Allegations of stealing, witch hunt, as Masari, Shema and EFCC put Katsina politics in disarray (A MUST READ)
The recent detention of former governor Ibrahim Shema of Katsina state means different thing to politicians on both sides of the political divides-the ruling All progressive congress(APC) and the opposition standard bearer, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)- and, their loyalists.
And of course, apart from the political class, the members of the public are equally divided over the issue.
While leaders of PDP and indeed their loyalists see Shema’s case as a pure political witch hunt taken too far,their APC counterparts argue that justice is being served in the case as the law is no respecter of anybody, whether rich or poor, in the society.
Penultimate week was arguably the toughest for the ex- governor as he was first of all declared wanted by the anti-graft agency, who in a well-publicised messaged, accused the former governor of failure to honour the anti-graft age cy’s invitation.
Of course Shema, speaking through his media aide, refuted allegations that he disregards EFCC’s invitation. Eventually, Shema visited the EFCC. As at the time of this report, the embattled Shema, is yet to regain his freedom since he voluntarily walked into EFCC headquarters in Abuja.
The latest development has pushed the turbulence of the former Governor to the front burner, although he has been the prime subject of the on-going judicial commission of inquiry in his home state.
Some observers of the Katsina and indeed Nigerian polity have argued that the APC drew a battle line with the former Governor before, during and after the 2015 general elections.
Those in this school of thought believe that one of the things that endeared the people of Katsina state to APC apart from the candidacy of General Muhammadu Buhari and Aminu Bello Masari was the anti-corruption fight in manifestation of APC.
True to his pledge to the Katsina electorate, the APC administration in Katsina made good its pledge to fight corruption and consequently rolled several committees and special panel to that end
While refuting the claim to PDP that Governor Masari was trying to use the EFCC to denigrate and persecute Shema, the spokesman of Governor Masari, recalled that the APC administration promised the state populace not only to be prudent, accountable and transparent but also be guided entirely by public interest. The Governor’s media however argued that series of petitions were sent to the agency by the public long before the advent of the present administration.
“To be sure, the Governor Amine Bello Masari led administration has indeed sent a petition against the former Governor to the anti-graft agency, but that was only one out of the many earlier sent to the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies, long before the present APC administration in Katsina came on board,” the Senior Special Assistant on media to Governor Aminu Bello Masari declared.
The statement continued: “It is therefore perplexing how Governor Masari could be blamed for something that predates his administration”.
An APC member of the Katsina state House Assembly, who spoke to Sunday LEADERSHIP on the condition anonymity, revealed part of the grouse of the ruling party against Shema.
He said: “From 1st June 2014 to 29th may,2015, the Shema administration spent all but four billion out of over N100 billion it collected as revenue. May I tell you, what they left Is just about three billion naira SURE-P and about one billion naira other accounts, spending about N98 billion in 12 months.
“There is no way we will keep quiet when such public funds disappear without tangible projects done within that period that could have gulped that money. The APC will do its best not to disappoint the electorate that gave this administration their mandate to intervene in education, health, agriculture and other sectors as never before.”
Strategic moves by some personalities in the state to reconcile the former governor and the APC over the issue had been fruitless, the law maker further confided in our correspondent.
“We believe that we are on the right course of fulfilling the promises we made to the people of Katsina State that the APC administration would be the agent of change which they asked for,” the law maker added.
On the other hand, Oluwabusola Olawale, head of the media team of Shema, assured that the former governor “is ready and willing to defend himself and clear his name.” He said the Lawyer-turned politician had been waiting for an appointment from EFCC since 28th June, 2016.
Although Shema is seen as one of the governors that executed several major projects in the state, the figure of how much reportedly disappeared from public coffers, especially during the second tenure of his administration is taking a huge toll on the fortunes and image of his opposition party in Katsinapolity.
A former highly placed official of the Shemaadministration, Nasiru S. Ingawa, during a recent sitting of the judicial commission of inquiry into the loss of about N72billion during the second term of the former governor’s administration, admitted that several cash withdrawals from the sate SURE – up funds were allegedly collected by the former governor for political purposes, party funding and the 2015 general elections.
Based on the revelation of the erstwhile special adviser on SURE-P matters and one time personal assistant of shema, there is no doubt that the battle line of either “Shema return the cash he allegedly collected or face the trial” may not end in a hurry.
The protracted trial and possible prosecution of Shema, many believe, would cause the free fall of the opposite party or at worst a sharp decline of its capacity to challenge the incumbent in future elections.
There is no doubt that the politicians who rely on slush funds from the former Governor to mobilize for PDP would be worst hit. They would find it difficult to finance their activities as the former governor struggles to clear himself of any wrong doing while in office.
Analysts’ believe that the erstwhile large followership of PDP in the state would crumble before the next election under the full weight of the law being brought to bear on the former Governor and anyone who is identified as a major challenge to the fortunes of APC.
Ahmed Tijjani, a trader in Katsina, told Sunday LEADERSHIP that if indeed the APC leaders were moving against Shema with such a mindset, they may not allow PDP chieftains to have sigh of relief in the state until the politicians posed no threat to the present administration.
According to him, the ongoing fight against shemaand the anti-corruption battle some top functionaries of the immediate past administration in the stat could, all things being equal, put PDP on the back sit in Katsina polity for a very long period of time.
He advised PDP supporters to brace up for the worst while expecting any miracle that could turn around the fortunes of the party.
(Culled from Leadership)