The Dwindling Political & Economic Fortune Of Niger State, Mu’awiyyah Yusuf Muye
According to Winston Churchill, criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
Churchill also remarked that “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen”.With those two great quotes from the Great Winston Churchill I start this piece about the state of my great and beloved home state, Niger state. It is heart wrenching to watch how the fortunes of Niger state are on the wane year after year since the advent of democracy. Nigerlites are the ideal Nigerians. They define a thorough Nigerian. An average Nigerlite can sit and watch even while his destiny is getting torched. It is a pitiful situation; they seem to have the “I don’t care” attitude about those who govern them. All we do is murmur in the comforts of our homes like every other Nigerian. This is probably because majority of Nigerlites think of themselves as good people and conclude politics is too dirty a game for them to get involved in.
As Plato would say,” Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber”; and so we have continued to live with the consequences of our actions. While we watch as most parts of the country continue to reap dividends of our not so young democracy, we in Niger State are yet to see the results of the humongous allocations that have accrued to our state since the advent of democracy in 1999.
After the harrowing eight years (1999-2007) of Engr. Abdulkadir Kure’s mis-governance came the selection of Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu; the self-proclaimed Chief Servant of Niger state. In the early period of his administration, although many people including this writer weren’t genuinely pleased with the condition of his emergence as the governor; things were beginning to look promising for the state. It was either we were tricked to believe or he actually had good intentions because he had good policies and was making a lot of noise about implementing them. I personally was in an exultant mood as I reflected within myself that finally, Nigerlites by sheer fluke or good fortune have finally found their messiah in the Chief Servant. Today and seven years later, we are yet to see the actualization of those promises.
What is baffling in all of this is that those who naturally should serve as stakeholders in the affairs of the state either do not really care or are simply minding their own business. Whatever their reason, they need to act swiftly as Niger State is in dire need and face uncertain future. It is in need of an experienced and capable captain to pilot the affairs of our great state.
We can forget so soon how an incompetent GEJ was forced on Nigerians and the results of that are glaring for all to see today. Do we want the same situation playing out in our dear state, after fifteen years of democracy with nothing tangible to show for it, do we act as if all is well?
Posterity will not be kind to them if they allow this charade to continue in the name of democracy. They cannot leave the state to wallow in hands incompetent and sleaze-infested hands. As the chief executive of the state, the governor is by default the most influential person during the process of selecting candidates to govern the state. Dr Babangida Aliyu should not allow his selfish agenda becloud his judgement and in the process, leave this state to wither further in political and economic uncertainty. At the moment, the list of candidates who have indicated interests and jostling to succeed the “Thief Servant” leave much to be desired. As the governor, it would not be that hard to find a competent candidate among the plethora of able bodied professionals we have in the state and supporthim/her to succeed him but our Dr Babangida Aliyu has decided to ply the path of mediocrity and has anointed a candidate in his own image.
One begins to wonder whether these politicians are as clever as they like to make us believe. Because if they were, they will realise that anointing a candidate and God-fatherism has not entirely worked out for those who have tried it previously. Below we will indicate few cases of Godfather/Godson relations gone bad to refresh our memory.
Ex. President Obasanjo, after his failed 3rd term bid forced a sick late Governor Umar Yar’adua, the least popular presidential candidate at the time on his party, the PDP and Nigeria so he can do his biddings, the late Yar’adua turned out to be his worst nightmare. The same Obasanjo also worked tirelessly to see that Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the then vice president, was made president during Yar’adua’s sick leave and during the general elections in 2011. We all know how that has turned out. We are privy to the back n forth exchange of letters between OBJ and GEJ’s team over the last couple of years. These are all borne from the former’s selfish interest. He would like to make us believe otherwise though.
We also know the cases of the late Kwara state elder statesman Dr. Olusola Saraki and his own biological son Bukola Saraki; Danjuma Goje and Dankwambo in Gombe State; Ali Modu Sheriff and Kashim Shettima in Borno state; Ahmed Makarfi and his then successor Namadi Sambo; Orji Uzor Kalu and Gov.Theodore Orji in Abia state; Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Babatunde Fashola in Lagos State; Jolly Nyame and Danbaba Suntai of Taraba; George Akume and Gabriel Suswam in Benue; the list is endless. We could keep pointing out different scenarios but results are all the same. If these politicians serve their people diligently, they would not be so hung up and so concerned on appointing their successor or turn such exercises into a Do or die affair. These succession struggles happen because they need their trusted lieutenants to provide cover for their dirty linens while they remain relevant in corridors of power.
Niger state elders must as a matter of utmost urgency show concern and consider the gravity of their disconcerting silence.They have to be patriotic enough and put aside their selfish interests; forget this politics of anointing sons, relations and their political associates, as their successors. Personal ambitions should have no more importance than the political and economic wellbeing of the state. But will they listen to good counsel, will they forgo their petty and selfish ambitions and just for a moment think about our collective aspirations as a state?
Personally, I am a card carrying member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and among all the candidates: Abubakar Sani Bello (LOLO), Engr. Mustapha Bello, Hon. Musa Ibeto the current deputy governor and Umar Nasko who is also the chief of staff to the Governor who have presented themselves to be elected as the next governor of Niger State, It is my honest opinion that Engr. Mustapha Bello is miles Ahead of the rest in terms of competency and experience. This is not a write up to promote the candidacy of Engr. Mustapha Bello as I do not know him personally nor do I have any ties with him. But irrespective of party affiliations, my country and state comes first before any other consideration. It’s loyalty to country and state before any individual.
We owe it to ourselves and posterity to stand up and make it a duty to see that the best people are always in key positions of governance. Only then are we going to live happily and be able to call ourselves true citizens.
I became interested in Umar Nasko, due to his relative young age compared to the others and I made it a task to find and know more about him. But all I’ve been able to find about him was that he was sacked as a commissioner due to mismanagement of funds by the same Governor Babangida Aliyu and later, funnily,reappointed as chief of staff to the Governor. So I dug more in order to ascertain his true personality and in that process decided to visit his official campaign website but there is not enough on the site to convince me about his suitability for the office of the chief executive of the state. His biography is poorly written too.In as much as we want young people to step up and occupy key positions of governance, they have to be able to rise through the ranks and earn them with integrity and competence. But Umar Nasko has failed to impress in these aspects. I became apathetic with his candidacy as even his resume was below average. I know that ability is not the greatest consideration for appointment into several positions in the state but the office of the governor is too sensitive a post to leave in the hands of mediocre fellows.
There is not much to say about Musa Ibeto who has served as deputy Governor for the past seven years. Many people may argue that as deputy governor he is powerless but I disagree. The fact that he has remained silent in the face of all the sleaze going on in this government is enough confirmation of his complicity.
I have always said this is the best time for my party, the APC to take opportunity and present a competent and trustworthy candidates in all positions especially for the gubernatorial contest in the state due to PDP’s dwindling popularity among the populace, But if they fail to capitalise on that and be better than PDP, then the people are likely going to go with the candidates rather than with parties and this brings us to the candidature of Abubakar Sani Bello (Abu Lolo) who happens to be the nephew of another candidate Engr. Mustapha Bello and my personal favourite due to party affiliation. Abu Lolo is a successful businessman and has served as commissioner for some time under Governor Babangida Aliyu. He is in my estimation the second best candidate among the several candidates who have indicated interest to contest for the governorship seat in the state. He can capitalise on the growing popularity of APC and the fast growing disaffection of the people with PDP in the state.
Niger State is endowed with vast natural and human resources which is capable of propelling the state into top five economies in the country, But when our elders fold their arms and watch incompetent people preside over the affairs of the state then they will not only be doing the populace a disservice but they will also be endangering the futures of their grand children.
Let’s put the past behind us and prepare for the greater task ahead. Niger State will Insha Allah outlast all of us so let us put our personal interests aside and work to build the state of our dreams. It is my honest opinion that if we all stand up to contribute our bits, no matter how small that might seem, when we put our heads together, then we all get to reap from the enormous benefits this will yield.
A word is enough for the wise.
Mu’awiyyah Yusuf Muye is on Twitter as @P_Muye and can be reached at PrinceMuyea@gmail.com
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