The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kaduna State Chapter must hide its head in shame, over the manner in which it conducted itself during the May 12th Local Government Elections and the subsequent rescheduled elections in the Local Government Councils of Chikun, Jaba Kaduna North and Kaura. But most
especially it’s despicable conduct during the rescheduled Kaura Local Government Council elections (where Arc. Barnabas Yusuf Bala Bantex, the Deputy Governor of Kaduna State not only hails from, but was once Chairman) was head and shoulders above the rest of its contributions to the hall of infamy.
From the very outset, it was clear that nothing would delight the PDP – and its band of ‘haters’ who derive fulfilment and personal satisfaction in sadistically promoting hatred – as much as the defeat, or better put, the ’embarrassment’ of Bala Bantex and by extension Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the Governor towards whom unwarranted hatred is directed at and focused on. This is despite the acknowledgement of a series goodwill-oriented interventions aimed at engendering and sustaining a feeling of belonging through the equitable, fair and objective approach to governance and distribution of resources in a manner that ensures equity across the 23 Local Government Areas of the State. From all indications so far, by every day that the 2019 elections draw near, so also would the politics of blind hatred that seems to be the rallying cry as well as key driver of the politics of Southern Kaduna, increase in intensity.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), rather than operate introspectively with a view to restoring to itself at least some perception of honour, has instead decided to go in the opposite direction and have settled instead for the notoriety of squalid murkiness and the gutter-snipping associated with such an existence. Amongst the cornerstones of its operations include the conceptualisation, crafting and dissemination of hallucinogenic-type allegations and lies. Nobody and nothing is immune and even the institution that is the Nigerian Army has been a victim. They were accused, along with other national institutions and individuals, of helping the APC rig the Local Government Council elections.
Abraham Catoh, in whose capacity as the Publicity Secretary for the PDP in Kaduna State these allegations are disseminated, can simply be described in a nutshell as an intensely self-serving, enthusiastically publicity- seeking, loud empty barrel with soiled cotton wool occupying significant space within his cranium. His antecedents point towards an extremely primitive and shallow imitation of Paul Joseph Goebbels, the Minister for Propaganda during the Nazi era in Germany.This is even more obvious when the hallucinogenic allegations against the APC or Nigerian Army that spurt from him during his frequent verbal diarrhoea are subjected to a cursory analysis. Not one shred of verifiable evidence, however tangential, has ever been tendered to buttress the case he makes for and on behalf of the PDP resulting in a situation where the listening audience begin to cast surreptitious glances in the direction of where the Kaduna State NDLEA Command is located.
Members of the PDP are like every other member of the society entitled to vote for whoever they desire as a fundamental constitutional right but as a political party they have an unambiguous and unequivocal obligation to the electoral process to conduct themselves by adhering to and sustaining the electoral process especially in the specific interest of the society that they strive along with others to be selected to govern. But reality is that the manifestations of the PDP are a reflection of its deep-seated abhorrence and disregard for democracy. These manifestations betray it’s Jezebel-like pretensions that only subscribes to democracy in a very parochially self-serving manner. It’s difficulty in even approaching a ‘benefit of doubt’ position at the very minimum in respect of the Nasir El Rufai led government of Kaduna State is simply because of the deeply entrenched default setting that is self rather than society serving.
This is despite the State Government’s sincere commitment and public inscrutability towards entrenching and deepening democracy demonstrated by its body language as well as the enacting of a number of specific laws which culminated in the conduct of the May Local Government elections that has been adjudged by the various stakeholders to be substantially free and fair. This is along with acclaims coming on the crest of the waves of being the first sub- national government in the world to use the electronic voting machine. Only the PDP stands out as a cantankerous voice in the wilderness in its diametrically opposed opinions for which it can neither offer not tender a tangible basis.
Much mud slinging has been undertaken by the PDP in respect of the stated commitment of Mallam Nasir El- Rufai regarding Local Government administration reforms especially on the abolition of the Joint Account, granting of autonomy in line with the internment of the spirit of the Constitution and the conduct of Local Government Council elections to restore democracy at the third tier of governance – which by the way, was last conducted in Kaduna State by the PDP in 2012.
Despite the stated objectives at the onset of the Nasir El Rufai government in May 2015 to conduct elections at the earliest opportunity, it ended up conducting the elections in May 2018. Amongst other reasons for this was the unprecedented level of decay in the various Local Government Councils. Practically all were surviving on bail out funds provided by the State and were owing a huge backlog of salaries and entitlements and not a single Local Government Council was in the position to execute any project in line with their statutory mandate and responsibilities. Birnin Gwari and Lere Local Government Councils, that had the potential to execute projects were pulled down by their roles as cash cows for funding the other badly managed Local Government Councils. Such was the state of the 23 Local Government Councils that conducting the elections without first putting them on a solid footing by effecting fundamental reforms would have been a simple waste of everybody’s time except for those whose occupation – political and career – was created and sustained by exploiting the horrific management of Local Government Councils for personal gain.
Alex Gurusa who played the role of a straw man for PDP by launching the proxy war against the State Government in court over the Local Government Council elections is an example of Janus-faced character that is the unfortunate hallmark of the PDP. When the very same individual was appointed Interim Chairman of Jaba Local Government Area by the Ramallan Yero led Government, there were no legal, ethical or moral issues. Yet he stood in court, without an iota of shame in a manner similar to that which hardened prostitutes demands payment from clients, to ask a judge to compel the El-Rufai government to conduct the Local Government Council elections, obviously motivated by selfishness. He had set his eyes on returning to the helm at Jaba Local Government Council to continue where he left off with the lascivious debauchery that was the order of the day.
Thankfully the Courts enabled El-Rufai to ignore the tantrums of the likes of Gurusa as he proceeded to effect the much needed refitting and retooling of Local Government Councils by, amongst others, rationalising staff, restructuring and pruning the traditional institutions and establishing a new revenue collection system by means of the Kaduna State Tax (Codification & Consolidation) Law, 2016 which prohibits cash collection,and mandates the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service to collect all taxes on behalf of the state and the councils resulting in the impressive revenue collection profile. The sum total effect of the various initiatives undertaken has freed resources for socio-economic development at the grassroot – the primary reason for the creation of the councils in the first place.
For the current Kaduna State Government, the issues go beyond winning elections and this is a fundamental difference not just between the El-Rufai led APC Government and the previous PDP led Governments in Kaduna State but also with some other State Governments across the Federal Republic of Nigeria irrespective of party affiliation.
Less than one year after institution of the reforms various councils are paying salaries and delivering services to the people which were once unimaginable. Giwa Local Government Council, for instance restored power to the council which had been under darkness for the past 16 years that the PDP was in government. It has also built a ‘waste to wealth’ plant that produces plastic kettle. The beauty of this particular project is that for the first time ever, as far as can be identified anywhere in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, a Local Government Council has stepped up to the plate in taking practical measures to tackle the issue of environmental waste and in the process creating jobs and generating income. A clear manifestation of El-Rufai’s promise when he declared, inter alia….“We must do what our people want and what will benefit them and we must be firm in bringing positive change and coherent development in Kaduna state. We will not touch a Kobo or Naira of local government councils in the state. The Local Government areas must be allowed to deliver development and real change”.
The El-Rufai-led Government has also delivered on the promise to abolish the Joint Account which the PDP used in diverting money away from the Councils and has also been remitting ten percent of the internally generated revenue in Kaduna State to the Councils which the PDP in the 16 years it governed Kaduna State never contemplated. A development plan has been put together for the councils to help guide them embark on meaningful development taking into consideration their unique peculiarities.
But in the ears of the PDP it is tuneless music that is playing primarily because it is not in the position as an establishment to give what it does not have – being in this case the characteristic of selfless service to the society. For a serving Deputy Governor to blissfully wish that he was a Local Government Council Chairman in the prevailing environment says practically everything there is to say about the autonomy being enjoyed under a Governor, whom rather than commend the PDP accuses of all manners of things- from the mundane to the outlandish. Yet these very people as individuals and their families, friends and associates personally benefit from the very policies and initiatives of the government – from the provision of services to infrastructure which as a party in government they could not provide despite the buoyant nature of FAAC allocations arising from the high oil revenues at the time.
The PDP neglects to accept that if the government wasn’t keen on conducting the Local Government Council elections, it would have comfortably cashed in on the fire incident that gutted the Kaduna State Independent Electoral Commission (KADSIEC) Headquarters building days to the elections. Rather it rose to support KADSIEC in a manner that resulted in not many people readily remembering that it had suffered such a debilitating incident. Elections held as scheduled to the consternation and embarrassment of dyed-in-the-wool cynics without boundaries that had already drawn conclusions. A possible logical extrapolation based on the trend to date of these individuals, who due to their deep-seated blind hatred hatred see nothing good in the El-Rufai led Government, would be one where they end up questioning their own family origin. They have become that cynical.
On May 12th when Kaduna State held the Local Government Council elections, Oyo State another APC controlled state equally held elections into the 33 Local Government Councils and Development Areas and the APC took all the seats without exception. Rivers State has also just concluded it’s elections with no surprises. This has been the trend by both the PDP and the APC in states that they control. So far, Kaduna State stands out as having allowed the will of the people to prevail. It could have behaved like other States,but that would have been a waste of everyone’s time and resources. The reward was that the people shamed the PDP and the likes of the emergency socialist comrade also known as Shehu Sani by a positive return in what was a referendum on the Mallam Nasir Ahmad el-Rufai led APC Government in Kaduna State in a demonstration of clear satisfaction with and endorsement of its policies. This is despite the fact that the PDP and other loose association of opponents of the government had vigorously sought to make the various policies of the government the rallying issues and the people shocked them given that they were allowed to express themselves freely by their votes. A feat that never happened under a PDP government.
Like Governor El-Rufai has truthfully argued, the Local Government Council elections was a referendum on the various policies of the State Government which the PDP had in its usual manner derided as anti-people. The people have shown better understanding of issues that affect them than the PDP and that is why in spite of the childish tantrums of the PDP, the APC performed creditably well to their consternation. Considering the impressive performance of the El- Rufai Government, the APC ought to have cleared the 23 Local Governments Areas based on performance but it is understandable that it lost in some Local Government Areas because having been made an emotional issue, the elections trapped some voters between the choices of reality or loyalty. However, the fact remains that were the elections to have been the 2019 governorship election, El-Rufai would have secured the necessary constitutional requirements for a second term.
The laws allows aggrieved contestants and parties to challenge the results of the elections. The PDP should avail itself of this platform and challenge the results rather than resorting to spewing all sorts of allegations in a manner that is akin to motion without movement as well as groping in the dark and clutching at straws. In one laughable instance, the PDP swears that the APC could not have won Makarfi Local Government Council elections because it is the home town of Ahmed Makarfi – an Ex-Governor of Kaduna State and Senator. They conveniently forget to remember that the same Makarfi was roundly trounced in 2015 elections. They also pretend to forget that the dynamics that made the defeat of Makarfi possible has not changed.Another rather telling question that the PDP pretends to be ignorant of is why the state government would have spent so much on the Electronic Voting Machines if it really intended to rig the elections in her favour. A point that Uba Sani,the super political adviser amplified “If we really want to rig the election, we wouldn’t have gone through the electronic voting system. We would have adopted the manual voting that every other state used”.
At a point, the hallucinogenic after-effects of 16 years of power should wear off and the sooner this happens for the PDP the better in order that they may have the space to come to terms with the reality of having lost Kaduna State for good. One indisputable fact though is that Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai has reconfirmed his deep-seated democratic credentials long established since he was the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory,where opposition parties in Area Council elections were not denied their victories, a feat he has once again repeated in Kaduna State.