Unraveling Bago and Kantigi: The Cautions Nigerlites Must Take
Unraveling Bago and Kantigi: The Cautions Nigerlites Must Take
By Awaal Gata
The section of Niger State’s electorates who are spoiling to cast their votes for the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Isah Liman Kantigi, in the forthcoming governorship elections did not reach the decision out of love. Neither was it out of their belief in his capability of healing the multitude of problems that are ailing the state.
The choice they are spoiling to make is simply because of their misconceived disgruntlement with the incumbent leadership of the state whose enthronement was via the All Progressives Congress (APC) in 2015, and Umar Mohammed Bago, Kantigi’s main opposition, is the candidate of the APC.
Even though Niger is my state of origin whose situations I should always be engrossed in, for personal reasons, I do not critique the administration of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello. However, whatever grouse people have with the administration, they should know that the preceding administration, where Kantigi was a frontline feature, massively contributed. The pension brouhaha which now elicits frequent protests by pensioners is a cogent example.
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Those who understand the issue of pensions in Niger State readily relate that they were settled almost seamlessly during the late Governor Abdulkadir Abdullahi Kure and before Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu came on board and introduced the scheme that has now fouled it to the extent that even his successor, after almost eight years in office, has been unable to resolve it. This is simply overlooked or not blamed because Nigerians, not only Nigerlites, have amnesia and a predilection to denigrate the present and deodorize the past.
Nigerlites should never see Bago and Sani Bello in the same light. Neither should they be tarred with the same brash brush simply because they are both in APC. Many of them are afraid that since they belong to the same party if Bago comes on board, he will continue to espouse the same or similar leadership or governance style. Anyone who is touting such a view lacks currency in Nigeria’s political and leadership systems. First, it is axiomatic that Nigeria’s political parties are bereft of (recurrent) ideologies. Every player plays in consonance with their lights, unlike, say, the United States of America where the ideological peculiarities of the two parties –Democratic and Republican — are evidently poles apart. Against the background of the foregoing, there is no way Bago will continue with Sani Bello’s governorship style because they are members of the same party.
It is equally axiomatic that there is often a lack of continuity in government programmes and policies. No administration wants to continue where the preceding one left off, no matter the parties involved. Even though it is believed to be a foremost factor impeding Nigeria’s development, I don’t think the cessation of the trend will come with Bago.
Bago has already released the manifesto with which he is going to run his administration if he wins, and it bears no semblance to Sani-Bello’s Restoration Agenda. So another dawn that Nigerlites sought should be expected.
I have studied the manifestos of both Bago and Kantigi. The contents are symmetrical. And while they are both exemplary and capable of revamping Niger’s ills, Bago’s is a bit nuanced by international best practices and more in coherence with the United Nations template of sub-national development.
But beyond and beside the manifestos, it is pertinent for Nigerlites to unravel the respective baggage of both Kantigi and Bago. Their antecedents. Their histories. Their stories. Their track records. In part, these should be because of the purposes of integrity and competence which will be major determinants in revamping Niger.
Who Bago was and how he became a public figure are public knowledge. Before Bago became a Member of the House of Representatives in 2011, he was a banker. Everyone knows this. The same, however, cannot be said about Kantigi before he became the Chairman of Edati Local Government Area in 2008. Kantigi’s rise is circuitous and knotty. While he told and still tells the world that he was and still is a businessman; records, however. say otherwise.
The absolute truth is, he was a staff of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. But why doesn’t he publicise it and fill it in his Form EC9 which he submitted to INEC? Why doesn’t he hide his employment with the government of Niger State between 1984 and 1986 and even fill it in the Form EC9? For the latter, he specifically worked as a Store Officer at Government Science College, Izom, and left after he was unable to explain the whereabouts of some of the school’s items under his care. For the former, it is because he was impersonating someone. He used the person’s Degree Certificate and records of previous employment to get into the Consular Department of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Foreign Service Officer III on Salary Grade Level and Step 14/6. Kantigi’s name at FMFA was Musa Alhaji Maiyaki. His staff number was: 5/Aa 9241. Apparently, it is because of this sham that his older children are surnamed ‘Musa’. Some of his children still live in Block 5, Flat 5, Foreign Affairs Quarters, Wuse Zone 6, Abuja, which the FMFA allocated to him as a senior officer in 1992. He bought it during Obasanjo’s privatisation of government properties.
As the Chairman of Edati, truly, Kantigi executed projects that his colleagues could not match no matter how they tried. But it was not that he was more dextrous than they were. His membership of the infamous Joint Account handed him the scope of manipulating funds that were beyond his brief. However, what he was getting from the Joint Account was not commensurate with the projects he carried out, which are the fulcrum of his ongoing campaign.
Both as Council Boss and Commissioner for Local Governments, he was infamous for inflating contract sums and awarding them to companies he registered in his children’s names.
As a Commissioner, his invasion of the coffers of the state was legendary. In April 2017, the Nigerian media was awash with the stories of how the sum of N6 billion belonging to the government of Niger State was traced to three accounts owned by Kantigi or companies he owns. Even though he has been able to evade the wrath of the law, what Nigerlites should not cease to contemplate should be, how could someone who has no known business been able to wreck in N6 billion. Even the stupendous amounts he’s been dishing out on his campaign trail ought to be put into question.
Because Kantigi has been able to perennially evade the wraths of the law, he seems more daring lately. He no longer hides his pillage. For example, in a video that emerged from one of his campaign outings, he was telling a crowd in Hausa that every looting of government funds that is for the benefit of the masses is justifiable. The symbolic meaning of his words was that, truly, he looted public funds, but he uses them to solve the problems of the masses. That is nonsense; why didn’t he dish them out immediately after the pillage or when he was Umar Nasko’s running mate in 2015? How many people did he empower between 2008 and when he declared his governorship aspiration? How many Nigerlites were able to reach him or he was able to reach when he fled to Dubai in 2015 to enjoy his loot and also evade arrest? Common sense should warn Nigerlites that the money he is currently doling out, the bridges he is fixing, and the schools and mosques he has been serially renovating are not of his own volition. They are designed to buy the people because he knows if he becomes governor, a deeper till will be available for him to pillage from.
If not for the sterility and the Machiavellian tendencies of Nigeria’s judicial system, Kantigi shouldn’t be qualified to contest in any election. However, the diadem is now in the hands of the people of Niger. They should ponder whether or not the welfare of their state is safe under the leadership of someone who is totally bereft of integrity because he is a merchant of falsities, a pathological impersonator and serial looter.
And my readers should know that this isn’t a political hatchet job, but the catholic truth which Kantigi cannot deny, if he is afraid of God.