AMINU Bello Masari, the
Executive Governor of
Katsina State is a good man.
I reached that conclusion
in 2007 when he visited the
Nigeria Labour Congress
where I used to work. He
was every inch a gentleman
and as the conversation wore
on, I wondered what he was
doing in the shark infested
waters of Nigerian politics.
He had been Speaker of the
House of Representatives.
Given the discussions, I was
not surprised he left the then
ruling Peoples’ Democratic
Party (PDP) for the far
smaller and lesser known
Congress for Progressive
Change (CPC) on whose
platform he ran and lost
the 2011 Katsina State
gubernatorial elections. But
in 2015, he won that election
on the platform of the All
Progressives Congress
(APC)
I thought with Masari, a
revolution was imminent
in that state. He had to
cut grass to pay his way
through school, and I knew
he would not want other
children to go through
the same path. For him,
education is the foundation
of any viable society, and he
is to be judged not so much
by the physical structures
he builds as governor but
by the successes he scores
in education which was
tottering when he came
into office. He decried the
fact that between 2011
and 2013, out of 250,000
students the state presented
for WAEC and NECO
examinations, only 58,000
made five credits, including
English and Mathematics.
He further clarified: ‘’When
we removed students in
private schools in Katsina
State and our indigenes that
sat for the external exams
in other states, the number
of students who got five
credits, including English
and Mathematics in public
schools which government
is running is about 340 to
500 students’’
He lamented that the
indigenes of the state can
only produce less than
5000 candidates eligible
for admission into tertiary
institutions.
In order to get a good
grasp of the situation, he
set up a committee which
found serious gaps between what was on ground and the
figures in the register: ‘’What
the Committee found in the
register is that there are 1.2
million pupils in primary
schools but when it conducted
a head count, the Committee
counted only 728,000. In
secondary schools, it saw that
378, 000 students were on the
register but only 328, 000 were
actually on ground”
Masari lamented: ‘’There
is no position in Nigeria that
a Katsina indigene has not
occupied. We are the only
state that has occupied the
Presidency of Nigeria three
times. This is a foundation that
was built by our parents but
before our own eyes, we have
left it to deteriorate’’
He pointed out that the
rot in education was not just
in the state but also in the
entire North West where he
said a 2013 Federal Ministry
of Education and UNICEF
survey found that 80% of
school age children in all the
states in the Region, were out
of school in contrast with the
states in the South including
Kogi which had 80 percent
enrolment. He cited another
Report, a UNICEF- DFID
survey which interviewed
and assessed primary school
teachers in the North West. It
revealed that: ‘’Most of them
couldn’t pass the exams of the
primary four pupils that they
were teaching‘’
I have read that the Masari administration is carrying
out a revolution in education.
For instance, the Katsina
APC Chairman, Shitu.S. Shitu
claims that the government
has renovated over 1,800
dilapidated primary schools
across the state in order to
revive the education sector.
I thought that was a great
achievement so I was shocked
when Governor Masari fired
with immediate effect, the
Education Commissioner,
Professor Halimatu Sa’adiya
Idris; how does a coach fire
his deadliest striker and
most prolific goal scorer?
The content of the sack
letter personally signed
by the Governor was even
more shocking. He praised
her exemplary service and
acknowledged that under
her leadership of the Ministry:
“schools were rehabilitated
and upgraded, new ones were
constructed, teachers were
trained and the atmosphere
made more conducive for
learning and teaching”
Despite these successes he
said the Commissioner had to
go because she is not a partisan
politician. He explained
that with the 2019 elections
approaching: “it has become
necessary for the government
to bring more active politicians
on board so as to fasten
activities of governance”
Indeed, governance must be
quite difficult if a governor has
to sack performing officialsbecause he needs to empower
professional politicians who
can help win the next elections.
Those of us outside power may
not appreciate what people in
power go through; we always
assume that 2 times 2 must be
4. But politics is not arithmetic.
The burden of governance
must also be quite much.
Take the case of Benue State
Governor, Samuel Ortom.
When the killings in the
state by alleged herdsmen
was getting to frightening
proportions, the people rose
to demand a ban against
open grazing. Listening to
the voice of his people, a law
against open grazing was
passed.. Shortly afterwards, 73
people including babies were
massacred. It was claimed
that the massacres were a
reaction to the new law. Many
politicians blamed him for
listening to his people. Some
even mocked him. Whereas
the issue of herdsmen and
farmers has become a national
security matter that requires
the declaration of a state of
emergency in the country,
some tried to reduce it to a
Benue State problem. A bitter
Ortom exploded: “Henceforth,
I have withdrawn from any
political activity for now, till
peace returns to Benue State.
No one should think of 2019
for now; the year will take care
of itself. I was elected to lead
the living, not the dead. I’m not
afraid of death. I would rather die defending my people.
This is beyond politics”
Now, if it were in
parliament, he would have
been accused of using unparliamentary
language;
how can a politician say he is
withdrawing from political
activity? To worsen matters,
he said the next elections
can wait. Which Nigerian
politician is not thinking of
the next elections?
Clearly, Ortom was veering
off, he was like a lost sheep
who had to be brought
back to the fold. So seven of
his brother APC governors
drove to see him. The
killings they proclaimed,
are being politicized.
On Thursday May 26,
2016 following a similar
massacre, APC governors,
then led by Governor
Rochas Okorocha of Imo
State had paid a similar
condolence visit to Benue
State. On that occasion,
Ortom had lamented that
women and children in his
ancestral home had been
massacred and the area
occupied by herdsmen.
Today, Governor Ortom
is torn between his
immediate constituency
and his larger national
constituency. That is
part of the burden of
governance.

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