By Adedayo Ola
Governor Aminu Bello Masari is the third governor of Katsina State since this nascent democracy in 1999. He’s the 10th since the state was created in 1987.Masari
Before Masari became governor of the state, he was Speaker, House of Representatives, between 2003–2007, the 3rd to ever be in the 20-year uninterrupted democracy and the 7th since Nigeria became independent. His emergence was unexpected, he was not the most popular. But his leadership brought the most remarkable change in governance in the country. From a representative of Malumfashi/Kafur Federal Constituency and one of the 15 Reps in the state to become the number four citizen in the country. It was he, together with Senator Ken Nnamani, the Senate President, at the helms of affairs at the National Assembly, during the review of the 1999 constitutional amendment. He left office in 2007, scandal-free.Also read: I want to turn Bayelsa to Dubai, Singapore of Nigeria — Igali
He returned to Katsina to play local politics with the hope of tussling for executive powers as governor so that he could make more impact in the lives of his people. That adventure didn’t end well and he was edged out by the state government-controlled party executives. He thus joined forces with the defunct Congress of Progressive Change CPC party, founded by President Muhammadu Buhari. The party, with the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, All Nigeria People’s Party, ANPP that transformed into what is the All Progressives Congress, APC, today.
What, however, stood out for Masari while in opposition in the state politics was the team spirit he exhibited with and among his fellow politicians and colleagues. It was no surprise that the APC party excos have been with him till today. Masari can be purposeful, especially on something he strongly believes in. for example, salaries and pensions of retired workers were some of the issues he campaigned on before he was elected. However, by the time he was sworn in, he found it difficult to pay salaries and pensions as the treasury was barely empty. He had promised the workers what he would do differently during the campaign. Of course, his predecessor made it so because of the financial mess he left in the state.
He rose to the occasion. He not only paid salaries but shortly after, paying the pensions promptly followed suit. At the inception of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, before the Federal Government started dolling out bailouts to financially incapacitated states, Katsina was one of the very few in the country that was paying salaries and pensions as when due.
The previous administration, according to Masari, in an interview granted Vanguard Newspaper, February, last year, said his administration, upon getting to the office, discovered that some officials of the previous administration, opened several secret accounts, apart from the official known accounts, just to divert public funds to private pockets. Pensions were not paid while over N6billion from Local Government account was frittered away. Said he: “We discovered that the financial recklessness was the order of the day, with persons giving approvals of millions of naira on plain sheets of papers and without due process. In the Local Government, about N6.2billion was owed pensioners, I met N15billion foreign debt, over hundreds of different state accounts that government was not even aware of. I had to sack the executive chairman of SUBEB when I found out that over N700million was diverted.”
Despite its insolvency, Masari was still able to steer the ship of the state such that the workforce not only got their entitlement as at when due but got some promoted for their diligence and contribution to the state. Talking about rewarding diligence, Masari is one that does not forget a favour. And more importantly, loyalty, however long it may be. When opportunity presents itself, he ensures that he appreciates such. The present Secretary to the State Government, Mustapha Inuwa, is one of the beneficiaries of Masari’s large heart. Inuwa was his party chairman at the inception of the formation of the party in the state. Inuwa stood by and for him, despite all efforts for him to dump him. The Inuwa-led party exco insisted that the winner of its governorship primaries be allowed for the general elections. The same thing with everyone who stood by him, all enjoyed reciprocated gesture. Inuwa has since proved that he was not only good politically, his managerial competence is top-notch, and that was why nobody was surprised that he was re-elected.
Still, on education, the so-called fake result being peddled against the governor in the media is something that baffles me. Perhaps a little enlightenment would suffice. Most of the names, surnames that is, in the North, is a reflection of the names of where they are born. The name Masari is a town in Malunfashi. The former Head of service in the state, Auwalu Lawal Daura got his name from his Daura town where he was born. There is also a friend, a member of House of Representatives, from Kebbi State, Shehu Koko, his town where he was born, is Koko. Some even bear the names of their uncles, who mentored them. Some discard the names later in life while others live with it. “To Whom It May Concern” is usually a letter explaining to the public what the holder of the letter is all about. It is mostly used when the original certificate is either lost or not yet ready. Beyond politics, does it make any logical sense that Masari would fake a result more than 30 years before joining politics? One thing is certain, the honourable justices at the tribunal are persuaded by facts only, not the media trial the peddlers have been doing of recent. If indeed the opposition has a genuine case, you bring it to the court, not on the pages of newspapers with the aim of whipping up the undeserved sentiment. It is only hallucinating peddlers that would spread such unsubstantiated fabrication. Law is about facts, not sentiment. As the state awaits him to name his cabinet, it is hoped that his pace of governance will even be faster than what it was in his first term.