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Kano residents divided over potency of drug test on governance

Two years after the commencement of the implementation of government’s new policy for political appointees and contestants for political offices in Kano State to undergo…

Two years after the commencement of the implementation of government’s new policy for political appointees and contestants for political offices in Kano State to undergo drug test, there are different views on the possible effect of the process on governance. Daily Trust on Sunday takes a look at the issues

Many political analysts see the policy as being capable of fostering rapid progress in governance and preventing the system from recruiting bad people into leadership.

Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje introduced the policy with a view to ensuring that no candidate or person holding any public office abuses drugs, which is believed to be responsible for incidents of thuggery among the youth. It also induces other criminal activities.

Daily Trust on Sunday recalls that at the commencement of the second term of the governor, commissioners, advisers, assistants and other political appointees were subjected to drug test to ascertain their health and mental fitness.

Equally, during the last local government election in the state, chairmanship and councillorship contestants were referred for drug test to ensure that they were healthy.

However, some politicians alleged that there was bias in the process as some contestants who were disqualified over the allegation of drug abuse tested negative after undergoing another test.

“Just because there is a feud among some top officials of this government, they decided to use the opportunity to send us out. I was tested positive, meaning I was a drug abuser, but when I went for another test, it came out negative. I have the result. The government didn’t show us our results, so we can’t trust them,” a councillorship contestant who was disqualified told Daily Trust on Sunday.

Asked if the policy had a positive impact in governance, as well as the perception of the people of the state, a current affairs analyst, Shehu Usman Umaru, said it was highly subjective.

He said there was no certainty as the state government was not open in the process.

“Honestly, we didn’t see changes; and we can’t say whether it helps in running the government because they are doing the same thing others did.

“There is no information about the test. Let’s say they were tested and found unqualified, what type of test was it? What type of drug abuse: cocaine, heroin, marijuana? We don’t know. So we can’t assume that there was a drug abuse test on the politicians since we didn’t see the results,” he said.

A former aide to the governor but now a stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Hashim Sulaiman Dungurawa, said the former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Farida Waziri once proposed that politicians should undergo tests to ensure that they are mentally fit, especially looking at the huge amounts of money they steal.

He said that even if the drug test was done in Kano, he doubted if it was real as some of politicians in the state were doing worse things than drug abusers.

“Throughout this period we haven’t seen the governor issue sack letters to his commissioners or appointees who are drug-free. But some of their deeds are very poor and worse than that of drug abusers. So I doubt if it is working or making any impact in governance,” he said.

He said the governor should look into implementing the process if he was really serious about it as it would bring about development in governance.

“The way the governor is allocating plots and selling some in the metropolis is dangerous to the future of the country. I am very sure a normal person will not advise the governor to do this. This means there are still drug addicts in the system and there is the need for them to undergo tests and anybody found guilty should be fired,” Dungurawa added.

However, a former commissioner for works in the state, Mu’azu Magaji, said the idea of drug test for leaders was welcome, adding that Governor Ganduje deserves to be lauded for that. He also said the system would not work properly until it becomes continuous.

Magaji was dismissed by Ganduje early in 2020 over a post on Facebook, which appeared to mock the late chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Abba Kyari. He denied the allegation that he was celebrating Kyari’s death and has since been given another appointment by the governor.

He said it was too early to assess the impact of the test on governance, but added that leaders and aspirants of political position would be conscious and shun drugs since it would bar them from contesting in elections or holding political offices.

“Kano is the first state to come up with this policy.  And it will drive development in our governance. If you can remember when our names were forwarded to become commissioners, we also underwent the test, likewise local government contestants. The commissioners’ results were all returned negative and all of us were appointed. But for the local government, there were issues.

“If a leader is a drug abuser, he is likely to have others like that around him, or he may influence others to join, which will surely have an effect on the system.

“The happiest thing about this is that I am very sure that even if any of the people in the cabinet is found with the act, I know the governor would find a way of treating them to change their habit, even if they are not fired. That is another achievement. Even though we got some reports that some of them were found guilty, nobody was fired. I think they are being rehabilitated,” he said.

He said there was the  need to implement the policy everywhere in the country during the 2023 elections.

Muslihu Yusuf Ali, a councillor representing Gurungawa ward of Kumbotso Local Government, said he underwent the test before he was elected. He added that the policy had really impacted positively in governance.

“Since I came to power, there has not been any time I went to a police station to bail anybody over drug abuse or fighting among thugs. This shows how impactful the policy is on governance. All of us were tested and some were found guilty and got removed. It is making a lot of impact in governance, so we have to commend the governor for this,” he said.

He said the policy had reduced the number of thugs surrounding leaders, especially at the grassroots level because all of them were tested to be drug-free.

Abubakar Sulaiman, a civil servant in Kano, said he didn’t believe there was any drug test on the leaders and could not tell whether there was an impact on the system.

“We can’t say whether there is an impact or not. Maybe they gave money to those doing the test to let them go. It was done in secret. We didn’t see the result and thus cannot assess it,” he said.