Paul Orude, Bauchi
Although outsiders may view the resignation of Engr Nuhu Gidado on Wednesday May 23, 2018 as something that happened like a bolt from the blues, close watchers of unfolding events in the state since his inauguration alongside his boss, Governor Mohammed Abubakar, on May 29, 2015, think otherwise.
Sunday Sun gathered that a year into the administration, reports started flying about that Gidado, a Civil Engineer, credited with building some of the eye-popping structures in the state, including the 13-capacity Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium, Bauchi, among other edifices in the country, was fed up working with Governor Abubakar and wanted to resign at all costs.
A close ally of the erstwhile deputy governor who pleaded anonymity, revealed to Sunday Sun that each time the former deputy governor of the state wanted to resign, the governor would prevail on him to stay back while the circumstances forcing him to quit were not addressed by the governor. Some analysts of what happened believe that there was bound to be a personality clash between the two politicians because both of them are achievers in their own rights while their leadership styles are diametrically opposed to each other.
While Abubakar is a handsome, urbane, calculative politician, polished successful lawyer and former Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the state, Nuhu, a successful civil engineer and one-time governorship aspirant in the state on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) which later went into merger to form the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), is equally if not more popular and an orator than his boss.
According to our source, before the final straw that broke the camel’s back, Gidado had, in fact, tendered his resignation letter three times before the governor, but each time he did that, Abubakar would just tear the resignation letter into shreds.
During these periods, it was further gathered, unknown to residents of the state, Gidado was going through one of the toughest moments in his political career as prominent politicians and even traditional rulers would intervene and prevail on the former deputy governor not to resign.
Some residents who reacted to the resignation of Gidado believe there are more than meet the eye to the letter announcing his sudden and unexpected resignation.
“Gidado’s resignation is more intriguing because I remembered when the late Mohammed Gadi, a former deputy governor was impeached by the state Assembly, Gadi fought it in court and won and even came to resume office, but was prevented by security operatives,’’ Mohamed Dantala, a resident of Bauchi, said.
Dantala, argued that if the environment was right, Gidado is not a man to throw in the towel or accept defeats, adding that the fact that he walked away showed that he is a principled man.
In the history of Bauchi, Sunday Sun investigations revealed, Gidado and the late Gadi are regarded as principled politicians. While Gadi was acting on principle by refusing to decamp with ex-Governor Isa Yuguda from the then All Nigeria People Party (ANPP) he was nevertheless willing to operate as a deputy governor under Yuguda.
Sunday Sun gathered that it was a thing of surprise as it emerged that Gidado was most willing to leave office as deputy governor. Clearly, the political atmosphere under which he operated was choking, but he was powerless, so to say, to change it.
One of the close allies of the former deputy governor told Sunday Sun that because the deputy governor was bent on leaving and each time he tried, the governor would not accept his resignation, he decided to employ a different tactics.
A reliable source who worked with the former deputy governor who pleaded that his name should not be mentioned said: “There was a lot of pressure on the deputy governor. He wanted to be done with it.”
According to the source, knowing that Abubakar as usual would not accept his resignation letter dated May 16 2018, he changed his style.
“The governor refused to accept it and as usual Gidado was prevailed by prominent people in the state. Gidado who was in Abuja, requested one of his aides to get the reporter of Channels TV covering Bauchi State and handed a copy of the resignation letter, and that was how the story broke. The governor was reported to be in Abuja when the news broke in the media that his deputy governor had resigned,” the source said.
Gidado had written in his resignation letter: “Ordinarily, I should have remained up to the end of the tenure, but with the currently dampened spirit and waning zeal as it relates to my official engagements my continued stay will not be fair and truthful to you as my brother and leader.”
The governor, speaking through his Special Adviser, Media and Strategy, Ali M. Ali, said: “Expressed optimism that he will avail his vast wealth of experience to the state anytime he is called upon in the future.
Sunday Sun reliably gathered that things fell apart and the centre could not hold owing to the power play and what was viewed as the rising profile of Gidado ahead of the 2019 general election. Although Gidado had made it known publicly and even assured the governor that he has no ambition for 2019, a source close to the government circles pointed out that Abubakar was uncomfortable with the rising profile of his deputy.
It was learnt that as a tactical politician, he didn’t want to leave anything to chance and in the process created bad blood that paved the way for Gidado to go.
“All explanations by Gidado that he was loyal to the party and administration were not convincing to Governor Abubakar,” the source stated.
Gidado became frustrated when things began to unfold. Abubakar was said to have given Gidado the mandate to be representing him, but later insisted that he had the final say. This contradiction, it was learnt made Gidado helpless and a mere figure head in the administration more so when the governor was the type who travels frequently and rarely remained in the state to perform his executive functions. With a deputy who had no say, it was a dilemma.
Sunday Sun learned that the problem was fuelled by some politicians who warned the governor against giving his deputy too much powers. For instance, even as a commissioner for education, a civil servant in the ministry observed that Gidado was a mere figure head while other aides in the good book of the governor had more control in the ministry.
In the midst of all these, investigations revealed that the no love lost relationship between Governor Abubakar and members of the National Assembly from the state led by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara became one of the underlying factors that reportedly fuelled Abubakar’s suspicion.
An aide of the former deputy governor disclosed that the matter came to the head when Gidado was billed to go for a medical check-up outside the country.
According to him, speculations were rife and the governor was told that the medical check-up would be sponsored by the Dogara camp who are also planning to sponsor the deputy governor for the 2019 election. Abubakar was said to have summoned Gidado who vehemently described the report as untrue. The issue was said to have caused a lot of friction between the governor and his erstwhile deputy because the former was not convinced it was false speculation.
Sunday Sun learnt that the matter was settled through the intervention of the Secretary to the State Government, Nadada Umar, a highly respected politician and a close ally of ex-Governor Adamu Muazu. Series of meetings were said to have been held where Gidado said he had no knowledge of plans to sponsor him by the Dogara camp, saying that he has no political ambition. But some politicians said despite Gidado’s explanations the governor still didn’t agree. Pissed off by the development and lack of trust, Sunday Sun gathered that Gidado told the governor that he wasn’t interested in the medical check-up any more, but the governor insisted he must be paid and it was in this circumstances that Gidado said he has had enough and finally quit.
Our correspondent learnt from informed politicians and analysts that Gidado’s departure would dent Abubakar’s chances in 2019 more so as the governor seems to be falling apart with all the politicians that matter in the state.
With the outcome of the APC congress in the state, which has been rejected by the Dogara camp and his fight with many political heavyweights in the state, how Abubakar will navigate his way out of the battle for his re-election in 2019 remains to be seen, but one thing that the resignation of Gidado created is that the APC is in tatters and the administration of Abubakar has a tough battle ahead.
It will be recalled that Shehu Barau Ningi resigned as Commissioner for Budget and Planning citing lack of an enabling environment and Abubakar’s style of leadership that alienates subordinates and make it difficult to make meaningful contributions.