“May be these people need somebody like me around, someone to do their dirty work, a real bad guy.” –Merle Dixon.
Contrary to many intuitive understanding of ‘godfatherism politics’ as a discourse of division, some argue that it’s also a discourse of integration, serving to bring the allies closer to each other. The fundamental logic of such politics, thus considered a Schmittian game of telling friends from enemies, in which betrayal is an unpardonable crime and traitor the worst kind of enemy. Yet at the same time, betrayal, in politics of godfatherism, acknowledges an intimacy that existed prior to the act of betrayal: an intimacy that must be denounced and, even, at times, held in disgust. During the era of late governor Patrick Yakowa, while he and many of his followers worried about being betrayed by his staunch allies and was at the risk of exiting the bowl of power, then a deputy governor, Yero never understood betrayal as a political risk. Eight months after being sworn as the governor of Kaduna State, by circumstance of death and destiny, governor Yero now has a new definition for betrayal as ‘political risk’, at least through his actions. It’s glaringly obvious that our dear governor is confusing reality with imagination. The events that unfolded over the last eight months led me to reflect on how an imaginary crisis can be productive, for it means imagining an alternative history that bears on political reality. The events — both political and otherwise — depressing-esque meshing of political suspense and subplots, also revealed the sort of risky connections between fantasy and politics that could put real lives at risk. While Yero’s era as deputy governor can be regarded as political fantasy, eight months into his tenure as governor, he’s yet to term with the political reality bestowed on him. It’s this confusion, with no ending signs, that triggered my much laid down sense of demands and accountability. In this era of political correctness, no doubt, many will argue that its too early to judge a governor whose tenure can still be regarded as a ‘baby’ one. Our mediocrity of offering time frame as an excuse for failure always beats my thoughts. Real men handle institutions of power from the hour authority befall on them.
For those familiar with Kaduna State, in a context of charity, it should be a municipal too easily to govern with real men at the helm of affairs. Yet, one at the death end of anything meaningful. For a state that’s well structured post independence, one would’ve imagined by now, the expansion levels should be at par with that of Lagos State. However, from 1999 to date, compare to the resources generated regularly and the accrued Federal Government allocations, one had be right to say nothing has been achieved in moving the state forward — infrastructurally and economically. The only aspect well established is that of corruption — birthing godfatherism and sycophancy. It will be a share art of hypocrisy not to acknowledge the efforts of former governor Ahmed Makarfi in providing infrastructural development to rural areas during his era, even though little can be said of the metropolis. When Namadi came on board, being an architect himself, one would’ve expected him to compliment the efforts of his predecessor. Regrettably, the parallels were too obvious to even a blind folk to feel and differentiate. For the better part of his three years as governor, there was hardly any substantial project of note, no matter how charitable one intend to be to him. The only thing that characterized his short, yet destructive, spell was the propagation of an unrealistic millennium city project. A project that remain elusive much as it’s illusive. The coming of Patrick Yakowa, as thought, signalled some levels of hope. Though ours is a clime where commencement of projects hardly define it success rate, but at least, there were some visible projects no matter how miniature, to pointed to. For the less than two years he was in charge, Yakowa’s era wasn’t without its lapses. However, the positives far outweighed the deficits until destiny played it hand. There came Ramalan Yero, whom many had thought, going by the circumstance of his emergence, would continue with the projects started by his predecessor, at least infrastructurally. Unfortunately, ever since his commissioning, governor Yero had succeeded in ensuring the state attained a historical feat of been the only state with four governors — three of whom are governing in proxy.
Some of the monumental achievements of his first eight months included nominating his father to chair a board of a federal neuropsychiatric hospital in the state. For a system that will appoint Salisu Buhari (Former Speaker Federal House of Representatives), who fogged certificates to win an electoral position, to chair a governing council of a federal university, appointing a governor’s father to chair any board is less a mediocrity. The 560 million naira subsidy reinvestment and empowerment programme (SURE P) funds that disappeared without any sort of explanation marked another turning point in defining the kind of government on board. A money meant, though without any rationale behind it, for complimenting developments. While the state is yet to recover from such abuses of human power exhibited by the governor, another naked cynicism was displayed. Withdrawing state funds (estimated to be around 28bn naira) meant for developmental projects in the name of paying the vice President certain debt the state is owing him is the highest form of political rascality and leadership vulgarity. One shouldn’t be surprised because we are in a country of all possibilities. Impossibility, positively or otherwise, is never greeted with less paucity by must Nigerians. From its inception, Yero’s administration is one that never shows any clear sense of focus nor logical direction, but corrosive servile form of flattery. It has been very slow and inept from the word go. Worst still, even more slower and disconnected from the masses as it matures daily. There has not been notable wills and intentions in justifying the trust placed upon it by the ever reluctant and status quo massaged state citizens. The era of Yero, in the last eight months, had succeeded in serving only the interests of godfathers and elites within and outside the state. Notable amongst is the vice President who, aided by no functional responsibility except attending cocktail parties and commissioning of ghost projects, is always curiously interested on how a cent is managed in the state account. Supported by his lack of political experience and weak disposition as a leader, the governor always succumb to whatever the demands of the vice President are, even if they mean milking the state empty. Recent happenings within the state shows that the governor’s dad must endorse whatever proxy–projects to be issued for one to be sure of his guaranteed share of the jamboree. How low these people had made governance and power intoxicate them is beyond one’s ability to conceive. While states like Kano are putting eternal efforts to advance the state in all angles, Kaduna, which many northern States previously looked up to is fast dwindling economically and infrastructurallly. It’s an abuse of State prowess to state here that as large a city Kaduna is, there are only two major dual road linkages. The third , which billions had been sinked into, is the Eastern bypass which is yet to be fully operational. Even the minor dual roads not linking to other states are less available. For a city that is long due for expansion and which the government, over the years, had maintained reluctant stand to attend to, the pseudo Lagos traffic that’s becoming a permanent imperil in the city should be anything but surprising. The few individuals that had showed the desire to expand the city hardly got any government backing. For example, there were new government layouts at Barakallahu and Rigachikun areas of the State issued to individuals by Makarfi’s administration, but when Namadi came on board, together with the Nigerian Airforce authority, contrived to claimed the lands. Till date, individuals’ properties worth billions are at their custody. Denying the city a chance to be de-congested and expanded for good. The story isn’t any different today, as there are many instances of such where the state government would’ve impacted meaningfully, but have failed to do so on ground of visionless stand and satisfying the elitist class. It’s also the same in Zaria and other suburbs of the state, if not even worst. The furore that rocked the state assembly over the last few weeks, leading to the speaker’s impeachment attempt, is evidence of the crack within the top setup. Yes, the tenure may be young, but the scandals already rocking it are typical manifestations of bleak days ahead.
However one may look at it, it’s high time governor Yero get himself out of the cusp of Namadi’s tantrum. Leadership and governance are not a family nor cliche affairs. He must unbond himself from the intoxication his political godfather suffered from while in charge of the state. If all that’s happening within the state, as others are claiming, though not justifiable, are because his government is too young to get its acts together, I wonder how long will it take him to start executing meaningful projects. There’s no better time for the governor to paint himself gold as now, but he must first realize the task ahead of him and by making himself a free civic entity. A word they said, is enough for the wise.
Abubakar A. Musa
The writer can be followed on twitter for direct engagement via @blinkingam