OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT, GENERAL MUHAMMADU BUHARI FROM CITIZENS UNITED FOR PEACE AND SECURITY ON BEHALF OF THE PEOPLE OF YOBE STATE.
This is the first open letter we wrote to address you. How we wish that our first open letter to you is on matters relating to good governance at national level. Unfortunately, such is not the case. As the fastest growing human rights organisation in Nigeria, we are compelled to write you on matters of life and death on behalf of the good people of Yobe state.
Despite the preposterous amount of money that some governors allegedly spend in bribing party officials, INEC officials, law enforcement agencies, and the electorate, which runs into billions of Naira, being elected a state governor in Nigeria still remains a privilege and honour, if one ignores some of the shenanigans. For example, that happened in Ekiti state in August 2014, during which Mr. Ayo Fayose fraudulently emerged as the governor, and recently in Rivers state when the governor-elect, Mr. Nyesom Wike, literally won through the barrel of the gun, are two lamentable cases among others.
A Nigerian state governor is a “powerful” citizen, who controls enormous influence over his subjects. He or she controls the executive, legislative, and judicial arms of government in the state. A typical governor also controls an annual budget which by far surpasses that of many countries around the world. Furthermore, a typical Nigerian state governor collects salaries, security votes, accommodation, benefits, and pension that surpasses that of heads of state of most advanced countries, including those of the UK Prime Minister, and the USA President.
Your Excellency, we at CUPS contend that with this significant level of privileges and largesse, there must be a huge burden of responsibilities towards the voiceless masses, whose national wealth is being used to dispense these privileges and largesse. A state governor is the number one citizen in his/her state. He or she is therefore obliged morally and constitutionally to operate with a clean conscience like a “Head of state” in his dominion. He or she is supposed to be ferociously patriotic, democratic, law-abiding, visionary, hardworking, gracious, sympathetic, empathic, just, and fair among others. Some state governors are seriously lacking in these fine qualities of a good leader. They are found wanting.
One state governor in Northern Nigeria who stands out among all the others, and for all the wrong reasons, is the current governor and governor-elect of Yobe state, Mr. Ibrahim Gaidam. This governor has been in power since 27th January 2009, following the death of Mallam Mamman Bello Ali in Florida USA, due to liver complications. Over the past six and half years that he has been their state governor, the good people of Yobe have not seen any tangible development in governance, infrastructure, health, education, and security. In fact Yobe is the least developed state in comparison to any other state in Northern Nigeria.
Recent reports coming out of Yobe suggest that governance has taken a dramatic turn for the worst in the state. Governor Ibrahim Gaidam has now regrettably assumed the position of a modern day Pharaoh. He runs a tribalistic and nepotic government at the expense of the vast majority of the people of his state. He can punish a whole community with impunity. Some of the SOS reports sent to CUPS organisation by concerned citizens of Yobe state are outlined below:
1. Lucrative contracts and appointments are only given to close relatives, members of his extended family, people from his Yunusari LGA or others who are deemed malleable and subservient enough to the extent that they never question his errand ways or advise him on matters of good governance. It is alleged that there are state commissioners who have been in service for over a decade. This is despite the fact that there are new qualified and competent citizens who can perform even better, if given the chance.
2. Well meaning citizens of Yobe state who are brave and concerned enough to publicly air their opinions and constructive criticisms are arbitrarily abducted, detained and tortured. This has been the case with Sheikh Abubakar Chiroma, a learned cleric, who was detained by the DSS on 27/03/2015 and has never been seen since. His alleged crimes among others was that he advised the citizens of Yobe state to vote for his Excellency President-Elect, but failed to accord similar support to the governor. He also lamented about the failures of the governor on pulpit. He is a respectable scholar, and a family man with children.
3. Following the sermon made by Shikh Abubakar Chiroma, which led to his unlawful abduction, torture, and detention, governor Ibrahim Gaidam made threatening and disparaging statements in public during which he scorned the cleric and also promised to ruthlessly deal with his subjects who he deems as adversaries or not supportive enough. A copy of this regrettable speech is made available to the CUPS organisation.
4. Alhaji Mustapha, the APC Chairman of Karasuwa LGA, made a similar but more threatening and violent speech than that of governor Ibrahim Gaidam. In his speech, Alhaji Ibrahim revealed that the Yobe state government had deployed the services of security apparatus in the state to collate the voting pattern of all state government employees. Citizens who did not vote for governor Ibrahim Gaidam during the last governorship election are deemed as treacherous dogs, sons of dogs, and will therefore either lose their jobs or have their salaries withheld indefinitely. We have obtained a copy of this unfortunate speech.
5. CUPS is reliably informed that these threats to withhold state employees’ salaries have since been implemented. Most of the people affected are junior staff, who fall within level 3 and 6 salary bracket. The vast majority of the victims of this persecution come from Nguru, Machina, Karasuwa, Bade, and Jakusko LGAs.
6. Upon the assumption of duty, most state governors do embark on familiarisation tours of the entire LGAs of their state, with a view to connect with their citizens, and help understand their needs in terms of governance and infrastructural development. This has not been the case with the governor of Yobe state. CUPS is reliably informed that the market town of Potiskum, which has the largest cattle market in West Africa, has never been visited by governor Ibrahim Gaidam. For some inexplicable bizarre reasons, he sees the entire people of Potiskum as his enemies. Assuming such is the case, which is wholly denied, is it not his responsibility to woo the good people of Potiskum by engaging with them as their leader?
7. Despite the enormous physical and financial security accorded to him as the Executive Governor of Yobe state, governor Ibrahim Gaidam has hardly been there for his people. It is alleged that he managed the affairs of the state by proxy and in absentia. Reports reaching CUPS showed that he spent most of his time split between Abuja, Kano, and Dubai. There is a consensus among the people of Yobe state that his lack of physical presence in the state over the years, especially the last couple of years, has emboldened the Boko Haram terrorists to mount sustained attacks on the state capital, Damaturu.
Your Excellency, after tortuous 16 years of impunity, tyranny, corruption, grandeur theft, insecurity, genocide, and governance by tribalism/nepotism/religious bigotry, Nigerians were finally able to mobilise themselves, put aside their political, religious, and tribal differences to vote you into office. Voting you into office is a monumental change for the destiny of our dear nation. The hopes and aspirations of Nigerians on you are enormous.
Your Excellency, we created the CUPS organisation solely to fend for the voiceless and oppressed Nigerians, and that includes the good people of Yobe state. It is our hope that you will use your position as the President-Elect to bring sanity to governance in Yobe state.
May God save Nigeria and Nigerians. Amen.
Dr. Idris Ahmed.
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