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APC MISTAKE : A LEADERSHIP TRAGEDY IN KOGI STATE

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APC MISTAKE : A LEADERSHIP TRAGEDY IN KOGI STATE

BY: John Akoji Adama

Information filtering in has it that Kogi State government temporarily relocated government activities to an hotel within the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for a cabinet brain storm on arrays of issues — ranging from the glaring slow pace of developmental activities (despite huge resource investment and the augmentation from accruals), unpopular government programs, crass insecurity, intra-party squabbles cum the natural sonorous opposition campaign against the government of the day, among other crying concerns.

Before going into the kernel of the limitations mitigating against the administration of Governor Yahaya Bello, it would be a point of interest to refresh our memories on how the man emerged as an imposed replacement for Alhaji Prince Abubakar Audu, of blessed memory.

It was held against Yahaya Bello that he resisted all appeals to collapse his campaign tructure into the unified structure of the winner of the primary election at which he, Yahaya Bello, came far second.

He declined all frantic and genuine reconciliation efforts by the party executives, opinion moulders, leaders of thought at all levels and the NWC of APC to resolve the greavance and acrimony that preceded the primary election — a display that caused for every rational thought to believe that Bello’s strange actions after his defeat at the primaries was stamped on the fact of his celestial assurances of a ‘done deal’ because his subsequent assertions and claims were without recourse to any known laws or logic in both the party’s constitution and our national electoral laws. His campaign strategist Edward Onoja and his lieutenants were bragging and boosting that the mandate was theirs and that whoever would come forward as a competitor was just wasting his time. They deployed all propaganda mercenary with spurous allegations against the bona fide winner, Prince Audu, but all of which efforts proved futile.

Bello, in his desperation to become the party’s candidate at all cost, levelled a court case against Abubakar Audu who is the party’s gubernatorial candidate. He alleged that Audu, who is on the Board of Trustees of the party, cannot be qualified to fly the party’s ticket without first relinquishing his membership of the board, an action which all critical onlookers saw as an after-thought and ridiculous.

Yahaya Bello, having failed all round and still hell-bent in making sure his party would fail in the general election resorted to negotiation with the incumbent Captain Idris Wada, who, upon the agreement of their teams, equipped him against his party in the election proper, hence the defeat of APC in Yahaya Bello’s Okene home even though, he himself could not exercise his civic duty as he did not have a voter’s card!

Turn around point: Alhaji Prince Abubakar Audu, the APC flag bearer, was the first and the second Executive Governor of Kogi State. In the state, before his ill-timed demise, Audu was seen as the only governor with an unbeatable track record of development; he was a consummate leader with a passion for innovative programmes for capacity building and empowerment with a view to quality livelihood for all and the rapid structural development of his dear domain.

He was consistent in his opposition party until they merged to form APC, which is the ruling party in Nigeria’s present political dispensation.

Audu won the 2015 election but never realized it, as he was snatched away by the cold hands of death. The news of his sudden departure to eternity while electoral processes were still on-going raised novel issues in our legal framework and created a vacuum in the candidacy of APC. The situation, which simply required expert interpretation from the supreme court to resolve was shamefully assumed by the independent or, better still, undependable electoral body (INEC) which, in their sentimental incarceration, aligned with the powers that be — and

and the party in power whose winning candidate died to invoke a discretionary resolution of “vote-appropriation and imposition of candidate” in a way and manner that would not put their spot….

Yahaya Bello, who apparently did not participate in the campaign nor made any financial contribution to the party during the campaign in anyway or form, became the beautiful bride for the widower county’s wedding.

The choice of Yahaya Bello as a replacement was outrightly rejected by the state party leadership and other interest groups across the state; these described the action of the APC national body as an aberration to the valiant party men and women who brought the party to victory. It came as a rude shock to others while the eastern flank of the state with the majority vowed never to work with ‘a stranger’.

Some aggrieved party members as well as opposition PDP went to court to seek redress if it was enshrined in our laws for votes of a dead man to be inherited or appropriated to another person who never participated legally in the associated election.

Futhermore, the puported adoption of Yahaya Bello in the stead of Audi’s joint ticket-holder (James Faleke) was as insensitive as it was unlawful. Under normal democratic circumstances, where politics is founded on morality, strength of numbers and acceptability, the dead man’s associate (running mate) should be bestowed “offer of first refusal”. And this is the position of even the party’s western flank in the state, where Honourable James Faleke hails from! The people’s agitation was “We can’t keep hope on nothing”.

Honorable Faleke’s association with Audu on the same platform was never a liability but an asset. They traversed lengths and breaths, days and nights canvassing for vote with huge resources and logistics to make sure they defeated the incumbent Captain Idris Wada in his second term bid….. it was perceived in their lamentations that the party called APC was still in the claws or inclination of primordial Northern political sentiments. Otherwise, why would a defeated aspirant at the primaries who later crossed over to another party, worked against the party and, above all, was not qualified in any ramification, be the best choice for replacement?

Little wonder then that Alhaji Bello, the executive governor of Kogi State, the party’s best for the plume job has not been able to unveil his blueprint on development plan almost two calendar years in office! When he came on board, there were mixed feelings amongst youngsters across the state: to many among this critical sector of the populace, what transpired was a paradigm shift, while others felt a change was needed but that his emergence was undemocratic and, as such, would cause political turmoil in the state.

The government of Yahaya Bello is generally adjudged the weakest with little or no people-oriented project amidst huge resources. Close allies of the government vituperate their misgivings as intellectually endowed persons are not allowed to go near the Governor or have input in the business of governance by the iconoclastic and arrogant Chief of Staff; though the business of the state as a government is reduced to a kindergarten play stage but, we appreciate the timely intervention of the Nigerian foremost anti-graft agency in our dear state to check the cleptomanic nature of those in custody of our funds.

Pathetically, Kogi civil servants and pensioners are being dehumanized daily as they are reduced to inevitable starvation! Sicknesses and deceases have ravaged families as the aged pensioners could no longer cater for their medical bills, food, etc.

In conclusion,
I salute the rare courage of TUC/NLC for their resilience and continuous pressure on the government to do the right thing. Needless to remind us of the incessant but vain staff screening exercise which, according to the mischief maker, is aimed at ascertaining the genuine staff strenght and actual wage bill to enable the state plan.
The implication of this unending exercise is negative on the productivity of the state as it is technically edging to insolvency.

Kogi State is embroidered with a juvenile-leadership deliquency and, if not rescued at this time, then she is heading for a collapse.

God save us and bless Kogi State.

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Chile’s Constitutional Referendum: A Roadmap to ‘Unchaining Nigeria’s Democracy”

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By Senator Dino Melaye (SDM

A beautiful thing just happened in the country of Chile on 25th October 2020 that gives me hope for troubled Nigeria going forward. By an overwhelming majority of over 78% the People voted to do away with an oppressively undemocratic constitution midwifed by the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, but conceived form the intellectual loins of libertarian political economists and Nobel Prize winner James Buchanan. It was a radical rightwing dictated social contract misleadingly called the Constitution of Liberty and approved by rigged referendum. It was legislative concrete around the feet of the people.

As the Professor Kristen Sehnbruch of the London School of Economics wrote for the Guardian October 28th, 2020 ‘for over 30 years’ Chile’s rightwing constitutions, ‘played a significant role in creating political elites who kept themselves in power, and prevented political reforms from keeping pace with social change and expectations. A more educated middle class lived highly precarious lives: unemployment or illness brought many to the brink of poverty.”
You would be correct to think that this looks and sounds like Nigeria under the 1999 Constitution. Sehnbruch continues “Trust and confidence in institutions were eroded by political and institutional corruption scandals. Multiple inequalities and the powerlessness to confront them characterised the lives of many.”
Like Nigeria, Chile’s Police force regularly violated the human rights of Chileans. President Augusto Pinochet was arrested and charged in Spanish courts for torture, murder and the disappearances of Spanish citizens in Chile. Tortures and disappearances carried out by Pinochet’s ruthless secret police. Sehnbruch continues “an unreformed police force was persistently violating their human rights. This month Sergio Micco, the director of Chile’s National Human Rights Institutes, presented a report that detailed 3,203 alleged human rights violations from the past year, explaining: “Chile is facing the most serious human rights violations since the transition to democracy … We are particularly concerned about … eye injuries, the abusive use of riot shot
guns, and the inhuman, cruel and sexually degrading treatment of victims.”
Sounds familiar? Police, military and institutional reform under the Chilean constitution, required super majorities that were virtually impossible to achieve. The radical libertarians had created a constitution that the common people cannot override political control by the rich and powerful. It is a ‘vetocracy’ being the elite obstruction of the will of the masses. It is authoritarianism clothed in elections. It is dictatorship by stealth. Such constitutions are marked by casual cruelty and entrenched corruption. And where obstruction proved too unjust obfuscation under the legal morass of a constitution that never reflected nor was ever intended to reflect the will of the people.
Nigeria’s 1999 constitution is the cloned child of the 1979 Constitution. Both are product of military directives to a constitution drafting committee. And both are cut from the same dictatorial cloth that marked Chile’s constitution. As Chile’s constitution paid lip service to human rights but made it virtually impossible to enforce some of these rights, so to Nigeria’s constitution, in Chapter 2, provides for fundamental human rights that citizens cannot bring claims to court under. In their haste to throw off the colonial shackles, the Murtala/Obasanjo Regime did not even consider whether any other type of government than the presidential system of government would be better for Nigeria. We rushed headlong into cloning the American system of government. However, like the Buchanan inspired Constitution of Liberty in Chile, we gave the president far more powers under our constitution than the American president and leader of the free world enjoys under the American Constitution. This level of constitutional authoritarianism encourages rule breaking and norm busting, as this government has repeatedly done for example when it brazenly flouts court orders. Or when its agencies engage in flagrant and brutal violations of human rights such as SARS’s regular brutality and disappearing of our youth as I repeatedly warned, even in the Chamber of the Senate. Or the military and other security services when they open fire on peaceful demonstrators.
That both the 1979 and 1999 constitutions begin with words to the effect that “The Federal Military Government hereby decrees” already gives the game away, that these were more dictated constitutions than deliberated ones. Professor Ben Nwabueze, one of our most eminent constitutional scholars and member of the constitution drafting committee of 1976 has come to regret the part he played in saddling Nigerians with this albatross. Noting the many flaws and errors in the constitution, he confessed “I was partly responsible” in an interview with the Vanguard Newspaper March 22nd, 2013. “One of the cardinal flaws in the constitution is the concentration of powers in the centre.” The Committee basically took most of fiscal and revenue generating powers under the concurrent and residual lists of the 1963 constitution and gave them exclusively to the Federal Government. “And the result is the almighty Federal Government” that has produced disunity because of the intensity of the struggle to control the centre, concluding that “that has remained the feature of the Constitution up till today”.
The arrogant impunity of Federal Government can be seen in the high handed and contemptuous way it relates to weak client state governments as Professor Itsay Sagay, renowned legal scholar and head of this administration’s anti-corruption task force observed.
The centralization of power and ‘fiscal hyper centralisation’ being the tight grip Federal government holds on tax, revenue and spending has allowed federal government to largely ignore the agitations of the people at state and local level. The youth have awakened and the government for all its bluster cannot buy its way out of this one, or blast its way through it the predatory SARS, Customs and other agents of government that the brave youth have confronted are just the beginning. Meaningful Police Reform is a good start. But following Chile’s Lead we need a meaningful debate to create a constitution that in the words of Professor Sehnbruch forces “the political elites to be more inclusive and accountable, as well as enabling politicians to negotiate and implement necessary reforms.”
In other words, we need a constitution made by ‘We, all the Peoples of Nigeria”. Not one that has been prepared earlier, as cooking shows reveal, was ‘decreed by political, intellectual or military elites’ earlier. A Constitution that anyone reading can immediately see a national conversation taking place and national consensus as to where Nigeria is headed. A Constitution that creates the Nigeria the old have yearned for and the Nigeria the Young can proudly look forward to. A constitution to govern us in this Promised land.

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SARS and SWAT as a metaphor for a failed government: Thumbs up for our visionary Nigerian Youths!

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SARS and SWAT as a metaphor for a failed government: Thumbs up for our visionary Nigerian Youths!

By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN.

For decades, I had strindently beckoned on the Nigerian youths to join some of us patriots in the dangerous Nigerian trenches, to win the heart and soul of Nigeria, and take  their destinies in their own hands. Many of the rulers of today have tenaciously glued themselves to government (like aradite), either directly or indirectly. They stay put in Aso Villa through their proxies, minions, acolytes, agents, servants, friends, school mates, kinsmen and kins women, or even kindred family members. Some of these sit – tight rulers were only in their 20s and early 30s when they were already military Generals, Governors, GOCs, Brigade Commanders, Ministers, Commissioners, etc. They have never had any professional or occupational address. Only political addressses. General Yakubu Gowon, for example, was only 32 years old when he prosecuted the 3 year bloody Nigerian fraticidal civil war as a military General and Head of State . And wait for it: he was a mere  bachelor. He only married his wife, Mrs Victoria Gowon, when he was already Head of State. Late Dr Matthew Mbu was minister of Labour at a mere 24; and High Commissioner to the UK at 25!. Today is an age where the youths are still struggling through tears, sweat, pains, pangs, blood and sorrow, to go through 100 or 200 level; or merely gain ordinary admission into our tertiary institutions.
SARS or SWAT, by whatever name called, are the same 6 and half a dozen; the same moinmoin, akara and beans; the same Hamlet and the Prince of Denmark. For the entire lifespan of this clueless and highly propagandist government, I have been screaming on roof tops about its bad governance style and its irredeemably corrupt posture. I dripped oceans of ink, writing tons of articles, press releases and giving countless lectures. I made dozens of television and radio appearances on possible solutions or panacea to our national malaise . I was ignored, barely tolerated. Some rabidly politically partisan persons were even unleashed on me as raving attack dogs. Their social media cliques, those Prof Wole Siyinka derisiveky described as “crawling but unseen Internet millipedes” (some of them grand mothers and grand fathers), insulted any and every Nigerian that dared criticise their deity, nay, their infallible god, President Buhari. Kakaaki were used to herald his exit from and entry into Nigeria. Aircraft maintained by Nigerian tax payers’ money were packed for months at Heathrow Airport, while their pilots and crew luxuriated idly in 5 star hotels. They all patiently awaited the full recovery from health challenges of their idol and totem of messianic redemption. The government, through its attack dog, the EFCC (where is Magu today? ; the ephemerality of power!!! ), then decided  to intimidate, browbeat and overaw me. I refused to bend to their arbitrariness, whimsicality and capriciousness . I valiantly criticised, critiqued and interrogated the impunity of this government. I challenged raw power and dared the viciousness of the government and its awesome security aparatchic. I knew I was on the right path. Thank God He has kept me safe under His bedspread canopy, from their rampaging goons. Some government apologists and spokespersons came roaring, but defensive. They said the Buhari government was the best thing to have ever happened to Nigeria. They wondered why we couldn’t see what they were seeing. To them, there is no hunger, desease, squalor, depression or melancholy in the land. These were merely simulated by haters of Buhari and his government. These views were merely peddled by corrupt politicians and ‘defenders’ of corruption. Indeed, ‘corruption was fighting back’. They said ‘Sai Baba’ was the messiah Nigerians have been patiently waiting for. I reminded Nigerians of Buhari’s first disastrous outing between December 31, 1983 and August 27, 1985. It was indeed the locust years. It was 20 months of regrets, gnashing of teeth and mass poverty. It was an era when Nigerians were openly flogged on their bare buttocks in the name of War Against Indiscipline ( WAI). It was a  shameful era when Decrees 2 and 4 reigned supreme; an era of detentions without trial; when truth was punished once it embarrassed the imperious government of the day. Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor are still alive to narrate their horrific experiences of their seering gulag days. This was the better – forgotten days of mass scramble for unavailable essential commodities ( “essenso”). Commodities, such as bread, milk, sugar, tea, flour, eggs, rice, beans, palm oil, meat, vegetable oil, pepper, tomatoes, tarodo, tatashe, fuel, kerosene and even garri, simply disappeared from Nigerian homes. The present fawning and bootlicking Buharists and Buharideens would hear none of these historical facts. They argued that the maximum dictator had changed completely from his autocratic and totalitarian nature and had suddenly undergone some form of Saul – to – Paul trasfiguration, to become a born again democrat. To them, Buhari would even teach Abraham Lincoln the true meaning of democracy (not Lincoln’s1863 Gettysburg Declaration). These obsequious sycophants and flatterers readily showed us Buhari’s newly well starched agbadas and babaringas, expensive eye glasses and designer wristwatches and skin shoes, as signs that he had undergone permanent metamorphosis. I told them it was never possible for a leopard to change its spots, just as it was impossible to jump into the river without getting wet. So, the youths were getting agitated and tired. They had been out of school for many months. The Covid-19 lock – down had compounded their problems. Young girls took to prostitution, standing by the kerbs of major hotels on cold lonely nights, looking for paying’ customers’, to eke out a living with their suffering parents. Many of the youths, frustrated, travelled across deserts and seas seeking greener pastures and  perishing in the process. Some took to internet scams, becoming ‘yahoo boys’. Eye-serving anti-graft agencies went after them with the ferocity of a hurricane Katrina. They were happy to display these boys as a diadem of their ‘achievements’ on their so called ‘war against corruption.’ Meanwhile, they were merely pursuing butterflies while their house was on fire. They conveniently turned their eyes away from the real pen robbers, the historical revisionists, the re-looters of recovered loots. They readily forgave any Nigerian politician who decamped from the opposition to their party. Like Naaman  the leper who dipped himself in River Jordan 7 times and became cleansed of his leprosy , such thieves of our common patrimony became deodorised of their lecherous and thieving sins. The despondent youths watched with amazement from the sidelines, how their future was being stolen bare-facedly, by instalments, by shameless fathers, grand fathers and great grand fathers, whose children were idling away in ivy schools abroad. They knew the day was nigh for them to bare their fangs. They had become tired of broken promises, smothered hopes and    serial deceptions. They suddenly remembered Thomas Jefferson’s immortal words:” when governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. The federal government is our servant, not our master “. They became convinced about another Abraham Lincoln ‘s famous quote : “you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time “.
The youths feel cheated by a government driven by executive lawlessness, legislative thievery and rascality and judicial injustice, where justice is rationed to the highest bidder, especially money – wielding and influence – peddling political bucaneers. They became more convinced that SARS killings, extra judicial murders, accidental discharges, illegal toll – collecting road blocks, extortions and police brutality and bestiality, would never stop except they acted. They knew it was time to take charge as a mass movement that required no leadership that would easily compromise and sell to government nichodemously at night.They couldn’t understand why the NLC would suddenly capitulate after raising hopes of mass action by angry Nigerians against a compassless non – performing government. The youths knew they were already on the ground, and that he who is already on the ground fears no further falling. They knew they would go below ground zero, far far below India, as the poverty capital of the world, except they acted. They were convinced Nigeria does not deserve to be the number 148 out of 180 most corrupt countries in the world, and number 3 in West Africa. They could no longer tolerate the ceaseless banditry ravaging the country ;  the increased boko haram insurgency, heightened kidnappings, murders, armed robberies and suicides. They became tired of joblessbess, stigmatisation as” lazy youths”, when all they desire is fair and equal opportunities to actualize their dreams in a directionless and unsympathetic contraption called Nigeria They knew enough was enough, because their “mumu don do”. So, the Nigerian youths have been on the streets and in the trenches for nearly 2 whole weeks now, and still counting, using “#ENDSARS” as a metaphor and allegory of a failed, wobbling, groggy, fumbling and crumbling government and nation. I commend the Nigerian youths for standing up to their rights, with eternal vigilance as the only price they have to pay for their liberty (Learned Hand). Never again will any government take the civil populace, the people, for granted. The people are the real owners of power. Those in government are their servants. The dog wags the tail. The tail does not wag the dog. Kudos to the Nigerian youths, as they continue their genuine struggle of liberation and emancipation from despotism, fascism, autocracy and absolutism. God bless the Nigerian youths. God bless Nigeria.

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North: The silver lining through Zamfara gold

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North: The silver lining through Zamfara gold

By Yusuf Abubakar

It’s not all gloomy after all for the North. Away from the dark cloud of insecurity fostered by the insurgents and banditry activities, comes the rays of light across the horizon. First came the cheering news of the discovery of oil, gas and condensates in Gombe State and the stretch of Gongola basin by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation(NNPC) and its sister agency, the Department of Petroleum Resources(DPR), which threw the doubting thomases who believe nothing positive could come from the region off balance in 2019.

The landmark uncovering of the treasure specifically along Kolmani River region at the border community between Bauchi and Gombe States, ought to have ordinarily silence the anti-north elements, but some still questioned the effort, describing the breakthrough as political. However, the planned exploration of the oil and gas from the basin for commercial purpose would clear all misconceptions, even as it would no doubt put the affected state on the list of oil producing states with consequent fallout.

As the region basked in the euphoria of the oil discovery comes another silver lining from Zamfara through its rich gold deposits which has hitherto fuelled bandit activities in that state. The bandits, as it was widely reported, were taking advantage of the situation by acquiring gold at cheap rate and use same to acquire arms and ammunitions for their nefarious activities.

But as it were, Governor Bello Matawalle is turning the tide against these agents of darkness and their sponsors. The governor had approached the nation’s apex bank, the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) and by extension the Federal Government for the possibility of boosting the mining sector in the state under the anchor-borrower scheme. The bank will invest the sum of N5 billion for the state to supply it with gold as a proceeds of the investment over time, while under the arrangement, the state government is to purchase the gold from the miners and supply it to the bank.

Already, the federal government has commenced the process of licensing the companies that have indicated interest in mining in the area. What this means for the state is that the gold will no longer be used to fuel the activities of the bandits with the governor stylishly cutting their hold on the supply chain. The second fundamental advantage Matawalle’s gesture throws up is that the state government would have more fund to embark on more projects as he works relentlessly to build a new Zamfara State.

But as usual, those who were profiteering from the seeming lucrative “banditry business” were uncomfortable with the turn of event and have resorted to campaign of calumny against the governor. The sworn anti-north elements are fuelling the misconception that the state government is taking over the minerals within its domain, even as it is public knowledge that mining is exclusive right of the federal government. Their charade has needlessly attracted resources control agitators who are already shouting themselves hoarse in response to the mischief.

But they are bound to fail because the governor’s action is within the ambit of the law as due process was followed in the purchase of gold from artisanal miners. “Individuals, corporate bodies, including states and local governments, are free to buy any mineral product, as long as you go through the normal process. We have what we call private mineral buying centres. We issue licensees so that anyone that is interested will come to us, and once you meet the criteria, we give you a license to purchase these minerals.

“And that is the angle that Zamfara State is exploiting. From their own funds, they are buying gold from their people.” This clarification by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite in the face of the uproar by the elements over the matter should suffice.

It is sad that senior lawyers who should be abreast of the stipulation of the constitution have joined the misconception foray by creating discontents across the land.

They claimed that the governor’s gesture may trigger other minerals endowed states to deny federal government access to same, while urging the FG to shut down the initiate entirely. This is totally absurd and tended to give credence to the already entrenched speculations that powerful forces who were aiding illegal mining of gold deposits in the state were using bandits as alibi to shield their nefarious activities.

It is public knowledge that some highly influential and prominent personalities, including top politicians, security agents are fully involved in gold mining business in the state, thereby denying governments revenue that would have accrued from the proceed for a very long time.

More disturbing is the fact that these activities have been going on illegally without the federal government’s backing through licenses from the federal government. The situation also denied the state government any commission as its source of generating revenue directly or indirectly. A mining survey report indicated that the federal government lost about N3.23 trillion equivalent to $9billion in revenue accruable from gold exports due to the activities of illegal miners across the country, including Zamfara in 2017.

This is the anomaly Matawalle met on ground and is working hard to correct through collaboration with the federal government, and expectedly, those who have been benefiting from the situation are fighting back. it is therefore the responsibility of all well-meaning Nigerians especially pressure groups in the north to rally round the governor in the ongoing effort to make the state uncomfortable for the bandits and their sponsors who are using our commonwealth to fight us.

Abubakar is of No1, Jama’a Street, U/Rimi, Kaduna, Kaduna state.

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