Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State pummels cabinet members for alleged anti-party activities, writes Francis Sardauna
Although majority of the local and international observers have adjudged the February 25 Presidential and National Assembly elections fairly credible, the aftermath of the exercise in Katsina State has ushered in political tsunami which further triggered the already existing battle for the soul of the state between the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).
The exercise which saw the ruling APC suffering a crushing defeat in the hands of the opposition PDP in the presidential poll, the APC, however, swept all the three senatorial seats and nine out of the 15 House of Representatives seats, leaving the PDP with six. The polls were generally peaceful, but voter apathy, late arrival of materials and officials marred the elections in some polling booths.
Apparently peeved by the outcome of the elections, Governor Aminu Bello Masari, terminated the appointments of the state Commissioner for Works and Housing, Hon. Tasi’u Dahiru Dandagoro, the Permanent Secretary, Sustainable Development, Fatima Ahmed, and her counterpart at the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Aminu Waziri, barely 48 hours after the exercise.
In a press statement dated February 27, 2023 and signed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Muntari Lawal, Masari also dismissed the Chairman, Katsina State Pilgrims Welfare Board, Yusuf Barmo, with immediate effect.
The governor, in another statement by the SSG, also dismissed the Executive Director, State Emergency Agency (SEMA), Babangida Mohammed Nasamu; Chairman, Governing Board of the Katsina State Transport Authority (KTSTA), Bilyaminu Mohammed-Rimi and his Special Adviser on Girl-child Education and Child Development, Amina Lawal Dauda, all in less than a week.
Although, Masari claimed that the dismissal of the top government officials was part of his move to make some strategic realignment and adjustment of his cabinet, THISDAY reliably gathered from credible government’s sources that his action was in connection with the defeat of the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the state during the presidential and National Assembly elections.
“There is no doubt that the government reviewed and is still reviewing the roles of various persons that culminated in the party’s defeat in the state. I assure you that very soon more political appointees will be sacked by the governor for their daily anti-party activities.
“Those sacked or dismissed worked against APC during the presidential and National Assembly elections despite receiving salaries from the coffers of the state government for years. So, His Excellency deemed it fit to relieve them from their appointments”, one of the government’s sources said.
As the leader of the APC in the state, Masari might have also influenced the suspension of the Secretary of the party, Malam Shitu S. Shitu and its Legal Adviser, Barrister Nasiru Umar-Wagini from the party. The immediate suspension of the APC chieftains was contained in a statement signed by the Chairman of the party, Sani Ali-Ahmed.
Ahmed, in the statement, adds: “The State Working Committee of the party hereby reaffirmed their decisions pending the findings of an investigation committee set to investigate the matter. By the separate letters served to the two state Excos, they have therefore been directed to handover all the properties of the party which are in their possession to their subordinates with immediate effect”.
Unequivocally acting on Masari’s directive, the chairmen of Batagarawa and Jibia Local Government Areas, Hon. Bala Garba-Tsani, and Hon. Bishir Sabi’u, in separate press statements, terminated the appointments of five special advisers, three supervisory councillors and one special adviser respectively. While Sabi’u hinged his action on anti-party activities, Tsani said the decision was in strategic realignment and adjustment of his cabinet.
Meanwhile, Masari’s continued loyalty and calm mien each time he faces political challenges endeared him to many critical stakeholders in the state, including a Katsina-based business mogul, Alhaji Dahiru Mangal, but his recent action reportedly halt the age-long relationship because majority of those sacked by the governor over apparent anti-party activities are ‘Mangal boys’.
But the governor who appears to have instituted a revenge mission against the ‘Mangal boys’, may have done that because they refused to work for the victory of the APC during the presidential and National Assembly elections after “collecting millions from the state government to deliver the state to Tinubu”. They are alleged to have also perfected plans to work for the opposition PDP during the March 11 governorship poll.
Therefore, for Governor Masari, it is time for revenge seemingly because most of the dismissed government officials boycotted both the presidential and governorship campaigns carried by the APC across the 361 wards across the 34 local government areas of the state. They were reported to have shunned the APC campaigns based on alleged Mangal’s directive.
Analysts argued that those dismissed from service or suspended by the governor will join forces with opposition parties, especially the PDP, where their political godfather, Mangal, is alleged to have belonged in order to unseat the ruling APC in the state. But others opined that Masari has nailed and ruined the politics of godfatherism in the state because of his exemplary leadership style.
Another political dust raised by Masari is the recent withdrawal of a N11 billion suit against the former governor of the state, Ibrahim Shehu-Shema. Political observers said his decision was to appease Shema and his foot soldiers ahead of the March 11, governorship election in the state.
Arguably, Governor Masari does not want to allow the PDP win the state in the March 11 governorship election to avoid the treatment he gave to Shema. For now, it is now clear that the governorship election in the state will be a hot battle between Dr. Dikko Umar Radda (APC) and Senator Yakubu Lado Danmarke (PDP).