By Saadu Umar
As we welcome 2022, the year marking the beginning of the end of the four-year term of His Excellency, Senator Bala Mohammed, (the governor) there is a growing sanguinity about a shellacking the PDP will receive from the APC in the next quadrennial governorship election holding on March 4, 2023.
Unless you are a brainiac it is not far-fetched to see the reasons for the increasing optimism – Bauchi, bastion of APC; Dass Bye-election audition; Presidential distractions and more.
However – a word of caution to avoid overconfidence or complacency – defeating an incumbent governor in Bauchi is a freak of nature. All but one of the past elected governors were re-elected. Dahiru Deba was different, he couldn’t even finish his first term because General Abacha aborted the third Republic.
The only exception, governor MA, lost largely as a result of the intraparty strife within the APC climaxing in the chaotic 2018 Primaries which led to disunity, defections and anti-party acts. Even so, it’s a close call that followed a cold concerted campaign. Thus, beating the incumbent governor is not going to be a walk in the park.
No doubt, It’s going to be hard work but luckily enough the governor is making the work easier for the APC. He is making it easier, like a piece of cake, through his failed promises, poor policies, lousy laws and multiple maladroit own goals of the PDP. I will touch on each below.
First, failed promises. Failing to keep promises is one of the easiest ways for the governor to get kicked out of office. Even a punic politician knows that. The governor too knows that. Because he said it in his acceptance speech some 50 years ago. In the words of thecable.ng headline, the governor said, “MA was voted out because he couldn’t deliver on his promises”. His exact words were: “It is the failure of the outgoing administration to fulfil virtually all its electoral promises that boomeranged to their rejection by the citizens of Bauchi State.”
Now, during his campaign, the governor made one thousand and one promises. Did he keep them? Be the judge. For few folks, the governor has been a heavyweight in his promises, a flyweight in his deliveries. There is some available evidence. On 17/12/21, Saharareporters carried the following headline: “30 months into his administration, Bauchi governor fails to keep the promise”. Read the details.
Remember the promises the governor made to workers – “I will pay salary, I will pay arrears, I will pay gratuities, I will employ workers, etc.” Promises, promises! Did he? No. The dolorous dance song now is “I was not elected to pay salary”. (Vanguard)
“The lives of … children remains (sic) close to my heart,” said the governor in his acceptance speech. Yet in a report by the Nation, quoting CISLAC, it said 109? Children died of malnutrition in 2019 and 2020. ₦400 million would have fed those fatally hungry kids and more in 2020 and like sum the year before according to government budgets. Only ₦20 million was released in 2020 and ZERO counterpart funding in 2019. Within the same years, the governor borrowed and spent ₦3.5 billion on cars for Senators, Reps and others. (Buying cars for senators and reps’, not his job)
In another report by Tribune, the governor said “I have made promises to you and I am conscious of them”. I expect him to say promises made, promises kept. Nah!
Do you need more failed promises?
“And fulfil (every) promise. Verily! The promise, will be questioned about.” (Qur’an 17:34).
Secondly, the poor policies. The policies of the governor are making a lot of people have buyer’s remorse. These policies are not the ones he campaigned on: like the record debt that is being racked up. Within just 2 years he has borrowed over ₦200 billion – more than double the debt that accrued from the creation of the State to the time he took over in 2019. He met a cumulative debt of a little over ₦100 billion. Worse still, he is looking for more billions to borrow from World Bank!
Another wrong policy is the ban on Achaba with disastrous results in the loss of thousands of direct Achaba jobs and many more losses in the Achaba value chain. So also spending billions on luxury cars and building palaces at a time when many people are just about keeping their heads above water.
Thirdly, the lousy laws. Especially the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Law (VAPP) assented to by the governor in 2020. I know many people don’t know about this alien Law. If you hear some of the things in this VAPP you will go gaga. This is what one lawyer said about it: “The VAPP law … makes a husband culpable of raping his wife even by advances or touches considered inappropriate”. (NAN)
You can now go to prison for touching your wife if she doesn’t like the touch. Or you can be charged with rape if you sleep with her against her wish. RAPE! Your own wife that you paid Sadaki and all! Laa haula wa-laa- quwwata illa billah. Yes, I heard they want to amend it but is that what you want? If I were the Governor I’ll tear the law and flush it down the toilet.
Adding salt to injury, Thisdaylive reported that “the state government earmarked about N3.7 (sic) billion … for full implementation of VAPP law in the state”. Hmm! Shred the VAPP, my governor, save our money, please.
And there’s another law that essentially seeks to privatise water. Yes, Water! Privatised! Do you know what that means? If you know, then 2023 will be the battle of your life and your children’s against those who want to privatise the water our lives depend on.
Lastly, the PDP own goals. My own goals are many but I find some amusing. Like the incendiary comments downplaying the majority Muslim votes cast for the governor. He appears to claim that majority of his voters were Christians, not Muslims. The Punch reported the governor telling ‘Christian audience’ thusly: “If I fail to perform as a governor, people will laugh at you because you are the majority that voted for me into office….” Recall, the “After God is President Jonathan” moment or the “Praise the Lord” Hallelujah thing, and the “ Islam and Christianity are one” gaffe. Surely these own goals are sure arithmetic for getting kicked out of power in a conservative Muslim state.
Now, back to how APC can win back power in 2023: the first thing to do is to keep a laser-like focus on the above, keep highlighting the failed promises, poor policies, lousy laws, the own goals and other fumblings of the PDP government.
The other thing the APC needs to do, beside banking on the misfortune of PDP, is the following.
One, accommodate everyone and unify the party going into the elections. Nothing is more important than unity and nothing is more disastrous than disunity. Unless we are one house, we can’t win anything. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Two, the APC has to conduct a free, fair and credible primary elections, an election that will reflect the true wishes of the majority of the primary voters.
Three, field a good candidate that will be likeable, competent, trustworthy and above all a politician adept at forging alliances and magnetising political opponents.
Four, raise money, much money to build a campaign machine that can compete.
Five, pursue progressive policies that serve the interest of the public not just the interest of the elite.
Six remind people of the APC successes and our goal to bring back Sawaba – kindness. Sawaba for farmers, workers businessmen, unemployed, youth and women. Sawaba for all. Neo-Zungurism.
Finally, when 2023 comes we have to “plot, plan strategise, organise, mobilise, and energise voters” to take our anger to the polls to punch PDP in the gut and kick it out of power for good.
Saadu Umar is a lawyer and Secretary, APC Media and Publicity Committee Bauchi State. [email protected]