Kwara: The Die has been cast
This is a piece in two parts. The first movement concerns the tragic incident in Lafiagi, Edu local council area of Kwara state and the recently concluded local elections in the state. The later portion centres on the despondent economic news coming out of Kwara. Given the tragic event leading to the death of the Lafiagi three on the heels of the council poll, it appeared God test man. It seemed also that man tests God. But God patiently suffers the foibles of man. For he must constantly shake his head at the evil we concoct in His name. That the death of the three young men who were victims of Senator Shaaba Lafiagi’s irresponsible act can be lowly ascribed to fate or destiny is an assault against fate itself and to liberty and freedom.
To have gone from silly to surly and to insanely lethal, Senator Lafiagi not only have demonstrated his profound hatred for his people but also have displayed what happens when power is deployed in the hands of an unintelligent and soulless leaders. To therefore justify his conviction which prompted the killing of the three that there exists a conspiracy hatched against him by his people is akin to evil excusing itself by falsely accusing others of thinking the ill towards it that it thinks towards them. We shall come back here some day but certainly, this carnage is no doubt an assault against the people of Edu and a prelude as to how far and fair the local council elections turned out to be.
In Kwara, the bad chapters of history frequently repeat themselves. The good ones cannot reappear because they have yet to be written. The local council elections did not end without some lessons. The elections produced two results. The Real result produced by the people while the Good result was written and handed to us by the State Independent Electoral Commission (KWASEIC) an agency of government headed by Dr. Usman Ajidagba, a university teacher in the department of education. Before the elections, I knew Kwarans would be disenfranchised in great numbers. Not because they had no valid voters card or because their votes won’t count, but for the simple reason that the umpire is somebody who would ensure their vote did not count. In ironic twist, the Real result turned out to be shocking, unbelievable and a spoil to a whole collection of beliefs and strongly held opinions those in APC hold about Kwara people. And staggering out of the shock, Senator Saraki was hounded by painful facts of the poll while the state chief executive draped himself in unctuous fiction. With emerging realities of reports of votes coming from the field, the dynamics of the election appeared to them as if turned by a gale. The defeat was more of psychological damage than can be explained intellectually. Even among the leadership and supporters of the APC, they commented the election was for the PDP but the pains of shame and defeat would not allow their conscience to yield to the people’s will.
In its entirety, the elections have turned out to be instructive – that power can be temporarily hijacked but to retain power it must be given by the people and to some unlimited degree, it brought home to the ruling APC the bitter truth that its heart was not in the election having overestimated itself and believing that the exercise was already a walk over. Even though the results of the elections have been upturned in favour of the ruling party in a crude, unintelligent and unskilful manner by a man who had no soul, vote and result substitution in civilised climes now assume a more scientific dimension moving away from our usual method of allocating figures. What can Kwara do now than to accept KWASEIC’s version of the result and turn it to an elixir, good tonic for a better preparation for the 2019 battle for the die has been cast. The fact that Kwarans took advantage of the poll to demonstrate their choice for better and responsive governance is a pointer that the people are gradually returning to aUmaru Sha’aba Abubakar:
culture that conforms to some social convention. In the words of the world renown scholar and philosopher per excellence, D.I. Moody – ‘everyone has his field to sow, to cultivate and finally to reap. By our habits, by our intercourse with friends and companions, by exposing ourselves to good or bad influences, we are cultivating the seed for the coming harvest. We cannot see the seed as it grows and develops but time will reveal it’. That is the principle of planting and reaping seed which is not a synonym of any religion. It is a natural law. He who hurts another will also be hurt by someone else. For every crime committed, there would be punishment no matter how long it takes.
While the state’s current leaders have continuously reminded the rest of us that our efforts at changing the old guard is an affront to them, I also can confirm that it is the only route known to the people to bring an end to the unmitigated and heinous crimes committed against them the past fifteen years or so. With Kwarans daily facing resurgent assaults, one can be killed by the enemy’s attack dog in the middle of the street and your assailant be deemed the victim. Kwara situation today is tragic because it allows only a choice between bad and worse and we now live not in times of peace but war.
Since 2007 to date, the people of this state have continued to suffer the absence of moral leadership both in the political, administrative and sadly profligacy leading directly to the loss of a generation to cultism, drug abuse, robbery and generalised moral lapses. In spite of the glaring slide, these leaders still claim the state is experiencing such momentous growth and improvements that it would soon become ‘one of the main fulcrums of global economic growth’. Regrettably because of their deficiency and infantile desperation to cling to power, they have failed to realise that the growth they mimic is not a growth based on the growth intrinsic to the reality that we all know. The progress they claim Kwara is making is their personal progress. They profit off the poverty of the poor yet some pitiable youths stick out their future to defend their actions. It is indeed sad to note here that the lineage of practical and radically political leaders of Kwara extraction has been extinguished. As it stands now, the only two things that are sure of rapid growth in the state are its population and misery. Whether they allude to this fact or not the state is a technically failed state on account of sustained gang-rape by succession of predators and marauding political leaders. And with despondency spreading like cancer across the communities, Kwara once an envious state have more or less become a new synonym for destitute commune. It is on record that Senator Bukola Saraki as governor did not bow out of office in a blaze of glory but had the distinction of being able to anoint his own successor whose agenda is to continue with the mischief tagged ‘legacy continues’. With the level of development the last fifteen years, I doubt if President Buhari, would rank the state as one of his most preferred destination for official visit. However, it would only amount to intellectual dishonesty not to acknowledge a new concern. It is time enough for the state government to find an ingenious means of feeling the pulse of the people.
Those who think the present administration in the state is infallible forget history. What kind of human beings perform saintly and heroic supererogatory actions? People with special upbringings either by way of culture, education, civilisation or religion excel in the performance of such actions. It is not surprising though that the incurability of the lackadaisical attitudes and the brazen recklessness of the state’s present leadership resulted from their ignorance and incoherent logic. Governance can only be overwhelming for persons like Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed who mistake weakness for courage leading to his relegation of responsive governance. It is essential here to point out that the Governor and his team have been playing a sUmaru Sha’aba Abubakar:
heepish game of pre-emptive politics. By tacking wrongly politically, they still hoped to steal the thunder. However, they failed to realise the times we are in are quite extra-ordinary. In times like these, the ordinary laws of political physics are suspended. Periods of trouble required a different governing logic than times of normalcy. Thus the present administration’s pre-emptive tactic would have been its elixir save that the governor is playing the wrong sport at the wrong time. Instead of pre-empting his opponents, he has tethered himself to inconsistent policies that make his administration scattered and without a strong identity and no thanks to the man who oversees it all, their very own, Hon. Ali Ahmad, Speaker of the State House of Assembly whose voice recently further lend credence to my earlier position that ‘the government’s IFK project has not justified its existence of addressing infrastructural deficit’.
Kwarans want answers for why the state economy went to dust and carried much of their hope and dreams with it. More than answers, it must be noted also that Governor Ahmed’s dream of a robust economy may not have remained a dream but for his administration’s policies that have been bereft of ingenuity. His policies have been half measures that smelled of compromises that could have been avoided had he chosen to stare down his political opponents. In the face of the greatest calamity in fifteen years, his policies learned more to political accommodation than economic coherence. While the manner he rescued the state economy left it weaker with a likelihood of remaining more susceptible to multiple distresses, his economic policy advisers are among the most tone deaf and socially detached in memory. They only have a feel for the pen, the calculator and macro-economic statistics but not for the reality of the average citizen in an economy that did not suddenly turn from an open field into a daunting, pulsating jungle. And with no sense of decency, government agents have spent most of last year and almost three quarter of this one cruising the media circuit telling us the state economy is recovering. The issue is not about the rising Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), dashed and unaccountable monies from the Paris Club fund or the galloping Federal allocation but government shrewdness and responsiveness to the immediate needs of the people rather than frivolities.
But to justify their claim, one need only look at the faces of the people in the streets and a drive round the state main capital city and the adjoining towns as well as take a census of youths entering the penal system. Responsive governance is a system that recognises the limitations of those in position of authority. If you place yourself before the people to be allowed to lead them, you have to demonstrate your capability for leadership which required knowledge of the challenges and solutions to them. Added to this is the fact that you must assume a humble posture that recognises that the people also have some knowledge of the issues and be ready to learn and be sensitive to, and constructively engage those citizens who voluntarily suggest ideas. But as it is now, to ask for responsiveness from such paradigms of government is to engage in wishful thinking.
I do not know how Governor Ahmed feels watching the type of embarrassment that the Gerin-Alimi underpass has turned to be each time his convoy took him to the airport. Having gone through some architectural alterations, it has practically become difficult even for the contractor handling the project to look at what is contained in his drawings and perhaps demonstrate some degree of experience. A few more months to its completion period, it is doubtful its present handlers can successfully deliver the project. We engage in sinister pastimes more often in Kwara that government policies remain deceitful. The present administration is not a reassuring one neither does it know is our agent. While the government had bothered to tell us that it had fulfilled all its electioneering campaignUmaru Sha’aba Abubakar:
promises, such claim so cheapens the truth that it should be considered a lie. Had the government been hooked to a lie detector, the machine would have long given way to exhaustion.
To find its way out of this conundrum, Kwarans must do what other civilised people do to save themselves. We must build on the opportunities offered during the recent council poll. We must divorce ourselves from the fiction that these leaders and the rest of us belong to each other. The people have remained for long a fugitive from order and stability. The stakes are higher now than the maintenance of a fraudulent civility and we must realise that the battle to free Kwara is a battle worth fighting. War is a contest of willpower. Although a state or alliance may have superior weaponry, it will still be bested by an opponent attached to a more compelling reason to fight. We may have been rattled and spooked and we have really been to the limit, nothing substitutes for courage. The law of retribution forgets no one.
Alhaji Tunde Mohammed is head of Research and Development, MGC.