Tasks Ahead of Masari’s Second Term

Aminu Bello Masari

Francis Sardauna writes on the need for Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State to tackle the increasing rate of kidnapping, banditry and administrative logjam that weighed down his first tenure

In Katsina State, the intensity of political activities that pervaded the period leading to the the 2019 governorship election which saw the re-election of Governor Aminu Bello Masari for a second term is yet to abate.

The main opposition party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has continued to drum the sentiments that the reelection of Masari was a product of brutal violence, vote buying, ballot-stuffing, results-falsification and a range of other irregularities that have “no place” in our electoral laws.

The election was a ferocious combat between the incumbent Governor Masari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Sen. Yakubu Lado Danmarke of the PDP. Both Masari and Lado come from the Southern Senatorial part of the state which usually determine election results in the state because of the critical bloc votes that they control.

Danmarke, is an accomplished politician. A one-time Supervisory Councillor, two-time chairman of Kankara local government, a former member of House of Representatives before terminating at the Senate. Aside from having a strong financial muscle with which he ran his recent campaign tagged ‘Chanza Su Lado’ his lavish campaigns have always endeared him to supporters, ensuring also a large pool of voters.

However most of his shortcomings have to do with not staying enough in the state. Danmarke is not based in the state and is only remembered when elections are around the corner. Also, people are still very wary of his style of politics. It was widely alleged he trades with parties and candidates who are willing for a ‘pay out’. These reasons among others, might have haunted his recent governorship bid.

For Masari, the power of incumbency, the President Muhammadu Buhari factor, and the defection of numerous PDP stalwarts including the then PDP governorship aspirant, Musa Nashuni, Sada Ilu, late Kanti Bello and Dr. Usman Bugaje supporters into the ruling APC in the state before the election contributed significantly to his landmark victory.

Another factor was the appointment of caretaker committee chairmen into the 34 local government areas of the state, which political observers believe was another move to reach out to the rural dwellers ahead of the primaries and governorship election that led to his victory. Several other foot soldiers and party platforms were also reactivated.

As the dust generated in the course of the election began to settle (even though the opposition, PDP, has gone to court), the need to roll up the sleeves and get to work has become pertinent.

Interestingly, Masari is aware of this and promised, in his acceptance speech, to redouble his efforts and also correct the blunders committed in his first tenure.

The governor reaffirmed his commitment to improved security, empowerment and education, just as he assured every one of his willingness to run an all-inclusive government in his second term.

He described his victory as vote of confidence and affirmation of trust on what his administration succeeded in achieving in the last four years adding that, “As we move to the next level, I wish to reassure you of our commitments to continue to promote good governance in our state and to prioritise the education sector, empowerment and security of our people.

“Our success in this election will not have been possible without the general support and contribution of millions of our party loyalists, supporters and well-wishers. In particular, I will like to pay tributes to the tireless effort of our campaign council. As we celebrate our victory, it is important to caution our people that the contest was not between enemies. In Katsina state, we do not have losers, everyone is a winner.”

At the moment, there is relative stability in APC in Katsina State. There is no internal acrimony threatening to rock the boat, but the perception of the people on governance in the state is a different kettle of fish.

In his first tenure, Masari has adopted different approaches to tame the tide of herdsmen/farmers clashes in the state but while the people appear to be heaving a sigh of relief, there was a resurgence of banditry that is currently ravaging some parts of the state.

There is general insinuation in the state that the governor did not give the killings adequate attention and that he did not stand by the people in the course of their travails. So, the governor has a lot of work to do to convince the people that he feels their pain.

While some have observed that the administration in recent times has tried to put necessary machinery in motion to address the situation, those watching political events in the state believe that the government needs to do more to assuage the feelings of the people, especially victims of bandits attack.

However, in recent times, the governor seems to have realised this and he is seen to be gradually adapting to the reality of the times. His recent moves to address the plight of the IDPs at Nuhu Model Primary School, Kankara, and to resettle them in their various communities, apart from the security arrangement being put in place, are welcome development.

It is also paramount that the governor addresses the acute water shortage that has hit the state capital for several months. This scenario prompted residents to live at the mercy of water vendors for their daily water supply, not minding where they get the water from.

In Katsina metropolis, including Government Reservation Areas (GRA), long queues of water vendors at commercial borehole centres have become a common sight.

Following the scarcity, commercial borehole operators have increased their rate by 50 per cent. While owners of private boreholes now charge between N10 and N15 as against N5 per 25-litre can.

Another critical area where the governor must direct his attention, if he wants to succeed, is the state civil service. The civil service in any society is the driving force behind every government policy and development. Presently, about 30 per cent of the state civil service is made up of casual staff or contract workers.

These casual staff are, most times, not paid regularly because they draw their salaries from overhead to ministries and extra ministerial departments for day-to-day running of these agencies. The overhead is currently only paid exclusively to a select organisations for reasons that have remained unclear. The governor will do well to ensure even spread of the overhead among ministries and extra ministerial departments for effective service delivery.

The success of any administration is measured on how well agencies of government have delivered on their mandate. For them to deliver on government programmes and policies, they must be very well funded. For example, for the Katsina State Water Board to supply water to the populace, it must be funded by government to buy water treatment chemicals as well as buy fuel to pump water.

The governor must create time to have periodic interface with heads of his ministries and ministerial departments for first-hand information about developments and challenges facing them.

The texture of the new administration would be defined clearly by the political temperament of the governor. For many, his last tenure was beguiled with lots of political power play such that it almost distracted the administration from robust governance.

While some analysts believe that the political events of the outgoing tenure was solely the governor’s fault, other pundits expected him to pursue a reconciliatory and inconclusive government as measure towards ensuring that the state is peaceful.

For an administration that is returning for second term, the burden of adjusting in office would not be much of a problem. Much more, it might not be too challenging for the governor to setup his cabinet just as it is expected that he would have reappraised the sectors that under-performed in his first tenure.

But a staunch member of the APC who pleaded anonymity disclosed that the outgoing political appointees should not be reappointed in his new tenure, adding, however, that there was pressure on the governor, and the party to raise another set of party faithful to form his new cabinet.

Accordingly, the battle is fiercer as about100 people are currently struggling to secure placement or retain their positions in the next cabinet of Governor Masari.

At the movement, 10 persons from Katsina local government area have openly shown interest in Masari’s upcoming cabinet.

The lobby for cabinet or other executive positions in the state is reportedly done through different platforms including the current favourite Islamic sect in Katsina, the JIBWIS.

Pundits revealed that the sect influenced the appointments of about two or three commissioners and a special adviser among others in the present cabinet. The lobbyists are also said to have found the listening ears of the Daura traditional ruler.

According to sources, one difficult bridge most aspirants must cross to get into the new cabinet is Alhaji Dahiru Bara’u Mangal, a business tycoon cum politician, who has shunned public functions after the elections. He is believed to have traveled abroad to reduce the pressure on him. He is reputed to wield considerable influence on the composition of the new cabinet.

At different events, Masari has assured that everyone who contributed to the success of Katsina APC in the last election would be rewarded.

For this reason, the governor must prepare himself to begin the last phase of this journey by appointing a new cabinet immediately after the May 29 swearing-in-ceremony.

He must realise that there is not much time and that the time to play politics is over. Now, it’s time to perform and leave an indelible mark on the sands of time.

In this direction, he must limit the volume of courtesy calls by politicians to the barest minimum so as to have enough time to attend to matters of state. In the past, every day, the governor was made to attend to one group or the other on courtesy visit.

An administration is remembered and judged kindly for projects completed and commissioned. No administration is ever applauded for abandoned projects. Governor Masari must strive to complete and commission all the laudable projects started by his administration.