For the second time in less than six months, another appointee of Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State has been axed over a scathing outburst on social media, which seems to have violated the governor’s rule of engagement for his lieutenants. WALE ELEGBEDE reports
Aside from acquiring his first Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology, Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State, got his Doctorate Degree in Public Administration from the prestigious University of Ibadan.
Thus for him, everything is perception, either from the social or psychological point of view. From his various work experiences that spanned across different sectors and positions, Governor Ganduje must have developed a skill set that that connects workplace engagement with public disposition of leaders and aspiring leaders.
This, perhaps, must have defined his expectations of his appointees as governor of Kano State especially with decorum and comportment on social media. Last Sunday, Ganduje’s Special Adviser on Media, Salihu Yakasai, got knocked by the governor for expressing personal views on social media that impugn President Muhammadu Buhari and the presidency.
Yakasai, who tweeted through his handle, @dawisu, was reacting to the President’s inability to address Nigerians amid the national outrage as well as the ongoing online and offline protests against the Special Anti-Robbery Squad of the Nigeria Police Force. Nigeria has been rocked by protests since last Wednesday with youths demanding the disbandment of the notorious police unit, SARS, accused of rampant killings, extortion and harassment of citizens.
The police violently dispersed the protests in Abuja and other cities, in an attempt to crush dissent. But on Sunday, the government bowed to pressure and ordered the immediate dissolution of the SARS unit. Yakasai wrote: “I have never seen a government with zero empathy like that of President Muhammadu Buhari. “So many times when his people are going through a difficult time and expect some sort of tap on shoulder to reassure them that he is in charge, but he failed to do so.
“The ‘I don’t care attitude’ is on another level. To speak to your own people over issues that are bedevilling them has become something like a favour you are doing to them “Over and over again, you cannot spare five minutes to address the nation to calm them down, the same people you went to the 36 states to beg for their votes, it is heartbreaking.” But viewing his appointee’s public view quite distasteful, the governor in a statement, announced his suspension with immediate effect.
The statement was titled ‘Ganduje Suspends Media Aide over Attack on Buhari’ and signed by the Commissioner for Information, Mr. Muhammed Garba. The statement released partly read: “Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State has suspended his Special Adviser on Media, Salihu Tanko Yakasai over some unguarded utterances on the person of President Muhammadu Buhari on the social media platform He said that though the media aide has owned up that the indiscreet comment as his personal opinion, but as a public figure, it will be difficult to differentiate between personal opinion and official stand on matters of public concern.
“The governor, therefore, warned political appointees and public servants to guard against making statements capable of drawing unnecessary controversy and heating up the polity.” The statement added.
Last April, Ganduje sacked the state’s Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Mu’azu Magaji, for celebrating the death of the former Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari. The former Kano commissioner had taken to his Facebook page to celebrate Kyari’s demise, describing it as freedom for Nigeria. Writing in English and Hausa, Magaji stated: “Win win… Nigeria is free and Abba kyari ya mutu a cikin annoba… Mutuwar shahada in Har da Imani mutum ya cika.”
The translation of the post reads, “Win win… Nigeria is free and Abba Kyari has died in the epidemic… the death of a martyr… if he is a believer, the person is complete.” In a subsequent post, the commissioner said the office of the Chief of Staff to the President is too powerful and it should be broken into two. Magaji wrote: “For the good of Nigeria and Mr. President… The CoS office should be split… A PPS (principal private secretary) and a humble manager of his office as CoS… It is currently too powerful for a non-elected official.” Reacting to comments that his post elicited, the commissioner said it was nothing personal.
He wrote: “Nigeria is bigger than any individual… While praying for the president’s late support staff… Ours is to prevent a repeat of his non-accountable domineering era! “In institutional democracy, no individual is bigger than the state… Our interest is to get equity and capacity in the highest position of power. It’s not personal!” Interestingly, Magaji’s sack in April was announced by Yakasai, who said the then commissioner’s “unguarded utterances against the person of the late Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari,” prompted the termination of his appointment.
Yakasai said the dismissal of Magaji over his “unguarded utterances” was with immediate effect. He wrote: “H.E @GovUmar- Ganduje has relieved the appointment of the commissioner of Works and Infrastructure, Engr. Mu’azu Magaji with immediate effect following his unguarded utterances against the person of the late Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abba Kyari.” Yakasai, son of a founding member of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) and Chairman, Northern Elders Council, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, studied Mass Communication at Bayero University Kano and also participated in an executive programme at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
Expectedly, the issue elicited various reactions on social media, depending on the divide of the assessor. Bashir Usman @senatorbash, in his reaction, tweeted: “Despite @ dawisu shortcomings as human, he is currently one of the imagemakers in Nigeria.
#IStandWith- Dawisu Ganduje is allergic to truth hence his squabble with anyone who chooses the path of honour to speak truth to power. Welcome back Fellow Compatriot, let d struggle continue” For @DeeOneAyekoto,”suspension is not sack. The governor is a politician, so is the person suspended. Ganduje knows the implication of not suspending his staff dt criticised the president some 3 weeks after Edo- Election he chaired.
Dawisu will be back at work, Ganduje has renewed his loyalty to his Oga” But refuting insinuations that he has a hand in the suspension of Yakasai, Special Assistant to the President on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, said on his handle, @Bashirahmaad, “I don’t have a hand in what happened to my brother Salihu Tanko Yakasai (Dawisu) as some tweets appeared on my TL suggested, he is a friend not from yesterday, but from many years, and we will remain so, as long as we all breath.”
In one breath, some political analysts are toying with the thinking that the twin occurrence from the Ganduje exco might be the true sentiments within Ganduje’s government towards the president and his government. But some said considering the huge support President Buhari enjoys in Kano and the ties between the President and the governor, the comments from his aides were just an expression of their opinions and not the governor’s.
As it is, the sentiment on how the governor’s inner circle comport themselves in the public will be the cynosure of all eyes. How Governor Ganduje sustains the rules of engagement will also be a talking point in the days to come.