By Abdulmumin Murtala, Kano
Reactions from members of the Public have differed ever since the publisher of an online news medium Daily Nigerian, Jafar Jafar announced that there were videos of a governor from the North West collecting kickbacks from contractors to be made public. The larger parts of the people were shocked when it emerged that the allegation was referring to the Kano state governor Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje.
He released the first clip in which the governor was shown collecting wraps of dollars and stocking them in his pockets. The video clip had no voice because the ambiance had been removed and replaced with the sound of a flute. Reaction from the part of the government dismissed it as doctored and the Kano state Commissioner for Information Malam Muhammadu Garba described it as cloned by an antagonist of the ruling All Progressives’ Congress (APC) that has been working for the opposition. In a swift reaction Hajiya Binta Spikin, the spokesperson of the former governor and now Senator Rabiu Kwankwaso dismissed the claim saying her precedent has nothing to do with it.
As public reactions differ, especially in the political circles considering the person involved, Jafar, who sees himself as a whistle blower announced that they were fifteen video clips in all and he was going to release them one after the other.
Just a day after the reaction by the state’s commissioner for Information, who threatened legal actions against the publisher, Jafar released the second video clip in which the governor was seen without out a cap collecting wraps of dollars from anonymous persons, but this time there was the sound and the voice could be heard. It also has a transcript on the screen for non-Hausa viewers to read.
The Kano State House of Assembly could not help but react to the growing tension in the public which had started manifesting in political programs on radio, the most widely accepted source of information to the public in the state. The Speaker of the House, Alhassan Rurum announced the setting up of a seven-man committee to investigate the matter. He also called on the state government to suspend its planned legal action by one month to allow the committee to investigate the matter properly.
This even raised more tension in the public with more reactions coming from different corners. An organization that goes by the name Challi Initiative Forum staged a rally at the NUJ Secretariat in Kano condemning the publisher and the video clips. The secretary of the group, Muhammad Sani said that the negative impact of the video clip is an insult not only to the person of the governor, but to the entire people of the state and the northern region by extension.
The group went further to accuse Jafar of being partisan and condemned the suspected political stalwarts behind it. It also issued an ultimatum calling on him to immediately withdraw the video clips from circulation.
The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) wrote a letter to the Kano Commissioner of Police notifying the Command that students in the state are planning a massive protest to call on the governor to resign to allow for independent investigation into the matter in order to unfold the truth. The leader of the students union Comrade Isah Abubakar, stated that the group will hold its protest on the 29th of this month from Zoo road to the government House.
The police reacted swiftly through its public relations officer SP Magaji Musa Majia calling on the students to desist from such plans or face the wrath of the Command. He insisted that the command would not accept any attempt to politicize the matter and would not allow the thugs waiting for such opportunity to disrupt the peace being enjoyed in the metropolis.
The Police have also enhanced security in the city of Kano lest any crises erupt between rivals as they believe it is difficult for it not to be given political undertone and exploited.
A member of the public who described himself as a religious leader and would not want his name to be mentioned especially on this matter explained that the issue is that of an allegation that needs to be investigated. Until proven, it remains an allegation he explained. But room for independent investigation must be allowed if the government is to preserve its public integrity. It is not just enough to dismiss the allegation as false without any investigation. He therefore called for independent investigation even if the governor has to serve as a deterrent to others.
He further explained that since giving and taking of bribe are both criminal offences, the giver of the bribe will also be unwrapped if investigated to face the wrath of the law as well.
In another public reaction monitored on radio, the Kano State Commissioner for Rural and Community Development, Musa Iliyasu-Kwankwaso defended the state governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, on the video clip saga saying collecting kickbacks is normal in government. He spoke in a Hausa program on Freedom Radio recently explaining that though it is illegal to collect certain percentage to award contract, the practice has been rampant from federal to the local government levels. He tried to prove that even if the allegations against the governor was true, it is nothing because it is a generally accepted practice in the Nigerian system, meaning that the governor is only being insulted and molested on something everyone is engaged in.
“Since the three years of this administration, the contractors have been giving the kickbacks, why did they fail to claim that they must pay 15 to 25% before they were awarded contracts until now?
“I challenge the contractors to come out and say that they must pay the percentage before they receive contracts. This is just blackmail to the person of Ganduje. The commissioner said.
Although the Kano state governor had remained silent over the whole saga, Jafar came out to claim that multiple contractors who spoke with Daily Nigerian on the condition of anonymity said the governor personally receives from 15 to 25 percent kickbacks for every project executed in the state.
He also explained how they got the videos saying that the operation to capture the governor on camera began two years ago when one of the contractors agreed with Daily Nigerian request to plant spy camera on his kaftan lapel while offering the bribe.
He explained that during about 10 months efforts to capture the bribe giving/taking scenes, the governor’s face and body were clearly captured in nine clips, while six others did not clearly reveal the governor’s face adding that about $5m dollars were delivered to the governor in all.
Meanwhile in a recent interview with the BBC, Jafar said he received an invitation from the state and is willing to go on the condition that his life is protected from political thugs and their likes.