By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu
The press, radio, television and other agencies of mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the government to the people– Section 22 of the Nigerian 1999 Constitution.
TWO weeks ago, I wrote on this page, a piece titled: “LET US COLLECTIVELY SAVE THE EMIR OF ILORIN’S PALACE”. It had come about because the Bukola Saraki government in Kwara State had sold the Kwara State Legislative Quarters in Ilorin, just as the regime had sold PRACTICALLY EVERY government residence in the Kwara state capital.
I reminded our people that the Juma’at Mosque and the Emir’s Palace were gradually becoming the only public institutions that the Saraki regime had not sold. Allah protects His mosque, the way He protected the Eid Praying Ground from the grand plan to sell it. But we have to collectively “shine our eyes” otherwise, we could discover that the Bukola Saraki government has sold that piece of our history.
I said that seriously! As I write these lines, the government has parceled out and sold the land INSIDE the premises of Kwara State Television Service; and the latest story is that decision has been taken to handover what remains of the Kwara State Civil Service College to SHOPRITE.
It was the College’s land that was initially carved out for the shopping complex. And an important reminder is that Bukola Saraki took a loan in Kwara’s name to build SHOPRITE but the story today is that it does not belong to Kwara State, but Bukola Saraki’s “private sector”!
In response to my article, Abdulwahab O-O-Oba, Governor AbdulFateh Ahmed’s Press Secretary, had stuttered through eight paragraphs of drivel, paraded as a rejoinder. O-O-Oba, who on his appointment, had vowed to uphold government’s accountability, was angry that I dared to insist upon same, in pointing out the absurdity of the Bukola Saraki regime’s unending penchant to SELL EVERY government residence and land (instead of opening up new, serviced layouts within Ilorin); or its refusal to fulfill obligations after spending billions of naira of our money for undelivered projects.
Instead of defending the issues, he went personal, talking about the alleged change of my names; and he attempted the blackmail so central to Bukola Saraki’s hegemony in Kwara, that my “anger (arose) from a failed request to equip Kwara Television and Radio Kwara during …Saraki’s government till date…”
I will answer the blackmail frontally, to show the regime for what it really is: a DANGER to the well being of Kwarans! Concerning my names, I don’t owe O-O-Oba any apologies. Someone said that the chap studied history. That ordinarily should have equipped him to understand a bit of Ilorin’s complex history and the multiplicity of our identities. I am a direct descendant of Sheikh Alimi; I am cousins with the Belgores and come from the scholarly Kawu family. Authentic children of Ilorin know what these lineages mean. I cannot be compared to their ‘leader” and “tin god”, who started coming into Ilorin only in 2002, and didn’t even have a Muslim name until he was to run for governor!
As for the blackmail that I was angry because of failure to be given Kwara TV and Radio Kwara contracts, that is a figment of O-O-Oba’s imagination. I NEVER ever asked for Radio Kwara/KWTV contracts. But even if I did, it IS MY RIGHT as a bona fide son of Kwara and without sounding immodest, one of its MOST EXPERIENCED media professionals. I was a pioneer member of staff of Radio Kwara; wrote a Master’s degree thesis on THE HERALD newspapers (after writing articles and editorials for the papers for many years) and I was pioneer GM of KWTV. I own a multimedia company that works in media, research and consultancy. When I was GM, we had a 30KW Harris Transmitter, which allowed our broadcasts to be watched up to the outskirts of Abuja and in neighbouring states, like Niger, Osun, Ekiti, Kogi and Oyo. What did Bukola Saraki do at KWTV? His government dismantled and sold the 30KW transmitters; it gave out a contract close to half a billion naira. The contractor supplied two 5KW (Taylor) Transmitters (From 30KW Harris!), for Ilorin, and two, TWO-KW Transmitters for Kaima and Lafiagi.
The transmitters in Lafiagi and Kaiama packed up three years ago, while those in Ilorin are not transmitting up to three kilowatts today and KWTV can hardly be watched within Ilorin metropolis! If I had sought to equip KWTV, where I was pioneer GM (and in whose service I had an accident that almost claimed my life but shattered one of my legs), I won’t have sold the state a dud! I NEVER asked a contract when Bukola Saraki was running (and subsequently ruining!) Societe Generale Bank, because that is his family’s business. But Kwara state is our collective patrimony and I will not be blackmailed into silence because I allegedly asked for contracts! This is the same Kwara state, where Bukola Saraki brought another sidekick and indigene of Ondo State, Tope Daramola, from Intercontinental Bank, to be DG of Lands Department, and after community outcry, he was PROMOTED as DG of the Kwara Investments Holding Company. I will NEVER keep silent about atrocities committed against our state! Abdulwahab O-O-Oba said Bukola Saraki is a major stakeholder in Nigeria, and there’s nothing I can do about that.
Fair enough; but I am also a stakeholder in Kwara and I have a right to ask questions. The questions I have repeatedly asked are constant. Why has the Bukola Saraki government from 2003 till date, spent billions of naira on water contracts and we cannot get water to drink?
Why has it chosen to SELL ALL government houses to cronies and friends? Who owns all companies and institutions like Zimbabwe farm in Shonga; the Aviation College in Ilorin; Diagnostic Centre in Ilorin and SHOPRITE? They were built with our monthly allocations and/or loans taken in the name of Kwara State. They should make FULL DISCLOSURE about OWNERSHIP!
The last time the KWSG bought newspaper pages to do a rejoinder to my writing in 2014, an educated man, Dr. Akorede, wrote a relatively civil piece. He didn’t go personal like O-O-Oba. It is no surprise. Since his appointment, O-O-Oba has only regularly written obituaries not serious articles of government. His rejoinder last week was actually beyond his remit.
My position remains that my duty as a journalist is to hold government accountable to our people, as the Nigerian Constitution obliges me. I know a lot about the crimes that they have systematically committed against Kwara State, and which they have continued to, since 2003.
I will not stop asking questions until there is CHANGE! That is the empty slogan that Bukola Saraki mouths today; but we know that it is meaningless under his hegemony in Kwara. Bukola Saraki regularly criticises President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. He uses as excuse the so-called exposure he did of oil subsidy scams in Senate.
But he NEVER mentions the waivers he got for his various companies, when he (Bukola) and his partner, James Ibori, were the most influential power and influence peddlers between 2007 and 2009, under the late President Umaru Yar’adua.
He lost out with oil subsidies under President Goodluck Jonathan, and that was the basis of his anger and criticism of Nigeria’s president. He can severely criticize President Jonathan, but he must not be interrogated in Kwara State.
Well, I am true to my professional responsibility, and seek accountability about the financial resources and assets of Kwara State! Facts are stubborn things. Abdulwahab O-O-Oba should be directed to face the facts of my interrogations!
APC presidential and governorship campaigns in Borno
THE General Buhari Presidential Campaign and Kashim Shettima Gubernatorial Campaign landed in Maiduguri on Monday this week. It was an incredible sight to behold. Approximately one million people received the campaign in Borno.
It was remarkable that there was no bombing and the incidents that were witnessed were directly related to the effort to control the unprecedented crowd. If the APC’s slogan of CHANGE has been genuinely taken to heart in one part of Nigeria, it would have to be in Borno State.
The insurgency of the past couple of years has affected the lives and livelihood of the people of that state and into the future, even after Nigeria might have defeated the insurgency, Borno will still have to deal with the consequences of a distorted demography.
This is because a lot very young people, especially young men between teenage and the early thirties, have been decimated in the insurgency and counter-insurgency war. The fact that for a long time, the Federal Government at the centre did not adequately understand the insurgency and framed it within a partisan perspective, as an act of its enemies, just deepened the alienation of the Borno people from the federal administration.
I think one of the most interesting outcomes of the developments of the past couple of years, is the way that Governor Kashim Shettima and his administration made very heroic efforts to strengthen relevance with the Borno people.
The government was always there in moments of loss and deaths and it was always focused about delivering on social and infrastructural services. These seemed sometimes to be impossible given the way that the insurgents deliberately went out to destroy government institutions and social services that could serve the interest of peoples in communities. Even in the dangerous situation associated with killings in Borno, I have continued to travel there back and forth, so I can honestly report the efforts at giving succor to people and never forgetting the development agenda by the government.
What the Borno people look forward to more than anything else, is the peace that will follow the defeat or substantial degradation of the insurgency, for them to go back to re-creating their thousand year old history.
It is the affirmation of faith and hope for development, which underlined the near-million man outing last Monday for the General Buhari and Kashim Shettima campaigns in Maiduguri. I think the resilience of the human spirit even in the worst adversity was played out in Borno state last Monday.
It was simply incredible to behold the multitudes that were longing for an improvement in their lives!.