By Turaki Hassan
“Our people have witnessed bad leadership, especially in the last eight years. It will be a disaster if we do not save this situation.”
These were the exact words prophetically uttered by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara, on December 10, 2015, when the outgoing governor of Bauchi State, Barrister Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar, visited him in the National Assembly. The Speaker had, few months before then, paid a similar visit to the governor in Bauchi.
Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, Hon Dogara came face-to-face with the fears he expressed when Bauchi State kept deteriorating under the stewardship of M.A Abubakar.
The Speaker had charged the governor to make conscious efforts to deliver on his promises as it was the yearning of the people for a positive change in their lives that led to the massive support he got in the elections in 2015.
He would always say that God has set for them (leaders), the platform through which they can deliver the change they promised the people and that it could only be achieved with a visionary and purposeful leadership as according to him, the difference between a bush and a garden is just organisation. He constantly expressed the view that if you have a wonderful garden and you do not organise it, over time, it will become a bush in itself.
Sadly, all these words of wisdom fell on deaf ears as M.A Abubakar transmuted into an emperor, ran a solo show and ruled with an iron hand like Nero. He listened to no one and no one could counsel him. It was James F. Byrnes who posited that, “Power intoxicates men. When a man is intoxicated by alcohol, he can recover, but when intoxicated by power, he seldom recovers.”
Governance completely broke down in Bauchi State and no system worked under him. Workers spent over a year without salary following a series of endless verification to weed out “ghost workers”. Pregnant women delivered while waiting in queues, while the sick gave up the ghost without being paid. Hospitals became mere consulting clinics and doctors left the state in droves to the extent that as at today, there are only 40 medical doctors in the whole of Bauchi State. The governor would later admit the failure of his much taunted verification exercise on the BBC Hausa service. The education sector in the state also collapsed as pupils and students sit on bare floor, under leaking roofs, such that the state now has the highest number of out-of-school children in Nigeria of over 1.3 million.
In four years, the government failed to complete the only 4km Federal Low Cost-CBN Round about road in Bauchi metropolis which gulped over N4 billion. To add salt to injury, no worker was promoted or given his/her leave grant. Infact, M.A Abubakar declared on radio that it is not a right but a mere privilege and as a lawyer with over 30 years experience, no one can tell him what is legit. While this was going on, suddenly, the state’s salary payroll miraculously skyrocketed from N2.6 billion he inherited in 2015 to about N7 billion as at today, even though the government had placed an embargo on employment and did not add a single person into the civil service.
The many sins of the outgoing government are too numerous to mention. Is it the illegal N4 billion loan the governor took just two weeks into his government with a forged resolution of the state House of Assembly which is now in court? Or his frequent chartering of private jet to fly out of the state every other week? Is it the diversion of N1.6 billion Paris club debt refund to a private company in the name of consultancy which the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, froze? Or the unprecedented monumental fraud using ghost workers to divert hundreds of billions in the name of payment of salaries to people who were said to have been born in 1890s, employed in July 2015, and will retire from service in July 2023 after working for eight years, but whose salaries and allowances are all being paid into one, same and single bank account with the same Bank Verification Number? What more can one say? Bauchi has never been this debased and raped; its resources plundered and its people subjugated, humiliated, ridiculed and enslaved under a tyrannical, despotic and dictatorial leadership which, with a stroke of pen, dethroned about 1000 traditional rulers, pauperised them and desecrated the sanctity of that revered institution.
When it became obvious that M.A Abubakar was beyond redemption after he rebuffed every effort by good spirited people to advise him, and even shut the door on presidential mediation initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari; Speaker Dogara made a solemn vow on April 4, 2017, in an interview with the Daily Trust Newspaper, saying, “I will lead fearlessly in the hope that we will establish a truly progressive government that will address our yearning for development in Bauchi State. I am going to lead this. Even if everybody in Bauchi agree that they want underdevelopment, I want development and I will lead it and I believe that majority of our people will tag along with me.” He kept to his words, he led and the people followed, and Bauchi triumphed.
From that moment, M.A Abubakar launched a warfare on Hon Dogara forcing him and his supporters out of the All Progressives Congress, APC and vowed to retire him from politics. He also loathed, despised and hated him with a passion and even called him a “sinking man” before crossing into the realms of God by ridiculing the people of the Speaker’s constituency, Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency, when he declared them as “that tiny enclave.” In his words, “I want people to know that Dogara comes from a very tiny part of Bauchi State. So, our paths, even if they meet, they will meet in that tiny enclave only.
“I understand where he is coming from. He is a sinking man. Therefore, he is grabbing at every straw. I am not his opponent. People should understand that Dogara represents a total of 80, 000 registered voters. I won election in 2015 with over 300, 000 difference.” M.A derogatively despised the people, even when he knew that the total number of registered voters in the three LGAs is far above 250,000 but he chose to reduce them to just 80,000 in his characteristic arrogance.
God, who created the people of the three Local Government Areas, heard these words and humbled the outgoing governor by bringing him down to the same Tafawa Balewa where he ran from pillar to post, from Presidential Villa to Court Rooms, shouting to high heavens, contesting the votes of the local government which finally decided and sealed his fate in the election. That same tiny enclave confirmed him a loser in the election . God is wonderful!
The clock ticks, reality dawned on him that this same power which intoxicated and blinded him for four years is gradually eluding him and will soon be over and that his time was almost over. It was Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, who succinctly wrote about the pithiness and crispness of time when he said that “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it is not the same river and he is not the same man.”
M.A Abubakar then hurriedly packaged and forwarded two Bills to the state House of Assembly; one to totally repeal the Public Property and Funds Tribunal Act which he got enacted in 2017 and another Bill that reversed the sacking of about 1000 traditional rulers. The two Bills were hurriedly passed in a 1-hour sitting attended by only 13 out of 31 Members between early hours of 8am-9am without the knowledge of the remaining 18 Members, some of whom have already secured Court orders restraining him from assenting to the Bills.
Undoubtedly, as the Speaker said, the ouster of M.A Abubakar in the last election in Bauchi State was the crowning of the struggle for the emancipation and liberation of the people from the forces of darkness, evil and retrogression that have held the state captive and hostage who in their unlettered arrogance have taken Bauchi people for granted, to the point that they believe the patience of an oppressed people will last forever. By their collective resolve, they have demonstrated that no man-made chains can bind them to servitude. The chains have come undone, sending a clear message that they will never bend their backs again for an oppressor to ride.
Confirming the words of Henry Clay, who said, “An oppressed people are authorised whenever they can to rise and break their fetters,” Bauchi people rose in unison and broke their fetters. This will serve as a lesson for future leaders of the state.
A lesson that teaches that Leadership is a trust and though the days may seem long and drawn, there is a time, a day of reckoning, when your works will speak for or against you and just like the electorate gave their trust to you, they can also exercise same powers to give the boot as well. For M.A Abubakar, his chickens came home to roost after just one term.
As the incoming government of Sen. Bala Mohammed prepares to take over the reins of government, it is of utmost importance that, though the task ahead is enormous, they do not let the people down.
▪ Hassan is the Special Adviser (Media & Public Affairs) to Speaker Yakubu Dogara and can reached on twitter via @turakies.