From Paul Orude, Bauchi
Alhaji Salisu Ahmed Barau, the former Bauchi state commissioner for Information during the administration of Mallam Isa Yuguda, is a close ally of Yuguda. He speaks on the decision of Yuguda to dump the PDP, among other issues.
It is almost two years now that your party the PDP lost power to the APC in Bauchi state. What is your assessment of the current administration in the state?
Well we thank God for his mercies. Before the expiration of our tenure, Mallam Isa Yuguda laid a solid foundation for the security of lives and property and that is the most important thing. This foundation is so important that the current administration is enjoying it. We are happy because the people are living in peace. But when you look at the state in terms of good governance, I will score the administration zero because I don’t see any kind of drum beating by the government that has not been able to pay salaries as at when due and whenever the salaries are paid, the governor will come out and be bragging thinking that payment of salaries is an achievement which is not.
If you remember, this government has received bailouts from the federal government almost three times now, yet people are not getting their salaries as at when due . Look at the issue of gratuity. They have not been making any effort in seeing that those people who retire from active service are paid their gratuities. Look at the issue of welfare generally, if you look at what our government did in the past eight years, youths were gainfully employed and engaged. The issue of sarasuka became a thing of the past. Look at the State University, health centres, Mallam Isa Yuguda and his party were able to deliver in all these sectors.
The current administration has alleged that the Yuguda government left huge debts, what is your take on that?
If you are a keen follower of the activities of this administration since assumption of office, this will not come to you as a surprise. This is a government that will say something today and change it tomorrow. If you recall, at the inception of this administration, they publicly came out and told the whole world that Mallam Isa Yuguda had looted the treasury. He went and left behind a debt of about N120 billion. No sooner had they said that than they came out to say the debt was below N80 billion. They kept saying this figure today and saying another figure tomorrow. If you remember the story of the alleged stolen aircraft, what happened? If you remember the lies and inconsistencies of the state government, you now come to the conclusion that this government lacks direction.
The issue of recovery of stolen properties as they claim, we have also been vindicated on that. We went to court, they challenged us, and we won. They went to Appeal Court we won. They are now heading for the Supreme Court and we are sure by the time we go to the Supreme Court we are going to floor them there too because government is government. Mallam Isa Yuguda was a governor from 2007 to 2015. Within this period, whatever he has done as a governor, he did it within the confines of constitution. When a governor approves the allocation of property, another governor cannot come and say he has acted wrongly, that is why we will continue to floor them in the court of law because they are very lawless.
You lodged complaints against the current administration shortly after Yuguda’s much publicised return to Bauchi, after almost 18 months, what happened?
Mallam Isa Yuguda as a citizen of Bauchi state came to Bauchi sometime in November. The large gathering that came to welcome him showed how Yuguda touched the lives of the people. People believe in him and still believe in him. They think of the many good things he has done for them unlike what they are experiencing now. So when he came in, the people came out en mass to welcome him. Forget the fact that he lost election in 2015. Those were reactions. Signs of need for chance but they brought another person and he is not performing in Bauchi and in order for people to show their anger for what they ate seeing now and their love for Yuguda, they trooped out. The police commissioner here we don’t know whether he was acting the script of the government, intimidated Yuguda and his people and as a law abiding citizen he came in and went back quietly but we on his behalf complained to the National Assembly and security agencies. The National Assembly organised a public hearing and required every actor in the saga to appear before it but it appeared that the sitting government here and their representatives refused to appear. The hearing has been conducted and we are now waiting for the outcome of the investigation by the House committee.
What were the circumstances that forced Yuguda to leave the PDP?
The issue of joining a party is personal. He was one of the founding fathers of the PDP but unfortunately because of the activities of the party at that time he was forced to leave the PDP to ANPP and he won an election and decided to come back this party, the PDP. Now he completed his tenure on the platform of PDP. As a person that has every right to decide on his political future and having seen the problem bedeviling the PDP, today he decided to leave the party and that’s his personal decision. As someone close to him, we decided to follow him as our leader and when he announced his defection we will also follow him. We are now waiting for which party he is going to join and lead us to but as far we are concerned and as far as he is concerned; his problem is the welfare and peaceful co-existence of Bauchi people and Nigerians.
Your principal’s posters for president surfaced sometime ago in the state fueling belief that he will join other heavy weights like Sule Lamido and Atiku Abubakar to run for the presidency in 2019. Is that correct?
All those posters you saw in Bauchi were pasted by the agents of this government in order to smear the good name of Mallam Isa Yuguda. He doesn’t have a hand in those posters. Like I said, the issue of party affiliation and the issue interest in vying for any office is purely personal. When the time comes for Yuguda to vie for any political office, he is a law abiding Nigeria, he is capable and wherever he goes we will follow him.
What do you make of the pro and anti Buhari protests that took place in some cities in Nigeria recently?
As far as we are concerned, we remained committed to the ideals of General Muhammad Buhari. It was not the APC people that voted for Buhari alone. People who didn’t have any interest, any political affiliation, voted Buhari because we saw in Buhari, a Messiah , a person that will take Nigeria to the promised land. Government is a one man show. An ordinary citizen selling akara on the street needs to contribute to the success of the administration whether it is through prayer or through contribution of his quota to development. Buhari is only a person.
There are many Nigerians praying for the success of the Buhari government. It is normal to have pro and anti government. However what people are crying for now is the issue of the living conditions of Nigerians. People want food on their table.