The Robin Hood in Kaduna - By: Gambo Dori | Dailytrust

The Robin Hood in Kaduna

Bandits Abduct Jaba Paramount Ruler In Kaduna | TRUST TV
Bandits Abduct Jaba Paramount Ruler In Kaduna | TRUST TV

In my last week’s piece, ‘The delegate has come of age’, I took a rather dim view of the conduct of the representatives of the political parties to states and national primaries. They were the electoral college and all aspirants were beholden to them. While some delegates maintained their dignity, quite a number were said to have openly prostituted, collecting large sums from desperate aspirants for their votes. So far it has been one of the lowest points in the nation’s march to enthrone democracy.

Some of the PDP presidential contestants were so filled with horror at how monetised the primary elections were that they elected to abandon their ambition. In fact, one of them was so pissed off with the unsavoury goings-on that he resigned from the party entirely.  

The party leaders couldn’t do anything to stop what amounted to a bazaar, and even the open presence of officials of the dreaded Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was not a deterrent. It was enough to send many of us, stakeholders, into depression. However, there has been a silver lining in this unwholesome saga. One of the delegates to the National Convention of t.he PDP, Tanko Rossi Sabo, has gone public by going back to his Sanga constituency in Kaduna State to distribute the largess he collected. According to multiple sources, Delegate Tanko left Abuja with millions of naira and headed to his Sanga constituency to spend a large part of it on the less privileged.  

According to Rueben Buhari, a former SA Media to late Governor Yakowa, “Delegate Tanko, spent N7 million on the less privileged in his community. He bought jerseys and paid school fees, and hospital fees. He distributed the rest to other support groups. Whatever is the argument on whether he was right in collecting the money or not, my consolation is that hundreds of the less privileged in his community are smiling today. For that, I say, ‘well done’ Tanko”.  

I was, myself, taken far aback by Tanko’s gesture which in its stark altruism reminds one of the stories of Robin Hood. Of course, many readers might recollect the story of Robin Hood, the English legendary outlaw, who lived in the 13th Century robbing the rich to distribute to the poor. Robin Hood left an indelible mark in history perhaps by his uncommon generosity to the poor and downtrodden with resources collected from the rich and powerful. Till today Robin Hood remains a fixture in literature, television series, and films.  

I guess it would be stretching it too far to attribute Tanko’s mind-boggling collection to robbery a la Robin Hood’s. You may be entitled to your interpretations, but I have heard Tanko explain on the BBC Hausa Service that the amounts he generated were not bribes but generous cash giveaways from contestants. He explained that he was disciplined and austere with his spending in Abuja because he had promised his constituents that if they elected him as a national delegate, he would return to share whatever he got from the trip to Abuja with them.  

It is in keeping with this solemn promise that Delegate Tanko returned home with over N12m to go into the orgy of splattering his entire community with cash and other goodies. I saw a picture of him standing by a table that was clearly heaving with the mounds of cash heaped on it. Tanko was gleefully distributing the cash to his constituents. There is another picture of him with the many pieces of jerseys he purchased for the football teams in the area. Also, a lot of the money went to settle students’ WAEC fees and pay the hospital fees of needy patients. I suppose this is all true because up till this moment nobody from that community has come forward to deny the amounts Delegate Tanko has claimed to expend on them. 

In this case, Delegate Tanko deserves all the kudos that have been heaped on him in the last few days. He could have spent all the money on himself by revelling in the Abuja expensive hotels, but he decided to choose this path of self-denial which has brought these dubious dividends of democracy to his community and made him an iconic figure. The APC is holding its own national convention starting today and since both the party leaders and the authorities cannot stop this sordid distribution of cash for votes I suppose it will be business as usual. No doubt it is an utterly condemnable practice. It debases the process and muddles the outcome.  

But delegates would have to live with it and I dare say that many of the delegates coming to Abuja today might become copycats of Delegate Tanko. There is more money in the APC and they have more contestants who have deeper pockets. If any money comes the way of the APC delegates, I recommend that they should dispense it in the manner Delegate Tanko did. In this regard, all eyes would be on the delegates from Sokoto and Zamfara states where their governments have failed to pay for the WAEC fees of their students in their public schools this year. The delegates from those states have their jobs cut out for them. Whatever largess accrued to them could go into settling these debts for the eternal benefits of their students.

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