Ganduje’s debt burden and politics of vendetta

I am a close observer of Kano state politics since the inception of this republic which started in 1999.

No doubt, Kano state, as the commercial nerve center of Northern Nigeria and the hotbed of Nigeria’s politics, should be of interest to every political scientist.

Democracy in Nigeria, which was celebrated last Monday in Abuja and across 27 states, ushered in a change of baton in political leadership in the Federal Capital Territory, and affected states capital. This historic transmission of power afforded Nigerians the opportunity to profile their choice of leadership after they were duly sworn in from inaugural speeches.

While some of these new executives have hit the ground running, some are yet to take off, most especially in Kano state where the new governor, Abba Kabir Yusuf, seems to have crashed landed, and at the moment requires emergency aid to rescue himself from self-destruction.

Governor Kabir Yusuf shot himself in the foot when shortly after the former Secretary to the State Government,SSG, Alhaji Usman Alhaji, gave him comprehensive handover documents of the Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje administration.

Ordinarily, the expectation from seasoned administrators who are in tune with global best practices is for the governor to study the documents, and underscore the nitty gritty to enable him make an informed pronouncement.

Interestingly, Yusuf’s hatred, and deep-seated contempt for his predecessor in office, Ganduje, reared its head as he chose to lie with figures. In a minute, Yusuf exposed his publicly known agenda for vendetta and chose to hit below the belt by going personal: “I ask Allah to reward Ganduje according to what he did”.

According to him, “Dr. Umar Abdullahi Ganduje left a whopping sum of N241.3 billion liabilities, and N75.6 billion for the new administration in a handing over documents he transmitted”.

No doubt, the figures rolled by Yusuf were indeed contentious, if the available statistics are anything to go by, more so against the backdrop that government is a continuum.

It is expedient to mention here that before the Ganduje administration, we had the likes of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (1999 – 2003), Senator Ibrahim Shekarau (2003 – 2011), Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso again (2011 – 2015). These successful administrations in Kano state all acquired debt and liability in the last 24 years of participatory democracy.

It is on record that data from the Debt Management Office, DMO, revealed that between 2011 and 2015, during Kwankwaso’s second term in office, domestic debt in Kano increased by 1008 percent

In the year 2011, when he was re-elected, there was an existing domestic debt of N5.87 billion. In 2015, when he left office, the state’s debt had increased to N65 billion, a 1008 percent increase.

Interestingly, Kabiru Yusuf, as an offshoot of the Kwankwaso administration, for now, has nothing original, but a mere carbon copy of that administration.

In 2015, the former Deputy Governor, Professor Hafiz Abubakar, who was head of the Transition Committee set up by Dr. Ganduje, in its final report said the former Governor of Kano state, Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso left behind N379billion liability and an empty treasury.

Not done yet, Abubakar, who chaired the 93-man transition committee, and deputy governor-elect, who read the abridged copy of its final report, stated that ‘hard times await Kano and it might take the patience to get along’.

The professor of food nutrition, in the breakdown of liability incurred by the Kwankwaso administration, revealed that the total capital receipt to the state between May 2011 and May 2015 stood at N419.75 billion, adding that N418. 6 billion was spent.

Hafiz Abubakar further said total capital receipt to the 44 local governments of the state within the period under review stood at N346.591 billion, pointing out that the money was expended on joint projects.

Abubakar, who served Kwankwaso as commissioner for finance from 1999-2003, had explained that the Kwankwaso’ administration initiated over 4,000 projects, adding that over N140 billion was paid to contractors with an outstanding of N4.5 billion.

The former deputy vice-chancellor, academic, further disclosed that over N300 billion was paid for 2,715 ongoing projects, stressing that N105 billion was outstanding.

Abubakar further revealed that N117 billion was outstanding from the joint venture between the state government and local governments, maintaining that ‘unremitting N20 billion unpaid vouchers was hanging at the state Treasury Department’.

Hafiz Abubakar lamented that the huge liability was coming on the heel of dwindling finances and a drop in our internally generated revenue.

The Transition Committee Report, which was read before a quality crowd of the Kano elite, provoked outrage before the elected governor, Ganduje, obtained a microphone and calmed frayed nerve.

The former governor in his response said ‘the report would serve as an indicator on how the speed would be’.

Dr Ganduje, a seasoned administrator, came heavily in defence of the system which he understood clearly was a continuum in tandem with global practices.

He noted on that auspicious day that, “In any case, leaving behind liabilities from one government to another is a normal thing. Those who are today shouting will do the same or even worse by the time they assumed office”.

He had said in that moment of tension, “I don’t think Kwankwaso has committed any crime for leaving behind these huge liabilities because whatever happened was planned, coordinated, and executed in the general interest of Kano people; we need to move on.

“I knew everything, the expectations were high and we thought that things, according to oil money, will continue to be smooth. Suddenly, there was that disgracing drop,” Ganduje was quoted to have said in a 2015 report.

For a man who prides as Abba Gida-Gida, Kano expects him to study the terrain, the characters that governed the state before him for lessons in humility, because what goes around, certainly comes around. A word is enough for the wise.

Usman, a public commentator, writes from Kaduna, Kaduna state.