Former Zamfara state gov, Abdulaziz Yari, has a case to answer which bothers on the report of verification committee set to probe him. BODE OLAGOKE writes.
For loyalists of former Zamfara state governor, Abdulaziz Yari, it is a case of persecution by a successor trying to tarnish the image of his predecessor. However, for a state named among the poorest 10 in the country, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Zamfara will justify the recent indictment and revelations by the Alhaji Ahmad Zabarma-led verification committee set up to prove the immediate past governor.The committee indicted Yari of alleged flagrant abuse of office, corruption and direct diversion of state resources in the last eight years of his administration. Its report also unraveled various allegations of corruption and mismanagement of funds during his tenure.
For example, the committee found out that the sum of two billion naira was provided as loan from the federal government in 2014 for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). It said, however, that after paper works were done between the chamber of commerce and then managing director, Investment House and other imaginary beneficiaries, only the chamber chairman allegedly benefitted from the loan. He received five million naira, saying this was clearly attested to by the committee chairman himself.The committee noted that till date, no one can say where the remaining 1.9 billion naira went except former governor Yari, Fatima Umaru Shinkafi, some members of the state House of Assembly, commissioners and top government officials tell the people of Zamfara. Moreso, the committee uncovered that the sum of 17 billion naira bailout funds was received from the federal government, but alleged that the money practically vanished between Ministry of Finance and the state assembly which initially assented to authorise six billion naira for the construction of proposed Gusau International Airport. The committee further alleged that Yari expended the sum of 10 billion naira which cannot be traced to meaningful and verifiable projects. It noted in its report that in many cases involving huge amounts of money, the Ministry of Finance failed to cooperate with the committee which proves that there is a cover up.Aside that, the committee alleged that the sum of five billion naira was equally paid into the account of the state Commodity Marketing and Distribution Board from the CBN after the board received directives from the then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance to reactivate its dormant account which was not covered by Treasury Single Account (TSA). “This money was paid on February 7, 2019 into the account of Dambazau Global Investment Company but nothing was supplied; the money just vanished and should be recovered.”The committee equally found out that the sum of 1.7 billion naira was expended on school feeding programmes to feed students per year. It said that only N875, 455,995.52 or 50% of this amount was spent in providing extremely poor and inadequate meals to children per month.
It said, “The balance of N875,455,995.52 is siphoned by the contractors, the officials and commissioners of the commission, the powers that be, some or all of the principals. This has been going on since the creation of this commission and nobody, not even our Islamic clerics, our parents, our traditional rulers, our politicians have frowned against this. In the past eight years, N7,003,647,960.00 was illegally siphoned by the feeding commission alone.” According to the report, “As in the case of the missing five billion naira for purchase of essential agricultural commodities with the Commodity Marketing and Distribution Board, the state government received a loan through the CBN amounting to five billion naira for the purchase of agricultural inputs.The sum was credited into the account of ZASCO –1014692584 domiciled with Zenith Bank on February 6, 2019 as directed by then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance. The money was transferred into the account of a Bureau de change organisation by the name Babura Global Concept A/C № 1013486487 domiciled with Zenith Bank in five of one billion naira tranches each. Nothing was heard on the money or the agricultural inputs since then.”The state government under the previous administration has purchased vehicles to the tune of ₦8.4 billion (N8,400,542,879.00) only. 1,550 vehicles are said to have been purchased but only 531 have been documented. The remaining 1,119 vehicles or 65% of the number purchased amounting to over five billion naira are not properly documented. This calls for serious investigation.”In the eight years of Abdul’aziz Yari Abubakar’s tenure, over 110 exotic vehicles were purchased and allocated to Yari, his deputy, his wives, friends, political, economic and social associates. Most of these vehicles cannot be traced as at May 29, 2019 except for the 20 exotic vehicles found when EFCC raided his residence. These vehicles constitute almost 20% of the total number of 531 vehicles that have been documented out of 1,550 that are said to be purchased. The beneficiaries of these exotic vehicles are highlighted in appendix 1 in the main report.”The report pointed out that during the period under review 2011—2019, the amount of internally generated revenue stood at N32.6 billion for eight years. Out of this amount, the sum of N377,447,887.71 for eight years was paid as consultancy services for no positive project. The report revealed that out of the amount, the sum of N253,886,027.11 or 67.26% for 1½years was paid to Al-shaib, allegedly owned by one Sha’aya who is a close associate of the former governor. The report said that the total money paid to Alsha’ib totalling to N253,886,027.11 should be refunded and the law that allows Alsha’ib to collect 7% of gross internally generated revenue should be repealed immediately.
As part of the then government’s alleged effort to improve water supply in 10 local governments and the state capital, the report said the sum of eight billion naira was earmarked for the project. Unfortunately, the report added that payments made to the contractors have not been justified and over three billion naira had been wasted without a drop of water. Again, the report revealed that two special schools were constructed by the state government in collaboration with the federal government. One in Talata Mafara and other in Gusau.
Surprisingly, the special school in Talata Mafara costing over 790 million naira was allocated to a private organisation under mysterious circumstances. In summary, the report uncovered that, “Under administration sector, the sum of N12.5 billion, economic sector N64.4 billion, environmental N13 billion and social sector N254 million totalling over N90.3 billion which were discovered as over invoicing by contractors, government officials, consultants and beneficiaries should be refunded to the state government.
Shinkafi’s allegation on peace disruption
The governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Allance (APGA) in the 2019 general election, Alhaiji Sani Shinkafi, in a recent petitions to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammad Adamu, which were copied the vice president, service chiefs, director of SSS and national security adviser demanded the arrest of Yari over alleged threat to peace in the state.Shinkafi accused the former governor of arming a violent vigilante group while calling for public disobedience against the PDP government in the state.In the petitions filled along with video evidence, Shinkafi raised alarm of another possible breach of peace in the state, noting that the state is still reeling over the 2.8 billion naira paid as ransom by the former governor and over 6,483 widows whose husbands perished during the reign of Yari. Yari has, however dismissed the allegations as empty, vowing to drag Shinkafi, whom he said is a PDP apologist, to court.The former Zamfara helmsman declared that rather than seek his (Yari’s) arrest, the IGP should instead invite Alhaji Shinkafi for being in possession of classified document which was meant for the eyes of the Commander- in- Chief and the service chiefs only. Yari, who led APC chieftains from Zamfara to the party’s national secretariat to lodge complaints against ongoing intimidate and persecution by the PDP administration in the state, declared that only justice can bring peace in the stateHe maintained that he could not have taken responsibility for the maintenance of security as governor since that responsibility was that of the Commander- in- chief, adding that his task stopped at provision of logistics.
In defense of YariDocuments made available by the former governor’s aides show so many projects commissioned during the said eight years. For examples, the solar powered borehole to provide water for the people of Gamji, the Abubakar Tanau Model Primary School and the Government Girls Secondary School Talata Mafara.Other projects claimed to have been completed by the Yari administration included the Gusau-Maru-Bungudu-Tsafe highway, the Anka-Bukuyum-Nasarawa-Gumi Road, the Kaura Namoda-Zurmi-Birnin Magaji-Shinkafi Expressway, the rural electrification project in Jaurin Fulani and Jaurin Yamma in Gusau Local Government Area which linked five rural communities of Tsamiya, Rakuma, Gwarguwa, Adarawa and Rafin Dankure to the national grid, 84 water borehole projects in several communities including Maradun, Moriki, Rini, Gamji, Gora, Furfuri, Morai and Garbadu. The rehabilitated Government Girls Comprehensive Secondary School Moriki, the rehabilitated and upgraded primary healthcare centre in Moriki as well as the Poverty Eradication and Economic Empowerment Programme which yielded motor vehicles, tricycles, motor-cycles, sewing machines, grinding machines and other forms of empowerment to citizens to enable them earn a decent living.In the area of education, a total of four billion, seven-hundred and fifty-four million, seven hundred and seventeen thousand, three hundred and forty-three Naira, seventy-five Kobo was expended on 18 projects including the renovation of Government Girls Secondary School, Talata Mafara, LGEA School Maradun and others. Also the UBE project resulting in the renovation of over 100 primary schools gulped over four billion naira. The Zamfara State University Talata Mafara which is a response to the yearnings of Zamfara citizens, being the only state without a university in Nigeria, was also commenced in 2018, among other achievements.For Yari’s supporters and sympathisers, it is glaring fact that the incumbent PDP administration in the state is out to play politics and demonise their principal.
Political analysts, however, are of the opinion that if the former governor does not have any skeleton in his cupboard, he should rather defend himself against soimany allegations leveled against him.
The analysts believe that asking the former governor how he ran the state in eight years should not call for chaos bearing in mind that Zamfara is in dire need of development and peace which has been restored by the incumbent administration.