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Thank God, May 29 is no longer Democracy Day

GOVERNOR Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State is a learned lawyer. He meant well for the state. One of the most laudable steps he took was signing into law the bill establishing the Public Property and Funds Recovery Tribunal 2017 aimed at recovering all stolen public assets and funds. The Tribunal has the mandate to recover state assets, including properties and monies stolen by past government officials, civil servants, companies, individuals and also prosecute looters.

President Muhammadu Buhari presenting the instruments of recognition as a Grand Commander of the Niger (GCON) to Mrs. Ganiyat Fawehinmi as a posthumous recognition to Human Rights :lawyer, Chief Gani Fwehinmi during the Special National Honours Investiture to commemorate the new Democracy Day at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja. Photo by Abayomi Adeshida

However, the electorate did not reward the governor with votes during the March gubernatorial elections. Having failed to secure a second term mandate, the amiable governor has to leave office on May 29. That seems to be a problem.

The major media reported that on Wednesday, May 15, that is 14 days before the handover date,13 of the 31 members of the  Bauchi State House of Assembly, alleged loyalists of the out-going governor, passed a new bill to reverse the Recovery law.

The new bill was said to have been passed at the speed of lightning; scaling through first, second and third readings within hours without any objection.

Kawuwa Damina, Speaker of the Assembly, was quoted as saying that none of the honourable members presents objected to the passage of the bill. I am waiting for the Assembly to deny these reports or for Governor Abubakar either to decline or assent. Perhaps the recovery law was good for the past leaders of the state, not the outgoing ones.

That is not the only issue in contention. Ahead of his exit on May 29, the governor is said to have recruited over 2,000 workers. In-coming governor, Bala Mohammed says such recruitment will not be binding on his administration. Curiously, while Governor Abubakar’s government is making weak denials of such ‘secret’ recruitment, it insists that he has the power and the right to hire and fire until May 29.

Women group asks NASS to strip president, govs of appointing powers(Opens in a new browser tab)

Governor Abubakar is not the only governor who wants to tie the hands of his successor. Governor Abiola Ajimobi, The Constituted Authority of Oyo State, last Thursday, dared his successor, Mr Seyi Makinde: “We will work till the last day of this administration. We don’t care about what some people are saying… As I am talking to you today, this administration still has 18 days and some hours to expire. When they get there, let them cancel all the contracts we have signed. Let them investigate us and if we have stolen, they should arrest us.” He claimed his administration made giant strides in virtually all aspects of life, from education to agriculture capped with a four-star rating in investment.  For a man with such monumental achievements, it is a wonder why he could not even win the senatorial seat he contested while his party lost the gubernatorial elections. Perhaps his gigantic achievements are not visible to the ordinary eye.

It is not only the elected that are in a race towards May 29, but the appointed also are. There is a lot of hyperactivity. For instance, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory,   Mohammed Bello, was classified as one of the snoring ministers. That was until a few weeks ago when he sprang to life suspending the Fire chief. In the past two weeks, he has been in the news after his men arrested alleged sex workers who were summarily tried. Seventy of the women claimed that they were sexually molested or raped after their arrest. The minister has capped his moral activism with the demolition of the building where some of the women were arrested for being strippers. He deserves reappointment for such ‘glorious acts’.

The acting Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu, deserves to be confirmed and retained. After series of security disasters, including the near surrender of the Abuja-Kaduna Highway to bandits and kidnappers, he surprised the nation last Thursday with an announcement that his men have not only retaken the highway but had also captured 93 suspected kidnappers and armed robbers within a fortnight in Kaduna, Niger and Katsina states.

Police spokesman, Frank Mba, who picked Katari Village along the Kaduna-Abuja highway as a venue for a press conference, said the police recovered 500 live ammunition, 37 AK47 rifles, 12 locally made guns, a revolver pistol, 60,000 fake US dollars and military uniforms.

But I fear that the police might have captured the wrong people like the Chief of Army Staff, COAS, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, says those responsible for the violence and banditry in the country are the embittered politicians who lost the March general elections. Addressing members of the House of Representatives Committee at the headquarters of the Military Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole in Maiduguri on May 15, Buratai said: “I want to believe and rightly so that what is going on in the North-West is a fallout of the just-concluded general elections. There are several political interests; politicians in particular who lost in the elections and because of their defeat, therefore they are trying to take revenge by sponsoring some of those banditry activities and seeming conflicts between farmers and herders.” I believe the COAS as this explains why years before the elections, the army has been unable to defeat the terrorists and bandits.

Despite the overwhelming evidence, the General does not think these sponsors of violence and banditry should be brought to book, rather, he argued that “the best thing is to advise these politicians who are aggrieved for no just cause and are inflicting serious injury and discomfort to individuals and the country” to turn a new leaf. In other words, they should go and sin no more. I love his spirit of forgiveness. I think Buratai deserves to be retained.

There has been a titanic battle in the last few weeks to validate the announcement of veteran labour leader, Frank Kokori, as the Chairman of the National Social Insurance Trust Fund, NSITF. His supporters had made a strong case that he is a hero of the June 12 struggles for democracy. They cite his brutalisation and being kept in solitary confinement for his principled struggles to validate the June 12, 1993, presidential election which the military regime of Babangida annulled and that Abacha buried. With the Presidency preferring a non-activist or June Twelver, those who made these arguments should by now have realised that it was a wrong campaign strategy; those holding power today were in the opposite camp in the June 12 struggles. They were loyalists of Abacha. So how could such arguments have swayed them?

Thank God May 29, with its unending intrigues, has been annulled as Democracy Day; June 12 is the new Democracy Day! On June 12 we stand, sit or crouch.

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