By; ABDULL-AZEEZ AHMED KADIR
I sat with a close associate of Kaduna State Governor Nasir Ahmad El-rufai somewhere in the heart of the city and as usual, we got cracking. We have disagreed several times as we have also agreed on state, regional, national and international issues, but the mutual respect grows each time because we always defer to each other’s superior arguments.
On this day, I asked if he actually believed that most of those around the governor are friends of the stool rather than friends of the King. He took a long breath and sighed. He took a long glance at me without answer and winked.
I told him not to border to proffer an answer. Again I asked; should for any reason El-rufai ceases to be the Governor of Kaduna State today, what legacy does he think he would leave behind and be remembered for in comparison to his predecessors?
Again he attempted some defences but ended in a cul-de-sac. Our patting shot was a prayer for the governor to see and do the right thing. Be guided and guarded by the interest of the poor who risked everything to ensure his victory at the polls. For, if he succeeds, the majority gains, and if he fails the people bear the brunt. But, posterity would be the best judge.
The Governor is in the news again, and for the wrong reasons; demolition. A gauge of the populace pulse will tell you that the governor is more the news for either wrong act or pronouncement. This, some aides would not want to hear or brief him about. After all, he said recently while breaking fast with select few journalists that he hardly listens to radio or watch television, but rely on brief by aides.
May I state at this juncture that he may be getting the briefs as the aides deem fit to portray them to be seen to be working. A case suffice here. This writer is tagged hostile to the government by no less a personality than the governor’s aide on media and communication; Muyiwa Adekeye for doing my journalistic job.
Now to the issue at stake; Gbagyi Vila encroachment and demolition. There are three actors here; Kaduna Polytechnic, the Gbagyi vila community and strangely, Governor El-rufai.
Let me state here that I am not rooting for anyone who deliberately break the law such as the issues of encroachment. But we should also know that the first responsibility of government is security of lives and property. And here shelter makes the greater part of the pyramid. A look at Maslow’s heirachy of needs says that much.
Unfortunately it is either Kadpoly is not been sincere with the Governor, just as the community has sadly, given the narrative an ethnic cum religious colouration, or the governor is living to his named “Mairusau”.
Why did l say this. In the regime of late Sir Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, he received numerous complaints of such encroachments. Three will suffice here; Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA) old site by Kurmin Mashi, Alhudahuda /Barewa College in Zaria and Kadpoly. Yakowa visited all the three places with a guided tour led by the then Commissioner of Education, Muhammed Muhammad Usman now a Member of the House of Representatives, herded on by the heads of the institutions.
At Kurmin Mashi, a committee was set up for amicable resolution of the issue. A demarcation was agreed on just as the land NDA claimed was encroached on was nothing but an old golf course. After then, with the involvement of the District Head of Badiko and Kurmin Mashi, Alhaji Abduljalil, it was fait accomplished for both.
Till date, residents of Kurmin Mashi just like the District Head, have Golf balls that strayed into their compounds, some smashing their window panes.
But not for long, it seemed the military authorities were waiting for Yakowa’s demise. One day the residents woke up to the blocking of the entries and exits of the place by fierce looking armed soldiers in combatant fatiques, drove in a bulldozer and pulled down every structure within and even beyond the claimed land. Some could not save even a pin.
Today, the military has erected fence using cement and stones, so high and so close to the buildings of residents such that some can’t even open their windows freely without touching the fence. Suffocating them, and God forbids, should any part of the fence give way, no occupant of such buildings would come out alive. They all cried to no avail.
Then Zaria. After a tour of the school, and witnessing the encroachment first hand, Yakowa was appalled and said so without mincing words. Someone suggested taking certain drastic measure to correct the wrongs. But in his characteristic manner, he declined and said there were better alternatives without wrecking havoc on human lives. He stressed that you don’t correct a wrong by another wrong.
The then Secretary to the State Government (SSG) , Alhaji Abdullahi Samaila Yakawada suggested that the whole land belonging to the school should be fenced and whoever had his “property” within the fence should know he had encroached on the school land. He either vacates voluntarily or any of the property the school deems fit for any use, the property should be valued and the owner either paid half of it or what the government deem sufficient to enable the occupant move on with his life as the school take ownership of the building for use.
Of course Yakowa never lived to implement that. And today those buildings are flattened by El-rufai. And like Unguwan Rimi, Maiduguri road and Gwari road where shops were demolished, not even a block has been placed there to fence or erect another useful structures there. Meanwhile, those who operated one business or the other there are rendered jobless and left in pains without alternatives.
Now to Gbagyi vila. I said Kadpoly is either not been sincere or misleading the governor for obvious reasons.
The management of Kadpoly had an agreement with the state government which I expect them to pursue to a logical conclusion, which would have save the situation at hand and not present El-rufai as a sadist and enemy of the poor as most see him now. Some are even asking if Kadpoly is a state or federal institution because of the way the governor is going about the demolition issue with braggadocio .
After the visit of Kadpoly management to Sir Kashim Ibrahim House and his subsequent tour of the Kaduna South Campus, Yakowa blamed previous management of the school for allowing such encroachment to occur without taking any action. He advised that what remains of the land be fenced. The management agreed to be provided another piece of land anywhere within the State to make up for what was lost to the encroachers in lieu.
And this was what led to the fencing of the school then.
Of course, with the death of Yakowa you would have expected the management of Kadpoly to pursue such agreement to a logical conclusion. And at best ensure anyone who encroached after the erecting of the fence get the axe as against what is being threatened now.
But not so the case. When recently the Kadpoly management led by the Rector addressed the media on the issue, he never brought such agreement to the fore. Of cause, the media brief was planned and executed by Sir Kashim Ibrahim House, with or without the Governor’s knowledge. Keeping mute about such agreement is a minus on their part.
So, is the governor aware of this agreement and still hell bent on demolishing these property, or the management of Kadpoy is misleading him to take an action that portrays him as a sadist who delights in seeing people suffer due to his actions? These are the questions begging for answers.
For Gbagyi vila, Kadpoly and El-rufai, this is the untold truth that everyone is mute about, at least for now.