Kaduna: Between El-rufa’i and Yero – Ibraheem A. Waziri

I have in the past weeks devoted my time to campaigning for a peaceful election in Kaduna State. That did not give me the space to gauge sentiment against parties or individuals. Our campaign is under the Universal Initiative for Citizens’ Rights Enlightenment and Empowerment (UNICREM). We have had jingles running on major radio stations in the state. We’ve given out press statements. We’ve attempted holding a peace rally in Kaduna city before the presidential elections. It was an attempt because the police – in the name of increased security vigilance – stopped us. Nevertheless, we made a far reaching impact. We hope to have peaceful election season all through.

The contest this week, 11th April, 2015, is between PDP’s Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and APC’s Nasiru El-rufa’i. PDP is at its last fort and deploying all resources at its disposal to win. APC is determined to break equal and obtain victory on a final sound. The potentials for violence are ripe. We at UNICREM have a number of programs that we wish to launch at the eve of the elections in order to ensure the public is kept abreast of the unfolding realities at each step. This, with the view of halting potentialities for violence when – eventually – results are announced that do not favor some prepared states-of-the-minds.

Yet before UNICREM, I am a public commentator. With special interest in Kaduna State and government’s policies and programs guiding the politics, religion, economic and social composition of the state. In that, and since 20th December, 2012, I have written a number of pieces central to Kaduna under Mukhtar Ramalan Yero and published in various newspapers and web blogs.

Politics in Kaduna State, People of Zaria and Governor Ramalan Yero, was released on the 24th December, 2012. It had a background in the governor’s circumstances of assumption of office after the passing away of Sir Patrick Yakowa. There was the familiar cry – from some groups – of political and social marginalization against “others” by the people of Zaria. It was an attempt to cower and pin the governor down to political and cabinet choices of the groups. I intervened. Corrected the misperceptions; set the records straight and reminded him of his place and responsibilities to posterity.

Kaduna: The Failure of a Governor I & II was on the 30th September and 7th October, 2013. In it I reviewed the nearly-a-year administration that did not show an inclination to sincerely live to its mandate by cabinet composition and programs. There was no clear direction! We lend our voice and explained how he had no reason to be seen to be moving slowly.

In February 10th 2014 when it became apparent that the state’s budget did not plan to register meaningful impact in the life of its teaming population, I wrote another essay: What Governor Yero Should do in Kaduna. I drew the attention of his Excellency to aspects of opportunities in the Information Technology world that the state could leverage to uplift the economic status of its people. I was soon to receive a call from an official of the state. I subsequently learnt that my essay had merited a discussion in the weekly state’s executive council meeting and that, two commissioners from Science and Technology ministry and Education were mandated to meet with me independently, for a way forward. I later met with some directors from Science and Technology and a request was made for me to submit a detailed proposal on how my idea would work. Much later another contact from the government house – apparently more influential and relevant – required that we meet and I give him the proposal for a direct submission to the governor. Yet between our conflicting schedules of activities and programs, that did not happen. The whole idea came to be over taken by events.

When the government decided to ban “Achaba” in the state, I felt it was a wrong decision by a state which was complaining of debt burden and lack of economic wherewithal to see to its projects. Banning Achaba as a social and business enterprise would require a lot of economic resources to enforce in the nooks and crannies of the affected cities. I rather saw an economic advantage for the state if it could come into the business space and enforce tax and regulations instead of a ban. On 12th May 2014, I wrote the essay, Before the Ban on Achaba Takes Effect in Kaduna. I tried to analyze the issues and gave a way forward. Yet the state in its wisdom continued with the ban which remained a law that is not enforced by the state till date. The state had chosen – on the other hand – to overlook the economic opportunity brought to its doorsteps.

It was amidst this that the drum of succession was beaten. Elrufa’i came forward. He gave a widely circulated manifesto. I publicly published my review of it on January 1st 2015. Many friends and associates of Yero do not like my obvious inclinations. They claim there is nothing in a manifesto. No. They miss the point! Manifestos are beyond written documents. They are about history, reputation and a demonstrated ability to match word with action. This, as witnessed in the recorded career of El-rufa’i is what makes many take his documents seriously. Yero has spent about two years in office and he had enough time to write a manifesto that could convince us that given another chance he will do better. He simply didn’t write a very positive one.

There are so far two types of fruits of democracy enjoyed by Nigerians at different states levels. There is the Lagos seed; there is the Kano seed. Critics say the Lagos model is emphatic on the working of the economy and taxing the population too much – and sometimes – with not so friendly tap and a compassionate face. Kano model is said to be too liberal and welfare centered with a lot of freebies. Each of these models has advantages and disadvantages that time and space here will not allow us to explore. But I believe, in the government of Nasiru El-rufa’i – and judging by his long- ago-written manifesto – Kaduna state will be an expert moderation between the two of the seeding states.