By Ibrahim Sani
Governor Aminu Bello Masari is the third governor to manage the affairs of Katsina State since the emergence of this democracy in 1999; the 10th since the state was created in 1987. Masari is not the first, and definitely, not going to be the last that would govern the state. As a matter of fact, his administration ceases to be by 2023. However, there is a lot of things that would outlive the Masari administration, just like his predecessors.
Before Masari became governor of the state, he was Speaker, House of Representatives. His emergence was unexpected. He was not the most popular. But his leadership brought the most remarkable change in governance in the country. This exalted office placed him in the class of statesmen where issues of national interests and development are known for. One of such interests was the termination of the third term alleged bid of Olusegun Obasanjo. It was he, together with Senator Ken Nnamani, the Senate President, at the helms of affairs at the National Assembly, during the review of the 1999 constitutional amendment, who superintended that affairs and deliberation leading to the agenda being over ruled by overwhelming majority.
What the National Assembly leadership did for the country then was a great risk to their lives and families. Like he once said in one of the tabloids, “Those in government were not people who were friendly to us. But we made sacrifice because of the nation. We knew only God could protect us from them. We took that decision so that we didn’t throw the country into confusion, because we knew the consequence of the action, if carried out, it may throw the country into chaos.” He left office in 2007, scandal free.
Masari returned to Katsina to play the local politics with the hope of having the executive power as governor so that he could make more impact on the lives of his people. That adventure didn’t end well and he was edged out by the state government controlled party Exco.
He joined forces with the defunct party, founded by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Congress of Progressive Change, CPC. The party, together with Action Congress, AC, All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP, later metamorphosed into what is the All Progressives Congress, APC, today.
What however stood out for Masari while in opposition in the state politics was the team spirit he exhibited with and among his fellow politicians and colleagues. Masari can be purposeful especially on something he strongly believes in. for example, regular salaries and pensions of retired workers were some of the issues he campaigned on before he was elected. Of course, his predecessor left the in a financial mess. Again, he rose to the occasion as his managerial quality came to fore. He did not only pay salaries regularly, but shortly after, the pensions followed suit. At the inception of the Buhari administration, before the Federal Government started dishing out bailouts to financially incapacitated states, Katsina was one of the very few in the country that was paying salaries and pensions as and when due.
Masari said his administration, upon getting to office, discovered that some officials of the previous administration opened several secret accounts, apart from the official known accounts, just to divert public funds to private pockets. Pensions were not paid while over N6 billion from Local Government account was frittered away. He said: “We discovered that the financial recklessness was the order of the day, with persons giving approvals of millions of naira on plain sheets of papers and without due process. In the Local Government, about N6.2 billion is owed pensioners, I met N15 billion foreign debt; over hundreds of different state accounts that government was not even aware of. I had to sack the executive Chairman of SUBEB when I found that over N700 million was diverted”.
Despite its insolvency, Masari was still able to steer the ship of the state such that the workfoce not only got their entitlement as and when due, but got some promoted for their diligence and contribution to the state. Talking about rewarding diligence, Masari is one that does not forget favour. And more importantly, loyalty, however long it may be. When opportunity presents itself, he ensures that he appreciates such. The present secretary to the state government, Mustapha Inuwa, is one of the beneficiaries of Masari’s large heart. Inuwa was his party chairman at the inception of the formation of the party in the state. Inuwa stood by and for him, despite all efforts for him to dump him. Inuwa-led party Exco insisted that the winner of its governorship primaries be allowed for the general elections. Everyone who stood by him enjoyed reciprocated gesture. Inuwa has since proved that he was not only good politically, his managerial competence is top notch, and that was why nobody was surprised that he was reappointed.
The state general hospitals, three of them, in the three different senatorial districts, are among the best in the country. That is apart from the PHCs made available in every local government. As he is touching lives in the health sector, so he is doing in education. The counterpart funding to SUBEB never fails to get Katsina fund as when due. He has opened more roads in the state in the last four years than the eight years of his predecessor.
Still on education, the so called fake result being peddled against the governor in the media is something that baffles me. Perhaps a little enlightenment would suffice. Most of the names, surnames that is, in the North, are a reflection of the names of where they are born. The name Masari is a town in Malunfashi. The former Head of service in the state, Auwalu Lawal Daura got his name from his Daura town where he was born. There is also a friend, a member of House of Representatives, from Kebbi State, Shehu Koko, his town where he was born, is Koko. Some even bear the names of their uncles who mentored them. Some discard the names later in life while others live with it. “To Whom It May Concern” is usually a letter explaining to the public what the holder of the letter is all about. It is mostly used when the original certificate is either lost or not yet ready. Beyond politics, does it make any logical sense that Masari would fake a result more than 30 years before joining politics?
One thing is certain, the honorable justices at the tribunal are persuaded by facts only, not the media trial the peddlers have been doing of recent. If indeed the opposition has genuine case, you bring it to the court, not on the pages of newspapers with the aim of whipping up undeserved sentiment. It is only hallucinating peddlers that would spreading such fabrication. Law is about facts, not sentiment.
Agriculture is a passion for Masari, perhaps because he was or is it still is? His investment in the agric sector of the state saw him inviting investors, both local and foreign to the state. Dangote is presently doing something in the agric sector in the state. There is virtually no sector of the state that has not felt his impact. Though, he can still do more. Unfortunately, the administration only showcases little of the success story currently going in the state. He needs to cultivate the media more, especially as he enters the second term. He needs to blow his trumpet. If he doesn’t, some others would help out, by changing the narrative against him.
Above all, Masari’s idea of government of inclusiveness is something this writer wants other states to imbibe. Presently, there is really no top politician in Katsina state that has not crossed over to APC. That is largely because of Masari.