Dear Sen. Bukar Abba, PLEASE IGNORE THE IGNORANCE
By Abubakar Bukar Kagu Machinama (PhD)
The transient nature of life was the reason history is still an important discipline. It is through writing that the stories of heroes’ past were kept, transmitted that we revere them for the things we did not see; we did not feel, but have in many ways shaped who we are. In those words that resonate through space and time, the soldier’s epitaph is one that tells of how he sacrificed his today for our tomorrow. It is because of the prodigious foundation you put in place, especially in terms social cohesion and human development that your successors had the leverage to focus sturdily on infrastructure.
To begin with, let me stress that I am a core Buharist and have an ardent reverence for what Governor Gaidam has achieved over the years. Yet, it will haunt to my conscience if I remain aloof in the face of the incessant mischief, attack and attempts to demean your personality, character, political opinion and legacy. Like many others, I am a living witness to the kind of sacrifice you made in the quest to place Yobe on the path of growth and development. The ignorant can be forgiven for not knowing how you nursed and nurtured Yobe State. For the ingrates, we have little but to remind them that for every one of them, there are hundreds of us, Yobe indigenes, that are eternally grateful to you. Hence, I feel the moral duty to write this piece, which coincidentally I am doing from the comfort of my office at the Yobe State University; a foundation you laid that was subsequently enhanced by Gov. Gaidam.
Going back to when Yobe was created, its indigenes came from former Borno carrying only their enthusiasm, experience and a sense of hope. A little later, you emerged as the first democratic leader and arguably the foremost catalyst for a propelled developmental legacy, democratic sense of belonging, inclusiveness and a systemic strive to build what was hitherto a low level of human capacity. It was, therefore, not a coincidence that when you contested the second time, the support of Yobeans was emotional and overwhelming. We vividly recall that during your campaign to be a governor for the second time, you didn’t have money, only your goodwill, the kind of goodwill that money cannot buy. For those of us now at our prime, it will be impish to forget, so soon, that you made democracy and governance a collective prerogative, you redefined humility in power and gave the opportunity and space for people to achieve, to earn and to prosper. Lacking the space to embark on the whole narrative of how you captained Yobe, I will start and end with the basics.
Yobe began as mundane enclave that is at the bottom of every developmental index. Then came your silent but far-reaching policies for education, rural development, housing and employment. For every son and daughter of Yobe that is employed in government at the time, your policy affirms an unconditional leeway to proceed with his or her education. All of us, in our hundreds that attended and graduated from places like the University of Maiduguri will attest to this historic reality. Life was easy for most students across Universities and polytechnics as many earn the minimum wage and were also given scholarship. Parents were also relieved from paying tuitions and in many cases, living stipends. Although some may argue that the system does not follow the due bureaucratic process, our peculiarity as a people demands that we focus on the defining our priorities and policies on what best suits our peculiarities. This you understood very well that a liberal approach is necessary in order to propel, support and encourage the young from Yobe, many of whom are today doctors, lawyers, managers in various institutions and leading technocrats of our state ministries and parastatals. For every team of educated men and women in today’s Yobe, the better equation will admit that directly or by extension, Sen. Bukar Abba has played some role in their lives.
Having worked with the Borno State government for years, you came to Yobe as a leader with a broad-based experience, especially in the areas of rural development. That idea you often discussed as part of your understanding of utility of the defunct Directorate of Food, Road and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) led you to establish the Ministry for Integrated Rural Development (MIRD). To date, the better equation of our rural infrastructure, water, rural electrification, dispensaries and schools were first built during the hay days of MIRD. Then came the idea of mass housing scheme. For those who know, and to those who wish to know, most of Yobe indigenes came from Borno with very little to show for their years of public service and private hustle. The population they met in what is today Yobe wasn’t any better too. It is you Sen. Bukar Abba Ibrahim that laid the foundation for what was to continue as a mass housing project for public servants. This saw, for the first time, a driver, a messenger, a school teacher and all those whose life’s choices seldom denotes owning a house of their own, having their thinking and limitations turn around. From Ali Marami to Waziri Ibrahim Quarters, families began living in shelters not rented from other individuals. As if that was not enough, the scheme was reworked into the ‘owner occupier policy’. As it stands today, a large number of retired civil servants live in houses that were part of these humane policies or successors to those policies.
Whatever the criticism or insult, history will always remember that it was your empathetic policy-mindset, approach and focus that set the first great ball rolling for Yobe. Of recent, the attack has been on your opinion that often drifts to your personality. As a true son of Yobe who travelled the miles seeing this state become what it is today, I challenge anyone without a sin to cast the first stone.
Dr. Abubakar Bukar Kagu is the Director, Centre for Research and Capacity Development on Humanitarian Studies of the Yobe State University. He can be reached on