By Muhammad Auwal
The wild allegations made by Kaduna-based business man, Alhaji Mahdi Shehu against the government are so outrageous that only people that have not resided in Katsina State from 2015 to date would believe them. It is on record that at the heydays of the administration, Governor Masari set the precedent of organising town hall meetings with statekholders in state and local government administration where he personally gave statements of account and made the leadership of the Local Governments to do same in order to promote transparency.
Obviously, Mahdi Shehu has ignored all the facts of how transparency and accountability were brought to bear in the running of the affairs of government in the state. He may have done this in an all-out attempt to launch a war of vendetta against the governor or other officials of the administration.
The allegations he made are so wild and had totally ignored the need to present evidence to back up such outrageous claims. One of such allegations was that the Masari administration has claimed to have paid the sum of N2 million to each of the 12 policemen guarding Lambar Rimi wind power plant every month for a period of five years.
This claim does not hold water. The Secretary to the State Government, Alhaji Mustafa Inuwa who is in the best position to clarify issues around this item of expenditure has, at a press briefing, presented the actual amount that was spent to guard the facility.
Records show that the police guards were only paid for a period of two years, 2015 to 2017 as against five years which Mahdi Shehu claimed. I’m addition to the ten policemen, the state government similarly engaged the services of 20 members of local vigilante to provide improved security for the facility. Consequently the amount became N841,000 from July 2014 which the current administration inherited when it came on board.
From August 2015 the Masari administration reduce the figure to a monthly N416,000.00 after the governor visited the site on inspection. This downward review reflects transparency, an attribute that has defined the Masari administration since inception.
The following month, in September of 2015, a project vehicle was allocated to the wind plant which led to a subsequent increase in the amount to guard the facility to N466,000.00. The last payment made by the administration was in August 2017 when the state government wrote a letter to the consultant on site and the commission of police notifying them of the state government’s decision to stop the monthly payment.
As at the last count, the state government had paid N12.06 billion as payment to guard the project which if completed will contribute ten megawatts of electricity to Katsina State which will go a long way in boosting small and medium scale enterprises and by extension the state’s economy. Alhaji Mahdi Shehu made his claims without mentioning where the state government could source the money to pay the billions he claimed on guarding the wind power plant. Moreso, he claimed dto have met four policemen in duty without clarifying that the guards run two shifts.
Coming to other expenditure Mahdi Shehu claimed were funded from the state and local governments security escrow account, one of the most outrageous was the claim that the sum of N8 million was spent on the purchase of phones for the 12 members of the state security council. This allegation which was backed by faulty proof, as there is no proof better than that sources from appropriate quarters.
To begin with, no home is as expensive as to cost N8 million Naira which means Mahdi sourced his information from faulty sources. He also claimed that over N105 million was said to have been withdrawn from the security escrow account to purchase clothes and other wears for leaders of the three Islamic sects of Dariqa, Izala and Shia in Katsina, a claim which also does not hold water.
Records from the finance ministry shows that the total contribution of state government government to the escrow account from July 2015 to June 2020 is 3N3 billion while the contribution of Local Governments to the account was N3.4 billion making a total sum of N6.4 billion.
This is by far short of the huge amounts Mahdi’s claimed was spent from the account. All withdrawals and expenditure from the security escrow account is duly agreed by the parties that have state in the account, as against Mahdi’s claim that all withdrawals and spendings from the account were arbitrary.
Alhaji Mahdi Shehu also dragged the image of the Emir of Katsina in the mud by claiming that the state government has withdrawn N300 million and N30 for forest inspection and stakeholders meeting respectively.
The traditional institution is a highly revered institution that should not be dragged into petty politics of bitterness. Likewise no sensible government will withdraw the sum of N250 million of N25 million as claimed by Mahdi to be presented as gift to a security chief. This claim has also dragged down the reputation of the the military institution Al in an attempt to settle scores with Governor Masari or other officials of his administration.
Any person that is conversant with security matters knows that security is capital intensive as it is the framework upon which the economy rests. Without the efforts expended by the Masari administration on security from 2015 to date today Katsina State would be uninhabitable.
It is needless to say that what is most required from citizens at this critical period of insecurity in the North-east and North-west zones is valuable input hat could improve the security situation for the sustainable economic development of the country.
Muhammad Auwal writes from Katsina State.