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Gov. Mohammed’s ‘Dogara’ worries amid loyalty issues in Bauchi

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The Bauchi State Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Hon. Muhammed Al-Hassan’s recent resignation from office has further heightened political anxiety in the state, which was ignited by the deflection of former Speaker, Yakubu Dogara a fortnight ago from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC). While announcing his resignation via his verified social media platform, Facebook, Al-Hassan thanked Governor Bala Mohammed but commended his political leader and former Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Dogara, for influencing “the wonderful opportunity accorded me.”

Exactly a year after he mounted the saddle, Governor Bala Mohammed, while highlighting his achievements, declared that he is a victim of “a gang-up even by people that I have worked with to come to this level.” Watchers of Bauchi politics say the governor`s remarks aptly convey the quiet storm lying in wait for his second term ambition, despite the fact that he did not identify those ganging up against his political future and progress of his administration.

Apart from some appointees quitting his administration, which is barely a year in office, many people recall that the incumbent also benefitted from a gang-up against his predecessor, Mr. Mohammad Abdullahi Abubakar.

It was because of the general perception among politicians in the state that the former governor did not perform satisfactorily that the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and Senator Abdul Ningi, among other notable politicians, came together and trounced Abubakar at the poll.

While hatching the plot to scuttle Mohammed`s second term ambition, Dogara, who was led by an elder statesman, Bello Kurfi, to the state secretariat of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Bauchi, had declared: “We are fighting Governor Abubakar not because he is not from Bauchi State, but because of lack of performance.”

It therefore came as no surpriss that a year after Bala Mohammed was sworn into office that Dogara fell out with him. He had bid his time before eventually returning to the All Progressives Congress (APC). The speculation was that Dogara found his way to Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), where Bala was former Minister of FCT, because of his (Dogara’s) grouse with the former APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who denied him a return ticket.

While Dogara complained about performance in ousting Abubakar, he publicly accused Governor Mohammed of alleged corrupt practices, including contract inflation, breach of due process, neglect of traditional leaders and controversial purchase of cars worth N4.6 billion.

These cocktail of allegations sent the administration panicking, just as sums were allegedly spent trying to mitigate the bad publicity Dogara’s acussations generated, as well as putting the records straight. Similar to Dogara’s move, many political appointees have conspicuously left the government, while some were kicked out based on divided loyalty. The state’s Commissioner for Finance, Nura Manu Soro, angrily resigned from office for undisclosed reasons after 35 days in office.

Also, barely 78 days after his appointment as political adviser, Alhaji Musa Haruna, was fired. The Chief of Staff, Abubakar Kari, reacted to the intense pressures and also quit, while four Caretaker Committee Chairmen of Zaki, Ningi, Darazo local councils were suspended over “lackadaisical attitude to their duties.” Their colleague and Misau council boss was suspended over communal skirmishes.

Hon. Al-Hassan Sadiq, who resigned on Wednesday, added to the number, stressing: “Every beginning has an end. Today, the 19th day of August 2020, I have honourably tendered my voluntary resignation as a commissioner (Ministry of Commerce and Industries) and a member of the State Executive Council in the Government of Bauchi State.

Dogara’s goodbye
While moving from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) back to APC, Dogara, in a letter to the PDP chairman in the local government area of Bogoro ‘C’ Ward, dated July 24, based his revulsion on some six issues, including unfulfilled campaign promises, mismanagement of resources, lack of respect for elders and traditional rulers in the state.

Dogara

The former House of Representatives Speaker, who is in his fourth term in the Green Chamber of the National Assembly, alleged that N4.6 billion loan, which was sourced from a bank, was routed into the account of a private company, even as he accused the government of inflating contract costs and cash payment of contracts contrary to extant procurement laws.

He also queried the whereabouts of the local government allocations since Bala Mohammed became governor, regretting that local government election that was promised the people during electioneering remained in limbo after 14 months in office.

Dogara stated: “Why are we segmenting salaries and why is payment of salaries of state workers outsourced to a private firm as consultants? Why are contracts inflated, awarded and payment of mobilisation done in violation of extant rules on procurement?

“Why are our highly revered traditional rulers and elders treated with odium, contrary to the guarantee we gave during the campaigns that such will not happen under a PDP government?

“I cannot also fail to raise these questions now, having raised similar ones during the administrations of Governors Isa Yuguda and Mohammed A. Abubakar. If I abdicate this responsibility on the altar of partisan loyalty, I will be the most irresponsible and unprincipled politician in Bauchi State.”

Hang dog
But in a swift move after Dogara`s bombshell, the state governor dismissed the claims, stressing that the former speaker was in a hurry to give a bad name to a dog in order to hang it. While responding to the issues raised by Dogara through his Media Aide, Mukhtar Gidado, Governor Bala said: “No petition or plea is standing anywhere challenging what we are doing with LG funds, except perhaps, in the jaundiced eyes of Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara.

“Hon. Dogara could not have forgotten, just under one year, that Bauchi State was the first in the North East zone to implement the minimum wage for workers from levels 1 to 6. Hon. Dogara could not have forgotten so soon that apart from the staggering over N27 billion backlog of pensions and gratuities, these senior citizens were also being owed several months before we assumed office.”

The governor explained that at no time did he ever promised to conduct local government elections within six months of assuming office unless Dogara was being plainly mischievous.

“We can excuse Hon. Dogara for the misrepresentation, since he never participated in our campaigns to know what we promised. The truth is that two previous attempts by the Bauchi State Government to conduct local government elections were shelved because of the COVID-19 crisis that has affected schedules globally,” the governor contended.

While denying that there was no N4.6 billion loan, the governor declared: “Perhaps, Hon. Dogara is privy to something else that we are not aware of. Contrary to Hon. Dogara’s claim, the Bauchi State Government did not break any rules by paying mobilisation fees to contractors.

“It is normal for contractors to be given mobilisation, which can be recovered in the life of the contract. We make bold to say that no traditional ruler has been treated with ‘odium’ since the inception of this administration. We are used to Hon. Dogara’s penchant for mischief.

“If he had simply resigned from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) without creating any spurious alibi that touched on the integrity of patriotic citizens of Bauchi State, there would not have been need to oblige him with a response, as he personally admitted that such political nomadism is consistent with his character.”

As the exchanges between the former speaker and officials of the government raged, a former member, Bauchi State House of Assembly, who is among Dogara’s foot-soldiers, Hon. Aminu Tukur, said Dogara’s defection from APC in 2019 was triggered by Oshiomhole’s insistence that he would not get APC ticket. Tukur disclosed that he, alongside the Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu and a few other citizens of the state met on the possibility of returning Dogara to APC.

“The national leadership of APC has been in negotiation with us immediately we left them,” Tukur said. “We told them that the reason for our grievances was injustice within the State Working Committee and Oshiomhole.”

Tukur remarked that immediately a caretaker committee, led by Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni, was put in place, Dpgara’s camp was persuaded to return, stressing that they also felt uncomfortable with the unfulfilled campaign promises of Bala Mohammed.

His words: “We realised that the government was tilting towards another direction rather than the promises made to the electorate. We realised that those that suffered to bring the government to existence were discarded while new faces that we never knew – people, who cannot even deliver their local governments during election, held sway.

“These are people, who are presiding over the affairs of Bauchi State. We are not stupid and not servants to anybody. There are other innumerable factors that Hon Dogara did not mention; he chose to give smallest ones.”

The state’s PDP chairman, Hamza Akuyam, said Dogara is a “political prostitute”, having defected from the party to APC, adding that it was unfortunate that the former speaker left. Akuyam said Dogara wanted to leave the party long before now, adding, “So the issues he brought are just baseless. If he had problem with the inflation of contracts and others, he ought to have met the governor and discussed with him.

“Now that he has left PDP and he knew when he joined us in the runoff to the 2019 elections, saying the APC had failed the country, APC had done this and that; so, he has no reason to stay in APC.

“The only option he had then was for him to join PDP, which he said was better. Now, this is a contradiction. That is why I term him a political prostitute or a nomadic politician, who doesn’t stay in one place. As a former speaker, he did say that there was nothing more honourable for him than to leave our party. But I want to challenge him that what is more honourable is for him to resign the position he occupies as a member of the House of Representatives.”

The PDP chairman said until Dogara toes that path, he should not speak about honour, noting that since Dogara moved from PDP to APC, then from APC to PDP and now back to the same APC, “what will you say of such a man than to call him a political prostitute, no more no less?”

Akuyam disclosed that signs that Dogara wanted to move emerged very early, stressing that he stopped attending party functions, never engaged party leaders, either in the ward or local government levels in any of their activities.

“We even invited him to our meetings, but he refused to honour it,” he said. “Dogara did not represent us very well. Have you ever seen him in the National Assembly? He doesn’t go there. So, what else do you want from him?

“We do not want him to leave PDP for a lame excuse. If he had a concrete reason, he should have brought it forward, but what we are saying is that, if he is really honourable as he calls himself, let him leave his seat, because he clinched that seat on the platform of PDP.”

Meanwhile, Tafawa Balewa, Dass and Bogoro Youth Development Foundation has said that Dogara is like a political party to his constituents, stressing that wherever he goes the people are ready to follow.

Chairman of the group, Mr. Emmanuel Isheni, declared: “No one is capable of unseating him, except those who elected him. Ninety-nine per cent of the people from the three LGAs are with him. We want to tell the good people of Tafawa Balewa/Dass/Bogoro Federal Constituency, Bauchi State and Nigerians that Dogara understands the system of this country. We are firmly behind him and we pledge our support to him in all ramifications.”


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