From: ISMAIL OMIPIDAN, Kaduna
Kaduna State is made up 23 councils. The state, for political convenience, is further divided into three Senatorial districts: Kaduna North, Kaduna South and Kaduna Central. But while Kaduna South Senatorial District, which is predominantly Christians, has eight councils, the remaining two Senatorial Districts, which are predominantly Muslims, have 15 councils. But there are also about two councils, within the Kaduna Central that are also predominantly Christians.
Although, in the Southern Senatorial District, there are pockets of Muslims, who are indigenous to the state, there are also substantial numbers of non-natives, who are equally Muslims, same, goes for the two other Senatorial districts.
But while it is easier for Muslims to claim to have come from either the North or Central district of the State for the purpose of political benefits and patronage, it is always difficult for a Christian to claim either of the two Senatorial sistricts, just as the Christians would also resist any attempt to allow a Muslim nominee to represent Kaduna South Senatorial District for the purpose of political patronage.
For instance, when Senator Nenadi Usman first signified her intention to run for the Senate, to represent Kaduna South Senatorial District, the mere fact that her husband is a Muslim, was used as campaign tool against her. Though a Christian, the people of the area believed that she would not likely to stand up and be counted when the need arises. What, however, helped Nenadi’s election was that the then serving Senator, who later defected to the Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN, had alienated himself from the people. Ironically, this was the same man the people had queued behind in 2007 against a more formidable Hassan Hyet, the then secretary to the state government (SSG), heavily backed by the then government.
But for the Muslims in the State, it is always easy for them to navigate between North and Central Senatorial districts of the State, for political gains. For instance, once it was clear that Senator Isaiah Balat could not be “trusted” with power, and knowing his political romance with the Zaria people, Namadi Sambo, who later won the party’s ticket in a controversial circumstance, and who originally grew up in Sabon-Gari, Zaria, was drafted into the race. Although, Zaria falls within Kaduna North Senatorial District, and since the out-going governor then, Senator Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi, who hails from Makarfi town, is also from Kaduna North Senatorial District, it was not politically possible for another person from Kaduna North Senatorial District to be governor. So, Sambo had to claim his area of residence in Kaduna metropolis, which falls within Kaduna Central Senatorial district, to be eligible to run.
Suleiman Othman Hunkuyi, a PDP gubernatorial aspirant, also did same thing. In 2003, when he challenged Makarfi and contested the governorship of the State on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP, he contested on the understanding that Kaduna North Senatorial district deserved the coveted seat. And since where he hails from falls within the Senatorial district, it was welcomed. But in 2007, he contested the primaries with Sambo on the understanding that it was the turn of the Kaduna Central to produce the governor. And like Sambo, he also claimed his areas of residence in Kaduna metropolis, which also falls within Kaduna Central Senatorial District. It was upon the same assumption that he contested the 2011 primaries against late Yakowa, before he was disqualified in a controversial circumstance. Though he was later cleared barely 24 hours to the poll to contest the primaries, those in charge ensured he had little or no impact on the delegates. But for Hunkuyi and the curfew that later followed following the post-election violence, 2011, would have signaled the end of PDP reign in Kaduna.
Political Appointments under late Yakowa
Contrary to the claims by both the late Yakowa and Yero, that Yero was his natural choice for the position of deputy governor then, Daily Sun can authoritatively reveal that Saidu Adamu, the incumbent information commissioner, who is so far the longest serving information commissioner in the state, was Yakowa’s natural choice. Adamu, Daily Sun gathered, warmed himself into Yakowa’s heart because he was one of the very few commissioners that gave Yakowa his deserved respect, as deputy governor under Sambo.
But when Sambo insisted, that Yero was not only going to be deputy, but would also continue as Finance Commissioner simultaneously, Yakowa succumbed. But what he now did, Daily Sun further gathered was to refuse to allow Yero continue to man the Finance ministry based on the initial arrangement.
And so by May 28, 2010, barely three weeks after Yakowa’s elevation, Yero was sworn in as the deputy governor of the State, just as Yakowa announced the dissolution of the cabinet same day. But the SSG who is a Christian, from Southern Kaduna was retained. Usually the tradition in the State is for the SSG to be Muslim, if the governor is a Christian, and vise versa. And it took Yakowa about another three months from the date of the dissolution, to reconstitute the cabinet again.
The Delay in Re-Constituting Yakowa’s Cabinet
A lot of reasons were adduced for the delay in re-constituting the cabinet then. While the Yakowa’s group believed then that the delay was occasioned by the alleged “unnecessary demands” of Sambo, to allegedly have at least 11, out of the 23 Commissioners, in addition to having the deputy governor function as Finance Commissioner, the Sambo’s men believed otherwise.
Dismissing the view, however then, a senior member of Sambo’s ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ told Daily Sun that “If I grant an interview now, they will say we are fighting the man. But I want to assure him through your medium that at the time he would need us most to also make certain comments in the media on his behalf, we will not be there for him, since he has refused to be there for us too. ‘When you say Oga’s men,’ virtually all of us have been engaged. There are only two people left, the Chief of Staff and the former Works Commissioner, Sidi (now NEMA DG). I am sure with time, Oga will fix them up.
“The only two people that perhaps Oga may be insisting that they be accommodated are the two ANPP nominees, because these two guys are products of an agreement reached between Oga and Senator Aruwa. The agreement was such that even if there was going to be a cabinet re-shuffle at any point in time, those two people must be accommodated, because if we had not entered into that agreement and allowed Senator Aruwa to go ahead with his case in court, Oga’s election would have been nullified based on exclusion.
“So my brother, this is the truth. Nobody is holding him (Yakowa) hostage, but rather he is the one who is confused. He has been busy asking people to bring their C.Vs, from the same local government, he will promise two people to make them commissioners. These are really the issues; they are just accusing the Vice President for a thing he knows nothing about. Or is it the Vice President too that has asked him to say he could function without commissioners? What many people don’t know is that the man is also afraid of paying political appointees. He knows that appointing new commissioners mean releasing certain allowances to them and paying those dropped severance allowance. So these are some of the issues, it has nothing to do with the Vice President. If the man knows that he has no idea of who to make commissioners, then he should not have dissolved the cabinet in the first place,” the source had said in a story published by Daily Sun, in July 2010.
Also responding to the issues raised then, Yakowa’s spokesman, Reuben Buhari, had in the same publication said the delay in constituting the cabinet was deliberate, and that it was aimed at getting the “best, most competent and credible hands” that would aid the governor in moving the State forward.
Buhari further disclosed that Permanent Secretaries of the various ministries, who have proven to be very competent and capable of running the various ministries, have continued to ensure that no aspect of the State matters suffers from any neglect.
Hear him: “following the various shades of speculations permeating the State and beyond, on the composition of a new cabinet for Kaduna State, it has become necessary to correct some misconceptions and reassure everybody that the dissolution of the cabinet was meant to put together a crack team that would vigorously pursue the attainment of the 11-point agenda.
“However, there is the need to have a complete picture of the level of performance of each ministry, to debrief the former Commissioners and their Permanent Secretaries on the level of performances of each ministry and its various activities,” Buhari added, even as he said then that the governor was assuring the people of the State that “a new and vibrant” cabinet would soon be in place.
The Cabinet Re-constituted
Like other governors before him, Yakowa also tried in his own way to balance political appointments in the state based on the ethno-religious configuration of the state. Under him, before he died, for instance, while the Muslims had 13 commissioners, the Christians had 11. However, in the appointment of other aides, including special advisers and assistants, it tilted more in favour of the Christians. He also altered certain arrangements to the chagrin of his predecessor, Vice President Namadi Sambo. For instance, he refused to make Yero, run the Finance ministry. He instead brought in a Christian to man the ministry. Also, he refused to return one of Sambo’s men, who had manned the Works ministry under Sambo to the same ministry. He also brought in a Christian, Barnabas Qurix, who is now the Vice Chancellor of the State University, to man the ministry and pushed Sambo’s man, Sani Sidi to Culture and Tourism. This led Sidi into resigning shortly after their inauguration, and he was promptly made NEMA DG, by the federal government, through Sambo’s influence.
Even when Yakowa returned after the 2011 elections, the strategic and eye-catching ministries in the State, initially manned by Muslims before his elevation, only that of works was returned to the Muslims, as Finance, Economic Planning and Justice ministries, were all manned by Christians, till his death.
What the Cabinet will look like under Yero, the new governor
Whether now, or in the future, Yero would offload most of the aides and members of the cabinet he inherited from Yakowa. Although, the current SSG, Abdullahi Samaila Lawal Yakawada, a Muslim, (the first Muslim to be so appointed since 1999), being from Kaduna Central, could as well remain since the governor is from Kaduna North. The fact that a Christian must by way of balancing occupy the position, makes it imperative to offload him. Besides, Yakawada, a grassroots mobilizer and a member of the Professor Ango Abdullahi political family in Zaria, had long before the death of Yakowa, addressed a press conference where he declared that if the late governor was not going to run in 2015, he would go for the plumb job in the State. The only reason perhaps he still retains the position for now, is because the current Head of Service, who has about a year to leave the service, is a Christian.
Already, Daily Sun gathered authoritatively that the governor’s camp may have settled for Honourable Yakubu Barde, as the SSG. Barde, is a Christian from Southern Kaduna, but his Local Government falls within Kaduna Central Senatorial District. If this happens, it will also alter the existing north-south, Christian-Muslim political sharing formular in the State, which in the past had been the norm.
But Yero will also be doing nothing new, if in the end, he also brings in Muslims as his personal aides, including returning certain strategic ministries, hitherto manned by Muslims to them.
One thing that may however make Yero suffer some stiff opposition from within the PDP, is if he tries to bring in more of Sambo’s men than others into his government. Already, that is the pattern. The deputy governor is Sambo’s man. Like the deputy governor, Barde, who is being considered for the position of the SSG, is also Sambo’s man. If this trend continues, it would certainly not help Yero; neither will it help the PDP in the State politically, ahead of 2015.