From Paul Orude, Baucbi

Bauchi Women Coalition for Sustainable Peace and Viable Democratic Gains has reacted to call for suspension of Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouk over alleged vote -buying.

Bauchi Elders for Sustainable Development in a press conference last Sunday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend Farouk
vote-buying in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Minister’s husband is the APC gubernatorial candidate for Bauchi State.

Reacting, the Secretary General of Bauchi Women Coalition for Sustainable Peace and Viable Democratic Gains, Hajia Fatima Abdullahi, in a press conference in Bauchi on Wednesday, dismissed the called saying it did not represent the minds and thoughts of elders of Bauchi state.

“We know our Elders and how they think. Our true elders would have called the Honorable minister to order in a roundtable discussion. This is a political group with clear political motives,” Abdullahi who led other women to protest the call stated.

She said the Elders Forum was quickly concocted, “as is the tradition around elections, so that its members (of like minds) will be dilly-dallying between political actors so that they don’t miss out of the ‘largesse’ of the season.”

Abdullahi argued that the so called Elders Forum’s main motive for the press briefing was political, describing them as sectional bigots.

“The spokesperson for the group narrowed down the thoughts of his group to questioning the state of origin of the Minister when he said that ‘…the Minister, having married an indigene of Bauchi State and cased to be from the state she is presently representing Bauchi’ and concluded with “……as it stands now, Bauchi North Senatorial District is having three Ministers in the Federal Executive Council (FEC)”.

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“On the first issued the group raised above, we like to only ask a question; ‘In Nigeria, does the constitution bestow on a woman, after getting married to a man from another state, indigene status of her husband’s home state?

“The group should try to find that out. On the second part, we frankly don’t understand how a group that purports to be an Elders forum of its people will be so myopic in its outlook to complain about the composition of Ministerial appointments of the same people whose interest it is expected to protect.

“All the three Ministers they referred to are indigenes of Bauchi state, so what is the problem here? Do they want the positions to be allocated to other states? Is that patriotism or the lack of it, or are they actually blinded by egocentrism or bigotry?

“Another of such baseless allegations made by the group which we think worthy of mention is where the spokesperson said ‘…..the Ministry is getting allocation from the Federal purse but using it on some sections of the state under the pretense of helping women and other vulnerable children.’ For us, this is an exoneration of the Honorable Minster, because the group did not say the funds have not been used judiciously, but there grouse is with it being used in “some sections” of the state. If they are truly an Elders forum, is that a problem, and if it is, why is it only now that they deem it fit to mention?

Finally, the spokesperson mentioned that his group heard from some officials of the Ministry where Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouk is overseeing that “……staffers of the Ministry are going about collecting data of people with the hope of making money transfers to their accounts at this period of election…

“This we find implausible. If the group can prove it, we charge them to do so, so that the staff involved in this are exposed, so that the Federal Government that they work for will know them and take appropriate action.

“The best part of this whole rebuttal we save for last. The spokesperson for the so-called Elders Forum for Sustainable Development, when challenged by the Press ‘to justify the issues he raised’, the Tribune wrote that ‘he declared that though he is a member of the PDP, he was not “sponsored” by the PDP to raise the observation contained in the press conference but acting as a concerned citizen of Bauchi state………’ If he was not ‘sponsored’, was he sent? Was he speaking on the platform of the PDP or of the Elders Forum for Sustainable Development? Who bankrolled the expenses for the press conference and the advertorials in the Nigerian Dailies and social media?

“Finally, ladies and gentlemen, in the last paragraph of this report in the Tribune online, Yahaya Sulaiman concluded by telling the Press that ‘We are not alleging any misappropriation in the Ministry but in fairness, the activities should be suspended for now’. This shows that the press conference was mischievous, a futile exercise contrived to cause distraction, waste the time of the media, and try to confuse the reading public, or perhaps to gain the attention of the person who it was surreptitiously made to look like an indictment on.

“The Bauchi Women Coalition for Sustainable Peace & Viable Democratic Gains wishes Bauchi State and its entire citizens peace and successful conduct of the upcoming Federal and State elections. The state had maintained its status (for over a decade) of being a haven for those running away from all forms of human right abuses from neighboring states and we pray that God will continue to bless the state, its religious and traditional leaders, politicians, and the masses of the people.”