Weep Not for Abdul’aziz Yari

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Ring True 

By Yemi Adebowale; yemi.adebowale@thisdaylive.com; 07013940521 (text only)

The dream of Governor Abdul’aziz Yari of Zamfara State to determine his successor has collapsed like a pack of cards. Well, at least for now. Perhaps, he would move Muktari Idris, his anointed governorship candidate to one of the fringe political parties to actualise his dream. Yesterday, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, sealed the fate of Yari and that of the ruling All Progressives Congress in Zamfara State, when it unveiled the list of candidates for elective positions in the state without APC candidates. INEC had insisted that the APC in Zamfara did not hold primaries, and as such, not eligible to field candidates in the 2019 elections.

The battle for the soul of Zamfara APC has been a rancorous one, with the leadership of the party at the national level aligning with Yari’s opponents. There were also insinuations that the cabal that runs the show in Abuja had instructed that the Zamfara governor should not be allowed to produce his successor because of his “untoward” behaviour to the President over petrol subsidy payments and attacks by bandits in some Zamfara communities. Yari had bitterly criticised the petrol subsidy regime of the Buhari government, particularly claims that Nigeria was consuming over 65 million litres of petrol per day, compared to about 30 million litres per day under the Jonathan government. The Zamfara governor tacitly said the NNPC subsidy deduction was a big fraud because experts had told him that the entire West Africa can’t consume 65 million litres of petrol daily.

Then came the persistent attacks by bandits on communities in his state and Yari was furious, saying that Buhari had failed the country on security of lives and property. During a visit to one of the affected communities, the Zamfara governor declared: “I feel let down facing the people of this state whenever I remember the promise I made to them that when they elect President Muhammadu Buhari into power, these killings will end. But unfortunately, things are now getting worse.”

This governor revealed further that the likes of army chief, Tukur Buratai; Air chief, Sadique Abubakar and IGP Ibrahim Idris no longer obey the President. “It is disheartening that these killings have continued in spite of President Buhari’s order to security agencies to end the incessant blood-letting across the country. We cannot keep quiet while our people are killed daily,” lamented Yari. The Zamfara governor has since “resigned” his responsibility as Chief Security Officer of the state since he has no control over Zamfara security machinery. His decision stemmed from the seeming helplessness of the state government and the people over the recurring killings in the state.

The big men in Abuja would have none of Yari’s “recalcitrance” and vowed to move against him and his candidates in the primaries for the 2019 elections. They did exactly this. Unfortunately for Yari, when the war against him started, he had lost the support of the key stakeholders in Zamfara APC because of his failings as governor. He is also not doing well in the “people’s court”, because the masses of the people of the state have been struggling to survive for almost eight years under his government.

Yari’s anger against the Buhari government is a just one, but he has also created a legion of enemies for himself within the state because of his style of leadership, laced with pride. He is perceived as inept, greedy, corrupt and vindictive. As a result, many opted not to stand by him when the APC at the national level moved against him.

Yari has also been an absentee governor; thus, cutting him from the people. He is hardly in Zamfara. You will regularly find this governor in Abuja, London or Dubai. That was why elder statesman, Saidu Dansadau, petitioned Buhari in 2016, asking him to declare a state of emergency in Zamfara State. Things have not changed one bit.

Dansadua, a Second Republic Senator, remarked then: “The governor hardly stays in the state as he prefers to travel all over the world at the expense of the state resources and safety of the people. He has spent only about 20 per cent of that whole period (1st five years) in Zamfara State. He had utilised the other 80 per cent junketing from one part of the country to the other and shuttling around the globe. All matters of state that require action are kept waiting until he returns to the state. Consequently, intelligence and security reports are kept in abeyance. For instance, at a period, out of 60 straight days, the governor spent only two days in Zamfara State.”

Many will also not forget in a hurry how Yari viciously killed moves by legislators to impeach him over his insensitivity. He simply got operatives of the Department of State Service in Abuja to harass and detain the leaders of the revolt. The DSS detained the Speaker, Sanusi Garba Rikiji, his deputy, Muhammad Abubakar Gumi, the Majority Leader, Isah Abdulmumini and the Chief Whip, Abdullahi Dansadau. The remaining 20 members of the Assembly fled to Kaduna to avoid arrest. Prior to this, Yari allegedly used miscreants to attack the Speaker. The intimidation worked, with the lawmakers withdrawing their impeachment notice. This is why chieftains of the party moved against him when he ran into trouble with Abuja. Yari has simply not been a governor of the people.

Unending Boko Haram Attacks in Gashigar

Boko Haram again took the battle to a military post in Gashigar, Borno State last Saturday, inflicting pain on the soldiers. The Nigerian Air Force swiftly provided support to the ground forces, before the terrorists were pushed back. The troops in Gashigar had to raise the alarm when their location came under attack, because of the superior power of the “decapitated” terrorists.

The military authorities admitted that the terrorists came in “13 gun trucks, as they advanced towards the camp from two directions.” It is preposterous that a “decapitated” Boko Haram would stage an attack with 13 gun trucks; more so, taking the attack to the military and not the other way. This deceit about having decapitated Boko Haram must stop. The propaganda that Boko Haram now only attacks soft targets has collapsed. The Gashigar military post is certainly not a soft target.

On the flip side, Boko Haram returned to Konduga, Borno State, early on Thursday, killing 13 people. Thousands of people in 13 villages were also displaced. Homes were attacked with ferocious fire and many set ablaze.

The terrorists, operating on trucks with guns mounted guns and motorcycles, also launched rocket attacks and forced their way into the IDP camps in the town, killing scores. The Bularin and Kofa IDP camps were turned upside down by the terrorists as residents scamper to safety. Several tents in the camp were burnt. An Islamic cleric together with his wife and three children were burnt to death at the Bularin IDP Camp. Back in the inner part of Bularin, they burnt the village market, shops, houses, animals and vehicles. Many people died in the attack while others are still missing.

The terrorists have repeatedly attacked communities in Konduga over the years. As usual, the attack on Thursday went on for several hours unhindered. Where were the military? It is a big shame. All those managing this war against Boko Haram should be sacked.

Who will Belt NNPC?

The Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative has confirmed that $22.06 billion and N481.75 billion is yet to be remitted to the Federation Account by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and its subsidiary, Nigerian Petroleum Development Company, and other companies in the oil and gas sector as of 2015.

Providing a breakdown of the unremitted revenues by the other firms, the report stated that oil and gas producing companies were still withholding $152.69m and N5.2bn; companies involved in offshore processing contracts, $498.6m; and the NPDC, $2.38bn and N51.95bn.

The NEITI report stated that the total losses to the federation arising from crude oil production, processing and transportation were $3.04bn and N60.99bn.

It noted that irreconcilable differences arising from the allocation, sale and remittance of proceeds from domestic crude allocated to the NNPC amounted to N317.48bn.

The total liability by companies involved in Offshore Processing Arrangements was put at $498.6m, as NEITI explained that the debt was due to under delivery of imported fuel by the participating companies.

For years, the NNPC persistently deprives the nation of huge revenue through corruption. I am sure that when NEITI unveils its report on unremitted revenue by NNPC covering up to 2018, Nigerians will be further shocked by the level of graft in this corporation. Allegations of malfeasance against the NNPC pour daily. The corporation is strongly suspected to be duping the federation with deceitful claims as subsidy on imported petrol. This is why the governors called for an audit of the corporation’s petrol importation. Sleaze allegations against the NNPC under this “change” government are unending. What a country.

Endless Crisis in the Power Sector

It’s unbelievable. Power generation plants across the country are being forced to operate below their optimal capacity, so says the electricity generation companies. This is happening amid dwindling supply to residential and industrial consumers. The generating firms raised this same alarm last year and there was no positive response from the government and its regulatory agencies.

The Executive Secretary, Association of Power Generation Companies, the umbrella body for the Gencos, Dr Joy Ogaji, stated: “Specifically, generation companies are pinned down by some operational impediments. The frequency of instructions to either increase load or decrease load (ramp up and ramp down) and, in some cases, shut down, have induced damaging stresses to the components of the machines. These instructions, reflective of the grid behaviour, are subjecting key electrical components of the power plants to operational stresses.”

 “Some of the machines, for instance, with 145MW capacity, are subjected by the NCC to operate at 70MW, if not less on daily average, which constitutes 50 per cent base load value. Experts had prescribed solutions such as procurement of regulating and spinning reserve as well as tools to be developed to manage the grid to the mandatory free governor mode. The TCN has refused to put these in place; instead, it is forcing the Gencos to operate outside factory capability.”

According to the APGC spokesperson, all the thermal and hydro power plants are designed to operate optimally and efficiently at base load.

“Operating these plants far away from their base load implies a reduction in efficiency or, in other words, an increase in consumption of gas for the thermal plants by as much as 15 to 20 per cent (extra cost not recognised by the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc nor captured in the Multi-Year Tariff Order),” she stated.

The weakest links in the electricity chain remain the TCN and the distribution firms. Our lethargic TCN is controlled by a government that has failed to turn around the firm. On the other hand, the distribution companies have remained unruly because the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission lacks the capacity to discipline them. For now, Nigerians will continue to wallow in darkness while the shenanigans in the electricity chain continue.