Yari: Down But Not Out

Abdulaziz Yari

Mayowa Oluwabiyi

Those who proclaim that former Governor of Zamfara State and immediate past Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, has outlived his usefulness and is finished politically, obviously know next-to-nothing about the man’s political relevance in the current scheme of things, or his political sagacity, and his fighting spirit. Except the All Progressives Congress (APC) train is aiming at terminating at the “Next Level” station, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar remains a useful ally of President Buhari, whether he is a governor or not. But disgruntled politicians in Zamfara State may continue to waste precious time trying to, in the name of probity and accountability, hang Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar.

The misinformation around the man who ruled Zamfara State since 2011 became spooky since the day he left office; some even go to the extent of thinking that Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar has been used and dumped by the presidency. But the loss that the APC suffered in Zamfara was not because of Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, but because of the duplicity of intentions of the party at its headquarters that the party hierarchy introduced in 2019, which made the party a sorry sight by the end of elections in April.

If you say that APC lost Zamfara because of its former Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, why did it suffer a similar fate in Bauchi, Adamawa, Sokoto and Gombe States?

Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar’s enemies are the most uncharitable people on earth. They feed on spurious allegations of graft and state debt all concocted to witch-hunt the man who until recently was President Buhari’s best ally for shaping Nigeria. It is already clear that even the uninitiated can counter their lies because of their lack of empirical chronology and scarcity of logic. How on earth would anyone accuse a government that built a thousand kilometers of roads of leaving nothing on ground. The Yari Abubakar administration did all the federal roads for which the new government is already warming up to receive refunds.

But this isn’t the only raw speculation around the man, Yari Abubakar; there are also growing speculations that Yari Abubakar hasn’t cut the mustard with the Buhari administration especially the president’s party, the All Progressives Congress, which suffered defeat in Zamfara State. There are also allegations that are flying at state level; that Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar constructed boreholes at over N300m each in Zamfara State. But nothing is farther from the truth. What the governor gave the people, and which is very much in use today is the semi-urban water supply system that is solar powered and gives true value for money not just to the people of Gusau and its environs but Zamfara State at large.

Not done, Yari Abubakar’s traducers also went further to link the former governor with the deep fissure in the APC at its national headquarters where the Deputy Chairman (North) of the party, Senator Lawal Shuaibu, is at loggerheads with the party Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole. For all these reasons and more, realistic and factual as they seem or unfounded and false as they are, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar’s enemies who concocted a suspension announcement that portrayed the former NGF chairman as having no more links with the party say he should not be part of Buhari’s cabinet, or given a new role in government, as if President Muhammadu Buhari would require their help or their advice to build his Next-level government.

But knowing Yari Abubakar and his strong bond with President Muhammadu Buhari, it is inconceivable to think that the train of Buhari’s next level government would be without the former Zamfara governor. In fact, judging by the huge and enormous responsibilities that the president left in the hands of Yari Abubakar while he was chairman of the NGF and the clinical manner with which Yari Abubakar executed the briefs, not once or twice but several times over, to deny him a critical role simply for certain obsequious primordial considerations of a few APC hawks would mean that the government isn’t interested in continuity. Or how can a plane take-off without its flight engineer?

On the political front, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar single-handedly coordinated the Forward with Buhari campaigns which had monumental impact on the president’s return to power. Before this organisation was founded, close allies of the president, especially the cabal, began to express some hesitation or skepticism on whether or not the presidential campaign train was in full steam. Yari Abubakar did it. Buhari was reelected.

Former Governor Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar may be many things to many people; but one thing nobody can take away from this ebullient politician is that he never fights half battles; he never fights and runs away; and he never gives up. This deeply religious former governor who revels in the creation that he is “Sheihi” because of his knowledge of Islam, was able to gain the trust of President Buhari to the extent that between 2016 and now, states received more that N2trn from the Federal Government. These are the bail-outs, budget support and the Paris Club refunds and infrastructure refunds that governors had sought to receive since 2003 but failed.

Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar also waltzed his way into the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, and compelled them to declare more money to the government coffers, which the corporation hitherto refused to remit. The proper and due process of remitting moneys accruing to the Federal Government by the NNPC is through the Department of Petroleum Resources DPR but for ages the NNPC would snob the DPR and remit whatever it decided until Yari fought them to a standstill and compelled the NNPC to do the right thing. For the first time, revenues due to the FG from the NNPC rose to more that N300bn in the bank.

It is also largely to Yari Abubakar’s credit that the Nigeria Governors’ Forum has turned out to be a solid democratic institution, with all 36 governors speaking with one voice and pursuing a common destiny. A few days ago, the Forum held its biennial elections where a new chairman was elected peacefully and most democratically. To the Forum, electing its chairman is only a tip of the iceberg. The Forum just recorded a milestone by its decision to form a security committee at the National Economic Council level with a view to helping the presidency take informed and dispassionate decisions on issues of crucial national importance. All these are a fallout of the Yari Abubakar Chairmanship of the NGF. Is this the man that the hawks of the APC want to throw to the curbs?
–––Mayowa Oluwabiyi, a media operator writes from Abuja