Posted by News Express | 21 September 2018 | 1,076 times
“The only reason to be in politics is public service” — Malcom Turnbull
The question has always been what next for Dauda Lawal, after his well-deserved retirement from First Bank of Nigeria, where he rose to the position of executive director, public sector. Given his age and solid financial standing, Dauda can afford a good life for the rest of his life without having to work. Lawal positively answered in favour of public service by picking the governorship form, having undoubtedly come to the realisation that public service is much more stimulating and challenging than the act of money-making. Lawal deserves commendation for realising that more than the financial world public service offers him the opportunity to lose himself in the service of others.
Created by the late Sani Abacha regime in 1996, Zamfara State by every standard of development index can be described as a failed state. For instance, the state has consistently occupied the last position in all the national examinations. Last year, the Minister of Education deeply worried that only 28 candidates had registered as at the closing date for the 2018 national common entrance examination into its 104 colleges was compelled to extend the date. Like his education colleague, the Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, had equally berated the state for having only 23 doctors servicing the poorly maintained 24 health institutions. Zamfara State has the highest infant mortality rate in Nigeria.
Expectedly with the zero states of the health-care facilities, the people of Zamfara State died from all manner of diseases, especially cerebral meningitis. Zamfara State had, last year, witnessed the outbreak of cerebrospinal meningitis, in which over 400 lives were lost. Governor Abdulaziz Yari characteristically attributed the outbreak to God’s anger with the poor peasants who, in his opinion, seem to rival Sodom and Gomorrah in sin. For “Saint” Abdulaziz Yari, “Governor- General” of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), the problem wasn't the failure of his administration to provide functional health institutions rather the poor became the problem, the corrupt, and most adulterous et al. Whereas, in the real sense, it was the dereliction of duty on the part of Yari, who was more of a visiting governor to the state, that led to the avoidable disaster.
Going by the definition of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), development includes the ability to lead a long and healthy life, to acquire knowledge, and to have a decent standard of living, using main development indexes, such as access to health-care, education, gainful employment and security, which can be measured. Given the foregoing indices, Zamfara State train has definitely not left the station. There is no debate about the status of the state. And one of the factors responsible for its underdevelopment is the lack of a focused leadership that has vision.
There is still some glimmer of hope if a new leadership that is bold and focused is in place in 2019. But if the Yari political dynasty succeeds in imposing the present Commissioner of Finance, Muktar Idris, then Zamfara State would have been forever condemned to underdevelopment. Since 1999, Yerima Bakura, has comfortably determined who becomes what in the state. That role has now been assumed by Yari. Yerima, like Bukar Ibrahim of Yobe State, has paid his dues and had successfully seen off the opposition of the likes of retired Gen Aliyu Guasu, by consolidating his firm grip on power, based on the manipulation of religion.
Yerima must be given that “credit” for understanding the psyche of the people, that religion is everything. But like every lie and deception, the time seems to have come – as Mohammed Sanusi II, the Emir of Kano predicted – for the defeat of these rampaging local warlords, led by Yari, that have neither vision nor convictions, which have viciously and mercilessly raped the state. Zamfara State, the first state that started Sharia law implementation in Nigeria, has the highest poverty rate in the country. This is clearly as a result of poor leadership, and one that hasn’t also been very honest with the resources accruing to the state.
There is no doubt that Zamfara State is bleeding and in urgent need of a surgery. But, that is exactly what Yari, the outgoing governor of Zamfara State – a confirmed disaster – wants for Zamfara State. Yari hasn't disappointed those who predicted these outcomes. If he was a confirmed disaster, he wants to ensure that Idris, who can best be described as a calamity, takes over. Yari, chairman of the NGF, is a modern day Nero. And, like Nero, he is ineffectual: as Nero fiddled, and Rome burnt, so has Yari been gallivanting around the globe while Zamfara State continued its steady slide into decay.
There are enough indications that the people have had enough of the Yari political dynasty. The recent strike action embarked by the state civil servants – due to the failure of the governor to pay about 1,400 workers recruited by the government, and non-payment of pension and gratuities – lend credence to that fact. The Emir of Kano is on the spot that with time the lies of the Yari political dynasty will, like a pack of cards, collapse. “It’s a matter of time for people to realise that this is all deception, this is all politics, this is not religion; it is about politicians appropriating religion as a discourse for getting into power,” he said.
The other indication is the cynicism that greeted the announcement by Yari that he had spent a whopping N13 billion fighting armed banditry, cattle rustling, and kidnapping. Apparently, the people didn't believe Yari because their situation has not changed. In fact, more and more villages are still being ransacked by the bandits. To the annoyance of Yari, the people have made it clear in unmistaken terms that they finally caught him out. It is interesting that Yari couldn't hide his indignation that the people finally had the guts to question his figures. “People should learn to respect their leaders and what the leaders say, and ask for clarification on what they do not know,” he said.
The David, that will finally slay Goliath Yari and set Zamfara free, is obviously Dauda Lawal, who those opposed to Yari’s political dynasty are supporting with the necessary structure to take on the dynasty that’s backward and that has ensured that the state equally remained backward, and a problem to the entire country, not just the north.
In the Sahara Desert of leadership, there is some hope that the more urbane and focused Lawal would change the fortunes of the state. For one, he is not a fervent disciple of the Yari political dynasty, both in orientation and philosophy. Besides, he is offensively opposed to the ideology of the Yari political dynasty, where you must never question, where absolute loyalty is your guaranteed ticket for mobility, where all that matters is the sharing of state resources and the people sentenced to death for no fault of theirs. Second, Lawal, has fire in his stomach and has the contacts to attract development to Zamfara State. He is competent and has what it takes to turn around the fortunes of the state.
He started his working career in 1989 as a political education officer with the Agency for Mass Mobilisation for Social and Economic Reliance Nigeria. At various times, he was an assistant consular officer (Immigration), and later chief protocol officer, Embassy of Nigeria, Washington, US, from where he returned to join First Bank of Nigeria Plc in May 2003 as a relationship manager, commercial banking. In 2011, he was elevated to the position of executive vice-president, public sector, north. In September 2012, he became executive director, public sector, north. Lawal is a winner of FirstBank CEO’s merit award for outstanding performance as “Best Business Development Manager” in 2006 and “The Most Enterprising Staff” in 2009.
If Lawal is able to pull off the “coup” against the decadent old order, his first assignment would be to restore hope and trust in government. He must also hold out hope to the youth of the possibilities which they can relate to with his own inspiring story. He must not attempt to tackle every sector even though the Yari legacy is a Zamfara State of all-around disaster cases – from health-care to sports. Of the more than 8,000 teachers, only about 4,000 are qualified to teach. The literacy level stands at about 40 per cent. In 2005, of the 55,694 students that sat for WAEC, only 4,249 obtained 5 credits. He must prioritise and bring his wealth of experience to bear in the running of the state. As governor, Lawal’s is certain to spend his days in Zamfara State, unlike incumbent Yari, who is more of a visiting governor.
•Emmanuel Ado is a Kaduna-based journalist. He can be reached via email@example.com
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