Politics

Dogara, Mohammed’s battle for Bauchi’s soul

PHILIP NYAM examines the recent war of attrition between former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and Governor Bala Mohammed following the defection of the latter to the All Progressives Congress (APC)

 

On Friday, July 24, 2020, Nigerians heard with shock the sudden defection of former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). Supporters, admirers and political opponents of the soft-spoken Bauchi-born legislator seem not to have inkling to the process that led to his return to the party he abandoned barely a year ago.

 

Dogara’s detour to APC was most confusing as he recently led the screening committee of the PDP for the Ondo State governorship election.

 

The Governor of Yobe State and Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the APC, Mallam Mala Buni, broke the news to State House Correspondents after he and Dogara met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa. “We paid a courtesy call on the President in continuation of our effort to rebuild the party. We are here to see Mr. President and brief him on the development,” Buni said.

 

Asked why Dogara accompanied him, he said: “The former Speaker is a member of the APC… he is back because the reason he left the APC is no more there. He (Buhari) welcomed him (Dogara). He’s happy with the development.

 

That’s what he’s looking for. We are rebuilding the party and these are the steps we are taking towards rebuilding the party.” Buni said efforts are in place to reach out to other aggrieved members of the party, adding that the APC is being rebranded to “outlive us”.

 

Recall that Dogara had left the APC after he fell out with his former governor, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, who eventually lost reelection in 2019. But Dogara got elected for the fourth time to represent Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency on the platform of the PDP.

 

Dogara’s decision to return to the APC has, however, pitched him against his incumbent Governor, Alhaji Bala Mohammed. The move has severed ties between the erstwhile friends.

 

As a result, the two Bauchi political gladiators have thrown caution to the wind and engaged each other in a war of words and have since been washing their dirty linen in the public.

 

But this is not the first time Governor Mohammed would be losing a close political confidant. The state Commissioner of Finance, Nura Muna Soro had earlier left Mohammed’s cabinet, and his first Chief of Staff, Abubakar Kari also resigned.

 

Why Dogara resigned

 

On Friday, July 24, 2020, Nigerians heard with shock the sudden defection of former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

 

Supporters, admirers and political opponents of the soft-spoken Bauchi-born legislator seem not to have inkling to the process that led to his return to the party he abandoned barely a year ago. Dogara’s detour to APC was most confusing as he recently led the screening committee of the PDP for the Ondo State governorship election.

The Governor of Yobe State and Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the APC, Mallam Mala Buni, broke the news to State House Correspondents after he and Dogara met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa.

 

“We paid a courtesy call on the President in continuation of our effort to rebuild the party. We are here to see Mr. President and brief him on the development,” Buni said. Asked why Dogara accompanied him, he said: “The former Speaker is a member of the APC… he is back because the reason he left the APC is no more there.

 

He (Buhari) welcomed him (Dogara). He’s happy with the development. That’s what he’s looking for. We are rebuilding the party and these are the steps we are taking towards rebuilding the party.”

 

Buni said efforts are in place to reach out to other aggrieved members of the party, adding that the APC is being rebranded to “outlive us”. Recall that Dogara had left the APC after he fell out with his former governor, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, who eventually lost reelection in 2019.

 

But Dogara got elected for the fourth time to represent Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency on the platform of the PDP. Dogara’s decision to return to the APC has, however, pitched him against his incumbent Governor, Alhaji Bala Mohammed.

 

The move has severed ties between the erstwhile friends. As a result, the two Bauchi political gladiators have thrown caution to the wind and engaged each other in a war of words and have since been washing their dirty linen in the public. But this is not the first time Governor Mohammed would be losing a close political confidant.

 

The state Commissioner of Finance, Nura Muna Soro had earlier left Mohammed’s cabinet, and his first Chief of Staff, Abubakar Kari also resigned. Why Dogara resigned  politician in Bauchi State”.

 

The letter titled: “Letter of resignation of July membership of the PDP” reads: “I write to intimate you of my decision to resign my membership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

 

“This became necessary because the same reasons why we fought hard in 2019 to effect changes in the governance of our dear state are festering now. I intend to bring these issues to the front burner once again as part of the fight to install decent and egalitarian government in our dear state continues.

 

“Specifically, I intend to ask questions about the following: What has happened to LGA allocations since May 2019? What happened to our campaign promise to conduct LGA elections within six months of the PDP government?

 

What happened to the N4.6 billion loan taken from a bank and paid directly into a private company’s account?;

 

Why are we segmenting salaries and why is payment of salaries of state workers outsourced to a private firm as consultants? “Why are contracts inflated, awarded and payment of mobilisation done in violation of extant rules on procurement?

 

Why are our highly revered traditional rulers and elders treated with odium contrary to the guarantee we gave during the campaign that such will not happen under a PDP government?

 

“Mr. Chairman, you will agree with me that I cannot raise these issues and many more questions without a charge  of disloyalty leveled against me if I were to remain a member of the PDP.

 

“I cannot also fail to raise these questions now, having raised similar ones during the administrations of Governors Isa Yuguda and Mohammed A. Abubakar. If I abdicate this responsibility on the altar of partisan loyalty, I will be the most irresponsible and unprincipled politician in Bauchi State.

 

“Thus, by this letter, I have resigned my membership of the PDP to enable me keep faith with my principle of fighting for good governance in our dear state”.

 

Mohammed’s response

Miffed by Dogara’s allegations against him in the resignation letter, Governor Bala Mohammed described the former Speaker as “a liar”, saying the allegations were “fabricated lies”.

 

Addressing members of Dogara’s Dass/Tafawa Balewa/Bogoro federal constituency, who came on a solidarity visit, the governor said: “It is a very regrettable development, it is unfortunate, because he is a young man that we so much love and appreciate, including me. Even now I don’t harbour any malice against him.”

 

While answering questions from Government House reporters shortly after the solidarity visit, Governor Mohammed explained that he joined politics not to make money, but to serve the electorate through good representation. According to him: “I am highly emotional and with the sense of fulfillment and appreciation to the electorate of Bauchi, especially Dass, Tafawa Balewa and Bogoro without any interventions they brought their leaders in front of Government House Bauchi to affirm their loyalty and readiness to continue in the movement we have started in PDP irrespective of what happened with regards to the defection of our brother, Honourable Yakubu Dogara. “Yes, his defection is regrettable development, it is unfortunate because he is a young man that we love him so much, but he decided to come to show his true colour as a fabricator of lies against my person who has helped him to reconnect and capture his mandate as a member of the House of Representatives after he was denied opportunity by the former governor”. The governor also veily accused Dogara of corruption saying: “Look at the contracts Dogara awarded in his constituency, the amount is beyond expectations, but look at the road project we awarded in Burga and the amount budgeted for the project.” On the plans for the security breach in the constituency, Governor Mohammed warned that, the state government will take action against those involved. The governor, who expressed gratitude to the delegation for the visit, said: “I must appreciate you for what you did to me in 2019 general election, the votes I scored is(sic) more than that of Yakubu Dogara, it shows that you participated fully in my election. “I am doing politics not for money but for my people, I have never disrespected Yakubu Dogara despite the allegations. “I want to assure the leadership of PDP in Nigeria that Bauchi is still in PDP, as a point of responsibility of leadership, we will not allow any security breach. Yakubu Dogara is free to actualise his ambition, even try to be bigger than what he is now or trying to run away from some fears.” “He will continue to be my brother, but I think he should think that, all what he is doing now is not good for him.” But Governor Mohammed’s would ignite deeper revelations from Dogara, who advised the former FCT Minister to address the allegations of corruption against him and stop beating about the bush. Dogara dismissed the insinuation that he was afraid of alleged investigations against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He dismissed the claim as nothing but components of a smear campaign sponsored by state government and its minions and declared that Governor Mohammed and his children were candidates for the prison. In a statement signed by his spokesman, Turaki Hassan, Dogara pointed out that it has been over a year since he left office as speaker with an unblemished record of service. “If there is any evidence of corruption against the former speaker, it should be published by those who make claim of its existence or forever keep their peace,” the statement read. He said “It is public knowledge that Dogara, other than for official purposes as speaker of the House of Representatives, did not and still does not have any business with the EFCC or Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission (ICPC), unlike Bala Mohammed and his children who were regular guests at EFCC and Kuje Prison for months. “Governor Bala should take this as a challenge to activate his contacts acquired while in detention at the anti-graft agency to make public any evidence of fraud or corruption against Dogara or any report indicting him.” The statement further challenged the governor to make public the purported appreciation letter for the gift of any vehicle received by Dogara. “Governor Mohammed, rather than hiring paid minions to hurl insults and make false allegations against the person of Hon. Dogara, would do well to scrap up bits of honour left in him by addressing the charges of corruption and self-enrichment listed in the resignation letter of Dogara as hiring paid minions to whitewash him will make no impact on Nigerians and indeed Bauchi people.” The former speaker challenged the governor to address the allegations of corruption against him within 48 hours if he has nothing to hide, advising him to begin with records that he (Mohammed) used a company in which he was a director to execute a N4.6 billion vehicle purchase contract. “He should explain who Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, a director with 20 percent shares of Adda Nigeria Limited, as obtained from the certified true copies of records of the company obtained from Corporate Affairs Commission and published by Premium Times on February 22nd 2020, is,” the statement said Graf allegations against governor It is axiomatic that up till his elections as governor in 2019, Bala Mohammed was being prosecuted by the EFCC alongside his son, Shamsudeen on allegations of corruption. Even after his election, they were attempts to arraign him in court. However, his prosecution has been put on hold since he now has the cover of immunity. But his son’s case is ongoing. Of course, at different times in 2017, both the governor and his son were sent to Kuje Prisons by Justice Abubakar Talba and Justice Dimgba. It will be recalled that Senator Bala Mohammed has a pending six-count charge of corruption against him at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory. Specifically, he was charged with accepting gratification in the form of a house valued at N550 million on No. 2599 and 2600 Cadastral Zone, AO4 Asokoro District, Abuja, from Aso Savings and Loans Plc in 2014. The EFCC, through its prosecuting counsel Mr. Wahab Shittu, had said the alleged gratification was accepted as reward by Mohammed “for performing your official duties”. The alleged offence, according to the commission, is contrary to Section 18 (b) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000 and punishable under Section 18. He is also accused of making a false statement to an EFCC investigating officer, Ishaya Dauda, that he acquired the Cadastral Zone property through a mortgage facility from Aso Savings and Loans. Mohammed is also accused of failing to make full disclosure of his property on 54, Mike Akhigbe Street, Jabi, Abuja in the course of filing his asset declaration form at the EFCC.

 

The commission said the offence is contrary to Section 27 (3) (a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under Section 27 (3) (c). The prosecution also accused Mohammed of failing to declare a property on Agwan Sarki Kaduna in Kaduna State. The anti-graft agency also said that the governor made a false declaration that a prop

 

erty on CITEC Kwara House 5, AP Street, Mbora, Abuja belongs to him.

 

The commission said the property actually belongs to Abubakar Abdu Mohammed. It also accused the governor of using his office in 2014 to confer corrupt and undue advantage upon his associates by allocating four numbers of fully detached duplexes and eleven numbers semi-detached duplexes valued at N314 million only through the Presidential Tax Force on Sale of Government Houses to them…”

 

The alleged offence contravenes Section 19 of the ICPC Act, 2000. Allegations against his son The governor’s son, Shamsudeen Bala Mohammed also has a share of corruption allegations against him. The EFCC had initially, on February 1, 2017, arraigned Shamsudeen on 15 counts of N1.1bn money laundering offences and false asset declaration.

 

The original charges had been filed on December 2, 2016. The charges were later amended by the EFCC on May 25, 2017. The EFCC had charged Shamsudeen alongside four other companies: BirdsTrust Argo Limited, Intertrans Global Logistics Limited, Diakin Telecommunications Limited and Bal-Vac Mining Nigeria Limited.

 

Political analysts are of the view that whatever may have caused the no love lost between Dogara and Governor Mohammed, corruption would definitely be a factor. But with the governor’s immunity, Bauchi people and indeed Nigerians would have to wait for a long while to know whether he is corrupt as alleged by both Dogara and the EFCC.

 

For the son, he does not enjoy any immunity and may know his fate before the end of his father’s tenure should the EFCC continue with the charges against him. But with the defection of Dogara back to the APC, Bauchi politics can never be the same again.

 

There must be alignments and realignment of forces. Like the governor, whatever made Dogara to return to APC will be fully manifest as the activities towards 2023 elections unfold. Whether the former speaker is avoiding EFCC or he is planning to contest alongside Asiwaju Bola Tinubu for president, it will be known with time.

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