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Opinion

Governor Yahaya Bello’s Thuggery Against Dangote Cement

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Governor Yahaya Bello and Alhaji Aliko Dangote

 

Ali Abubakar Sadiq

Before i delved into the issue proper, we need first to understand how Governor Yahaya Bello’s mental furniture is arranged. I believe no one will disagree me that as much as his youthful vigor and exuberance, he exhibit equal energy in clamoring over controversies. He is a governor that can publicly flaunt his disregard for the law, considering he was once reported to have register twice with INEC and we all know double registration is against the law.

But to me his greatest absurdity was at its height during the Corona Pandemic when on June 30, 2020, he alleged that COVID-19 is an artificial creation aimed at causing fear and panic among people. And he went ahead to rejected N1.1bn support fund from the World Bank because of his belief that COVID-19 is a “glorified malaria”.

In defense of his view he told the world “I rejected the World Bank fund because I do not believe in COVID-19. Even the five cases reported in Kogi State is an NCDC creation” He also condemned the use of the vaccine, saying it is meant to kill people.

A statement even his comrades-at-arms, at the Nigeria Governors Forum quickly dissociated itself from. His other shortcomings, like most politicians, is he’s surrounded by sycophants that chose only to tell him what he wishes to hear.

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During the recent Obajana furore, Dr. (Mrs) Folashade Ayoade, the Secretary to the Kogi State Government and Chair of the Technical committee that was saddled with the responsibility to evaluate “The Legality of the Alleged Acquisition of Obajana Cement Company Plc by Dangote Cement Company Limited” said “The claimed transfer of Obajana to Dangote Industries Limited was “invalid, null and void.”  And goes on to contradict herself by saying “Kogi State Government should take steps to cancel the EXISTING seven Certificates of Occupancy in the name of Dangote Cement Company.” While also acknowledging that “Agreement between Kogi State Government of Nigeria and Dangote Industries Limited, dated 30th July 2002 and supplemental agreement dated 14th February 2003…are all invalid, null and void” and also added “All the transfer process of the share capital to Dangote from Obajana by the previous administration was without any law backing it by the state House of Assembly,”

In any society led by sensible leadership, dispute resolution always follow sane and legal channel and as enshrined in the MOU between Dangote and Kogi State, a clause called for arbitration in case of any dispute. Whenever dispute arbitration failed, there is always an alternative route through legal redress. But Kogi State government under Yahaya Bello prefer to use thuggery and intimidation against the company instead of rule of law.

To go down memory lane, beginning with a prayer to the departed soul of two-time governor of Kogi state, Prince Abubakar Audu, whose legacy led to the rise of Obajana Cement Company as one of the largest cement company not only in Nigeria but the African continent.The company was a brainchild of Abubakar Audu conceived during his first tenure in 1992. His dream was to make Obajana a household name in the world (God has granted him that wish) thus he registered a company under that name for Kogi State government. Successive governments for a decade between 1992-2002, failed to capitalize the company and make it up and running.

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Abubakar Audu resurrected his pet dream during his second tenure and in 2002 approached Dangote to come and make Obajana Cement company a reality. After series of meetings and negotiations, Dangote added Obajana Cement under the umbrella of its Dangote Cement (that already have the former BCC under its umbrella) through an acquisition arrangement that concessed 90% share for Dangote and 10% share for Kogi State in which 5% stake is for the state government and the other 5% for its citizens interested in investing therein. Dangote was allowed to use the Obajana name as a vehicle of its investment.

It was also agreed that Dangote shall be granted tax relief and exemption from levies and other charges for a period of 7 years to stabilize the company and begin making profits. With the agreement sealed, Dangote seeks the intervention of World Bank under International Finance Corporation and acquired a loan, the first company in the country to have received such.

By 2003 Dangote Industries acquired the 2 square kilometer land in Obajana to build the factory after payments of compensations and receiving C of O’s. In line with Nigerian constitution, the Federal Government not state governments, had the licensing authority for extracting mines/resources, Dangote applied, obtained and paid duly the mining leases since inception. It was only in 2010, after the Kogi State government’s failure to abide by the agreement clause that stipulates Kogi State government should have the option to acquire 5% equity shareholding within 5 years, that Dangote Industries in an attempt to aligned with the Dangote Brand, changed the Obajana Cement Company’s name and the much older Benue Cement Company to Dangote Cement Plc.

In a nutshell, we can discern from the above that Kogi state has no equity claim since they did not invest a single kobo in the company, Dangote paid for the land and the lease for the mines and according to The Executive Director of Dangote, Alhaji Ladan Baki, they have documented proofs for consistent remittance of tax payments to Kogi State Government since 2007. He even went further to claim that Dangote had paid 16 Billion Naira to Yahaya Bello’s administration.

Now back to Governor Yahaya Bello’s fallacy in this charade. Obajana cement is one of the largest labor employers in the country, employing 22,000 people out of which 50% of them are indigenes of Kogi State. Traditional rulers in the state are usually the ones submitting list for the recruitment of their people at Obajana, yet they watch as Yahaya Bello is behaving like a bull in a china shop. He sent hooligans that besieged the factory, trespassed, intimidate and perpetrates act of violence by wounding several factory workers with gunshots and stabbing. The thugs even forcefully shut down a boiler that operates at a temperature of 1500 degrees, which a mishap could have been calamitous. As a governor that attains notoriety in his failure to pay salaries for his seven years in office and even in this year 2022, a state government employee claiming he received under 3000 Naira for the month of March, can he afford over ten thousand of his people having their livelihood threatened?

As the country is desperately in need for foreign investing, what signal is Yahaya Bello sending to potential foreign investors, when indigenous ones are being threatened like this? What about the loss of man-hours, money, goods and confidence his charade is creating? After being one of the worst performing Governors in terms of infrastructure and maintenance of his civil service (with record of longest unpaid months to civil servant) does he really want to cripple the biggest investment in his state at the twilight of his non-performance tenure?

I concur with Ladan Baki in his assesment that Kogi State has one of the most educated northerners, it is time they rise up to protect their state from ignominy. Politicians usually employs thuggery to cover their mistakes and the Kogi elites must demand what Yahya Bello did with the Dangote 16 Billion paid to the state coppers and other revenue accrued in the last seven years.

Finally, i think this saga should serve as lesson for us all; we must rise against politicians and demand rule of law and transparency and consider them based on what they offer not take from us; Yahya Bello should understand that it is what you do today that judges you in posterity, as we have seen how the Legacy of Abubakar Audu continue to live. As for Dangote Industry, i am vindicated for my earlier criticism of them in their choice of places to invest, closer home is always more secure. What the outcome of this conflict will be, remains to be seen, but hopefully we look forward to an amicable solution when the conflicting sides meets for the second time this Thursday under the arbitration of the presidency.

 

Opinion

The Benefit of State Creation, By Adnan Mukhtar

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Comrade Adnan Tudunwada
Adnan Mukhtar Tudun Wada

 

 

On July 11, the Senator representing Kano South Sulaiman Abdulrahman Kawu Sumaila sponsored a bill for the creation of a new state, Tiga State.

This is not the first time that people from different parts of the country are agitating for the creation of new states in their region.

The call for the creation of Tiga State didn’t start today ,During the regime of Late General Sani Abacha the creation of Tiga state gatheres momentum ,Insiders in the Presidential Villa confirmed that General Abacha have already made up his mind to carve out Tiga state from the present Kano state but due reasons best known to him the Late Head of state announced the creation of Zamfara state from the Northwest on 1st October 1996,even with that the agitation did n not die down , I came across agitators for Tigari State from Kano North and Tiga from Kano South while in Secondary school during the administration of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.

Ned Nwoko, a Senator from Delta State sponsored a similar bill for the creation of Anioma State.

Young men like me who are in their early 30s and not current with issues in the country may think that the recent move by Senator Sumaila was the first of its kind.

There were similar requests for the creation of Okura state out of Kogi, Aba from Abia, Hadeija from Jigawa, Katagum from Bauchi, Karadua and Kafur from Katsina, Lagoon from Lagos, Borgu, Kainji and Gurara from Niger and many more.

In 2013, the House of Representatives received more than 50 requests for the creation of new states.

The creation of states began in 1967 when General Yakubu Gowon created 12 states after abolishing the regional system, General Murtala Mohammed 7 states, General Ibrahim Babangida created 11 states between 1987 to 1991 and General Sani Abacha created 6 states.

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Some young men on social media were criticising the move by the Senator by expressing their pessimistic thoughts that the bill may not scale a second reading or get the assent of the President. They argued that such requests had never given any priority since the return to democracy 25 years ago. The idea of creating more states is dead on arrival.

Some are of the view that such moves require a very long process because constitutional amendment in the country is a very difficult thing.

While states in the country relied on federal allocation to survive, they can’t pay salaries and their internally generated revenue has been very poor; the creation of additional states is adding a burden to the Federal government at this time of economic instability.

Nigerians are facing the most difficult economic condition under President Tinubu. Sadly, the President doesn’t care to address this critical issue by going ahead to purchase a presidential aircraft that’s worth 150 billion dollars although the president has yet to increase the minimum wage, long queues at the filling stations, a bag of rice is close to 100k with a 30k minimum wage; I wonder whether the president is serious enough in attending to this matter of National concern.

Some of the agitators of this are seeking the expansion of platforms for their citizens to utilise their potential under a federal system of government.

It was not a wrong thing to come up with this idea but a constitutional right. I’m sure most of these agitators and bill sponsors are speaking the minds of their people.

Some people are accusing Sumaila of trying to divide the people of Kano. These sets of people are deceiving themselves. The people of Kano South have been crying about marginalisation and being denied the dividends of democracy since 2011.

Abubakar Rimi was from Sumaila in Kano South, he governed Kano in the second republic. Kabiru Gaya governed Kano in 1993 and since then, the people of this zone are yet to be given any chance to govern Kano.

They have also been crying that most of the developmental and infrastructural projects are been centred in Kano Central while abandoning the rural areas.

State creation in states like Kano with 44 local governments will enhance development and bring government closer to the people.

While I support the idea of having more states like in the US, we should put this at the back of our mind states are building blocks for development in the Federal system of government and will boost democratic governance.

Adnan is a political PR consultant, he teaches Islamic History, Culture and Civilization at Federal University Dutsin-Ma. He can be reached at adnanmukhtaradam@gmail.com

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Opinion

The Political Motivations Behind Nigerian State Creation: A Historical Analysis

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Nigeria's Map
Nigerian Map

 

Abdullahi Dahiru

Many proponents of state creation believe that Nigerian states were created for progress and development but history tells us otherwise.

Sarkin Kano Sir Muhammad Sanusi had dispute with the then Northern regional government leading him to abdicate the throne in 1963. Many Kano people were angry with the way the Northern regional government treated Sarki Sanusi and decided to form a pressure group called Kano Peoples’ Party, KPP. KPP agitated for creation of Kano state out of the then Northern region because many Kano people believe the regional government unfairly treated Kano province even though the province contributed revenue to the regional government more than any other province. KPP also agitated for the reinstallation of Sarki Sanusi as the Emir of Kano.

After 1966 military coup, there was tension between the Eastern region and the central government. The governor of the then Eastern region Odumegwu Ojukwu decided to secede from Nigeria to form an independent nation of Biafra. Just 3 days before Ojukwu’s decleration of independence, the head of state Yakubu Gowon abolished the regional governments and created 12 new states. The purpose of the state creation by Gowon was to reduce the power of Ojukwu and get the support of minorities and other sections of the country. Kano province was among the new states created as Kano state partly fulfilling the wishes of the KPP.

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State creation became an important aspect of military rule. Murtala regime created seven more states bringing the total number of states to 19. In 1987, Babangida’s political bureau recommended creation of two additional states to make the total number of states divisible by three, so as to get a perfect number when 2/3 of states is being computed to determine the winner of presidential election. This was to prevent the recurrence of dispute of 1979 election about what is the 2/3 of 19 states. So Babangida created Katsina and Akwai Ibom states in 1987.

Babangida and Abacha created more states in 1991 and 1996 bringing the total number of states to 36. The 1991 and 1996 exercises were done when there were pressures for Babangida and Abacha to handover power to civilians.

During the military regions committees were formed to recommend states to be created when there were plans to do those exercises. The committees receive requests from different groups for creation of states but the ultimate decision was done by the military council. The military do that often to satisfy lobbies from high ranking military officers and powerful Nigerians. It is often not about the people or development.

State creation was easy under miltary regimes since the constitution is usually suspended. A sole administrator is posted to the new state and take up grant given by government. That is very difficult in civilian administrations because of many bottle necks.

Whoever analyses the history of state creation in Nigeria he will know that it is almost exclusively done by military regimes and it is not something done for development or anything but political expediency. The most economically viable Nigerian state has remain a single state since 1967. Civilian administrations have tried several times to create new states without success. Many states that were created are surviving only because of monthly revenue allocation from the Federal Government. Without that federal allocation, they are nothing.

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Opinion

Kawu Sumaila: A Senator in need and indeed, By Adnan Mukhtar

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I forwarded a complaint to Senator Sumaila two weeks ago over the lack of water, school, and basic amenities for the people of Kawuri and Bangashi Villages at Gaya Local Government. I told the Senator that my washerman sent this complaint to me that they have been suffering for decades over lack of water and other basic amenities in their villages. The Senator replied to me with ” Noted Adnan zamuyi abun da zamu iya.”

Kawu swung into action the next day by sending his men to construct two boreholes for each town and assured them of bringing more dividends to them as they requested.

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This is called excellent representation. Doing exactly what will bring rapid development to his zone and Kano State.

Just some weeks ago, the super Senator supported a bill for the establishment of a Federal Medical Centre at Rano, the headquarters of Kano South, which was presented to the House by Rt. Hon Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, and today he is presenting his sponsored bill for the creation of Tiga State. This is a welcome development.

Something that people are not aware of is that the entire members of the House of Representatives from Kano South are united to bring something positive to their people.

People like Rt. Hon Kabiru Alhassan Rurum, Dr. Abdulmumin Jibrin are all over bringing the dividends of democracy to their people.

 

Adnan is a university lecturer, lobbyist, and political PR consultant

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