Governor Ganduje’s Worst Nightmares
Many had thought he would not show up. Nevertheless, surprisingly he appeared in the most unusual manner-white caftan with a bag of Quran on his shoulders. That singular appearance raised the stake and passed a very strong message in a conservative Islamic society. It was Jafar Jafar, publisher of Daily Nigerian versus Governor of Kano, Usman Ganduje.
Many public figures often narrate the most turbulent stages or otherwise of their political career. Governor Ganduje if asked before now would have mentioned the battle between him and his former boss, Rabiu Kwankwaso especially in the struggle for the control of the party machine. To outmaneuver your boss is a game many godsons cherish especially when the boss is perceived as weak. Rather than the direct conflict with Kwankwasiya, the bribery scandal is the most difficult and destructive in Ganduje’s public life.
Yes, the scandal is probably linked to rivalry with Senator Kwankwaso. Nevertheless, the incident[s] is beyond political rivalry-it is about religious and moral personality of the Governor. Those tapes portrayed a man who is probably not quite himself when all these were happening. With benefit of hindsight, the Governor himself will be wondering what actually went wrong. Is the chief executive under an influence or whatever? Is that truly who Ganduje is or something went inexplicably awry?
One of the most devastating public relations disasters in recent Nigerian history is the Kano tape scandal. Till date, there was no robust response to the incident. The media handlers of the Governor failed miserably to effectively manage the crisis. The response of court action was so annoying and the allegation of doctored tape was so poorly canvassed. Experts of the spin art will tell you there is always a way out of the worst of situations. In the case of Kano, the media team failed their boss even as their boss failed those who believed in him so rabidly as to abandon the famed Kwankwasiya cult.
In the failing world of media integrity, it is elating that many bright stars are shining. Few weeks ago, a top minister crashed through the powers of investigative journalism. Premium Times proved that in real sense pen could indeed be mightier than sword. Kemi Adeosun kissed the dust. The Kano incident was a daring exploit in investigative journalism backed up with irrepressible potency of new media. Jafar Jafar, no matter what anybody may think, has raised the bar. His courage re-emphasizes that the high and the mighty must be watched, exposed and reported when they act against public good.
In an age when new media has created uncontrolled access to news, the #Gandujagate is a watershed, an incredible demonstration of public spiritedness. When many are dying to loot public treasury, others are putting their lives on line to defend the people. When top leaders are falling over pot of porridge, a growing list of society purifiers are emerging, enforcing what seems impossible-the need for probity and accountability in public governance.
So, he arrived the premises of the Kano House of Assembly with a powerful symbol-Al-Quran. Mallam Jafar dared the most powerful man in Kano state. In addition, he did that with the most respected symbol in Kano and across Islamic world-the holy book of Muslims. That singular act is telling the world that his [Jafar] conduct, the tape and the disclosures are nothing but the truth.
After that brave appearance, who is actually on trial? The Governor or the whistleblower? I will rather pick the governor and the assembly members. The whistleblower is unarguably a star of contemporary political space. The man dangerously on trial is Mallam Ganduje. The public has passed judgment.For the lawmakers, they may whitewash the governor and return a not guilty verdict. The public has already decided. As for the governor, the jury is also out. The exposure has caused an irreparable political and reputational damage. The legislative hearing is thus a mere political exercise, the outcome of which may not alter the perception of voters and the public at large.
A real lesson for all political leaders is to learn to trust subordinates. A growing number of modern Nigerian leaders are becoming less tolerant and accommodating of their assistants and associates. While they benefit from leadership training, they are burning the bridges that made them. They deny their aides of opportunities to grow and assume leadership positions. For God’s sake, why will a state Governor be collecting bribe from a contractor so reprehensibly brazenly? What happen to the chain of command in the state? Is there a Commissioner for Works in Kano state? Greed and avarice ruin many brilliant political careers.
For society to grow, political lords must occasionally take bitter pills. Without passing a judgement, Ganduje as a political brand is fatally damaged. That is the self-inflicted reality. If he remains the Governor afterward, the sanctity of the office is soiled. Those shameful clips will henceforth cloud and define his appearance anywhere.
Let hope members of the house probe committee will not compromise the truth. Let hope the house members will not commit political suicide by attempting to cover up the mess.
*Olawale Rasheed writes from Abuja