By Ikeddy ISIGUZO
GOVERNOR Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has been treated unfairly in the dispersal of federal funds for tackling the Corona Virus pandemic. The statistics support his claims, in fact, his rights to get a slice of the federal pie. A very considerate man, he is asking for parity in status with Lagos that got an initial N10 billion, another N5 billion and more billions from private companies that appeared to be waiting for the virus to introduce them to investments in corporate social responsibility.
Unconfirmed number of people had died in Kano. The concerns came mainly from the toing and froing from Kano’s major cemeteries. Fatigued grave diggers made the first complaints. They were not official since they was nobody to complain to. Moreover, it was not in their place to notify government that something was wrong with Kano.
The silence that enveloped the deaths continued. When Governor Ganduje spoke, he flatly denied that their deaths in the numbers quoted. He did not give his own numbers.
Stunningly, without an investigation, he said that the deaths were not Corona Virus-related. People believed differently. Their interest was in stopping the deaths. Who wanted to know what was killing people unless the interest was to stop it?
Governor Ganduje next asked that money should be given to Kano State. The money would have been deployed to fight what nobody knew. The blame sharing went on for a little longer before Kano came under proper control of measures to slow down the spread of the Corona Virus.
Ganduje seems not to be liked so much in Kano. Where did he get the votes that returned him as Governor? If money was what he wanted, Kano’s billionaires were ready to splash it on the city.
They had concerns that they never stated. It was not clear if Aliko Dangote, Kano indigene, the richest man in Africa, gave cash. He however outfitted a 125-bed hospital at the General Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano for an isolation centre. Alhaji Abdul Samad Rabiu of BUA Group has donated more than N4 billion to funds to fight the virus with N2 billion specifically to the efforts to curb the virus in Kano. His condition for the donation to Kano was that a team that includes the President Task Force on the virus would manage the funds. He did not hand the cash to the Governor.
People still had time for side comments like the video that surfaced last year accusing the Governor of stuffing his voluminous agbada with Dollars bills that were from uncertain sources. President Muhammadu Buhari, whose standards of integrity are pleasing to the international community, cleared Ganduje of the allegations.
Here are the grounds for Ganduje’s well-placed anger, righteous indignation, which remains unaddressed. When it mattered, he delivered Kano for Buhari’s second term. With a myriad of challenges from the opposition, particularly Ganduje’s political godfather Dr. Rabi’u Kwankwaso, who joined the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Ganduje returned a massive 1.46 million votes.
Magaji Garba, the collation officer of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the presidential election in Kano, said Buhari and his All Progressives Congress, APC, won 1,464,768 votes while former Vice President Abubakar Atiku of PDP, had 391,593 votes of the 1,964,751 votes that were cast. Buhari beat Atiku in Kano by 1.07m votes, impressive.
Ganduje did not pull in the votes expecting to be treated like those who could not vote five per cent for Buhari. To his credit, he delivered Kano without the controversies that surrounded the 1,903,999 votes Buhari got in 2015 when the Kano electoral commissioner and his family perished in a mystery fire. Nobody has been held responsible for the incident to date. President Goodluck Jonathan had 215,779 votes.
Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Kano State, Alhaji Abdullahi Minkaila, his wife Zuliha, and two daughters, Aisha, and Asmau were burnt to death in the fire in their home located at Farm Centre within Kano Metropolis. Security agents rescued them, but they were reportedly so severely burnt that they died before reaching the hospital. The State Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Magaji Musa Majia, an Assistant Superintendent of Police, ASP, described the 3 April 2015 incident as pathetic. It came less than a week after Minkaila, from Dutse, Jigawa State, supervised the presidential and National Assembly elections.
How does Lagos compare with Kano in voting for Buhari? Professor Felix Salako, at the National Collation Centre in Abuja, announced 580, 825 votes for Buhari from Lagos in 2019 while Atiku scored 448, 015 votes. The Lagos votes were a mere 30.58 per cent of Kano’s votes. In 2015, Buhari won in Lagos with 792,460 votes to Jonathan’s 632,327 votes.
Ganduje told Channels TV that Kano needed the kind of money as the most populous State in Nigeria. Statistics in other places gives that position to Lagos. He said that more testing centres were required than the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital. Did he forget that Kano has 44 Local Government Areas to the 20 in Lagos?
He said the N15 billion would come in handy in paying voluntary healthcare workers, engaged by the State to support full time health personnel, procure Personal Protective Equipment, PPE, and open up testing and isolation centres.
The Federal Government said it would not give him a dime. It must be a shocker for Ganduje. The Kano Governor has become the chief announcer for the increasing numbers of Corona Virus positive cases. Only weeks back, he was emphatic that whatever was wrong with Kano was not the virus.
Ganduje is a political orphan. He is out of favour with Kwankwaso. He is no longer useful to the President, and Kano’s elite, given a chance, would treat an Almajari better than him.
He is also in chilled terms with his fellow Governors. For more than a year Governors in the North had been deciding on abolishing the Almajari system. In the midst of the pandemic, Ganduje started returning Almajari to their States. He has been bashed for this move some blame for the spread of the virus across the North. He could be in bigger trouble when Kano’s own Almajari return. The numbers could be overwhelming.
Could Ganduje have been treated this way if a general election was by the corner? Why is what is good for Lagos bad for Kano?
Without intending to do so, Ganduje has raised questions on accounting for federal funds that have been given to Lagos for combating the Corona Virus, and the indices for the allocations.
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