The hand of clock is ticking fast with His Excellency, Governor Aminu Bello Masari being in his fifth year of steering the affairs of Katsina state. It is inescapable to shy away from the question of current state of good governance and accessibility to monumental dividends of Democracy in Katsina state. A lot of eyebrows have been raised in recent time to questioned the extent to which the state government under the leadership of incumbent Governor Aminu Bello Masari, had in the last five years since assuming office devoted time into putting on ground laudable projects, policies and programmes worthy of reference as evidence of good governance and democratic dividends across the state. For any government around the world to fully make claim to meeting up with the desire expectations of the people it govern, effort must have been made to provide the people with adequate security architecture that could guarantee the safety of lives and properties of the people; building networks of modernized well tiled durable roads, medically equipped standard hospitals with modern health care facilities to avert widespread of health related issues, coupled with standard educational system supported by well structured facilities that will aid learning across board; also promoting the human aspect governance through welfare services to make standard of living worthy and moderate. All of these and many more are essence of governance anywhere around the world. If there is however shortage or complete lack in any of the aforementioned evidence of good governance, the impact of such government on the people can be easily call to question. How well has the Governor Aminu Bello Masari administration over the years deliver in these fronts, and how can his government learn from the blueprints of other excellently performing Governors in Kaduna, Borno and Oyo states respectively and many more are primarily the focal point of focus of this column.
Much of our mistake as citizens of this country is our inability to spot out the dividing line between governances and politics, especially as a yardstick to measure, score and rate leadership performance. Far away from political party affiliation, ethno-religious sentiments and short time monetary or material benefits that informed our choice of candidates on periodic basis during election, it is high time we put on our thinking caps and our foresight glasses to direct our finger thumbs towards choosing candidates who had no other intention for acquiring power other than diligently serving the people. Is such a pathetic and ugly narration to have our history books reserving a special page to tell the stories of how large crops of our political class had gluttonously and selfishly used their political offices to primitively accumulate wealth from public coffers, while watching the poor Nigeria citizenry on whose shoulders these political class ride to power, languish in abject poverty and penury.
Luckily enough the country can begin to hope for the best as few set of Governors are relentlessly grooming and building an excellent credentials in the art of governance. The Governor Kaduna state, Nasiru El-Rufai, the Governor of Borno state, Professor Babagana Umaru Zulum and the Governor of Oyo state, Engineer Seyi Makinde, are the revelation of the century showing in all ramifications of governances that they are the crop of leaders Nigerians have long been craving for. These incumbent governors of Kaduna, Oyo and Borno State are architecturally script acting out excellent positive policies, programmes, and projects tailored around providing the people the best taste of good governance in their respective states. Evidence abound in laudable projects embarked upon by this governors in areas of urban renewal and massive provision of modern infrastructures such as good road networks that connects towns and cities, qualitative education, standard healthcare facilities, and above all a formidable welfare packages to make life easier for the vast majorities of people in these various states. At a point the people of Katsina state could not bear reading on social media and news outlets the ground breaking transformation across these various states to the extent that they wish any of these governors is in charge in Katsina state. But if wishes were horses, beggars will certainly ride.
As the merit of this argument uphold, the emergence of Rt. Hon Aminu Bello Masari as governor of Katsina state was more engineered by coincidence other than the unquantifiable burning desire of people of Katsina State to demand good governance through the ballot box. This however did not imply that Governor Aminu Bello Masari did not legitimately emerge through the people’s mandate. In fact the votes casted in his favour was a landslide victory with wide gap of overwhelming majority which no ruling party has ever recorded such against opposition parties in the entire history of Katsina State gubernatorial poll. But one cannot shy away from the fact that Governor Aminu Bello Masari’s first victory in 2015 came purely on the ground of the blowing storm and wind of All Progressive Congress’s change mantra basically driven by the “APC SAK” slogan that characterized President Muhammadu Buhari campaign speeches, especially in most part of Northern Nigeria. Most political aspirants who in 2015 who contested one political office or the other under the platform of APC, benefited more than anyone from the ”APC SAK” slogan, and Governor Aminu Bello Masari was not an exception. The incumbent Governor of Katsina state and the rest of the APC aspirant ridded on President Muhammadu Buhari shoulders to find their ways to corridor of power in 2015, which informed their neglect of the primary and constitutional responsibilities of governing the people diligently and with all level of sincerity. It was a difficult situation for the people of Katsina state to question the performance of Governor Aminu Bello Masari, especially during his first tenure having realized that good governance has nothing to do with leader’s political party or submissive loyalty to a charismatic leader of President Muhammadu Buhari’s pedigree. Since there was no much pressure from the side of the masses to properly checkmate the workings of government in delivering its campaign promises, the second tenure of Governor Aminu Bello Masari in 2019 gubernatorial came on a platter of gold, owing largely to the inability of the opposition parties to filled in candidates that possesses strong attributes of contesting keenly and capable od giving Governor Aminu Bello Masari a good run for his money.
The home of hospitality, Katsina state is home to the number one citizen of Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari. It is enviable and lamentable to watch President Muhammadu Buhari from afar touring States like Kaduna, Borno and Oyo states in recent time to commission series of multi-billion naira commendable projects which were geared towards making positive impacts and improving the living conditions of the general masses across these various states. It is a big stain on the personality of President Muhammadu Buhari that as Commander In Chief, his beloved state Katsina is topping the list of the poorest state in Nigeria as statistics clearly indicated. The vital question to ask here is whether Katsina state is truly poor as statistics rightly suggested or the government of the state impoverished the state by not properly devising medium through which the human and material potentials of the state can be fully harnessed to developed the state. Beyond receiving defecting political gladiators of the opposition party in a grand rally to change political nest into All Progressive Congress (APC), Governor Aminu Bello Masari need to prove more than anything that he remains the right man that will rekindle the lost hope of shortage in good governance and Democratic dividends across Katsina State. If only Governor Aminu Bello Masari can borrow a leaf from Kaduna, Borno and Oyo states by devoting time into massive overhauling of infrastructures to embark on urban renewal project, Katsina state would have undoubtedly find it way out of the list of poorest state in Nigeria. The urban renewal for instance was what rapidly transforms the new face of Kaduna today. The Kaduna state government in 2019 generated a whopping sum of 40 billion naira as Internal Generated Revenues owning to the massive investment in urban renewal. If through Urban renewal project which is expected to birth good roads network across the States and other vital infrastructures, Katsina state known for her richness in agricultural production can begins to be a centre of attraction for foreign and local investors. This will in turn boost the state internal revenue generation.
In regards to growing level insecurity in Katsina state, owing largely to activities of bandits who raid communities and rain gunfire on innocent souls, and the notorious kidnappers who abducts commuters travelers on highways and demands millions as ransom across the state, it is to an extent commendably to applaud the effort put in place by His Excellency Governor Aminu Bello Masari to neutralize banditry through negotiation with the bandit groups and grant of amnesty. Also of recent development is the trip of Governor Aminu Bello Masari to Niger Republic, leading a delegate of other three Governors of Sokoto, Zamfara and Kebbi state respectively for a security summit between the States that shared border with Niger Republic and the government of the French speaking country. More so, His Excellency Governor Aminu Bello Masari in his bid to arrest the security situation recently banned the use of motorcycle from 6am to 7pm, as perpetrators of heinous act of banditry and kidnapping are allegedly suspected to be using motorcycles to carries out their evil plots. All of these are of course right steps in the right directions.
It is however unreasonable to conclude that Governor Aminu Bello Masari has through all these efforts won the battle against insecurity in Katsina state. The bandits who initially Governor Aminu Bello Masari negotiated with and grants amnesty have all taken back their ammunitions and are back into the deadly business with a full force. They have rejuvenated, resurfaced and reinforced, in fact more deadly than they were in the pre-amnesty period. I could not believe my ears when during an interview with BBC Hausa Governor Aminu Bello Masari bite his tongue by admitting that the insecurity situation in Katsina State is overhyped. In this kind of time when inhabitants of Katsina state are aggrieved with fear of the unknown while resting their heads after tedious day of searching for a means of livelihood, it is discouraging for a leader of Governor Aminu Bello Masari’s caliber to publicly utter such a demeaning to the crest statement. Leadership is purely all about taking full responsibility. Evidence of such was shown by Governor Seyi Makinde when in the past few weeks fire broke out in a market in Oyo town. Governor Makinde wasted no time in visiting the scene of the incident, and upon making necessary assessment he instantly constituted a committee to look into the causes of the fire outbreak, the damages and lose caused by the fire out break for proper compensation of traders whose stores were affected. So impressive that Governor Seyi Makinde gave a press release of which he says his government will take full responsible for all that happens in the fire outbreak in Oyo market. His words alone were source of calm for the people. He was actually not responsible for the outbreak but he took being responsible for it upon himself as a leader. That is exactly what leadership and good governance symbolize. It will do a lot of help if Governor Aminu Bello Masari can emulate such an example in exhibiting leadership character.
Every drastic time call for drastic measures. In order to curb the growing level insecurity in Katsina State, Governor Aminu Bello Masari must at this very point in time take decisive and pragmatic measures that will show his level of commitment to ensuring the security of lives and properties of people across the state. By the virtue of his position as the Executive Governor of Katsina State, Governor Aminu Bello Masari is the Chief security officer and principal officer of security personnel in Katsina state. Governor Aminu Bello Masari has the constitutional right to with immediate effect issue an ultimatum to every security apparatus in the state to bring an end to all forms of banditry and kidnapping in the state. Needless to say, Governor Aminu Bello Masari should prove to bandits and kidnappers that time for negotiation is off. It is right time to pay bandits and kidnappers back in their own coins. When bandits and kidnappers were making waves along Kaduna Abuja Expressway, Governor Nasir El Rufai of Kaduna state was sighted on foot leading a team of security personnel to storm and ambush bandits right in their hideouts. Such gesture was impressively showcasing how committed Governor El Rufai was towards ensuring the security of lives and properties of his people. I am not submitting that Governor El Rufai action has totally put an end to bandit activities along that road, but it has equally create fear in the minds of the bandits. I so much doubt if Governor Aminu Bello Masari do pay visits to areas affected by banditry to sympathize with victims, talk less more of leading security personnel to a forest on foot to nab bandits.
Judging from this template of good governance, there is an iota of merit in the argument that Katsina state is far lacking behind compare to what is obtainable across other states of the Federation. It however a candid opinion to nurse a strong optimism that His Excellency Governor Aminu Bello Masari , despite having roughly just three years left before leaving office, can still turn the tide to bequeath Katsina state with laudable projects, policies and programmes as legacy for good governance. There is no submission in this column indicating clearly that Governor Aminu Bello Masari has done nothing in regards to good governance in the last five years of being the Executive Governor of Katsina state. What was justified in this column was simply the fact that Governor Aminu Bello Masari efforts are not enough considering the high expectations of the people of Katsina state on his government to deliver more. It is a wake up and sit tight call to have Governor Aminu Bello Masari do the needful. This is the extent to which my words can portray my thoughts on the above subject matter. Until our parts cross again next week Monday in another glaring episode of “Politics and Governance Today”, it is my sincere wishes that you all have wonderful days ahead.
Comrade Ismail Abdulazeez Mantu
Political Activist, Writer and Human Right Activist
Phone No: 08082209868