By Steve Osuji
It’s a sad statistical fact that Governor Aminu Tambuwal is about to leave Sokoto State far worse than he met it.
Again, Sokoto is adjudged the poorest State in Nigeria; but the real story is that for the past eight years since Tambuwal became governor, Sokoto has consistently won this Misery Trophy, with the numbers getting worse each year.
If this condition bothered him, it never showed. His cheeks got rosier.
He simply scored an ‘A’ at immiserating his people.
One can’t seem to escape the image of Tambuwal using the mass of his disemboweled people for trampoline!
The current report of the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which showcases the dire situation in Sokoto deployed multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) assessment by surveying deprivation in areas such as health, education, living standards, employment and security.
These are basic human development indices. Sokoto turns out number one in the country, leading four other most deprived states: Bayelsa, Gombe, Jigawa and Plateau.
But Sokoto is particularly worrisome because it has almost led the class of failures for the last one decade. Under Tambuwal, Sokoto has become a metaphor for wretchedness.
One is particularly miffed because Governor Tambuwal met this miserable situation in 2015 when he assumed office as governor and nearly eight years after, the people are much poorer.
In 2015, Sokoto had about 85% poverty rate. Today, it’s 90.5%. The state remained almost consistently number one poorest state in Nigeria since 2015.
That over 90% of Tambuwal’s people are wretched doesn’t even paint the proper picture. Let’s imagine that about 20 out of 23 LGAs in the state are under the survival threshold.
By the same garish token, most of the children are out of school (yes, Sokoto leads in number of out of school children in Nigeria), children suffer acute malnourishment, insecurity is rife and access to quality healthcare seems a rarity.
Taken a step further, it means 9 out of 10 people are in dire conditions; child and maternal mortalities are extreme. Access to potable water, sanitation nil and hygiene conditions are at the nadir.
The state government has disparaged the report as it is wont, living in denial. But one would expect the state government to have raised a statistical bureau of its own to generate its own data, but nothing of such. A serious state government ought to feed external bodies with basic data for global surveys. Local data gathering cannot be rocket science, can it?
And in all its debunking, the state government points to no concrete action taken or measures put in place over the years to tackle any of the problems highlighted in the poverty surveys.
For instance, the Federal Ministry of Education, the Commonwealth Office and UNICEF have in the last ten years, embarked on the Girls Education Programme (GEP) in six northern states which according to reports, has enrolled 1.5 million girls in school, among other salutary results of the initiative. Not one concrete action is known to have been pursued by Tambuwal in all his years.
Tambuwal came to Sokoto with much promise. Having shown a progressive bent and flashes of brilliance as Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was expected to show some class in the governorship of the vast, agrarian but underdeveloped northwest state. But sad to note that he has failed spectacularly.
Beyond the NBS stats, casual observers cannot remember Tambuwal at any work site, nor is he known to have commissioned any projects of any size at all in 8 years.
Legacy projects are unheard of in Tambuwalland. On the other hand, Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State still manages to deliver critical development projects, torn as Borno is by terrorists. That’s responsible leadership!
On the contrary, Tambuwal has been upfront in politiking and in the unbridled quest for more political power. For instance, since 2020, barely one year after he won a second term, Tambuwal had apparently abandoned his duty post in Sokoto in search of the Presidency of Nigeria.
The dirt poor conditions in the state seemed not to be his concern as he jets across Nigeria in supposed consultations. Official time and state resources were frittered away mindlessly to service a man’s blind quest for personal aggrandizement.
The question is how can a man who cannot make any remarkable impact on one state deign to have capacity to run 36 states? In the final analysis, Tambuwal has been thoroughly demystified as a vacuous politician with neither competence, capacity nor character.
Yes, we say character because apart from allegations of humongous graft in his tenure, his politics has been revealed to lack honour and statesmanship. Besides his desperate but futile efforts to be president, the whole world watched as he ditched his friends in the South to pitch tent with a fellow northerner in repudiation of his party’s rotation policy.
If Tambuwal were a man of honour and lover of justice and equity, he would insist that a southerner emerged as his party’s flag bearer.
Let Sokoto immiserate for all Tambuwal cares. He has long abandoned that duty post. The poor of Sokoto will always be with us, he must have told himself. Currently, his chief preoccupation is to win the Presidential diadem for his party, PDP.
He’s the chief campaigner and that’s more tasking, more interesting than running a patched swathe of a dreary Caliphate. It also costs half of a kingdom to run elections in Nigeria, especially running it the traditional PDP way! Well, just in case you’re wondering where some of Sokoto State’s resources might be.
If he succeeds with this, he is sure to sit over a vast empire of MDAs as well as being a member of the kitchen cabinet in the Turaki kingdom.
They will begin another era of hollowing out Nigeria like Ninja worms. That’s a sweeter prospect than running Sokoto.
For Tambuwal it must be fun to perpetually bounce on the trampoline!
But there’s always a time for giving account. If he escapes giving account to Sokoto people, there’s no escaping giving account to our Maker.