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Yobe: An elephant in the living room

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Mala-Buni

The state of affairs in Yobe State has become considerably a topic of major concern since the inception of Governor Mai Mala Buni’s administration. Indigenes of the state have been hopeful, transiting to the administration with bells on. This is because they believe having a Governor of Buni’s caliber will bring amazingly great things to the state, considering his age, his exposure at the national level and his network. Dozens were jubilating, calling the administration a youth-friendly administration, and the first of its kind in the state’s history.

Many of the occurrences were well anticipated way before they occurred; Lucrative positions have been occupied by the youths (or the so-called youths rather), the education sector was declared in a state of emergency, multiple projects were piloted, the state workers celebrate before the end of every month, more funds were injected into upgrading the state’s cargo airport and so many glad tidings. None of these was a surprise to many Yobeans as they elected their Governor to do exactly that. Such news trends almost everyday on conventional media, social media and the internet. The Governor is praised and hailed by his people day in day out.

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However, many people would perceive it hypocritical; praising and hailing someone when he does good and failing to say the truth when things fall apart. This is what is happening now. It seems his glory days in the state are fading, his people are losing confidence in him and he’s gradually losing followers. This is due to what dozens regard as negligence and incompetence in running the affairs of the state/governance.

The state of emergency declared on education yielded no results after almost two years. There are still primary schools that host more than 300 pupils in a class, having more than 18,000 pupils in one school with regrettably only 36 permanent teachers. That means every teacher is to 500 pupils. I have not been to every corner of the Country but I doubt if there’s anywhere that has such.

The state was reported to have performed woefully in the 2020 WASSCE, ranking one of the least performing states in the whole country. The report revealed that barely 21% of the candidates passed in that year, whereas the national average performance was 65.24%. The state still ranks one of the lowest states in terms of literacy. Despite the constructive criticism faced by the selection committee, students were taken out of the country only to study at the 646th university in India. Are all these the results of the so-called emergency on education?

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It is only in this part of the world that governments consider the timely payments of salaries as an achievement, often unashamedly coming out to brag about it. Well, for two consecutive months now, there are reports of delayed payment of salaries in some parts of the state. Workers are bitterly complaining while others are scared, thinking the period of enjoying the early payments is nearing its termination. Unconfirmed reports claimed that the delay is due to the huge amount of money indebted to the state.

Moreover, there have been many questions on how an uncompleted project can be upgraded. It will however be closer to normal sense when it is completed first before being upgraded. After injecting a huge amount of money into the upgrading of an uncompleted cargo-airport, everyone is eagerly waiting to see when a cargo plane would land, but it is looking more like an ordinary day dream. Can’t be more confusing!

Another critical issue is the recent security situation in the state. The attacks on Geidam and Kanamma forced hundreds to flee their homes and seek refuge in some neighbouring Local Government Areas of Gashua, Yusufari, Yunusuri and a few others in Potiskum.

The annoying part is how the Governor failed to remain in the state when the people needed him the most. There wasn’t any clear evidence of his presence in the state, during the attack, until after about 72 hours, when the people have been distressed, many have been killed and displaced. He was busy handling party affairs in Abuja, as if it is his primary responsibility. The only effort made by the Governor was only meeting the CDS in Abuja, which was perceived by many to only be for optics.

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It did not stop there, the Governor was pictured in Kano for a condolence visit and eventually Sokoto for funerals, a few days after his arrival in the state, still with no clear evidence of visiting Geidam and Kanamma. The only recent commitments we are witnessing from the Governor in terms of insecurity is visiting some of the Service Chiefs to end insecurity while in ABUJA. Meanwhile, there are ranking officers in his state, with firsthand information.

We have seen his counterparts condemning the attacks in their states hours after they occur, sympathizing with the victims, visiting the venue of the incidents by themselves (not delegation) and going to see the C-in-C on the issue in less than 24 hours of the occurrence. This is how every citizen would love his Governor behaving. This is what is expected from every responsible and accountable administration.

Upon all these, the state decides to keep mum. No one talks about it. Many begin to wonder if there are legislators in the state either. They have not summoned the Governor on issues like this, not even once. They only see him in the house ceremonially/annually for budget presentations and defence. That is surely not the way. The state has to begin talking. It is not alright. Let the Governor be called to doing the needful. Let him be reminded of his actual and primary responsibilities. Most importantly, let it not be an elephant in the room!

Atiyaye wrote from Damaturu, Yobe State and can be reached via email at bukardarulhaq@yahoo.com

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