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Sokoto State House of Assembly: A Mockery of Democracy?





Author: Dahiru Maishanu
Posted to the web: 12/14/2005 7:56:31 AM

The political caesarean surgical operation the Sokoto State administration has been receiving of late has brought light to many salient issues, which were hitherto, swept under the carpet. Commentators have bared their minds on the activities of the state government and the major political actors within the government circle. The governor and his close associates had received a sort of a baptism of fire with facts and figures thrown at their footsteps.

I intentionally allowed for this time before attempting to kick-start yet another discourse in the political development of our state. The G23 group has accused the members of the State Assembly of allowing the state government a field day in squandering the resources of the state. This, according to the group, was done through awarding and executing white elephants that are only prosecuted for graft in order to line the pockets of the Governor and his cronies in conjunction with members of the House. The members themselves have proven to be complacent with the way things are going on in the way and manner they conduct themselves both in public and in private. The way they flaunt wealth and try to wield power is disproportionate to their parliamentarian positions.

To say there is a clear, flagrant abuse of office and privileges by the legislators is to say the obvious. To say there is an obvious and open connivance in squandering the resources of the state between the executive and the legislature is also to say the gospel truth. The fall out of all these is the continued backwardness of the state in almost all fields of endeavours. The sheer prevalence of illiteracy, disease and lack of basic survival amenities in the state has already reached chronic proportion. The opulence and affluence flagrantly being displayed by members of the legislature also confirm there is something ratty in their kitty.        

The majority of the members constitute a bunch of semi illiterates and illiterates who find themselves into an experiment that is beyond their wildest imagination. These are people who are mostly hand picked by the so-called political godfathers who themselves are as guilty as the members they foisted on us in terms of having little or no education at all.

Although, the 1979 democratic experience had its own problems and I, personally was very young when it took place, but I can still remember the velvet voice of Mahmuda Shehu Yabo ranting the air daily on our radio sets from the House of Assembly. Similarly, I can still remember the immaculate figure of Abdullahi Bayero on the pages of the newspapers as one of the leading lights in that democratic dispensation. Gone indeed are the days when the GNPP presented a formidable opposition that squarely challenged the excesses of the NPN led executive.

Today, there is no real opposition in the House, thanks to the threats, intimidation and monetary inducements that have been flowing from the executive to the legislature. All the members are from the ruling party; ANPP and almost all of them belong to the Bafarawa-Kwabo camp, a camp that is ruthlessly not friendly with any iota of opposition from any quarters.

The godfathers of politics in Sokoto today are either illiterates or at best semi-illiterates in this city that was once the fountain of knowledge for the whole of the Sudan. These godfathers continue to produce candidates that are at most at par with them, shunning the educated, whom they believe would end up becoming a scourge of sorts to them later. They have a venomous hatred for the educated.

The Sokoto legislature has the highest number of school leavers as members among the states of the federation. More than 60% of deliberations are conducted in Hausa language as opposed to English, the official language of the country and the constitution. This is due to the preponderance in the House, of members whose level of spoken English is to say the least elementary.

The few graduates and seasoned former civil servants serving in the House are actually more frustrated than all of us. They are the ones that are on the receiving end of all the inadequacies of the House. They have first hand experience of the naivety and foolhardiness of the majority of their colleagues. We share their sorrow and helplessness in this unfortunate situation they find themselves.

While I’m still writing this piece, news has just filtered in, that the State House of Assembly, the subject matter of this article has just set up a committee to investigate the state Governor over allegations of money laundering and ownership of a house in London as widely reported in the press. This news really came to me as a surprise and attempts to rubbish all that I have written above. The action of the House is not only welcome, but also long over due. My first instinct is to congratulate the members.

On a second thought however, I think one has to be careful not to allow oneself to be swallowed by a kangaroo or arrangee machinations of politicians aimed at turning our intellectual psyche upside down. My fear is that based on the characteristics of the majority of the members and even some of the members of the committee set up by the House, we may be into a sort of abracadabra, the more you look, the less you see.

My suspicion is that all these might have come from the Government House, coming on the heels of the recent experience of DSP Alamieyeseigha, the former Bayelsa state governor. Like I always say, what the Bafarawas and Umarun Kwabos lack in education, they have plenty, in political manoeuvres and abracadabra.

The simple logic here is for the House to give the governor a clean bill of health and pre-empt all efforts of the EFCC into continuing any investigations they might be doing on the alleged wrong deeds of the governor. Based on these little voices coming through my mind, for now I want to hold onto my earlier comments on the members in this piece.

If the intention of the House is however, borne out of genuine love for the state, then we must support and encourage them. If they can turn the tide against the various accusations levelled against them, including the ones above, then it would be better for citizens of the state. Once again congratulations for this first step, but the subsequent steps would be the ultimate determinants of whether to say it is indeed Uhuru .


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