By Muyiwa Olayinka
It is uncommon in Nigeria for a deputy governor to succeed his boss (the Governor) in office at the end of his tenure. The intrigue, power play and at times political correctness (considering the zoning principle) weigh against the loyal deputy. If the political backlash of the succession plan is not properly handled and contained, it overheats the polity and the political terrain becomes intemperate and acrimonious.
Umar Ganduje of Kano state and former Governor Aliyu Shinkafi of Zamfara state are the two lucky politicians to have broken this jinx. Both were the only deputy governors to have succeeded their bosses. Ganduje succeeded Rabiu Kwankwaso while Shinkafi succeeded Sani Yerima. Coincidentally, Kwankwaso and Yerima are currently Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Unfortunately both Ganduje and his boss, Kwankwaso have parted ways politically and wars of attrition exist between the duos.
This is not the crux of this article. Sadly one of this lucky ‘Deputy Governor is enmeshed in a bribery scandal.
On a bright beautiful day, Nigerians woke up to a viral video showing Umar Ganduje, Governor one of the biggest states in Nigeria stuffing his Babaringa (flowing garment) with wads and crispy bundles of US dollars. The video clearly showed the face of the governor smiling sheepishly and thanking his stars for this dollar rain. He was caught on camera collecting bribe (kickbacks) from one of the contractors handling capital projects in his state. This is the latest scandal in Nigeria tagged ‘The Ganduje bribery video or Gandollar’
Many initially thought it was a scene from Nollywood, Nigeria’s popular movie industry, but were convinced and stunned when series of videos were released publicly in quick successions, to confirm that the first video was not a mistake. Part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5 and lately part 6, explicitly shows the Governor having audible conversations both in English and Hausa languages.
The investigative journalist , Mr Jaafar Jaafar of Daily Nigeria, who exposed this scandal claimed he has 15 series of these videos, to be shown batch by batch. He confirmed it was an investigative job done over a long period of time.
Expectedly, Nigerians were shocked, miffed and called for the investigation of the scandal. While some tow path of civility asking for impeachment of the governor, others were incensed and summarily moved for jungle justice.
The people of Kano reacted spontaneously staging a mass rally in the state capital, calling him unprintable names like Barawo (a thief). The governor was unperturbed, ignored the protest and continued discharging his tasks as if nothing untoward had happened.
Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and ICPC (Independent Corrupt Practices Commission), the twin sister’s Federal Government agencies established to handle such matters kept mute. Both have not issued any official statements. They saw no evil, heard no evil. To add insult to the injury, the Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu overruled a journalist, at a press conference, who pressed further about the Gandollar affair.
President Buhari prides himself a leader that will not condone corruption, went on sabbatical leave because it involves a strong member of his party, APC. He kept a blind eye. He has not issued an official statement. Words were forced out of him in faraway France at the Peace forum he attended to celebrate the centennial celebration of the end of First World War.
In a short video message, President Buhari calls Ganduje a ‘responsible man’ for completing projects initiated by Ganduje’s predecessor, Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso. He stylishly avoided the scandal. I have consistently argued that Mr. Buhari’s fight against corruption is a ruse meant to annihilate and decimate the opposition figures that may want to threaten his reelection in 2019.
Opposition political figures like Former Governor of Kaduna state, Ramallan Yero, Jonah Jang of Plateau state, Senator Nwaoboshi from Delta state, Dr Raymond Dokpesi (owner of a private satellite TV station in Nigeria), Chief Olisah Metuh, Femi Fani Kayode (all members of opposition party PDP) were harassed and hauled into gulag before they were released on administrative bails. Retired Colonel Sambo, former National Security Adviser NSA is presently in detention for more than 3 years, despite the court granting him bail.
President Buhari’s aides were quick to respect immunity conferred on Ganduje by the constitution, an excuse not to investigate and interfere. But EFCC was quick to freeze the personal accounts of Mr. Ayo Fayose, then Governor of Ekiti State despite having immunity. Those who accuse this government of double standards are not wrong. Senator Shehu Sani, said “when it comes to fighting corruption in the national assembly and the judiciary and in the larger sectors, the President uses insecticide, but when it comes to fighting corruption within the presidency, they use deodorants”.
President Buhari will rather turn a blind eye to Ganduje for political exigency. I will explain.
Kano state gave Mr. Buhari 5 million votes in the 2015 Presidential election, a figure that was strongly disputed by political analysts. President Buhari, a politician would not want to toy with the Governor and the state that gave him a comfortable head start, and the Presidential election is in a few month’s time.
The role of Kano State House of Assembly (KSHA) in this saga is rather disappointing and depressing. KSHA is constitutionally empowered to check the excesses of the executive, particularly, the Governor. In view of this, KSHA set up a seven man probe panel to investigate the matter. It raised the hope of many Nigerians that something sensible and rational shall be done. The investigative journalist was invited; he came and confirmed the authenticity of the video clips.
The Governor was summoned; he declined and sent his commissioner of information to represent him. Thereafter, his lawyers rushed to the law court to get an injunction against the state assembly to stop the investigative panel from concluding its task. This court injunction put a wedge and temporarily stopping Nigerians waiting anxiously to see the outcomes of Gandollar.
Curiously, we have seen case where states house of assemblies have ignored court orders, most especially when they want to feather their nests especially in getting rid of perceived political enemies through impeachment process. They usually decline and hinge their position on the doctrine of separation of powers. But in this case they quickly adhere to the court injunction suggesting a collusion in this saga.The people of Kano have been deprived of knowing the truth and getting justice at the appropriate time. They have been fleeced high and dry.
This is a grand conspiracy against the people of Kano state and Nigeria in general. It baffles me how Kano state, the home of Aminu Kano of blessed memory, has been reduced to the theater of the absurd.
Aminu Kano was a radical politician that championed a movement against the feudal northern establishment and enthronement of the politics of the ‘talakawas’ (the masses). He gave voice and hope to the masses by promoting socialist principles. He was against unbridled accumulation of material wealth, ostentatious lifestyles and abhorred capitalism. He died in the pursuit of these hard principles. I’m pretty sure, Aminu Kano’s spirit will be turning in his grave because the state he jealously guarded and protected has been taken over by political buccaneers and parasites.
This is a big disgrace and insult to all Nigerians. A suspect of a criminal case will arrogantly be parading himself as an honorable man. He will be accorded perks and appurtenances of an executive governor, when he should be cooling his heels in a prison, waiting for his judgment day. However, Mr. Ganduje have been given more latitude to fleece the people and steal blindly from the treasury
Nigeria has become a laughing stock in the comity of nations.
The coming generations are watching this show of shame. Do we have conscience in this country again? Our cultures and mores are being desecrated on daily basis. Is this the kind of system we want to bestow to the next generation? A system where there is no social justice and decorum in the conduct of government businesses. A system where there is no call for meritorious public service but a culture of kickbacks and settlement syndrome.
These are indeed troubling times for Nigeria.