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Monday, March 4, 2024

Kwankwaso: Democrat or Autocrat?



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It is not surprising at all that in less than six months since the return of Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as governor of Kano state, by some accident of fate and through the treacherous actions of some ingrates , that the people are today regretting the outcome of the April elections and are biting their fingers for this phenomenal misfortune. Instead of seeing a leader with democratic tendencies, who is determined to improve on his past dismal record, what they saw was old Kwankwaso displaying his usual autocratic manner of doing things as if he owned everything and everyone.

Soon enough, there was so much discontent. At a point, it was as if the people would rise up against the man they are so sure would end up wasting everybody’s time by chasing the shadows rather than the substance. Right now the common talk wherever you go in town is that things are not going the way they should because, “Muna fama da Wujuwuju”(we are suffering under Wujuwuju – a nickname for Kwankwaso).

Already the man, as expected by all those who knew him well, has antagonized almost all sections of the society he is supposed to lead. First to show their displeasure with the new style of leadership are commercial motorcyclists, or ‘Yan Achaba, who could not stomach his policy of charging levies on their operations, on the pretext that he was borrowing a leaf from the governor of Lagos state who reportedly had a successful revenue generation exercise by levying, among others, the motorcyclists. They staged a few rowdy protests, including that of burning red caps (symbol of Kwankwasiyya), to express their displeasure.

Next were senior civil servants, who he has been persecuting since he came to power last May. This group suffers in silence as there is nothing they could do to air their grievances. Out of the scores of them he deposed as administrative heads of various ministries, departments and agencies, only a handful have been reassigned to irrelevant positions. Nevertheless, it must be pointed out that the governor has never been a friend of civil servants; the only civil servants he likes are those he uses to achieve his selfish ends.

Already, there are talks that he intends to drastically reduce the salaries of permanent secretaries to accommodate the new minimum wage his government is being forced  to implement by labour leaders. This is besides the sidelining of some workers who have played prominent roles under the government of his predecessor, Sardaunan Kano Malam Ibrahim Shekarau. For the workers, therefore, there has been a complete reversal of fate from the honeymoon they had under Shekarau to the present quagmire in which they find themselves.

The recent verification exercises conducted simultaneously for workers and pensioners was specifically designed to cause hardship. As a matter of fact, workers like poor old pensioners, the governor’s traditional foes, have always known that the return of Kwankwaso as governor would mean trouble for them. Indeed, the man lived up to his bad reputation; these two groups have been in big trouble since his return to power.

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During his first term, in the course of his prolonged confrontation with them, Kwankwaso even referred to pensioners as ‘dead people.’ He said even the living, meaning serving workers, could not succeed in their confrontation with him, not to talk of the dead (pensioners) who were down and out. Many old and dying pensioners went to their graves vowing not to forgive him for his audacity to disrespect them despite their old age and contributions to the development of the state.

The verification exercises for workers and pensioners, which lasted for almost a month, was obviously aimed at punishing the two groups. Many old and tired pensioners – some of whom came from villages as far-flanged as Doguwa and Ririwai – suffered untold hardship for days on end and cursed him openly for it. Predictably, up to the end of October many workers and pensioners could not be paid their September entitlements.

Other set of people who have suffered since Kwankwaso’s return include innocent citizens whose plots he revoked and caused some of their property to be destroyed and are yet to be compensated, as well as hundreds of local and foreign investors who have shown interest in the promising ICT Pack initiated by the past government, but which the governor jettisoned. On the orders of his imperial majesty, all these people have apparently lost their investments. Indeed, for them Kano government has never been as autocratic as now.

Then there are thousands of indigent environment workers who were massively sacked and mercilessly deprived of their only means of livelihood. These street cleaners, mainly old men and widows, were the bread-winners for their poor families. Just for political reasons, thousands of these people and their dependents are now left to starve so that their political leaders can live comfortably.

Also distraught about what is happening in Kano today are communities where viable projects such as hospitals, roads, water and electricity supplies, etc. that have not been completed are located. As these projects are abandoned, the people have been expressing their disappointment about the outcome of events. Many now regret that the past government has been supplanted, and its developmental momentum curtailed by a new set of people who are only keen on enriching themselves.

But by far the most intriguing set of disgruntled elements in the state are some of his own political appointees who cannot stomach his dictatorial disposition. An incident illustrating this which is now talk of the town occurred on September 26, 2011, as reported by www.247ureports.com, an on-line newspaper. That incident, which was a physical fight between the governor and his commissioner, has since exposed the deep crisis brewing within the cabinet. The show of shame came on the heels of grumblings by some cabinet members about how they were being maltreated by the governor.

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According to the report, the old erratic behaviour of the governor sitting his commissioners and raining abuses on them as if they were his children, well practised during his first term, has sadly resurfaced. The revelation by the on-line newspaper that he was being suspected of using some high intoxicants, including cocaine, did not however come as a surprise to many people who had always suspected something like that.

On that particular day, he was said to have assaulted one of his commissioners who was so incensed by the abuses that he stood up ready to engage him in a physical fight. It is important that the commissioner, a member of the royal family, had the courage to tell him off to his face. Only courageous encounters like this will let the man know that his political appointees are not his servants that he can abuse like that, whether he is on drugs or not.

The man appears to think that he alone is the party and everyone else is working for him. He doesn’t seem to understand that a party is a collection of individuals and interest groups that unite to work for its success and as such they all have legitimate rights to whatever positions and privileges that are given to them. Just because he is their leader doesn’t make him the sole owner of the rights and privileges offered by that success, whether it was achieved legitimately or otherwise.

Even though one is tempted to say ‘serves them right,’ as they knew that the man had personalized the party by naming it after himself and they all seemed not bothered but worked to ensure the ‘success’ of Kwankwasiyya, and not PDP per se, then it behoves them to take with equanimity whatever ‘shit’ he offers them for their troubles. As the saying goes, “you’ve made your bed and you must lie on it.”

Without doubt, democracy is, and can only be, predicated upon the rule of law. Under the rule of law, justice and fair-play must not only be done but be seen to have been done to all manner of people. This is without regard to whether they belong to party ‘A’ or ‘B,’ or whether they are friends or foes. Otherwise, any other style of governance can only be described as something else; and autocracy is one of such descriptions. Based on the foregoing, therefore, is Kwankwaso democratic or autocratic? For the answer to this question, the reader is left to judge for himself.

Sabo Adamu, Babban Layi, Gyadi-gyadi Quarters, Kano (sadam4truth@yahoo.com).

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