Tanko Beji You Got It Wrong By Jide Orintunsin
Posted On Jun 17, 2016
The outburst of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Barrister Tanko Beji penultimate Thursday on the activities of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger state was not unexpected. He has to justify his emergence as the new state Chairman of the opposition party.
He has to muster all he has, despite the debilitating and humiliating defeat dealt on his party at the last elections in the state. He has to be seen to be building courage in the minds of the few members left under the perforated and weather beating umbrella.
Beji has to talk and be seen to talk tough. At least, in the media and not to the enlightened and politically conscious Nigerlites, who are better informed and can not be hoodwinked or brain washed by the baseless and needless accusations. His intended audience, the average Nigerlites knew those responsible for the poor state of infrastructure in the state. They knew the men of yesterday who were positioned to positively influence and improve the lot of our people and the state but cornered and converted commonwealth for personal use. Those given the responsibility of electrifying our rural communities but chose to keep them in total darkness.
The question on the lips of Nigerlites since the PDP chairman outburst was; what moral right has a party that performed woefully for 16 years to wrongfully accuse a government that has been saddled with the task of cleaning up the mess of over one and half decades? People reasoned that with the abysmal failure of the self acclaimed Africa’s largest political party to meet the yearning of the electorates, in the face of abundance and buoyant economy, Beji should have not stirred the hornet. Rather than fix Niger State, the “Power” people busied themselves with the commonwealth of the Nigerlites, especially in the last 8 years of the inglorious rule of the PDP in the state.
Kleptomania and squandering of public funds became the order of the day. The last 8 years of uneventful reign of the PDP saw the state dotted with more white Elephant and un-viable projects. It was a season of parade of exotic cars under the guise of “elevating standard of governance”. An era that only busted the fortune of the inner caucus of the ruling class at the expense of the masses.
No wonder the electorates, despite the huge monetary inducement took their fate in their hands and vote out the “Lice” that has been sucking blood out the soul of our fragile state. Tanko Beji and his co-travellers under the umbrella were flushed out from all the 42 elected offices in both executive and legislative arms of government of the state.
A year after this defeat one would have expected that the party would have come to terms with reality. But penultimate Thursday vituperation of Beji was a clear indication that the party was yet to wake up from its state of political insomnia and accept that change has come to the state.
During the maiden press conference by the disputed PDP chairman, for lack of what to say, Beji exhibited high sense of political ignorance of the restoration efforts of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello in the last one year in the State.
Despite the rot and empty treasury inherited by Governor Sani Bello and a debt burden of over N67 billion, the opposition party has failed to see a new Niger State now emerging in the horizon. Beji got it wrong to have accussed Gov. Abubakar Sani Bello of non-performance.
For the purpose of setting the record straight, we may have to embark on an historical excursion. In 2007 the PDP led government claimed it took a N2 billion loan to off-set pension arrears of over 10 years, but the party in 2015 bequeathed the Abubakar Sani Bello administration with over N6 billion pension scam.
When the PDP administration approached the capital market to raise funds, fears were expressed but Nigerlites were promised that the servicing of the facility will not go beyond the lifespan of the administration, the reality today is that over N 500 million is deducted from source monthly from the meagre monthly coupon from federation account to service the bond secured by the PDP government. This Irrevocable Standing Order of monthly deduction from source will be on till 2019 and the party that inflicted this colossal burden on the state can openly and brazenly challenge her successor of non-performance. What an irony?
But for prudence and meticulous managerial skills of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello, the state would have gone down economically. Despite the dwindling resources, government still meets her contractual agreement with the workforce, carry out massive people oriented infrastructural projects across the three geo-political zones, meet her counter part funding obligations, restructure the health sector, undertaking massive rural water and electricity schemes and ensuring peace and security of the state.
Many of the people oriented projects include, the construction of many road networks in Minna, Agaie, Tegina and Bida towns as well as the rehabilitation of death trapped Suleja-Minna road, Minna township road through “Operation Zero Potholes” has brought smile and safety to motorists on these roads. Yet PDP are deliberately blind to see all these.
An entrepreneur of international standing, Gov. Sani Bello’s goodwill has drawn scores of genuine international investors to the state. Indian investors are now into large scale mechanised rice farming and production in Swashi area of Borgu local government area of the state. The N200 billion investment will not only reaffirm the state as the leader in Rice production in the country, the project will provide direct and in-direct job opportunities for over 100,000 persons of different socio-economic cadre, including youth and women. Another team of foreign investors are almost through with feasibility studies on Bina- Muye- Egba Rice belt area of Lapai Local government for similar project.
The Kwakuti Rice processing project in Paikoro Local Government area of the state has changed both the economic and social status of many youth and women in the area and yet PDP cannot see anything.
A N36 billion Central Bank of Nigeria financed Sugar manufacturing company and Sugar cane mechanised plantation situated in Sunti, Mokwa Local government area of the state is set to change industrial landscape of the state. This West Africa’s largest Sugar manufacturing company when fully operational will create over 100,000 jobs and put the state on a national map for food security.
Within the year under review, the All Progressive Congress (APC) led administration of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello in Niger State has given a new definition to agriculture. Only recently, a Kaduna state based Arewa Cotton Company is reviving the Cotton growing belt of the Agwara, Mashegu, Rijau and Borgu local government areas of the state. The governor’s ingenuity has also brought a huge surge in Shea nuts farming, with attendant value chain inputs.
The beauty of it is that all these investors are physically on ground investing their money in the economy of the state. This is a total departure from the past practice where portfolio carrying investors were paraded before the press signing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) after state counterpart fund has been paid and Nigerlites never see the outcome of the deals. Many of such investments include, the 5 Star Hotel in Minna where N.5 billion went for design and site clearing, the American-IBB Specialised Hospital, the Cable Car project, the tallest building on Zuma Rock and the Minna City Centre to mention but a few.
Beji’s demand for account of the local government allocations was not only misplaced but un-called for. It came belatedly. The opposition party should recall that at the stakeholders town hall meeting, on Monday, 25th April, 2016 at Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre, Minna where all Nigerlites, including some chieftains of PDP gathered, Governor Sani Bello did not only lay bear the receipts of the state, he called on his Commissioner for Local Government, Kabiru Abass to give details of the monthly receipts and expenditure of each of the 25 local government councils since the inception of the administration. What can be more transparent than that?
I challenge Beji and his party if such transparent Stewardship was rendered by the PDP administration in the state.
Another vexation of Beji’s PDP was Governor Sani Bello’s decision to grant financial autonomy to the local government councils in the state. The governor publicly declared his decision to grant the third tier of government financial autonomy and scrapping of the State Local Government Joint Account.
Instead of commending the courage and the political will of Governor Sani Bello for this heroic move of ensuring true democracy and financial independence for the councils, by reforming State Local Government Joint Account, the PDP is rooting for the continued enslavement of the councils.
For Governor Sani Bello the operation of joint account system is an avenue for corruption. Hear him, “Joint account punishes those local government that have been able to manage their wage bill and rewards those that have irresponsibly abused the system. We have to allow some level of autonomy in each Local Government. The councils must have autonomy to manage their resources and affairs.
“The state government will give the local government what the Federal Government provides for them so that each and every local government will manage their affairs”, he said.
In a sane society, the governor’s action deserves commendation but what do we get from PDP?
It is on record that the PDP administration from 2007 till 2015 did not only abused the system, it relished on the Joint Account with reckless abandonment and feasted on the Ward Development Projects (WDPs) scheme. Today, over N6 billion was claimed to have been spent on non-existing WDPs. This huge of money was carted away under the watchful eyes of the PDP.
Even when Beji during his press conference attempted to show concern on the 2016 budget, his action was lined with a lot of innuendoes. Let it be said that the perceived delay in assenting to the 2016 Appropriation Act by Governor Sani Bello was for proper scrutiny of the budget as passed and ensure there was no “padding”.
The import of this piece is not to deny the fact that as opposition, PDP has the right to ask questions but it is advisable that the party desist from “agbero” opposition and imbibe constructive criticism rather than engage in malicious attack on the good intentions of Governor Sani Bello.
Beji lacks legal or moral justification to engage in his verbose vituperation. His outburst showed he lacks the administrative competence to understand why certain things were done or not done. Right now, he should be busy with and rue his questionable credibility problem as his party continue with what it is known for – imposition of candidate as reflected in his alleged election as the party’s chairman.
However, it is expected that no matter what the state government does, the opposition will try to make it look bad. But it must be emphasised that Governor Abubakar Sani Bello led administration will not be distracted and will continue with its laudable policies and programmes in the quest to actualise the peoples mandate.
Nigerlites must also wise up and continue to discountenance the drivel of the opposition PDP who are only but desperate to seek relevance again. They had their chance (16 years), and they flouted it.
Jide Orintunsin is the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to Niger State Governor.