Tuesday, August 11, 2015

EL-Rufai, Demolition Of Illegal Structures And Politics

The demolition of illegal structures in schools and hospitals in Kaduna by Governor Nasir El-Rufai has generated quite a lot of debates from both the supporters and opponents of the exercise. Even some supporters of the governor and All Progressive Congress (APC) members have been critical of the exercise. A Senator from the state, Comrade Shehu Sani, termed the exercise anti-masses. Although one could say Comrade Sani took advantage of the situation to play politics. Governor El-Rufai can consider himself lucky that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is now incapacitated in Kaduna, else it could have used the issue to make life unbearable for Mallam. 

Governor El-Rufai is one of the most vocal advocates of change, a strong adherent of the movement to dislodge the PDP from the government, so that the masses can be freed from the bondage of suffering. So, because of El-Rufai’s critical stand against the PDP prior to becoming the governor of Kaduna state, some pertinent questions have popped up as regards to the demolition exercise. Is El-Rufai right to carry out such an exercise in the midst of poverty and the long period of travails the masses went through under PDP’s 16 years of misrule? Will such exercise in the early part of El-Rufai’s stewardship not lead to the masses questioning the ‘change’ they voted for? Is the exercise politically right at this material time when real development has not started? 

There is no doubt that converting land belonging to schools and hospitals for commercial and personal uses is an irresponsible action that any reasonable government should try to correct and even punish culprits for. For instance, the level of encroachment at the famous Rimi College saddens. There are speculations that even some federal government agencies are also culprits- JAMB office in Kaduna is occupying some portions of the school. 

Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai is very right for retrieving such land, but a ‘non-accidental’ politician would never embark on such exercise at the very early stage of his administration- some good policies sometimes need political consideration to have a smooth sail. El-Rufai should have considered the political implications of carrying out this developmental exercise. El-Rufai should have first commenced his development projects- roads constructions, rehabilitation of health system, civil service reforms and blocking leakages in government finances. Once development projects are ongoing and the entire Kaduna society is gingered and become dependably appreciative of the developmental drive, then El-Rufai can carefully and skillfully say, ‘ahhhha, these illegal structures in schools and hospitals should go, to allow development in such places and conducive atmosphere for users. When these are done, at the end, all right thinking people including El-Rufai’s political foes will have no option but support the exercise in its entirety. Some observers question the timing of the exercise because they are aware that Nigerians are a kind of people that always rate a government by its first steps. And many people are hopeful that El-Rufai would be a model for APC governors, especially in the north. 

The demolition of illegal structures in schools and hospitals in Kaduna is a step in the right direction, but the timing is not right, because of the past suffering the masses went through under the PDP and the high expectations people have from the Change mantra the APC sold to the masses. Furthermore El-Rufai is President Buhari’s ‘baby’, whatever he does, Kaduna people and Nigerians generally by default will see it as having Buhari’s nod. Nevertheless, Governor Nasir El-Rufai is so far one of the best governors in the north. 

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. He blogs at www.zayyaddp.blogspot.com 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Opposition within APC: What Buhari Should Do

One of the biggest political challenges that President Muhammadu Buhari is facing is the opposition within his party- the All Progressives Congress (APC), especially at the National Assembly. How Buhari tackles the ‘rebellion’ will determine how smooth he will run his government, the fortunes of his party- the APC, especially in future elections, and how members of the APC will view the supremacy of the party.
Being the President of the nation, Buhari enjoys the support of his party leadership most importantly, that of the party leader, Ahmed Bola Tinubu and other senior party stalwarts, thus Buhari has upper hands against the opposition within the APC. Having opposition within a political party is natural and healthy for a democracy, however what is happening in the APC is unique- the ‘rebels’ have their calculations linked to future elections and are in close romance with the ousted external opposition, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Buhari has some very strong and reliable weapons to tackle this opposition within his party; first, he must make sure that procedures and laid down processes are followed to the letter in every aspect of government business including in the legislature- especially when it comes public fund expenditure. Secondly, Buhari’s posture of ‘no more business as usual’ should be unfailingly adhered to. These two are strong weapons because a lot of individuals in the National Assembly who are aligning themselves to the ‘opposition within’ are doing so hoping that when the ‘kill’ is ready, they will enjoy the ‘spoil’.
Most crises in the National Assembly have been connected to struggles by the actors to be part of those who will enjoy political spoils. The ‘rebellion’ against the APC leadership by some of its members in the National Assembly cannot also be far from that. A closer look at the APC legislators in the National Assembly whom the public see as major forces behind the rebellion reveal old termers in red and green chambers, who fully understand and have tasted the ‘honey’ that comes with being close to the leadership of the National Assembly. When things are allowed to work as they ought to and the expected ‘spoils’ no longer come, Nigerians will be relieved and most of the actors will sheath their swords.
Some people are suggesting that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC should send for the ‘like mind actors’ and dig into their past. Definitely something can be found out against most of them; however there will be backlash and accusations of political witch-hunting and misuse of security agencies. In fact, using the EFCC to resolve political issues is a wrong and condemnable. Buhari should rather firmly stand on his vow to allow process and procedures to follow laid down rules. Toxic politicians in the National Assembly and even in the executive will come back to their senses when this is done. 
Fourth, Buhari should take the path of reconciliation and employ the spirit of give and take: This is would be the best for all the parties- the APC, its leadership and Buhari would be appeased, while the APC caucus of the National Assembly will be crisis free. But would the gladiators, especially in the Senate submit to party supremacy, which they preached to the masses during election? There are reports that Senate President Bukola Saraki is seeking the blessings of the Emir of Ilorin to intervene between him and Buhari. This means Saraki is now more worried, having seen the Dogora group in the House of Representatives bow to party supremacy. Having seen the writings on the walls and the growing public anger, the group acceded to the party’s decision and announced Femi Gbajabiamila as the house leader. Bukola can also thread the same path.
Some observers are saying Saraki’s strong romance with the PDP, the commitment he has to his like-minded colleagues and the politics of 2019 make this a difficult path for him. One may understand Saraki worries, he traded off the position of the deputy senate president to the minority PDP, and many see that as desperation to be senate president and also a betrayal of his party leadership- no party leadership can condole such act.
Looking at Buhari’s position on the crisis, one can say Buhari has no issues with any of the actors, the President is rather asking them to follow and accept the supremacy of the party which was sold to the masses during the 2015 elections. Anybody the All Progressive Congress (APC) presented was voted for, and most of the actors were beneficiaries of the APC sack.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980.