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Zamfaralaria and Igbophilia

These are two diseases I am happy to incubate — if truly diseases they are. I just want to bask in the knowledge that if we but try, we can assist Providence in using the foolish things of this world to confound the wise by pausing to take a reflective step backwards instead of plunging at speed over the precipice.

In the last few years, Zamfara State has been in the news for the wrong reasons. When not being excoriated for misapplication of the Sharia law to target the poor, the state was profiled as a poster boy of mis-governance. At a time, the twin scourges of illegal mining and banditry gave the impression that the entire area was an ungoverned space.

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Typical newspaper headlines spoke of widespread misery and mis-governance: Bandits Run Riot in Zamfara; Gunmen Shoot Dead Nine Soldiers in Zamfara; Zamfara Governor Dethrones Emir for Aiding Banditry; Zamfara Gov, LG bosses Clash Over Council Funds; On the Run from Violence in Zamfara State; 8000 Have Become Widows, 16000 Orphans As A Result Of Banditry in Zamfara….

The way Zamfara was characterised, no other state would ever dream of borrowing a fairly used idea from the state.

All that is now in the past. Zamfara has woken up from slumber and is teaching the rest of the country how to reverse the ‘monkey-dey-work-baboon-dey-chop’ phenomenon in Nigerian politics where politicians gorge themselves at the expense of the people.

Last week, the Zamfara State House of Assembly abolished a law that authorised payment of pension and other allowances to the state’s former governors, deputy governors, speakers and deputy speakers. House Leader  Farouk Dosara, urged his colleagues to, as a matter of urgency, consider the repeal of the law which provided the jamboree pay for the former political leaders of the state (to the tune of about N700 million annually) while many civil servants were being owed their legitimate entitlements.

It will be recalled that last October, the immediate past governor of the state, Abdulaziz Yari, had written his successor, Bello Matawalle, over the non-payment of his outstanding upkeep allowance and pension in the sum of N10 million monthly. The repeal of the obnoxious jamboree law settles all that.

Many states in the federation have various versions of the same law which overcompensates those who had had the privilege of high public office even beyond retirement. Now, Zamfara has shown us the way. No matter by whatever name called, payment of pension to a public official who duly earned his fat paycheques while in office is sleaze by another name. It is a fiscal virus which only the kind of abrogation vaccine deployed in Zamfara is guaranteed to cure.

I hope the other 35 states of Nigeria will follow the Zamfara example. Let the other Houses of assembly line up for the Zamfaralaria jab.

Before the cheering news from Zamfara, a national daily had exposed the injustice going on in the Nigerian Police Force where lopsided appointments of state police commissioners favouring some parts of the country and marginalising others have been made by the Inspector-General of Police without reference to the Police Service Commission.

The Northwest zone has 12, CPs manning state commands: four from Katsina State, three from Kebbi, two from Sokoto and one each from Zamfara, Kano and Kaduna respectively. There is none from Jigawa, the seventh state in the zone.

The North-east has eight indigenes in command positions: two each from Adamawa and Taraba while Borno, Bauchi, Gombe and Yobe have one each.

The Southwest has seven: Osun has three, while Lagos and Ogun States have two each. The three other states in the zone, Ekiti, Oyo and Ondo, have none.

The South-southHas five: three from Cross River, one each from Akwa Ibom and Edo, while Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa have none.

The North-central has four CPs: Niger, Plateau, FCT and Kwara have one each, while Benue, Kogi as well as Nasarawa have none.

The South-east, takes the rear with only one CP from Imo State. The other four states in the zone — Anambra, Abia, Enugu and Ebonyi — have none.

We cannot build a nation on a foundation of injustice. In a country where the principle of federal character is constitutionally guaranteed, what kind of country are we hoping to build with such lopsided appointments? How are the indigenes of the Southeast supposed to feel when they are so brazenly excluded from participating in leadership positions in a crucial security outfit like the police force?

Brand me an Igbophiliac if you like, but it is such brazen exclusion that fuels the separatist narrative. One only needs to put oneself in the position of those from states that have been marginalised to understand how they must feel. The attainment of solid nationhood can’t be built on mere slogans. It is what you do, not what you say.

I have drawn a lot of flak from readers over the years for being unrepentantly optimistic about the future of Nigeria. I still remain optimistic — which is why I am calling on the Police Service Commission to ensure, without further delay, that every state in the federation produces a CP heading a state command. Anything less negates the principle of justice and equity. All in favour, say ‘Aye’!

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