Sokoto: Much ado about nothing

Stagnation is fast becoming the new name of Sokoto state since Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal assumed the mantle of leadership five years ago. It is obvious that this stagnation was brought about by a combination of misplaced priorities, lack of political will and waning popularity among the masses of the state.
Sensing the level of waning popularity, the Tambuwal administration has done all, within its raw power, to continuously postpone the local government elections in the state.

The misplaced priorities are plenty and this leaves an unprepared Tambuwal administration with no quick-fix strategy than distraction with phantom projects. Example? The N10 billion Sokoto Flyover project. Given the crisis confronting the global economy, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, no sane leader will commit the limited resources available to a State rated the topmost on the poverty index, to Flyover meant to beautify the city – the state capital. Many people in the state have been asking questions about just how many vehicles are in Sokoto, to warrant the multi-billion naira Flyover project. This question has reverberated across the  length and breadth of the state and the administration would rather pretend not to have heard anything. By the way, how do you build a Flyover in a state with many of your subjects barely struggling to survive economic glitch caused by the Covid-19 pandemic? Do you leave your electorate with an empty stomach just to make the city beautiful? What manner of prioritising is that? I dare say that what the state needs right now is  women and youth empowerment, nothing short of a revolution in the education sector, enabling an environment for job creation; portable water; drugs in hospitals; major investments and improvement on security.

And while the global economy is almost on its knees and nations and their governments are scaling down both recurrent and capital expenditure, Tambuwal seems to be the only elected leader that has been blind to the current global economic realities. Back in Nigeria, many state governments have been reviewing their 2020 budgets downwards. I read how Niger state did its downward review quickly, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit hard on the global economy; when even the  federal government had to do the same.

Not yet done with misplacement of priorities, Tambuwal proceeded with yet another gamble: N6 billion hospital project in a remote, bushy location so far away from the poor people. This so-called hospital project is coming at a time the people of the state have been grumbling over a number of abandoned projects, including a hospital building – dating back to 1973 and ignored by successive governments. Wouldn’t it be more appropriate for the Tambuwal administration to complete the 1973 Murtala Mohammed  hospital and save the balance for empowerment of women and youth in Sokoto?

Now, the administration has been enmeshed in a web of misplaced priorities and the electorate are running out of patience because their squandered goodwill makes life even more difficult. Running out of ideas themselves, the foot-soldiers of the governor resorted to creating some needless distractions, like fighting perceived political threats, notably from the godfather of modern Sokoto politics – Aliyu Magatakardan Wamakko. Their narrative has only been slightly changed from their first self-styled allegation that Tambuwal administration could not fulfill its campaign promises because Senator Wamakko wouldn’t let it do so. How ridiculous can this claim be? A whole administration being stopped by one man? Well, the Sokoto electorate have been able to see through the fog of this lame excuse and understood that it was meant to pitch them against the godfather and they refused to be hoodwinked.

A desperate Tambuwal team has ignored the failure of their old blame games about Wamakko and proceeded with a new, even weaker one: using nonentities for cheap media attacks on the senator. A certain Bashir Gidan Kanawa is the new attack dog of the Tambuwal camp. Bashir, a desperado, relatively unknown and blinded by the hunger for becoming a monarch in Sokoto is the new Poster Boy.  Tambuwal needs a “Gidan Kanawa” pawn to sacrifice him in the fight against Wamakko – a battle the governor has been losing in the last five years. Gidan Kanawa, hopes that by casting his lot with Tambuwal administration and attacking  Wamakko, his prolonged dream of becoming a ‘Sarkin Malamai’ would be a forgone conclusion.

But the bottom line is that one does not need the help of political analysts to be convinced that the five years of Governor Tambuwal have been  wasted already. The dividend of democracy in Sokoto is almost totally invisible. Amidst this confusion of absolute failure emerges this diversionary tactics of blame games, with Gidan Kanawa as the willing steppingstone. While the over-four-million voters are expecting positive dividends, the government which has accepted failing the public, busies itself with trivialities.

  A confused Tambuwal camp has therefore resorted to searching for a low-hanging grip it could find. Let us look at one latest example of such triviality. A recent online newspaper narrative was that Wamakko has lost grip of Sokoto politics simply because his close ally – the Malam Bashir Gidan Kanawa was seen at late Barrister  Inuwa Abdulkadir’s  residence on condolence visit alongside Governor Tambuwal. This hot air balloon became a ‘big’ political capital in the eyes of the governor and his footsoldiers; whereas, in reality there was no issue. And, according to the online newspaper’s report, the said Gidan Kanawa has a habit of following just any governor in power; a fact which the paper traced from the Bafarawa era to present day.
  While Gidan Kanawa is not a politician and has no any political relevance whatsoever either locally or nationally , one wonders why a serious government would proudly celebrate such a trivial issue rather than facing the primary task of governance. For the five years that Tambuwal has been governor, he has failed to organize LG elections , has failed to make any meaningful impact in any sector despite collecting over N4b monthly from the Federation Account. Bashir Gidan Kanawa is only a local Malam who follows Wamakko and prayed during wedlocks and other ceremonial visits; mostly on condolence visits and has no any relevance beyond that.

The Tambuwal government should do a serious stock-taking and tell the public what its goals are, because even senior government officials are confused about what this administration’s mission is. It is hiding its failure in trivialities  by creating unnecessary political tension so that it may escape with its shame unnoticed; whereas everybody knows how dismal it has performed so far.

What is still clear is that no artificial tinkering with the reality on ground would convince the Sokoto electorate that, in refusing to hold Local Government elections as stipulated by the constitution and the Electoral Act, the people’s attention can be continuously diverted. Both the White Elephant project of N10 billion Flyover and N6 billion hospital projects won’t change the narrative. For those that forget history, they are doomed to repeat it!
Rigasa writes from Kaduna

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