Dear Mr. President,
Greetings from the good people of Zamfara State. We seize this opportunity to once again welcome you back from your medical vacation from the UK. May the God Almighty continue to give you good health and continue to assist you in rebuilding our country Nigeria.
Mr. President, you may recall that the people of Zamfara State voted you because of your campaign slogan, “change” and because of the confidence we have in you. It is this factor that elicited us all to vote for other officials under your umbrella thinking that they would emulate your earnestness and promote good leadership, justice and fairness in the cause of carrying out their official duties. Our confidence in this regard was boosted when you mentioned in your inaugural address as follows:
“Elsewhere relations between Abuja and the States have to be clarified if we are to serve the country better. Constitutionally there are limits to powers of each of the three tiers of government but that should not mean the Federal Government should fold its arms and close its eyes to what is going on in the States and Local Governments. Not least the operations of the Local Government Joint Account”.
Unfortunately, some of our elected officials in Zamfara State, the Executive Governor and the state lawmakers in particular, are the direct opposite of what you represent and require close monitoring and sanction within the orbits of the law as pledged in the inaugural address – Governor Yari for disrespecting the rule of law and neglecting the interests of the people he governs and, the lawmakers for not exercising their constitutional duties in checkmating Governor Yari’s excesses. They are the reason why the people of Zamfara State have not started feeling the impact of the “change” you promised yet.
We are aware of the many challenges bedeviling our dear country Nigeria, especially the economic recession in the recent time. In your effort to provide succor to the common man as well as reduce poverty to the barest minimum, in 2015, you gave a directive for the disbursement of bail-out funds to some states of which Zamfara State was a beneficiary – this was to provide financial accommodation to state governments to enable them to meet salary obligations and settle all outstanding emoluments. Zamfara State received the sum of N10,020,952,964.51. Then came the sum of N10,122,837,205.76 as the first tranche of the reimbursement for the over-deduction on the London-Paris Club loan in December, 2016. Recently, you directed the release of the second tranche of the London-Paris Club refunds to the states and Zamfara State got the sum of $144,169,154.81. The people of Zamfara State haven’t felt the effect of the billions said to have hit the state government’s accounts.
Mr. President, you have done your own part by providing Zamfara State with bail-out funds, London-Paris Club refunds and other special interventions all to aid the common man to live a relatively better life. Unfortunately, Governor Yari and allies have defeated the purpose of your effort to ease the suffering of the people of Zamfara State, by diverting the funds for other purposes they are not meant for. Workers are still feeling the lashes of hunger since Governor Yari has refused to apply the funds received to at least settle what the state owes them. As a result, our economy in Zamfara State has never been in a state as terrible as this. Households can’t even provide food on table. Parents and guardians can’t pay their wards’ school fees.
The “change” we are experiencing is a very harsh one, Mr. President. And it may interest you to know that:
• Governor Yari has not fully implemented minimum wage as workers still collect N7,000 and some even N6,500 as end of month salaries in Zamfara State.
For about seven (years), the state government has not paid its workers their leave grants.
• For many years the state government has not paid any annual increment and civil servants are struggling to meet the challenge of the current inflation.
• Like the annual increment, the normal civil service promotion has been switched off for several years now.
• There are still pending salaries of more than 1,300 staff which have not been paid for 36 consecutive months.
Pensioners have not been paid their gratuity and other entitlements for years. Some of these pensioners cannot even settle hospital bills today.
The state of all the General Hospitals in the 14 LGAs of the state is a terrible one as most of these hospitals now have only one medical doctor attending to hundreds of patients daily. This is mainly because the state has the least package to meet the competitiveness of that category of workers. After several complaints, Governor Yari is still not willing to address this disturbing issue for years.
• The judiciary in the state cannot perform their work because like other civil servants, Governor Yari has starved them of funds. Even serving court sermons has become a very difficult thing.
• Governor Yari has long stopped the youth empowerment programmes the previous governments were managing. No any form of youth empowerment in Zamfara State again.
• Students of tertiary institutions no longer enjoy the support the state government was giving them during the previous administrations. As a result, some students are already dropping out of school.
• Governor Yari has always been lopsided in his appointments, favouring people from his hometown. For example, local governments like Maradun and Birnin-Magaji have one (1) serving Permanent Secretary each but Governor Yari has nine serving (9) Permanent Secretaries from his hometown. This is what he does with other key positions in the state. We keep wondering if Governor Yari is governing his hometown of Talata-Mafara only or the fourteen (14) local governments of Zamfara State as a whole.
• Governor Yari and the leadership of the State House of Assembly have now ganged up against the citizens – they have made budget document a personal and secret document while they keep manipulating the figures and projects without the knowledge of the public and hence breaching the Appropriation Act.
• Since he was elected in 2011, Governor Yari has defiantly refused to pay many contractors who have duly completed their projects simply because the contracts were awarded by the previous governments.
Governor Yari now awards contracts illegally. For example, he recently awarded a contract for the construction of a 28 kilometre dual-carriage in his home town at the cost of N10 billion. We never heard in the history where a 28 kilometre road was constructed at the cost of N10 billion – this is quite outrageous especially in our topographic realities – a display of desperation to siphon our money again. And this is a project that is neither captured in the 2017 appropriation bill nor sent to the House of Assembly as a supplementary bill for ratification. At a time when other local governments don’t even have access road, Governor Yari is awarding this illegal contract in his hometown where there is already an existing road which is also in good shape. Other local governments too should have their own share of the London-Paris Club refunds if that is the case. Also, as a federal road, we are not sure if Governor Yari has contacted the Federal Ministry of Works to discuss this controversial project.
Mr. President sir, this letter is to appeal to you to do something fast concerning the injustices of Governor Yari – the people of Zamfara State are dying in penury. Governor Yari is a leader with no listening ears. There is a growing concern that Governor Yari is acting like an authoritarian leader rather than a democrat. We are left with no option but to write to you to come to our aid, Mr. President. Our lawmakers are as good as the Executive Governor himself – ever since he bought them each an expensive car (2016 Ford Escape SUV) worth eighteen million Naira, (N18,000000), they have forgotten why they are in that chamber. They have always snubbed every letter we wrote them because they seem to now partake in the mismanagement of our resources. Our plea is for you to direct all checkmating agencies especially the EFCC, ICPC and DSS to put their searchlight on Zamfara State. Come to our rescue, Mr. President.
May you live long to surmount all corrupt elements in government, Mr. President. While anticipating a responsive action on the above, please accept the assurances of our best regards.
Gazali Shehu Ahmad
Chairman, Zamfara Circle
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Works, Power and Housing