By Muhammad Malumfashi
As eloquent people often say, “All leaders after they leave the office are judged on their performance and failures.” So Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State cannot escape this assessment either.
Since the return of democracy to Nigeria in 1999, Katsina has never been so unlucky to have a wicked leader like Masari. People often talk about his incompetence when he was Speaker of the National Assembly. I thought that was the Nigerian’s usual outcry (body language), especially when someone they see as less qualified to govern them succeeds their kinsman. They don’t know that they foresaw the monster unleashed on the national progress and what might happen to our dear Katsina since the man started eyeing our governor’s seat.
The kind of policies exemplified by the Masari administration in Katsina have, perhaps by no small means, helped to cripple both the state’s education and economy. The Masari government has failed to show outstanding commitment to boosting the state’s economy and reviving the lost glory of education.
For example, in the economic sphere, take as a case examples a multi-billion naira project, the “Katsina Dubai International Market Project”, launched by the previous government of Barrister Ibrahim Shehu Shema. Unfortunately, the current Masari government abandoned it due to some political troubles. Likewise, the “Katsina Multi-billion Solar Project”, started by the late former President Yar’adua of blessed memory and a variety of significant projects Masari government inherited, doesn’t bother to complete.
Much less the siphoning off and wasting of local government funds because this government took six years to conduct local government elections, and it is evident to all that they used non-LG polls campaigning tactics against the previous government. Still, they overlooked them once they came to power and exercised their vested interest in government. Also, most of the infrastructures they built are counterfeits. Tell me six out of ten weren’t renovations, and they would claim to be spending more than it could have cost had it been a new project.
Nonetheless, education in Katsina state faces a significant setback without empathy as the relevant authorities cruelly assess the plight. Learning environments are decrepit, making them unfavourable for teachers and students. Go to any local government and see the poor state of learning environments with your naked eyes, despite the huge amount of money that has always been claimed to be spent tackling it. Promotion, recruitment, arrears, gratuity, salary payment in time and other entitlements to improve teachers’/staff welfare are neglected.
I have always wondered what an ungrateful person Masari is, someone who has told the world that he was raised as an orphan and mowed grass to feed himself or funded his education. I thought someone like him who went through these would have known the reality of life and taken public education seriously as his priority. Still, the kind of negligence he shows towards public education, even those born with silver spoons, could not have done that.
Based on the controversy surrounding his school qualifications, I am not surprised by the carefree attitude that a half-literate like him has towards education. After all, even the highly educated people in Nigeria today have not given education the highest priority. Just look at his questionable educational qualifications published by some of his supporters. They said he attended Kafur/Malumfashi Primary School, Government Secondary School, Funtua AWS Training School, Middlesex Polytechnic, London and Administrative Staff College, Badagary. He holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Water Quality Control and Management. He has taken various courses in and out of the country and earned a Post Graduate Diploma in Water Quality Control and Management from Middlesex Polytechnic, the UK, in 1982, etc.
Although someone might say that education is not a gauge of one’s dominance, to be honest, it is. Meanwhile, reading his interview with Eric Osagie (The Sun Reporter), he refuted some of the qualifications attributed to him: “Why should I advocate having anything I don’t possess?” It doesn’t sound that fascinating to me. He knows the kind of politics played in Nigeria.
Not to mention the fate of the state’s public higher education, which is now in decay. While other state governors are striving hard to find lasting solutions for their citizens to avoid excessive stagnation at home due to the ASUU strike, Masari still wanders in his sleep. He daydreams about what to do to fix problems with Katsina’s academic Staff union of the university so that the school can reopen. Students can resume classes and finish their hanging courses on time.
This administration also scores a capital distinction in breach of trust because it is no longer strange news for Katsina’s citizens to see a headline about missing money in the state’s accounts. Only in Katsina would you wake up and hear the shocking news of your life about missing funds. Instead, our government would simply go to the media and inform the public that this and that animal or theft swelled hundreds of millions by the unknown individual.
Regarding security, Masari can’t even score zero because Katsina faces serious security challenges, so nowhere is safe! As clearly stated in the Nigerian constitution’s provision, any government’s primary responsibility is to protect its citizens’ life and property. Any government that has not done so has nothing to do in office. Yet, four or more villages in Katsina state are attacked daily, indicating a lack of leadership in the state’s security framework.
It is unfortunate that any government requires its people to defend themselves against bandit attacks. However, this clearly defines what kind of leader Masari is. How on earth would a sane leader urge his followers to take up arms and defend themselves against the enemies, and yet he remains in power, refusing to step down to allow anyone with the ability to be in command to take over?
Muhammad Malumfashi is a cynic essayist and can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.