Aminu Bello Masari, 71, is the incumbent Governor of Katsina State. Katsina happens to be the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari who is from Daura while Masari is from Masari village of Kafur Local Government Area. A former Speaker of the Federal House of Assembly between 2003 and 2007 during ‘Babacracy’ Masari could be described as a veteran politician — dour, austere and frugal much like Buhari. He speaks his mind independently on current national issues of importance. Sometimes he throws diplomacy overboard as he seeks to make his point.
Like his brother in Aso Rock he belongs to the (mis)ruling All Progressives Congress, APC. The Governor is facing multiple challenges in his state. And these has tested his character and competence beyond imagination. Challenges of insecurity, of banditry, of abduction and terrorism. If challenges like those of poverty, illiteracy and the ‘Almajiri’ syndrome are added to the aforementioned then no sane mortal could blame Masari for his predilection for infantilism and balderdash more often than not.
Confronted with these challenges that had tasked his gubernatorial mandate Gov. Masari has not hidden his lack of capacity to tackle any of them. He is impotent and he is not ashamed to say so publicly. But his sincerity is a striking contrast to Buharism.
At one time he had openly confessed his powerlessness and helplessness as his citizens daily suffer the consequencies of banditry, abductions and terrorism on a scale never before seen in the presidential state. He once called on his people to buy arms to defend themselves since he or the federal authorities were not up to the task of securing their lives and properties!
It is not that these crimes are recurrent only in his rural state. The criminal phenomenon is national and the Buhari presidency has demonstrated its opaqueness, nay aloofness, towards resolving them. Solution is far off if any idea exists at all on how to nip them in the bud.
At another time he was of the opinion that majority of the outlaws terrorizing his people were of Fulani ethnic group like himself! He made this declaration while featuring on Channels TV programme in Lagos. And just after dropping the bombshell the Governor soon joined the fray over the Value Added Tax (VAT) controversy. The VAT dispute involving rich states like Lagos and Rivers and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has continued to generate national controversy. And litigation has set in.
Gov. Masari may be honest in confessing the Fulani provenance of these crimes and his failure to provide solution. But his lamentations are no longer enough an excuse. He should consider resignation as a morally-imposing imperative under the circumstances.
If power were not centralized, concentrated in the incompetent hand of one old lanky man in Abuja; if power were to be devolved to the states in accordance with our constitution then the Katsina Governor could have had the power to help his people overcome their nightmares. Devolution of powers like restructuring remain issues worth campaigning for. Alas, Nigeria is run presently like what is obtainable under a military dictatorship!
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State was the first to append his signature to a bill passed by the state House of Assembly. He said the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt had sufficiently addressed the illegality perpetrated by the FIRS. And following the foosteps of Rivers State the Lagos State House of Assembly equally passed the VAT bill into law mandating the state government like Rivers to take control of all VATs collected in the state.
It is pointless emphasizing here that the value added tax is a money-spinning avenue through which the executive parasites in Abuja replenish their huge federal purse. And dish out favours to whom they fancy.
However, last week Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami, in a binding ruling, had directed that the law passed by Rivers State House of Assembly and assented to by Governor Wike must be put on hold pending the final determination of the suit brought before the Court by FIRS. An earlier application by the FIRS to the High Court in Rivers to stay execution of the judgment was refused by Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam on the grounds that the application would negate the principle of equity as the state legislature had already enacted the law on the VAT collection.
While States like Kogi are opposed to the states’ collection of VAT Gov. Masari tackled his Rivers counterpart by saying that his move was ‘unfair’. He made it clear that his state would maintain the status quo. “If you pay VAT in Lagos, it means you will also pay VAT all along the way until you reach your destination. It will bring a lot of burden on the people. That judgment is not fair” — argued Masari.
Value Added Tax may not be a major problem confronting the Masari administration in Katsina state. Besides, unlike Lagos and Rivers States Katsina contributes an infinitesimal quota towards the economic development of the nation.
Being the Executive Governor of the President’s own state ought to confer on Masari a serious leverage and advantage other Governors do not have. Yet he is crying more than the marginalized states (especially those in the South-east region). How do we then justify his tears and lamentations?
If President Buhari cannot secure his own state then every other states are in big trouble! If bandits could be daring over there kidnapping students and launching violent attacks (even when Buhari was in town in Daura) then things have indeed fallen apart. The falcon can no longer hear the falconer!
Governor Masari, having acknowledged his incapacity to tackle the hydra-headed insecurity in his state, ought to consider an exit option: the resignation imperative. He should throw in the towel as a sign of honour and responsibility. That is what is done elsewhere where politics as a game is played with honesty and responsibility. In Europe and America a Governor or Minister or Mayor could resign upon allegations of misconduct, sexual scandal or failure to meet the expectations of the people.
Governor Masari has not been accused of any heist, sexual scandal or misdemeanour but his failure to deliver security to his subjects means he is unfit to continue in office as the Chief Executive and Chief Security Officer of the state. If his command mechanism is hampered by forces in Abuja then he must demonstrate his exasperation and resign.
It is not enough to confess one’s executive failure to improve the lot of those that elected one into office. The path of honour leads straight to resignation. Of course, we are sick and tired of Governor Masari’s lamentations and hypocritical emotional displays. Mr Governor, why not resign now?