Kaduna: The Borrowing Blues!
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Kaduna: The Borrowing Blues!

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Kaduna: The Borrowing Blues!

By SOC Okenwa…

The executive Governor of Kaduna state, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, is a small man of big ideas. He is indeed highly intelligent and soundly educated. He was the former FCT Minister under the Olusegun Obasanjo ‘Babacracy’. He authored a controversial book entitled “The Accidental Public Servant” which sold very well at home and elsewhere. He knows how to provoke the opposition and how to defend the principles he believes in. He is both intrepid and outspoken. Ever since he ascended to the position of the Chief Executive of Kaduna state he has been at his best element making himself heard and seen and courting controversy at the state and national levels. Noted for his huge ego El-Rufai could be dscribed as a politician with ambition.

Senator Shehu Sani, on the other hand, was an author, playwright and a human rights activist before becoming a Senator representing the Kaduna Central Senatorial District on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress. Like Governor El-Rufai Sani is fearless, soundly educated and uses his mouth loudly. Senator Sani is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt. The handsome fair-complexioned Senator has lately been at loggerheads with the Governor over the issue of fresh loan sought after the World Bank by the state government for “developmental projects”.

Some weeks back Gov. El-Rufai had approached the Senate to approve a $350 million loan from the World Bank but the Senate dutifully turned down the request on the grounds that the northern state is already indebted to the tune of about $225 million making her the second most indebted state in the country. The three Senators representing Kaduna state (Messrs Sani, Suleiman Hunkuyi representing Kaduna north and Danjuma Laah representing Kaduna south) had worked assiduously for the loan request to be rejected in the Senate. They vigorously opposed the loan application arguing that the future generation would be subjected to unmerited suffering if the loan was granted as Governor El-Rufai may not be able to repay the entire loan before he quits the government house.

The Governor was livid as he was informed of the defeat his request had suffered on the Senate plenary decrying the “wicked” role played by the three distinguished lawmakers in frustrating the fiscal move. (Foreign funds could be as sweet as honey in the mouths of those in power!) He has been unrelenting in accusing them of betraying the Kaduna people; even urging the ‘talakawas’ at a point to “stone” them whenever they come back home and whereever they are seen on the streets of Kaduna! In a fit of uncontrollable rage El-Rufai had, while addressing a meeting of APC stakeholders in Kaduna, asked the people of the state to “shave the heads and beards of the Senators when they come to Kaduna”!

Senator Shehu Sani had defended their position robustly stressing that the loan would further erode the economic viability of the state asking the Governor to borrow a leaf from Gombe state whose Governor has been managing the resources of the relatively young state prudently with little or no foreign loan and archieving great things and delivering democracy dividends to the people. Sani and his fellow Senators from Kaduna state must have meant well but their Governor thought otherwise hence his vituperations against them. Yet it goes without saying that such antics hardly solved the problem.

Governor Nasir El-Rufai is a diminutive man who suffers from self-imposed hubris. His stewardship in Kaduna state cannot be said to be the best (yet not the least either). Sometime ago he had ‘attacked’ the daily menace of street begging in the state by initiating a model of legislation which criminalizes begging, street trading and 10-year imprisonment of parents who allowed their kids to roam about at school hours. He has taken Kaduna to new heights in terms of raising the bar of good governance but in this matter of external loan he has exhibited a manifest irresponsibility unbecoming of a man holding such high office. He has shown that he may have had a certain personal interest in this issue beyond his powers.

While Senator Sani is sounding more statesmanly and convincing El-Rufai is sounding emotional betraying a nauseating hypocritical ‘love’ of the Kaduna peoplz. We are not fooled by his aggressive display of ‘affection’ for the interest of the downtrodden. The ‘talakawas’ he sought to incite against the Seantors may be ignorant of the consequencies of going a-borrowing but that is his cup of tea.

For a state like Kaduna to want to go a-borrowing again is a stark demonstration of the failure of the government led by Mallam Nasir to internally generate the revenue requirred to power the state and meet the daily needs of the people. The challenges of governance go beyond making available millions of Dollars of cheap money! Kaduna is not the poorest state in Nigeria so the borrowing blues speaks volume of the depth of misapplication of resources and values. El-Rufai must not think that whatever he wants is his for the asking; there are constitutional rules and regulations to be adhered to strictly to avoid abuse of office. His haughty acts of intimidation did not present him well before discerning minds in Kaduna state and elsewhere in Nigeria.

Senator Shehu Sani and his legislative ‘brothers’ in the Senate were right by refusing to endorse a loan the Governor could not pay off before he relocates from the government house in Kaduna city. The Governor was wrong for throwing insults at the distinguished Senators and inciting violence against them. It is never a crime for one to say no to fiscal ‘manna’ from the Bretton Woods whose conditionalities are capable of becoming an economic enslavement of the Kaduna people post El-Rufai! Let the Governor work harder to boost the internally-generated revenue of the state rather than looking for easy solutions.

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Following the incessant verbal attacks directed at the federal legislators from Kaduna Senator Sani had raised an important medical issue with some national implications. Earlier this month he had written to the Chief Medical Director, Federal Neuro-psychiatric Hospital, Kaduna, to carry out a mental state examination on Nasir El-Rufai. He maintained in his memo that the Governor needed urgent medical attention. A Governor of a state to be made to go through psychiatric examination to ascertain his mental state? Besides the fiery Senator declared that he would be initiating, in the Senate, the process for inclusion in the Electoral Act provisions compelling elective holders to undergo psychiatric evaluation. Such office holders and their appointees, Senator Sani added, must also be made to undergo tests for substance abuse before being elected or appointed! Great idea!

On a broader scale, however, there is a legislative need, as Sani suggested, for public office holders in a new Nigeria under construction to go through psychiatric and dope tests before contesting any elective position or being appointed into any office. Over time we have seen some insane mortals occupying positions of authority as Judges, Governors, legislators and what have you. Often they presented doctored (or outright fake) medical and academic certificates with which they swindled the electorate electorally. And once they assumed office they would start misbehaving and stealing the state resources. Some of them, upon commission of crime, would readily plead ‘immunity’ hiding under the obnoxious clause to stand above the law!

We hold that the Kaduna Senator raised a serious health issue worth considering without sentiment, for in Nigeria the truth is self-evident that we have had many psychopaths in power from Abuja down to the states’ capitals. It is not necessarily when a man or woman roams the street aimlessly and muttering to themselves (sometimes naked) that they are considered mad. Insanity could manifest in many ways mentally or physically without the sufferer being in the know of their condition. The issue of mental stability goes beyond physical appearance or life of opulence. Through actions and inactions one could exhibit early or advanced signs or stages of madness!

Kleptocracy, for instance, is said to be a form of insanity arising from accumulating wealth beyond what one needs in his lifetime. Infirmity of the mind could be a product of executive or judicial or legislative hubris. It could be associated with the oppressive tendencies of leaders whose anti-people wicked policies and programmes tend to pauperize the people. It could equally arise from megalomania and vindictiveness.

The Governor of Kaduna state may not be a victim of lunacy of whatever definition but he may have surpassed a limit within which a doctor could be called in, as Senator Sani had suggested, to examine clinically his mental state. Perhaps by taking up the challenge thrown at him by the national law-maker in Abuja Nasir El-Rufai could prove to Sani that all is well upstairs! Otherwise, the suspicions that something is wrong somewhere above his neck area could persist!

In conclusion, is it not in order to insinuate that the mind-boggling figures — millions and billions — (looted, recovered or borrowed by our politicians) are turning our compatriots into depressive glorified ‘lunatics’? Not only Gov. El-Rufai but all of us need some mental examination soonest. Someone, please, call the doctor to come over!

 

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