Katsina – Fighting Poverty Shema’s Style
By Sen. Ahmed Babba Kaita
All things clear, Government Technical College Ingawa would soon be the beneficiary of a multi purpose Dining hall while the city of Ingawa will have an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) centre. These are part of constituency projects secured by my office. But, there is catch, a very big one!
First, the people have to beg for the ‘benevolence’ of His Excellency, the governor of Katsina state, Barr. Ibrahim Shehu Shema and seek for his approval to kick start both projects.
This is particularly necessary as all efforts to secure the approval of Katsina state government for the contractor to mobilise to site proved abortive. At the appropriate time, I will release relevant documents to prove the complicity of the government in this primitive anti social behaviour that should have no place in a 21st century setting.
For better understanding, constituency projects are “privileged” intervention projects meant to fill the deficits created by generally accepted poor performance of many state governments whose funds were usually frittered away using haphazard or dubious projects that have no direct bearing on the welfare of the people.
Simply put, public projects have been reduced to creative avenues of siphoning public funds through all sorts of financial acrobatics and abracadabra.
Perhaps, that may explain incidences of unexplainable, albeit avoidable disasters like the recent collapse of a primary school in Goya, Faskari Local Government where the local Education Secretary confessed to have numerous other schools under his watch exhibiting similar symptoms of poor structural integrity as those exhibited by the collapsed primary school. These, and sometimes complete absence of government presence in some unfortunate communities is what the concept of constituency project aim to address with modest means. It is therefore reasonably expected that competition will be steep among members of the National Assembly to attract these projects to their various constituencies. Even a political novice should know this.
Against this background, it is disheartening that I worked hard to attract these two projects to Government Technical College Ingawa and Ingawa city only to see the opportunity slipping through the fingers of the people at the alter of a malicious desire to reject the message because of the messenger. Of course, how else do one explain the ineptitude and lackadaisical attitude of both Ministry of Education and Science and Technical Board, (STEB) Katsina State to respond to the issue with the seriousness it deserved?
Considering that STEB is one of the agencies suffering poor budgetary implementation, one will expect the body to be running cap in hand and working round the clock trying to assist my office in executing a project that should have (and might have) been captured by the budgetary provision of Katsina state
I wouldn’t have bothered bringing this issue to public court for adjudication but for the fact that previous efforts to improve the welfare of the people of my constituency by attracting special intervention projects that would benefit Katsina state in general and my constituency in particular suffered similar fate through dubious and seemingly intentionally placed bureaucratic bottlenecks and even booby traps employed for the purpose of frustrating such projects to hit back at me, long declared ‘numero uno’ persona non grata in the long vindictive list of the Katsina state government.
I find it absurd that a regime that massage its ego by a constant mantra of service to the public and waste no efforts in showcasing its ‘good deeds’ all in its effort to convince the public of its humanitarian disposition will be caught pants down playing politics with the welfare of the people in such a flagrantly insensitive and primitive manner. If only half the commitment exhibited by the regime in executing generally accepted juicy projects like roads – which this year alone have a hefty budget of about N20bn against the miserly N1bn budgeted for health services in a devastated state like Katsina, things will be different.
Perhaps, if the welfare of the public is as important to the leaders as their personal comfort and fantasies, the Ingawa ICT centre and GTC, dining hall project will receive the same attention the new frivolous government house is receiving. May be the whole idea of a new government house wouldn’t have seen the light of the day in the first place. It is our sad fate to get caught in the whimsical fantasies of an unprepared leader with an anti clockwise idea of development.
Why should people under oath to serve the public without fear or favour will resort to clever machinations to undermine the same public that is picking their astronomically obscene and glutinous bills while hitting at perceived enemies. Decency demands that you put in where you take out.
Attempting to deny the poor people of my constituency what rightly belong to them will not in any way solve the myriads of problems giving the government sleepless nights, neither will it improve the smeared image of the regime as well as its irrecoverable slide into the abyss of irrelevance and shame.
Similar incidences when projects related to me were frustrated by the state government forced me to reach out to the governor through Distinguished Senator Sadiq Yar’adua whom the governor assured that any perception about government sabotaging my efforts were not real.
According to him, it was simply procedural to avoid project duplication bla bla bla. It was on the strength of that cunning deception which I accepted in good faith, that I wrote to intimate the government about my intention to start work on the secured projects mentioned above.
Up to this moment, all efforts to have the state government respond to the issue with the required seriousness failed. I don’t feel comfortable calling somebody occupying the respectable office of a governor a liar, but I’m left with no option. I don’t know about any other word that will qualify the obvious contradictions between governor Shema’s words and actions with particular reference to Senator Yar’adua’s intervention efforts. It is obvious his kind of politics was not what people bargained for when they went out to cast their votes. A situation where the needs of a whole community will be sacrificed to hit back at perceived enemies is as primitive as it is absurd.
Now I have a dining hall and another I.T centre in Kusada that are dangerously on the line about to be consumed by the vengeful ambitions of a desperate leader with a weird idea of development. But, we shouldn’t despair. What is meant to be must be. Kankia, Kusada, Ingawa have been here before us by the benevolence and mercies of Allah, and by the same mercies and benevolence they would be here 2015.
Alhamdulillah, I remain grateful to Senator Yar’adua for his patriotic concern and tireless efforts to see things were done the right way. Surely posterity will vindicate and judge all us appropriately before we meet our deeds in our graves. Let’s keep praying.
Ahmad B. Kaita (MHR)