In Kaduna, Billboards have now become our Streetlights

Apr. 8, 2014

It is almost ten months now or so that Mukhtar Ramalan Yero becomes the governor of the state, but the state is just stagnant. There is no any serious project, current or ongoing and there is no sign of any physical developmental projects or programs. The state is just as it were before, and there is no any sign even an inch that things will change because it is self-evident that, from the way he is fumbling, the governor doesn’t have vision and focus on how to administer the state”
(M.G.Maigamo 2013)
let me, as a prelude to my essay begin by condemning , with strongest tongue, the recent attacks in some parts of Kaduna state which resulted in carnages and displacements of so many people in that particular area. I repeat! This is barbaric, callousness, and an act of savage. I am therefore here, extending my heartfelt sympathy and condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives in Southern Kaduna and also in Maiduguri, Yobe, Katsina and lately Zamfara.
But also I feel that all these troubles and malaise afflicting us are some of the direct consequence of PDP’s rule. And now that it has become glaring that the stenches of PDP’s misrule is blowing everywhere and its odor is being felt by all of us, including ordinary Ijaw man and woman, Urhobo, Itskeri, Hausa-Fulani, Kaje/Bajju, Kagoma man, and also Jaba man, Kataf etc. in order words, everybody is suffering now regardless of whether one voted for PDP or not.
This, hopefully, will be a common ground for us, (especially we youths that occupy the largest space in terms of number and that have unfortunately been manipulated as the easiest instrument of violence necessary for the continuation of misrule) to decidedly vote PDP out in the next year coming election. As it has appear now to be, without any iota of doubt that PDP is akin to corruption, misgovernance, and treachery.
Particularly in my state-Kaduna state, it is of necessity now for Sothern Kaduna people especially SOKAPU and SKIPFO (their vociferous attack dogs) to throws out their deep-rooted jingoisms, bigotries, and ethno-centrism to face this reality. A reality of the fact that, Kaduna, in this present administration is in serious crises of leadership and governance, in which everybody (including them) is now feeling. I have said this because since from 1999 PDP in Kaduna state has sustainably maintained Zone 3- Southern Kaduna as a perpetually election rigging zone. It is only in that Zone that you will see a 100% voter turnout. Now that the dividends of the bad governance has been felt everywhere in the state, it will be a wake-up call on the all people of the state on the need to vote PDP out not only in Kaduna state but in the whole nation
However, when I complained last year in a form of write-up titled “Nothing is moving in Kaduna state” with a particular statement therein which I now quoted above, and which went viral, I had, as I expected received a fusillades of condemnations and abuses from no less than people of my home town Zaria City, the same town the governor hails from. Why should I criticize the governor despite his dismal performance?    That was the most uttered words. As a normative practice I shouldn’t supposed to raise eyebrows to the governor no matter how errable just because we share affinity (as indigenes of Zaria both). But I think these sorts of people have missed the point because criticisms are always necessary ingredients germane to the development of any serious society, in so far as such criticisms are focused and unbiased. As noted some time by Sanusi Lamido Sanusi that “Criticism of government should always be fair, objective and principled”
Also as a Muslim, speaking the truth at all times; and enjoining others to do so, or discouraging them from doing bad things are central to the teachings of my religion. It is again in tandem with the traditions of my Prophet- Mohammed (SAW) that is the best jihad and the most excellent of men is to speak truth no matter the price no matter the cost. Thus “the highest kind of Jihad is to speak up for truth in the face of any authority”. All these guys I know are the His Excellency’s favor-seekers.
Now to the subject matter!
 There is now a steadily growing amount of concern in Kaduna state by detached observers (with this writer inclusive) on how now the rate of Billboards containing the governor’s pictures and posters  pasted all over the nooks and corners of the state. In other word, the governor’s billboards replace our streetlights now in the state because it’s what you will see vividly filled in your eyes instead of streetlights. The streetlight that ought to lighten the whole city but they are just overshadowed by billboards. Billboards are now the phenomenon. 
From Kawo to Sabon-Tasha you will count almost 100 governor’s billboards (with a varying inscriptions.), also from Kawo to By-Pass (Nnamdi Azikwe Express way) you will count same; from Coroner Street (Lugard Hall) to Independence Way; to Constitution road, not to mention the other locations in the state. In fact the number of projects in the Kaduna state are far less proportionate to the number of these billboards and also the inscriptions attributed to the governor in the billboard below/above his face does not in any way reflects the true picture  and the true reality of the state.  Some of these inscriptions are just a misnomer as far as the personality of the governor is concern which I believed he too would never have allowed these contract-seekers to be articulating those inarticulately words and alluding it to him as a form of praise.  For example, inscriptions like “silent achiever”, “Visionary leader”, Purposeful Leader”, “Transforming the Systems touching lives” are not only the most funniest or ridiculous ascriptions as far as the  realities are; but they (inscriptions) are not best strategic campaign words, especially when these words are self-contradictories and even paradoxical,  capable of further damaging the prospects of the governor in 2015.
In fact truly instead of these inscriptions in the billboards to be appealing to the people they tends to possibly mars the governor and rubbish his possible ambition of 2015. This is because whenever one looks at the billboard, (of course which one’s eyes can never escape the glimpse of the billboard due to their hugeness) the inscription re-echoes the general ill-feelings and the general perceptions of the governor’s performance. So also any curious visitor that by chance visit the state, the first scenery that will catch the glimpse of his/her eyes is the big billboards of the governor with various inscriptions which will further broaden the expectations of that particular visitor in which he/she will assumed to see gigantic structures, flyover bridges, good roads etc. but unfortunately, entering further to the inner city of the state he/she will find none. Therefore those contract-seekers who engages in this type of billboards campaign shall know that they are rather doing a disservice to His Excellency since the billboards are just invoking the bad- moods of the people of the state especially however; because  public moods are not at home completely with the governor’s administration.
What then are the socio-economic cost of these billboards and posters?
Now we have to look at the social and economic cost of these billboards or specifically speaking, the immediate incidence (impact) of the costs incurred in producing these billboards and posters that would have ordinarily been channeled to other developmental areas which would have a positive impact on the socio-economic conditions of Kaduna state. In this here, we will see that:
One, based on simple analysis, the type of the billboards that are been produced, especially a billboard of such magnitude and the personality involved, and the sizes; thus, there are billboards that are 20×10 size, 18×10 size and 20×12 size. The  cost of each ranges from N130, 000.00, N85, 000.00 and N150, 000.00, in which ever case if you multiply the number of these billboards times the cost of each, considering the almost 200 governor’s billboards (approximately), you will see the huge amount of resources been wasted. The amount that would have transformed the state, the amount that would have changed the harsh material conditions of the people of the state. This calculation also, does not include all billboards of the governor in each of the 23 local governments Sectariat of the state. Both inners cities and their territories where you will see one big billboard containing governor’s picture with a “Farewell “and “Welcome” inscriptions.  
Two, though some people will argue here that it is not the governor who sponsored the productions of these Billboards but it’s the private-member desires to do so, for example the ones sponsored by the Hon. Commissioner for Local Government and also the Commissioner of Finance recently. Or some will even say that it’s his Masoya (governor’s loyalists) that do it without his consent but out of the love they have for him. Now our question for these two Hon. Commissioners is that with which money did they used to procure these huge billboards for governor? In any case it will boils down to the tax payers money. And for those so-called Masoya of His Excellency who will claim that they produce these billboards and posters out for the passion they have for him, my response is that, wouldn’t it be beneficial to the general public and complementary on the side of the governor if the money these people used in producing these billboards and posters they used it in repairing the untarred roads in Kinkinu area? Where motorists and people of that area have to now contend with the red dust. Why not use the money and build Culverts in Badarawa area or patch roads in Yakubu Gowon Way?. I believe His Excellency will appreciate it much as a way of reaching where his hands could not reach.
We all know that it’s a traditional attitude of contract-seekers, appointments lobbyists and free riders to, in other to get the attention of the particular governor or president in placing unsolicited posters and billboards and other act of spendthrifties in order to get juicy contracts or appointments. This has been proven that in the event they succeeded in securing the juicy contracts or appointment, they will surely fill the contract (in the case of contract-seekers) with under and or over invoicing and in end even abandon the said contract uncompleted, in which any case is a monumental corruption. While, in the case of appointment-seekers, they will, as usual abuse their office with graft and personal aggrandizement
Much as I believed that His Excellency might have the good intentions of steering the state to a greater height, but unfortunately since when he assumed office, he is being constrained to perform. His likely noblest intentions were constrained by two factors, one being the external –which we’ve been hearing a disturbing rumors about him been controlled by someone from Abuja. But this is, to me even less-problematic, considering the fact that (that is if this rumor were to be true) this external influence lives far from the state. Therefore he can only say “hey! Ramalan do this” or “do that” only when he is around. But the most troubling factor that constrained the governor to perform the most is his inner-cycles. I mean the governor’s Executives and his other political auxiliaries, who instead of providing the governor with a good policy guides and directions that will help him to deliver the good promises, they rather, just see their appointments as an opportunity to enrich themselves.
Even their campaign strategy for the governor is poor. The praise-singings are just cofounding the whole issues because the campaigns, rather than to be a good selling-points to the people they ends up tempering with their moods especially those big billboards suffusing all over the state. This truly has or is dwindling his Excellency’s popularity, especially also, giving the circumstances that brought him into the office.   And when an issue is to be presented to the public like monetary issues –as in budget presentations, it is been decorated with half-truths or even a mind-boggling statements that will cast a doubt in the mind of the people about the sincerity of the government.
For example, in the recent budget presentations by the governor he made mentioned that his administration has inherited the whooping amount of N33.48Billion as an external loan which Kaduna state incurred since from 1965. Those who prepared the budget for the governor do not do their work properly by making that statement a close-ended; that is by refusing to mention the names of the particular Lending Institutions, the administration that first borrowed the said money. Especially considering the fact that in 1965 Kaduna was never in existence as a State. It has only came into being in the 27th of May 1976.  This and many other reasons make me to feel that the manner in which His Excellency’s Aids carry their duties leaves much to be desired.
Lastly, people should know that leaders, in a truly democratic setting, are always liable to censors and criticisms but what determine their capacities to be good leaders is their abilities to ponder to all the criticisms. When they fail in this regard, it will be a proof that they are not better than authoritarian and dictatorship. That is our tragedy now. A leader is ought to be an all-embracing and responsive one, who will at all times listens to all divergent views through which these various individual and societal needs can be identified and aggregated for necessary actions.
I believed also, constant criticisms, constructive however, shall be the lenses and the torchlight that provide the leader with a true direction as to where he/she suppose to follow  
It is my considered opinion that we in Kaduna state our basics needs transcends a mere superfluities of roads patching and or physical renovations of primary and secondary schools in the state. We need culverts, drainages fly-over water and constant uninterrupted electricity. We also need good policies. Most importantly a policy in the educational sector of the state that will addresses both functional and structural qualities of our schools; for example in primary schools, the level of access, enrolment, retention and transitions which are key factor in developing primary educations.
Mukhtar Garba Maigamo,
A renowned public commentator is based in Kaduna,

and  I can also be reached at [email protected] or 08066792996