Of Bauchi State, Resignations and false heroisms

Ibrahim Mubarak Farouq

It is no longer news that the Bauchi State Commissioner of Budget and PlanningShehu Ningi recently resigned his position.

In fact it was sensational, the manner with which he dropped his portfolio. He had marched to the NUJ secretariat to hold a press briefing after submitting his letter to the secretary of state government. What is indeed sad, is the subtle attempt to avoid the main issues he raised and focus on him. In a land and time where public office holders cling to their portfolio as if their life depends on it, Mr Ningi did a very good act. However, the nobility of his actions depends solely on the intention of his cause. This he stated explicitly in his resignation letter and press briefing.

On face value, one is tempted to believe this is a David versus Goliath story, where the governor of the state uses political machinery to silence his perceive enemies, even one in his cabinet, like Mr Ningi will make us believe. Everyone loves a David and Goliath story. My objective therefore is to x-ray the political happenings in Bauchi state, factoring in Mr Ningi’sreasons for resigning and arrive at a logical conclusion, for the benefit of posterity.

It is an open secret that powerful principalities have been fighting the Bauchi state governor. Hardly any month goes by without one form of attack or another on him, his administration or his style of government, especially on social media and in the papers. One of the soft points of the governor’s accusers was the state’s inability to pay outstanding salaries owed workers – a backlog that was inherited from the previous administration. Rather than dilly dally, the governor has cleared these arrears. Is it therefore not curious that less than 21 days when all the monies owed workers waspaid, that a Commissioner resort to resignation? This is coming the same day the governor’s directive that all workers’ salaries for December be paid. My guess is that the usual narrative of Bauchi’s inability to pay salaries owed is not working, hence a change of tactics.  After all, according to Mr Ningi, that it took him six months to finally brave up and resign only shows the card have been part of the game plan all along, all they had to do was play it.

What will make a sitting Commissioner, who is closest to the seat of government, not only resign, but make noise about it? It is simple, politics. There is no risk without reward, Mr Shehu Ningi is therefore being used to embarrass the governor. This would have come at a cost. The question then becomes, how much will it take a Judas to betray? What is the price? Your guess is as good as mine. 

I do not hold briefs for Gov. Abubakar, but for him to continually shout it at the roof tops that the era of free money is gone to the political elite, means there is more to the resignation than meets the eye. Can this be corruption fighting back? Let’s take Mr Ningi’s second reason for instance; that the governor politically side-lined him and his people (or “his group” as he aptly put it). This is not only laughable but very insensitive. The people of Bauchi were the one who queued, waited, voted, and protected their mandate at the last elections. If there is anyone who the governor owes allegiance to, it should be them and them alone (next to Nigeria of course). To claim ownership of the political mandate given by the people to a man, chosen to represent them, boils down to bother line megalomania. No governor, owes any political godfather, individual or political group, rather they owe it to the constituents they represent. 

On the streets; advice they say, is not by force. That a sitting governor did not take your advice, made you resign tells much about the maturity of politicians in the mould of Mr NingiAs he rightly pointed, the primary role of the State Executive Council is advisory. You do not force your opinion on your principal. Even those in the private sector know this. He is lucky he resigned, in corporate circles, he will be fired. Plain simple. Mr Ningi may be an expert in budget and planning, but it is the governor who has a bird’s eye view of what he wants to achieve. Who knows priority areas based on all data available. Mr Ningi cannot claim to know more than the governor in the implementation of his mandate, as he (Ningi) is not privy to all expert opinions available to the governor. To then insist on forcing ideas down the throat of the governor, just to move his hand is not only preposterous but manipulative. This all the more makes his resignation selfish. When history is written and account for stewardship is made, it is Gov. Abubakar’s tenure that will be under scrutiny not Mr Ningi’s. If Mr Shehu Ningi so badly wants to lead, or feels he knows more than the governor, then he should simply run for office.

Furthermore, It is funny how, a man who ran for both the APC Bauchi state Chairmanship and Senatorial ticket and failedfeels he knows better about governance, than a governor who won by a landslide margin at the polls. Mr Ningi is subtly saying he knows more than 654,943 Bauchi citizens and residents who voted in 2015. That the governor gave him a space to serve in his cabinet shows the way he treats perceived opponents. Mr Ningi’s would have us believe that the same man is now adverse to good advice. Pray tell Mr Shehu Ningi, when Gov. Abubakar was appointing you as commissioner, who were the illiterates he was listening to. Paying your principal’s faith in you by embarrassing him is not only callous but wicked. 

Since the inception of this administration, Bauchi has suffered from paucity of funds. Yet, several infrastructural projects are ongoing; health, education and agriculture has been revived; tourism is generating revenue; and counterpart funding is being made. Just few weeks back, friends and associates of the governor got together to offer scholarships to Bauchi citizens who want to study to be teachers, this was their contribution to lifting the state. In a time when the state has a myriad of problems, Mr Ningi rather than offer solutions is adding more to the mix. One is tempted to ask what he has done for the people of Bauchi. Even the Ningi people and emirate he complained about, have come out to say that Gov. Abubakar is developing the state to the best of his ability with funds available. 

That Mr Ningi wanted projects for his people, is not the problem, one thinks he wanted the contract itself rather than the benefit the project brings. It is a known fact that every contract awarded in Bauchi state passes through the table of Gov. Abubakar, to ensure that these contracts are not used to siphon monies corruptly. It is therefore not surprising if the governor rejected or refuse to award Mr Ningi any contract, as being done in the past. Change is truly here and there is no more free money to be shared. Any public appointee in Bauchi state yet to come to terms with this fact should also do the needful and resign.  Our common patrimony will no longer be shared by the political elite, this is what citizens expect from their governor. Mr Ningi cannot arm-twist the governor for constituency projects.

In a time when all Bauchi indigenes at home and in the diaspora are coming together to work for the greater good, some people are hell bent on taking us back to the wilderness, and they are using Mr Ningi to deliver the betrayal kiss. This was the same man that caused confusion in the past administration. The one who almost tore down the party structure of the then CPC Bauchi state. He literarily tore down his party’s billboards. Can we forget in a hurry? His antecedentsare well known. For Mr Shehu Ningi to lay claim of being a party man is talking from both corners of the mouth. Who was it that set up reconciliatory committees, met with Mr President severally, and told the press he is ready to reconcile with any aggrieved member of the party? No other than Gov. Abubakar. To then say the mediator is the cause of the intra party crisis is attempting to play on our collective intelligence, and dish fallacy as truth.

Despite his attempt to embarrass the governor, Gov. Abubakar in the spirit of statesmanship have commended him for his services and wished him well in his future endeavours. A vindictive individual with state power will never do that. Gov. Abubakar has continued to take all the attacks on his person in stride and allow his achievements to speak for him. He knows that if he does what is best for Bauchi state in good conscience he has no need to allow anyone drag him in the mud. Politicians continually talk about 2019, when we have real lives to improve today, tomorrow, 2017, and in 2018. When real development is taking place and qualitative growth is being achieved, Mr Ningi and his ilk is jostling and talking about the next elections. If this is how a supposed Commissioner of Budget and Planning thinks, then one can easily see why Gov. Abubakar doesn’t listen to his advice. Governing today is far more important than electioneeringtomorrow

Finally, we know the next attack on the governor is in the pipeline, and will be made in the next two or three weeks. The people of Bauchi are watching, we are wiser now. Those who do not contribute in building should not distract those who are building.

• Ibrahim Mubarak Farouq writes from Bauchi.

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