit for the National Common Entrance – in spite of huge investments made by Yari in education.
An educationist, who pleaded anonymity opined that perhaps, the low registration for the NCE examination was an indication that the huge investment in education on paper was diverted. which means the funds are obviously diverted. For a stat
A state of over two million people in population, Zamfara State has only 24 hospitals and 23 orthodox doctors – and there are indications that most, if not all of them are ready to leave the state in search of greener pastures, but Governor Yari is alleged to be unconcerned.
The outbreak of cerebro-spinal meningitis in the state recently could have been contained if the state had more hospitals and rural clinics, but then how would any meaningful progress be made in the healthcare sector when the governor was of the belief that fornication is the root cause of the disease?
A political analyst in the state, Mahmuda Ibrahim, told us: “He betrays a primitive worldview in that regard and shows that he would rather engage in religious polemics than bring actual development to his citizens.
“One wondered at the time why the casualty figures from Zamfara were so high if fornication was the cause: was Yari saying that Zamfara State is the most offending state in this regard?”
To underscore Yari’s poor governance index, a recent report, well researched by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative of the Oxford University in England, revealed that Nigeria now has the highest number of people living in extreme poverty, but within Nigeria itself and among the 36 states, Yari is the governor of the poorest state in Nigeria with over 90 per cent of its indigenes and residents living on less than two dollars a day.
Ironically, Yari is the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, NGF, but he seemed not to have learnt any lesson in governance from any of his fellow governor colleagues from other states like Lagos’ Akinwunmi Ambode and Kebbi’s Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, among other hard working governors busy delivering dividends of democracy to their people and making giant strides in the area of poverty reduction.
Most numbing of all the challenges plaguing the state, however, must be the recent spate of killings in the state while the governor allegedly remains clueless.
In February, bandits and hunters clashed in Zurmi Local Government Area while the governor was outside the state and he was unaware of the development for days after the incident. It was said that his Commissioner for Information, Sanda Danjari, also only became aware of the deadly attacks after it had gone viral online and internationally through Radio France. He was alleged to have kept calling Yari, who was in Abuja at the time, but neither the governor nor any of his aides could be reached.
An APC stalwart who preferred not to be named said, “If this is not an instance of gross misconduct then nothing else is – a state governor whose internal information mechanism cannot be activated to let him know when his citizens are under attack, for several days afterwards, is clearly not fit for office.
“And it is indeed fitting that he has declared that he is no longer the Chief Security Officer of Zamfara State, but he should go further to reject any further allocations of the huge security votes he collects monthly. He should even in fact resign as governor, since he can no longer carry out the most important of the responsibilities he has been entrusted with, which is the security of the lives and property of the electorate.”
Clearly, the situation in the country is such that no state governor in Nigeria controls the security forces – either intelligence or force, an anomaly of nation’s pseudo-federalism, but by building relationships across their states and working closely with security officers deployed to states, most governors make the best of the situation to ensure the security of lives and property of their citizens.
But Governor Yari seems to have failed woefully in this regard. This was just as he has been severally accused of not even staying long enough in Zamfara, has been junketing mostly to Abuja and other places.
It is therefore an indictment on the Yari administration for its failure to ensure the safety of lives and property of the people of Zamfara, especially during the February attack and the recent attacks on his people by bandits.
Yari is also alleged to have alienated himself from the security agencies in Zamfara State, thereby worsening an already worse situation. It is of important note that governors who maintain a cordial and friendly relationship with police commissioners in their states are always able to informally alert the police bosses of security problems when they arise, and these security bosses are always ready to do the needful, but Yari is, according to a security expert, Mallam Ahmed Bukari, “not only disconnected from his citizens and blissfully but wickedly unaware of attacks but disconnected from the very forces of state that can protect the citizens.”
The latest round of killings in Zamfara has also not gone without the usual attempt to pass the buck by the governor instead of confronting the challenge headlong. In all fairness, it is the ultimate responsibility of the Federal Government to secure the lives and property of every Nigerian, but it is an open secret the many security challenges confronting the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari at this time, but if some states like Benue, Taraba, and Zamfara and recently Plateau apart from the North-Eastern region, have it worse, then surely the helmsmen of those states must be queried.
Perhaps this was exactly what the Minister of the Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazzau, a retired general, alluded to recently at a panel session of the 67th International Press Institute Congress. Danbazzau, while reacting to Yari’s dereliction of duty and abandonment of responsibility in the face of security challenge, said, “Good governance is the final solution to the security challenges in Zamfara State. It is not the number of soldiers. It is not good governance for the governor of Zamfara State to say he is withdrawing as Chief Security Officer. Even if he is given all the soldiers in the world, he can’t use those forces to deal with those issues.”
Danbazzau’s comments may have been face-saving, but he has made several points: first for a governor to claim that he is not the Chief Security Officer of his state is gross irresponsibility and the height of nonchalance. Secondly, that good governance is lacking and missing in Zamfara State and that is why the state amongst other North West states is in a terrible and woeful situation.
From the foregoing, the people of Zamfara State seem to have taken solace in the fact that Yari’s tenure is only about a year or less left and they seemed to have been united in stopping him from installing a successor come 2019, if the state is to make any meaningful progress.
Another APC stalwart in the state, Alhaji Dansadau Azeez said, “Yari has failed and his failure is the failure of Zamfara State but Zamfara voters have a chance to rectify this in the next election. One can only hope that the political elite of the state find a viable alternative other than anyone endorsed by Yari himself, and who will only be a continuation of Yari’s abysmal failures and performance.”
-Mahmud Ibrahim, a political analyst, writes from Gusau