Katsina 2023: Considering Dr. Usman Bugaje – By Malam Naini Musa
As we edge closer to the 2023 election in Katsina, it is of utmost value that we rummage through the pillage of names already towering up and come up with a choice that will salvage katsina state from its sorry state. It is almost a consensus that we are in a rut. After witnessing sharp growth in Education, Healthcare and Infrastructure, we have slowly deteriorated from that position to anarchy in rural areas, failing infrastructure in the urban areas and general hopelessness in our attitudes and belief. This state of hopelessness is not self-induced, rather it was imposed by an administration that is either innocently clueless and could not do better even if it wanted to or unbelievably corrupt. Either ways, the people of Katsina must do whatever they can to avoid a repeat of this catastrophe.
Of the many names predicted to run for the office of the Governor of Katsina, Bugaje is a fond one. Dr. Usman Bugaje is a trained Pharmacist, Politician, Political Activist, Islamic Scholar, and Academician with impressive track record. He is a graduate of Pharmacy from ABU, Zaria. His postgraduate credentials include an MA in inter-disciplinary Social science and doctorate in Intellectual History of West Africa both from University of Khartoum. He served as the Special Adviser on Political Affairs to Atiku Abubakar in the presidency (1999-2003). Bugaje went on to represent Kaita/Jibia Federal constituency in the Federal House of Representative where he chaired the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Mr. Bugaje was later appointed the National Secretary of the Action Congress (AC).
Despite his impressive CV, Bugaje’s most impressive work is his Arewa Research and Development Project ARDP). ARDP is a public policy group that is promoting policies to restore stable governance and stimulate economic renewal in the northern states in Nigeria. His ability to dig his hands into problems and get his hands dirty are perhaps missing in the upper echelons of Katsina Administrations today. Anyone that has listened to the man talk must marvel as his ability to take a problem from its root up, analyze it and offer reasonable, implementable solutions. In an hour of scrapping the top and sweeping the rest under the carpet, this quality is priceless.
Bugaje over the years has not shied away from criticizing the Buhari’s administration handling of economy and security. While speaking in a Channels TV interview, Mr. Bugaje said “We have seen how kidnappers have been collecting money and are enjoying it, and the government is in a way legitimizing the industry,” he added that the government “can’t do what it needs to do, and what it should do, and what it can do.” Comments that were bound to get him in trouble and they did eventually. On one such occasion, after offering his views in a television interview that was critical of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on AIT, Mr. Bugaje was invited by the Department of Secret Service (DSS).
Mr. Bugaje is not all criticism though, he had attempted for the office of governor of Katsina three times, the first in the 2007. His first attempt saw him come third, other attempts however were prematurely ended in primary elections. In his last attempt in 2015, he lost the primary election to the present governor of Katsina, Alhaji Aminu Bello Masari. In 2016 he received an ambassadorial nomination by the President, an offer he rejected due to his desire to continue his project with Arewa Research and Development Project (ARDP).
Throughout Mr. Bugaje’s long career both within and without the public service he has not been tainted with a single blemish on corruption and other unethical cases. While this can be dismissed as what is expected of any public servant, In Nigeria, this puts him in a rare class. The Nigerian public service is a hub of looters and to be looters. In most cases, the only people without a case to answer are those waiting to have an opportunity to loot. Modest as this achievement is, it highlights the character of the man. While in Rome, Mr. Bugaje does not do as the romans do.
Some believe that while the man himself is full of ideas and impressive track record, his inability to mount a serious assault is demoralizing. Politics is not just a game of strategy and ideas, those resources must translate into victory. It can be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari struggle to crack this challenge himself. The General even concluded that should he fail in his 2011 bid, he will not present himself for another election ever again. After his 2011 failure, his supporters had to prevail on him to run in 2015. Like Buhari, maybe Bugaje has to give it another go. Fourth time may be the charm.
Whatever you think of Mr. Bugaje you will have to agree that he could not have done worse than the present administration. The present administration’s run from 2015 till date has been an utter failure. One is forced to wonder what would have been had someone with the CV of Bugaje been in charge. The present katsina administration’s culture of flopping its line on everything that matters is probably due to its lack of capacity. Having totally flopped for two terms, any attempt to recycle anyone within the fold of this administration will be nothing short of catastrophic. It’s a binary choice; you either get a spineless and ethically bankrupt individual or a person who lacks the skill or capacity to navigate through these challenges.
As we approach the 2023, Dr. Usman Bugaje is worth paying attention to. After all, having an Academician, Pharmacist, Islamic scholar, Political activist, Civil Society leader, thinker and writer is not so bad a choice. However, after coming off this roller coaster of disappointment come 2023, the alternative is not so appealing.
Mallam Naini Musa