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The falsehood about Shekarau’s pension

But for the sake of exhibiting the above traits, which are some of the cardinal principles of this administration and by extension the Kwankwasiyya movement,…

But for the sake of exhibiting the above traits, which are some of the cardinal principles of this administration and by extension the Kwankwasiyya movement, no one would waste time to react to unfounded allegations.
Despite the fact that Governor Kwankwaso is a supersonic person whose presence (achievements) first reach a point before the sound of his voice, some critics seemingly prefer loquacity to always supersede achievements.
I was bemused reading through my elder colleague, Sule Ya’u Sule’s false claims on former Governor of Kano State, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau’s pension benefits, claiming Governor Kwankwaso had denied to settle his principal’s entitlements.
But why would he deny Shekarau his benefits? Reader would guess witch-hunting? If really that’s where your mind goes, the word is not in Kwankwaso’s books. Kano people know that Kwankwaso has 1001 reasons to probe Shekarau as he (Shekarau) did issue a political white paper on him immediately after assumption of office in 2003.
As bypassing due process is synonymous with their administration, they want everything to be done today without recourse to the law. Not in this regime. If truly the former governor had applied for pension as claimed, certainly he did not follow due process or route the application through the appropriate channel. They can do everything to score cheap political point. Remember the time the former governor brandished a forged letter claiming that Nuhu Ribadu’s EFCC had absolved him of corruption? A day after, Ribadu later disowned the letter.
Let me also fault a claim by Malam Sule that Shekarau, out of magnanimity, ordered that the law be backdated in order to make Kwankwaso benefit. It is a fact that the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) in the pension law guidelines stated clearly that the law should take effect from 1999!
The issue of Shekarau’s pension did not however start today. Similar wild allegations have been made in the past. At a time, they claimed that N250 million had been paid to Kwankwaso out of the N1.3 billion he allegedly applied for. But facts show that the former governor’s spokesman was either misinformed by his principal or deliberately wanted to, as usual, peddle falsehood. The fact of the matter is that only N44,103,482.84 cheque was paid to Governor Kwankwaso and his aides on February 9, 2009 as pension arrears of six years not money to build a house. Also against their claims, nothing was ‘monitised’ to him.
But oblivious of the fact that bad a law often consumes its maker, the former governor smuggled the pension law into the Kano State House of Assembly, seeking the passage of a motion called “Pension Rights of Governor And Deputy Governor”. Despite the fact that the issue of the outrageous pension act, which came to fore in the run-up to 2007 general elections, had become famously obnoxious, Shekarau turned deaf ears to the people’s outcry and signed it into law on April 6, 2007.
Anxious to squander public funds on self-adulation despite competing demands in the state, the then government first hatched its building plan when, on June 20, 2007, a certain construction firm wrote a proposal with reference number: RES/P/32/I/01 seeking to build a “private residence” including furniture to the former governor at the cost of N286,434,168.51. About three years after the engineers for the state Ministry of Works trimmed down the amount to N238,661,911.81, the contractor demanded to be paid N420,346,174.95 because of what he termed as “change of scope and specification”. And in a matter of days, the state government violated the law and doled out about N80 million without going through the council approval in order to move to site. Go through the Kwankwaso administration’s weekly Executive Council, published in the national dailies, to see as ‘little’ as N200,000 going through the council approval.
Readers should note that none of the contract awards of Shekarau’s villa went through tender process. Clearly, due process was bypassed. And despite the fact that contract to build and furnish the residence was awarded, another contract for the supply of furniture to the tune of N299,835,900.00 was awarded on March 3, 2011 to another different company without, again, going through the rigors of competitive bidding. A few days after, precisely on March 11, the government wrote to the supplier through a letter referenced: BLD/SEC/512/II/10 notifying the contractor about the approval. The expenditure was incurred from the provisions of Project Code 40/132111 (Capital Commitment) 2010 Approved Budget. And in a twinkle of an eye, the commissioner for Budget and Planning was asked to issue an Authority to Incur Expenditure (AIE) to Ministry of Works, Housing and Transport in order to facilitate the transaction.
One instructive portion of the First Schedule of the controversial pension law of Kano State says: “There shall be provided by the state: (a) A furnished and equipped office in any location of the choice of the FORMER Governor within the State. (b) A furnished 6-bedroom house (which shall conform with the MODERATE standard of residential premises and be furnished with modern facilities at the time) in any location of the choice of the FORMER Governor within the State. (Emphasis mine).”
The law clearly stated without any nuance of ambiguity that the state would build a house for a “former governor” not a serving governor as Shekarau did to himself and refused to do same to the actual “former governor” as stated by the law.
Another punch-line of Shekarau’s action was going beyond the precinct of the law that defines the number of bedrooms that should be built in the house. Despite the fact that the law clearly stated that a “6-bedroom house” should be built by the state for a former governor, Shekarau changed the initial specification of the contract and built a 20-bedroom castle.
In their previous campaign of calumny, we were surprised to hear the former governor accusing Governor Kwankwaso of “demanding N1.3 billion to build a house”. Being a staunch critic of the outlandish law, Governor Kwankwaso vehemently refused to apply for both the pension and the house until after the intervention of some elders in Kano and beyond — all in efforts to legitimize their wrongdoings.
On 22nd February, 2008, the personal assistant of the former governor wrote a letter with reference number: GHS/A/22/VII/1231, requesting Gov. Kwankwaso to apply for a house, so that his principal could legitimize his own. Kwankwaso did not reply the letter until after a year. The letter was belatedly replied on 19th January, 2009 after some notable personalities persuaded him to do so on the instance of the former governor.
Reluctantly, Governor Kwankwaso then applied for the pension, saying “I am by this letter, requesting the SSG to, through due process, implement the provisions of Law No3 of 2007 regarding my benefits as former Governor of the State (1999-2003); as provided for in Kano State of Nigeria Gazette No.3 (Vol 39) of 19th April 2007”. Kwankwaso did not mention the issue of house in his three-paragraph letter. But in his reply, Shekarau demanded that he identify the house of his choice. He did so and asked government officials to negotiate the price.
As required by the law, a six-bedroom duplex located at Tukur Road and another property on the State Road for office accommodation were penciled for consideration of the state government. The state government therefore went and estimated the value of properties. What is important to note here is the fact that Shekarau’s government officials made the valuation and negotiated the prices of the properties without even the knowledge of Kwankwaso. It should also be noted that Governor Kwankwaso did not demand any payment regarding the properties. Equally noteworthy is the fact that when he saw the enormity of the amount, he did not insist on the purchase of the properties.
At the time when he refused to abide by the law that ordered him to build a house for the former governor by directing the issue to be Kept In View (an administrative euphemism for ‘oblivion’), Shekarau went ahead to build for himself — then a serving governor.
See who is talking!
Jaafar is a media aide to Kano State Governor.

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