By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
Mr. Yusuf Tugga, former member of the House of Representatives and a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Bauchi State, in this interview, speaks on governance in the state with emphasis on the allegation of financial impropriety against Governor Mohammed Abubakar.
What is your case against the governor of your state?
IT is really unfortunate having come from the same political party with Governor Abubakar. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, three senators representing the state, 12 members of the House of Representatives, the Minister of Education and I have found ourselves in this situation. We had to speak up against the policies of Governor Abubakar. The divisive politics that he has been practising poses a threat to our state. That is why we cannot just look the other way while our state is being destroyed by one individual and his praise singers.
Did you make efforts to reach out to the governor before going public?
That is why we decided to come together and take these steps. It is not personal, it is based on issues and the failure of several attempts to make him change his ways. If that fails, the next thing to do is to take necessary steps to avoid further dangers in the state.
The governor joined us after we had already created the APC. Prior to that, he was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and before that, he was a Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, of the Independent Electoral Commission, INEC, in Rivers State. For somebody like that to come and take charge of a state like Bauchi and not governing well is not acceptable even after we accepted the result of the flawed primaries that produced him.
After the primaries, the first thing he did was to consider us as threats. He decided to fight and began to systematically alienate all sections of the society in the state. Which governor in Nigeria does not get along with all his senators and members of the House of Representatives?
In specific terms, what is the governor not doing well?
Things started going wrong immediately, even during the campaign, we could tell that there were issues but I am not going to go into that. Immediately after the election, there was a transition committee that was constituted. That committee itself had its issues. We started talking about how much exactly the transition committee spent. The handling of the funds for the transition committee itself was not transparent.
There were allegations that the committee collected N565 million from the then outgoing governor, Mallam Isa Yuguda. Apart from that, you could see that there was a lot of uncertainty as to what the agenda of the governor was going to be. None was specified. So he didn’t appear to have any blueprint. It is not good governing a state like Bauchi without an agenda.
The governor claimed that Isa Yuguda left a debt of N125 billion, then the transition committee said he left a debt of N96 billion. Isa Yuguda himself claimed he left a debt of 86 billion. So, it is very important for us to even establish that.
Beyond all of these, you have the issue of the perception of the public. When M.A Abubakar was campaigning in Bauchi, when we were all also campaigning for him and for the APC, he was visible but within a very short period of becoming governor, there is a huge change in lifestyle and a level of ostentation that was hitherto not there.
The point is that in other states you don’t have a governor sending for a plane from Abuja to come to Bauchi empty to pick him up and take him to Sokoto to console the family of the late Marafa of Sokoto, Umar Shinkafi. And from Sokoto to Maiduguri to console the family of Shettima Ali Mongunu and from there bring him to Bauchi. This is happening at a time when there are pensioners and workers that have not been paid pensions and salaries.
On alleged mismanagement of the bailout funds
I am very sure of my facts. We know how much Bauchi is earning, and we know how much Bauchi got from the bailout fund. When you are not able to tell us how much exactly the state is owing, it gives you room to play with figures.
If you have some clever accountants that can juggle figures, you can print anything and present it. If you say that everything was used for the payment of salaries, what is the source of this money you are using for this flamboyant lifestyle?