Re: There’s Total Infrastructure Collapse In Gombe

By Abubakar Nasiru Gombe

It’s always expected that, whenever elections approaches, desperate politicians surface with different foxy and crafty activities designed to either bamboozled their gullible supporters or achieve simple and cheap publicity to fake relevance within a particular political environment.

It’s on this note that, with the 2019 general elections getting much nearer, the good the bad and the noxious politicians would be occupying and saturating various media platforms with all sorts of interviews, write-ups to inundate people especially the gullible ones as well as the typical Nigerian politicians for selfish gain.

One of these jaundice and gadfly, was an interview granted by gatecrashed and self-imposed All Progressive Congress (APC) chieftain and governorship aspirant in Gombe State, Jibrin Barde with the headline; There’s total collapse of infrastructure In Gombe appeared yesterday on the online platform of the Blueprint Newspaper and in its print version of the Saturday March 17, 2018.

It is worrisome and laughable that this kind of grossly misguided utterances which lacks objective and a clear misrepresentation of truth aimed as misleading the general populace for selfish political reason. Ordinarily, I shouldn’t have glorified such a wild short with a response but, my silence and those of other Gombe indigenes who are in the know about the political calculations in Gombe and the true transformation the state has witnessed under the purposeful leadership of His Excellency, Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo (Talban Gombe) may be misconstrued to mean acceptance of the Barde’s blind-dive into issues that are clearly aspersion and political hyperbole.

In his vilifying commentaries to trickily chart a course of his au courant and strange political agenda, Jibrin Barde has denied all the out of the open achievements of the Dankwambo administration which has undeniably turns the state as the beehive of state of the art infrastructures cutting across all the sectors of the economy.

Is it because he was a banker that he became obviously benighted and birdbrained to know what infrastructure means, how could someone whose family house is sandwiched by two different dual carriage asphalt roads constructed by Dankwambo denied that fact and accused same administration of collapsed infrastructure? Maybe it is because he hardly visits the state, because from wherever he may come from, he must drive on beautiful and smooth roads into the city built by a cosmopolitan accountant and it could be an irony for Barde to reject this fact.

According to him, he has reached the pinnacle of his career as a banker and it is time to give back to the society and the only way he can do that is to take the position of leadership and he has a clear vision of empowering youths. And I vehemently disagreed with his position because in Gombe State today, we have countless number of people have excelled in their careers and businesses who has helped either in building the state or getting jobs for our teeming youths without occupying any seat of power.

As the former Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the SunTrust Bank, can Barde tell us how many citizens of Gombe State he has employed in the services of the bank or what is contribution to the development of the state?

Let me remind Jibrin Barde that, the only branch his bank has in Gombe State has been closed denying our citizens benefits. Interestingly, we have sons and daughters of the state who provides scholarship, dug boreholes in the communities, provide transformers, provide medical care interventions, and lots more without having any elective position and what is your own contribution, if I may ask Jibrin?

It’s laughable enough that, Jibrin Barde as a banker he doesn’t have idea on the federal allocation to the states when he compares Gombe and other states in terms of the allocation. Let me imbue and edify Barde that, Gombe State is second to Bayelsa State in terms of lowest allocation even though, Bayelsa is collecting 13% oil derivation funds, Dankwambo has utilized the lean resources to developed Gombe State and pays regular worker’s salary in the state.

I can’t believe that, a banker who doesn’t have knowledge of the federal allocation may have statistical knowhow to tells us what we spend annually in buying water. In fact, what Dankwambo inherited was a water project that wasn’t reticulated to other part of the state and his administration immediately has successfully done that to the major areas. While on the education and healthcare systems, Barde is either quick to forget things or he might be imbecilic of the development in the state. Dankwambo has constructed model primary and secondary schools, renovated the dilapidated ones, he built cottage hospitals and supplied dialysis machines to the specialist hospital, and many more.

To justify that, Jibrin Barde can trek from his house to the newly upgraded IDI women and children hospital fully equipped with modern healthcare facilities, and the renovated Idi primary schools. It amounts to underrepresentation of reality to give account of Dankwambo’s infrastructural development in Gombe State.

While on his political ambition, Jibrin Barde should know that we are students of history and let him bear in mind that, Gombe is not Enugu and painting people’s houses in the state and doling out money doesn’t measure one’s political strength but cluelessness. His political godfather will surely have a flourishing business in 2019 and succeed by imposing him against others but we’ll reject all their scheming and machinations orchestrated to bring an interloper into our state’s politics, let it be in Enugu State.

I could go on but it will be pointless, the bottom line is, we’ll not allow someone to succeed in insulting the kinesthesia of the high pitch intelligence of Gombe people with his fabrications and I dare say deliberately skewered comments and if there’s any shred of decency still about him, he will tender an unreserved apology to the present government, and the good people of Gombe for whom he has so disrespected with this political missive.

Nasiru is a public commentator, he writes from Gombe.

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An Open Thank-You Letter To President Muhammadu Buhari By Aliu S. Momodu

Dear President Muhammadu Buhari,

Maimuna Aliyu And The Crucible Of Persecution [2]

My interest in the Hajia Maimuna Aliyu’ ordeal was first elicited when I watched her on Africa Independent Television’s Focus Nigeria program of October 16, 2017.

N13.5m: Senators And The Monthly Running-costs

The Parliamentary Arm of the Federal Government has seemingly remained a drainpipe that impedes economic growth in the country since the ongoing democratic system commenced in 1999. Comparatively, a Nigerian senator or member of the House of the Representatives earns several times more than their counterparts across the world. Still, corruption sways in the chambers. In fact, during the previous administrations, ‘Ghana-must-go’ bags with megabucks were practically turned into lobbying and legislative tools for screenings, confirmation of appointments and passage of budgets.

As a result, reckless, profit-motivated and episodic impeachment motions became the order of the days on any president in power particularly during Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration which all ended in pecuniary deals. Later, it became a routine in the successive governments until the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. In effect, do-or-die politics ruled the polity as belonging to the parliament became the fastest money-making venture.

Notwithstanding the gross aberrations, the lawmakers advantageously allocated outrageous allowances to themselves. The recently exposed monthly-running costs of a whopping sum of N13.5million to each senator which if allocated to visible developmental projects across all the constituencies will no doubt, concurrently boost development across the nation, remains a nightmare.

It is indeed heartless, iniquitous and greed that as much as the amount is self-allocated and collected monthly by each of the senators separately from consolidated salaries on inconsequentialities. Some lawmakers once in a while will fix a quasi-amenity but file up fictitious copious receipts without substantiation. Meanwhile, the people in their constituencies remain in misery, joblessness and poverty. Then, additional N200million for constituency projects is allotted annually, yet the polity keeps appearing pitiable and abandoned. Perhaps, it should be appropriately renamed paper-projects since they are nonexistent anywhere. Irrefutably, the actions fell below the bar of civility.

This believably, accounts for the unbending attempts to intimidate the chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu out of office to pave way for a companionable new helmsman. The fundamental question for the lawmakers is; how could the Public Procurement Act they passed into law specify how projects should be bid and executed but they indiscriminately allocated public funds to themselves albeit the council is yet to be constituted? Or is the country comparable to George Orwell’s Animal Farm where some animals are more equal than others? For example, Section 16(17) of the Public Procurement Act 2014 provides that “a contract shall be awarded to the lowest evaluated responsive bid from the bidders substantially responsive to the bid solicitation”. By the way, how could the legislature prepare and pass its budget and also clothe itself with powers to override the president? Indeed, this is a blunder.

The recent episodes are glaringly satirical. Lawmakers fantastically misappropriate public funds that could aid to improve the economy but always shed crocodile tears over unemployment ratio in the society. Sensitively, if the plights of the youths truly move them as portrayed on the controversial Peace Corps bill, the appropriate action should be to expand the budgetary allocation specifically as employment interventionist policy which will enable the executive expand its workforce including the existing security agencies thereby absorb more youths into their respective personnel. Unfortunately, legislature’s budgets alone keep going up and up with outrageous masked allowances. Over the years, politicians often play on the sensibilities of the vulnerable citizens especially the youths during election periods. Interestingly, the red chamber is presently manned by unique identities; commonsense advocate, great anti-corruption crusader, voice of the new generation, defender of the down-trodden, economic empowerment strategist and many other titles who relentlessly criticize the executive every now and then. Yet, they collaboratively overlooked, concealed and promoted for several years the fraudulent running costs and constituency projects sufficient to improve the society in few years if prudently expended.

Presently, the 2018 Appropriation bill presented to the National Assembly early enough, precisely on November 7, 2017 by the President to stimulate the economy that was critically hit by recession, sadly still hops up and down at the end of first quarter. Incontestably, the lawmakers work for their personal interests. The constituency projects astutely envisioned has constituted conduits to the treasury. The bicameral legislature itself is the grand drainpipe. As a developing democracy, Nigeria shouldn’t have clichéd the developed system verbatim but modify progressively.

It therefore suggests that the anti-graft agency has a lot of works to do. No amount of propaganda should dampen the spirits from moving into actions towards recovering misappropriated public funds, however unselectively. It is absolutely ridiculous, height of aberration and totally unacceptable to enthrone mediocrity and expect developments. From 1999 the running costs and constituency projects came into existence, it is rare to find any such projects anywhere except few that managed to complete a borehole in one community or repaint a community-market with giant sign-posts.

It is fittingly inhumanity to man that lawmakers freely loot public funds while the masses they use satisfactorily during elections are drying up in hunger and hardship. Egocentricity has clearly defeated the objects of constituency projects solicitously aimed at spreading rapid developments to the grassroots through the representatives. Probably, this is where Charley Boy’s “OurMumuDonDo” initiative will appropriately and effectually make sense than the defunct ‘resume or resign’ crusade. Until the legislative arm is reformed, things may hardly fall in shapes.

Umegboro, a public affairs analyst wrote from Abuja via: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (07057101974 SMS only)

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Ekweremadu: Between Democracy And The Military

Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu is an interesting character. He is always excited, haughty and very mouthy. If Nigerians perceive the current Senate more as a punishment chamber than a parliament, its because of leaders like Ekweremadu.
His soul mates in the red chamber have conspiratorially turned the senate into an undemocratic mental torture chamber for Senators, where voices opposed to its leadership are muzzled and dubiously punished. Sadly, Ekweremadu is failing to check his tongue.  
Senator Ekweremadu belongs to the clan of Senators who are irretrievably tied to the old order of impunity and disorderliness on  issues of public governance,  famed with the PDP.  For them, it’s not possible to change anything.
He is therefore naturally blind to the illumination provided by the changed government of the APC led by President Muhammadu Buhari. Under the expired national government of the PDP, nothing was impossible provided it serviced the egos of its minions. That era has gone, but since Ekweremadu is yet to purge himself  of the PDP mendacious inclination, he still functions under such false illusions.   
Therefore, a few days ago, Senator Ekweremadu had the effrontery to  foul  the air by dragging the Nigerian military and specifically, the Nigerian Army into politics . Senator Ahmed Ogembe, representing Kogi Central had a raised a motion alleging that Kogi state Governor  Yahaya Bello, sponsored thugs to disrupt his  empowerment programme for  constituents.
But in a rather asinine twist,  while contributing to the debate, Ekweremadu deviated from the core issue by declaring,  “The problem in Nigeria is that our democracy is receding. Who says army cannot take over? Let us not joke with our democracy.”
There was no correlation at all. So, the reference to the Army by Ekweremadu was spiteful and intended to stir enmity and air of disloyalty between the Commander –in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces, President Buhari and the Nigerian military.
 And  it has exposed the extent Ekweremadu has lost touch with the reality in Nigeria, a country, which  signed a creed in 2015 to severe itself from the culture of the past, by its embrace of democracy and building of strong or thriving  military and democratic institutions.
Perhaps, steeped in the sentiments of opposition politics, and the desire to blackmail,  Ekweremadu is oblivious of the changes around him. He neither knows the new face of  the Nigerian military under  the leadership of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Gen. Gabriel Olonishakin nor the Nigerian Army, under  the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt. Gen. Tukur Yusufu Buratai.   
To again redirect the attention of the likes of Ekweremadu to the reality they have refused to acknowledge, the Nigerian Military have been disciplined and re-professionalized. It has consistently demonstrated to the world in words and actions that there is no alternative to democracy. It cannot be persuaded by such outbursts to discard their toga of professionalism and support to democratic institutions.
The Nigerian Army particularly have  elected upon  itself to serve as guardians of  Nigerian’s  democracy evident in the struggles to protect and preserve Nigerians democracy and the absolute subordination to civil authorities.
The current leadership of the Nigerian military led by Gen.  Olonishakin as well as the Nigerian Army under the guidance of Gen.  Buratai, much as  other Service Chiefs have proven beyond doubt  the military is an integral part of this great nation. It exudes more interest in assisting Nigeria’s democracy to blossom to full maturity.
It has confined itself to its core professional duties and values of safeguarding the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Nigeria.  The Nigerian military has proven to be a responsible and responsive fighting force, patriotically defending the country from both external and internal aggressors, with delight.
And this streams from carefully articulated and implemented re-orientation measures, like professionalism,   discipline, integrity, and seamless civil/military relations anchored on international best practices.  The Nigerian Army under Gen. Buratai has no reason to harbor thoughts of dabbling into partisan politics.
It is  much more remote that the Army would even ruminate scuttling democracy as insinuated by Ekweremadu. Buratai’s mastery in leadership of the Army has tackled explosive issues which hitherto served as baits or motivation for soldiers to engage in coups.  
For instance, soldiers are no longer under the yoke of stalled promotions. They are now promptly promoted and this itself is a great moral booster for any Army anywhere in the world.  The current leadership of the Army  under Gen. Buratai has consistently provided  incentives to soldiers  by  appreciating and decorating  deserving  officers with medals for  exceptional performances.
 Gen. Buratai worships and rewards merit, and has completely deleted favouratism in the administration of the Army, as  glaringly  reflected several times in the ongoing counter-insurgency operations in the Northeast.  To say the least, the commitment of  the Army leadership  to reward officers and men of the Nigerian Army is unflinching and indiscriminate.
The inculcation and enforcement of the values of discipline in soldiers have  been Gen. Buratai’s topmost agenda from the outset. What leads the Army into coups most times is indiscipline. The anger is fired in instances where some officers and soldiers are favoured  on either  ethnic or religious affiliations.  Again, Army personnel are no longer penalized on account of neither hatred  nor sentiments’, but on the weight of proven misconduct’.
 The rules and internal control measures apply to all and sundry, as circumstances demand, without sentiments, as evident in  routine reshuffling of the executive  command positions without recourse to religion or tribe.
So,  the Army leadership has assiduously worked  and conquered these defects and there is no possibility that such soldiers would nurture  any coup  ambition.  
Furthermore, the Amy leadership has prioritized welfare and introduced various incentives to personnel. Gen. Buratai extends welfare of soldiers to even their families. The famous warlord, Sun Tsu said, “Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”
Therefore, when soldiers face the hardest of tasks assigned to them courageously and victoriously; it’s because they have no psychological trauma on hanging welfare packages.   The facelift of military barracks and the improved general living conditions of officers and men are motivations for the Army, which have voluntarily made Army personnel to remain apolitical and loyal to  civil authority in Nigeria.
And above all, Gen. Buratai has ensured transparency and accountability in the leadership of the Nigerian Army. He has blocked loopholes that enabled looting or misappropriation of  Army  resources at the expense of the  wellbeing of personnel. This previously accounted for mutiny on the battlefield in protest of neglect and deprivation. The Army now is a contented force.   
The era of a few officers and soldiers getting rich quick is gone.  The prudent management of lean resources by the Lt. Gen.  Buratai led Leadership has restored confidence, respect and accorded dignity to  Army personnel whose first and last focus is concentration on their constitutionally defined professional roles.
No Nigerian, moreso, a leader, like Ekweremadu who is aware of these changes would deliberately attempt to rejig the narrative with the flavor of his bizarre idiosyncrasies. But Nigerians are not surprised because Ekweremadu is a product of a corrupt past, which is deeply ingrained in him.  The old system made the Army susceptible to such thoughts, but certainly,  today’s Army is different.   
So, he finds it strange to align with the new order.  But let it be known to Senator Ekweremadu  that the Army has been re-professionalized and  disciplined. Nigerians are not fooled that his call for a coup by the military  is a veiled attempt to save looters who are facing litigations in  court  over corruption charges. He is used to coups and a product of political coups in the National Assembly, but let him spare the Army. This call  can neither survive nor fly.
Okanga writes from Agila, Benue State.

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