AS APC stirs controversy in Sokoto
OLAKUNLE MARUF examines some raging issues in the politics of Sokoto State, as the present sate administration moves steadily towards raising the bar of governance.
Sokoto State constitutes one of the few states with a great influence in the nation’s political space. Apart from the seat of the Caliphate, the state parades politicians whose activities have continued to shape trends and direction beyond the precinct of the state. Conscious of this fact, the leaders of the existing political parties, especially the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) try to make a political gain from major issues relating to governance in the state. With the buildup to a rerun election in the Sokoto South/Sokoto North Federal Constituency and some other elections into the state House of Assembly, the political atmosphere in the state has come alive again after a seeming lull. Both the PDP and the APC are at each other’s throat over sundry issues, including the level of the implementation of 2019 budget of the state government.
The leadership of the state chapter of the APC served the first salvo raising questions on the level of implementation, performance of the state government based on the campaign promises of the PDP-led state administration. The state chairman of the APC, Honourable Isa Sadiq Acida, read a statement entitled, Sokoto State 2020 Budget: A chain of Broken Promises, at the APC state secretariat. He expressed concern over the policy of the administration of the state governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal. He claimed that the budget for the outgone year stood at N168.184 billion and said the governor was silent on issues pertaining to the 2019 budget when he presented the 2020 budget. He opined that the tradition was for the government to review the performance of the previous year during the presentation of the budget for the new financial year. He believed that,” According to the APC chairman, the presentation of the new budget provides a veritable opportunity for the government to showcase the level of budget performance, achievements and projects as captured in the outgone year. Therefore, Acida said it was important for the government to let the public know the number of the capital projects in the 2019 budget that were completed; the ones that are ongoing and at the stage of completion. The APC chairman claimed that some of the projects were yet to be delivered by the government included the Sultan Abubakar III International Airport Access road and additional structures, road network, children’s playground equipment at the International Conference Centre. But there was spontaneous reactions from different quarters shortly after the outburst of the APC chairman, with some stakeholders calling for caution on the part of the opposition party. Though the government was unruffled by what it regarded as a tissue of lies by the APC, the authorities gave a painstaking analysis to rubbish all the allegations.
Reacting on behalf of the administration, the state Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Honourable Isa Bajini Galandanchi, condemned APC for their unwarranted outburst against the government, urging the APC in the state to purge itself of ignorance about what budgeting is all about. He explained that a “budget is a projection of what one intends to do in a government in a period of time.” The commissioner said the APC ought to know that the availability of funds was critical for the execution of projects, stressing that the Tambuwal administration had been consistent on prudency and deployment of the meagre resources of the state judiciously.
“It appears that in spite of being in control of government for a long time in the state, the APC leadership does not seem to comprehend what the concept of budget connotes.Budgets are basically expectations and intentions which do not usually translate into 100 per cent reality. Therefore, the list of approved projects by the Executive Council are only achievable with corresponding availability of funds.
“Nonetheless, if the APC had checked well, it would have known that the state House of Assembly in which it has majority has confirmed that the administration of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, had performed creditably well in its execution of the 2019 budget, which it erroneously lampooned before you gentlemen.
“You would recall that at the signing of the 2020 budget on December 27, 2019, the Speaker of the Sokoto State House of Assembly, Rt Honourable Aminu Muhammad Achida, himself a staunch APC member, affirmed that “the assembly is aware of the achievements of the administration despite financial constraints.
He also indicated, in contradiction of his party’s current claim that the implementation of the 2019 budget has recorded a lot in the areas of education, health and rural development as well as many others. Also, rising above partisan consideration and political chicanery, the Speaker assured the PDP-led administration that the assembly will continue to accelerate the passage of any bill that is meant to improve the lots of the people of the state, the commissioner stated.
Galandanchi explained that the government remained fully committed to the wellbeing of all the citizens of the state, in spite of the challenge of scarce resources. He said that work was fully in progress on a lot of projects initiated by the administration designed to change the face of governance in the state. “While we battled shortage of funds to execute projects that would add value to the lives of the people of Sokoto State, our widow’s might has been modestly significant. Many projects that we initiated are already at an advanced stage. You are invited to visit the Sokoto International Diagnostic Centre at Farfaru. You may also wish to verify from the Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto the issue of the supply of books to it among other matters that the APC raised.
“Perhaps, the APC in Sokoto has lost its memory following the heavy knock down it suffered from Mutawalle at the poll. This could be why they can’t see any project worth N500 million executed by our administration.
“Please find out from Tukur Alkali, who was the immediate past Commissioner for Animal Health and Husbandry how much was spent by this administration on the cattle breeding project abandoned by Wamakko’s administration. You may also wish to find out how much was the cost of reconstruction of the deputy governor’s residence in Sokoto and who the contractor was.
“The purchase of fertilizer and its distribution under Governor Tambuwal is another area we want the APC to provide us with the details of the amount spent. I am sure Ummaru Na-Gwari, the former Commissioner for Agriculture can tell the APC if it is less than N500 million or more under his stewardship. Similarly, we would like Hon. Bello Sifawa to inform the world how much was spent by Tambuwal’s administration on environmental issues when he held sway as the commissioner in that ministry.”
Honourable Galadanci challenged the APC state chairman to enumerate programmes he supervised as the Commissioner for Home Affairs under Governor Tambuwal.
Talking about the leadership qualities of the governor, the Information commissioner revealed that Tambuwal’s policy on fiscal planning was to continue with any viable project or programme his administration may have inherited from any of his predecessors. He said: “As a government, we believe it is unjustifiable to abandon any project that will have positive impact on the lives of the people. In the light of the foregoing, the APC may wish to be reminded of some projects left behind by administration of Wamakko, which Governor Tambuwal is still carrying out and some have been completed. They include the Independent Power Plant (IPP); cattle breeding Project, International Conference Centre (which received scant attention from Wamakko’s administration but was done by Tambuwal from scratch to finish), Kalambaina Housing Projects and Sokoto City Projects at Asaro, Nakasari and Runjin Sambo. Others include College of Nursing Sciences, Sokoto; College of Agriculture, Wurno; College of Legal Studies, Wamakko; College of Midwifery Sciences; Tambuwal, Gidan Salanke Housing Project; completion of seven local government secretariat buildings and the completion of 5-kilometre road network in some local governments. He added that the present administration in the state started and completed an ultra-modern library complex fully equipped and functional at the state university and an office complex in the state university, as well as initiated the International Diagnostic Centre and Specialty Hospital; renovated and upgraded general hospitals in the state; initiated semi-urban water supply scheme in all the local governments in the state, Gudu Secondary School and also started a portable water scheme in 500 rural communities across the state.