Amidst the rancorous disputation of your electoral triumph that led to your emergence as the Governor of Kaduna, I am constrained to write and bring to Your Excellency’s attention issues that have continued to be of paramount importance in entrenching transparent governance for the overall good of the state. Having experienced the excruciating pains and hardship, coupled with the crippling security challenges that have turned many into frightened citizens, some of us, who have observed how the state was governed in the last eight years, heaved a sigh of relief that the inglorious era of the past had finally come to an end. Many expressed the hope that the end of the previous administration that expired on May 29 only offered a renewed hope for a new dawn that can be unencumbered by past pains.
This letter to Your Excellency is against the backdrop of a cacophony of voices condemning and, in some cases, commending the recent leaked video clip where your predecessor, Mallam Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai, spilled the beans over the same-faith ticket you inherited from him. During a meeting with some Islamic clerics in Kaduna on the eve of his departure from the corridor of power, at the expiration of his eight years as governor, el-Rufai made it clear why the same-faith ticket at both the State and Federal must be sustained for 20 years in order to entrench peace and ensure Christians come to the full understanding that a government dominated by Muslims can never be unjust to Christians.
If there’s doubt as to what led to the emergence of the Muslim-Muslim ticket, the leaked video cleared all such doubts. It was quite obvious that Your Excellency’s mien and posturing during the meeting clearly indicated that you were not comfortable with what many have come to describe as an unfortunate speech by a former governor taking advantage of our fault lines to divide our citizens into ‘we-versus-them’ camp.
However, there seems to be a glimmer of hope that you administration may bring about a change if you resolve to end the style deployed by the former Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister who was determined to subjugate a region that he had always accused of not always electing the All Progressives Congress (APC). By saying what he said in that video, el-Rufai was on a campaign of incitement and pitching one group against the other for political relevance. It’s not true that the APC has never enjoyed support from Southern Kaduna. At least, voters from local government areas like Jema’a, Kachia, Sanga and Kagarko gave a chunk of their votes to el-Rufai in 2015. Even when it was clear that electoral rigging gave him victory in 2019, it was not because the Muslim-Muslim ticket was acceptable, but alleged subterranean actions that are not strange to the electoral processes led to his victory.
One does not have to go too deep to read the dangerous use of religion by the former governor to attain his objectives. While it is clear that Southern Kaduna remained the bulwark of opposition against the Mallam Nasir-led administration, the dream of making the APC an inclusive party proved a hard act to follow on account of marginalisation of the Southern part. Despite the presence of prominent members of the APC from Southern Kaduna like Late Naval Chief, Admiral Ibrahim Iko, Cdr Emmanuel Jekada (retd); Late Bala Barnabas Bantex; Dr Manzo Daniel Maigari, Mrs charity Shekari, Chief Thomas Gyang, among several others, that were purveyors of the party in 2014, one wonders why the acceptability of the party was not sustained and pursued vigorously.
It is obvious that el-Rufai never wanted to run an inclusive government. He plotted to subjugate and reduce to political nothingness people he believed opposed him as an approved democratic practice. Therefore, it was not unexpected that he ended up treating discordant voices as voices of rebellion that must be silenced, and the people treated as a conquered group.
I once met with Your Excellency during a meeting the former governor graciously granted to a team I spearheaded in December 2016 to discuss the then ravaging security challenges in the state, especially Southern Kaduna. Well, I believed at that time that the then governor was determined to turn around the story of our state for good; events would later prove that he was averse to treating all zones fairly. Many outside the APC believe that, considering your background as the former Political Adviser to the former governor, before your eventual election as Senator representing Kaduna Central, the dream of continuing with the religiously induced unjust treatment of non-Muslims is poised to remain a constant act. Considering the tension generated in the last eight years, there is a need to revisit events of the past with a resolve to stamp out options that are likely to divide our polity along dreaded fault lines of ethnicity and religion.
Sadly, as long as politicians continue to weaponise ethnic and religious identities for political advantage, so long will our state and nation continue to be set on edge. When a leader, who has sworn to defend all and sundry, decides to champion the enthronement of religious and ethnic supremacy, such a leader is reduced in terms of capacity to combat the challenges of a pluralistic society like ours.
With your election as governor, Your Excellency now bears the burden of leading our state out of the mud of hatred unleashed on the state under the el-Rufai administration. Though the road to the future appears promising, no one is in doubt that your administration may turn out to be a continuation of the past. If we ever hope to scale through the present hurdle, your humanity must be brought to the test in unifying all parts of Kaduna State for the common good.
Though Your Excellency’s long association with your predecessor makes you a partner in the ailments of our past and present, not a few believe that today presents a unique opportunity for you to denounce the past by charting a new course for our future development. The last eight years have been fraught with crippling suspicion and deliberate act of absolving leadership in building a government of inclusivity. While the smoke of despair is still thick and threatening to become a wildfire, those who have failed in the management of our diversity only take pleasure in fanning embers of discord.
Your administration is coming at a time when the love for our nation must supersede that of the individual. Your Excellency’s victory, though disputed and being contested at the electoral tribunal, offers you an opportunity to move the state away from the muddy politics championed by the past administration. While the way to create a new dawn by your government remains a herculean task, Your Excellency must never shake off that responsibility to move the state forward. As the governor of the state, much is expected of you to emancipate state citizens who are deeply enmeshed in crises created by the former administration that deployed the veneer of mouthing probity and nationalism to inflame passion and turn our state into a flourishing blood flood.
It is commendable and a demonstration of the fact that one cannot deceive the people all the time as shown by the leaked video clip. For a former governor whose national symbol was at its peak, the content of that virtual clip only showed the secret of the heart and what he was wishing for citizens of the state he ruled for eight years.
As the governor of the state, Your Excellency should avoid any path that amounts to continuing with the past. You have the singular opportunity of changing the story of Kaduna State. That can only be achieved through uniting all ethnic and religious groups towards achieving the common good. The depressing conditions plaguing Kaduna citizens cannot be eradicated through widening the gulf of suspicion among stakeholders. One fact that is needed now is the promotion of collaboration and partnership of all groups to deliver the state from the myriad of challenges confronting its progress and development.
May the Almighty God grant you the wisdom to be unlike your predecessor and endow you with the zeal to unite and develop Kaduna State. Whatever you choose to do, for good or bad, the future is there for you to reap. Accept my heart-felt assurances as you work for the common good of our traumatised people of Kaduna State.