By Ikeddy ISIGUZO
Without intending to do so, Ganduje has raised questions on accounting for federal funds that have been given to Lagos for combating the Coronavirus, and the indices for the allocations.
GOVERNOR Abdullahi Umar Ganduje has been treated unfairly in the dispersal of federal funds for tackling the Coronavirus pandemic. The statistics support his claims, his rights to get a slice of the federal pie. A very considerate man, he is asking for parity in status with Lagos that got an initial N10 billion, another N5 billion, and more billions from private companies that appeared to be waiting for the virus to introduce them to meaningful investments in corporate social responsibility.
His troubles began with public outrage over unconfirmed number of people that had died and were dying in Kano. The concerns came mainly from publicly shared videos and pictures of the toing and froing from Kano’s major cemeteries. Wearied grave diggers made the first complaints. These were not official since they were not directed at anyone in authority to act on.. Moreover, it was not in their place to notify government that something was wrong with Kano. The silence that enveloped the deaths therefore continued.
When Governor Ganduje eventually spoke up, he flatly denied that there were deaths in the numbers quoted. He did not give his own numbers. Again, and stunningly (without an investigation), he denied that the deaths could be Covid19-related. These explanations however did not matter; people were more interested in stopping the deaths and how to. Who wanted to know what was killing people unless their interest was on how to stop it?
Governor Ganduje then asked that money be given to Kano State – to fight a strange ailment that nobody knew anything about. The response to his request ignited a great debate over who has been mismanaging the ailment – coronavirus or other – that afflicted Kano and was killing people.
The blame sharing went on for a little longer before Kano came under proper control of measures to slow down the spread of the Coronavirus.
A very considerate man, he is asking for parity in status with Lagos that got an initial N10 billion, another N5 billion, and more billions from private companies that appeared to be waiting for the virus to introduce them to meaningful investments in corporate social responsibility.
He however could not lay hands on the billions of Naira that he targeted.
Ganduje seems not to be liked very much in Kano. If money was what he wanted, Kano’s billionaires would have readily splashed it on the city. The billionaires however had concerns that they never publicly stated. Aliko Dangote, a Kano indigene and the richest man in Africa, did not give cash to Gov. Ganduje cash. Instead, among other donations, he used his Foundation to outfit a 125-bed hospital at the General Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano as an Isolation Centre. Alhaji Abdul Samad Rabiu (of BUA Group) donated more than N4 billion to the Federal Government to support the fight, with instructions that N2 billion be specifically tied to efforts to curb the spread of the virus in Kano. His insisted that a team that includes the President Task Force on Covid-19 should manage the funds. He could not hand the cash to the Governor. President Buhari toed a similar line by not doling out cash to the State Government either.
If you are looking for a reason for Ganduje’s well-placed anger and righteous indignation which remains unaddressed, there you have it. When it mattered the most, he single-handedly delivered Kano for Buhari’s second term, overcoming a formidable opposition mounted by his former godfather, Dr. Rabi’u Kwankwaso. Ganduje delivered 1,464,768 votes to Buhari’s APC while former Vice President Atiku Abubakar of PDP polled a miserable 391,593 votes of the 1,964,751 votes announced; Buhari beat Atiku in Kano by 1.07m votes. Impressive. Thus, it is reasonable that the man who pulled in the fantastic votes would not expect to be treated like Buhari’s famous five-percenters. With this result in mind, you will appreciate his anger that Lagos, which split the Buhari-Atiku votes in an annoying 56:44 ratio was being favoured over and above Kano which delivered almost 80:20 in favour of Buhari. What an injustice.
Ganduje has put up a strong defense in a Channels TV interview: Kano needed Lagos kind of allocation being the most populous State in Nigeria (Lagos is the most populous); Kano requires testing centres for its 44 Local Government Areas far more than Lagos which has only 20; Kano needed to pay voluntary healthcare workers engaged to support full time health personnel; and Kano needed to procure Personal Protective Equipment, PPE; and open up more testing and isolation centres.
Ganduje has become a political orphan. He is out of favour with Kwankwaso, his erstwhile godfather. He is no longer useful to the President possibly because there will be no Third Term. Kano’s elite class, given a chance, would treat an Almajari better than him. He is also in a frosty relationship with his fellow northern Governors.
The Federal Government said it would not give him a dime. It must be a shocker for Ganduje who had hitherto constituted himself into a chief announcer for fantastic numbers of Covid-19 positive cases in his State, not minding that weeks back, he was emphatic that whatever was causing frenetic activities in the graveyards of Kano was not the deadly virus.
Ganduje has become a political orphan. He is out of favour with Kwankwaso, his erstwhile godfather. He is no longer useful to the President, essentially because there will be no Third Term. Kano’s elite class, given a chance, would treat an Almajari better than him. He is also in a frosty relationship with his fellow northern Governors. For more than a year Governors in the North had been weighing in on how to abolish the Almajari system. In the midst of the pandemic, Ganduje began repatriating the Almajiri in Kano to their “parents” in northern states. He has been bashed for this move which some have tied to the rapid surge in Covid-19 cases across the core North. He carried out this unilateral action, not minding that he could be in bigger trouble if Kano-born Almajari in other states were to be returned; the numbers could overwhelm.
Ganduje’s theatrics raise two crucial questions. Could he have been treated this way if a general election was by the corner? Why is what is good for Lagos bad for Kano? Without intending to do so, Ganduje has raised questions on accounting for federal funds that have been given to Lagos for combating the Coronavirus, and the indices for the allocations.