There are many things Dr Dikko Umar Radda, the new governor of Katsina State, can learn from the leadership styles of the three former governors of the state who governed for two terms of eight years each. They are: Alhaji Umar Musa Yar’Adua, Dr Ibrahim Shehu Shema and RT Honourable Aminu Bello Masari. Elections are over. It is time for governance.
Radda is conversant with the leadership styles of the governors. He has been an active player in Katsina politics for long, therefore, I am not going to tell him something radically new. But I do hope he will find one or two issues useful in my presentation.
Let me share with you my reflections on the leadership styles of the governors. First, Yar’Adua. He was ideological, a People’s Redemption Party (PRP) activist and a voracious reader of radical literature especially socialist materials. In other words, he was rooted in radical politics in theory and practice. He was always focused on the interest of the people and known for simple life style.
Yar’Adua could also take pressure once convinced that he was doing the right thing. He spent about two years saving money without awarding major contracts when he was first sworn-in as governor. He saved enough money and by the time he started awarding the contracts, his critics, who accused him of being too slow, understood his decision to save enough money so that he would not award contracts without money to pay. He hated loans for the state and trained Shema to do the same.
He was a meticulous thinker and planner. Yar’Adua believed so much in rule of law that he was lamenting how Nigeria is defined by a song they were singing as children: “Shanun malam ba su da oda, shima malam ba ya da oda” (the cattle of malam are lawless, malam himself is lawless).
He introduced central payment system which accommodates all employees of the state. This substantially blocked fraud in payment of salaries. He was a good listener to the point where a speaker may be embarrassed or suspicious by saying, ba ka ce komi ba (you are not saying anything).
Yar’Adua was a grassroots man to the extent that if you wake him up from sleep and give him papers to write the names of 20-30 people he knew in each of the 34 local governments he would do so without stress. His politics was grassroots based because he was the secretary of a farmers association in the state and also state secretary of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).
He was vastly experienced in politics which was always reflected in his policies, approaches and inter- personal relationships. His foot soldiers like Kabir Maiwada Daudawa and Abdulhamid Dankirki will tell you more.
Second, Shema. He is a visionary leader. Few examples may suffice. He constructed an Orthopaedic hospital in Katsina because according to him there is only one Orthopaedic hospital in the whole of Northern Nigeria (Dala Kano). He also constructed a Crafts Village which has been adjudged by all as a visionary project because of the alarming rate of unemployment in the country. It has been sustained and has produced thousands of young men and women who are now not only self-employed but have also employed others and are making significant contributions to the economy of the state.
He also established an ICT institute and employed a Professor from Singapore who was paid in foreign currency. His vision was to create a world-class institute that is affiliated to international ICT centres and universities. He wanted to use the good-will of the professor to secure affiliation and recognition for the institute so that after a 2-year diploma program a graduate of the institute will easily get admission in any foreign university for a degree program. However, the subsequent administration considered the payment in foreign currency a waste and relieved the professor of the appointment. But there is no shortcut to excellence.
When Shema realized that as a relatively young agrarian state, Katsina metropolis need to expand and modernise, he adopted three approaches. First, he constructed a dual carriage ring road which opened more spaces for development. Second, he constructed a new Government House because the old one was originally built to accommodate British colonial officers. The new house is so good that the subsequent administration changed it’s name from AL’UMMA HOUSE (People’s House) to MUHAMMADU BUHARI House. But is the name Al’umma not more visionary than the name of an individual? Be that as it may, the well planned area of the new Government House is witnessing the construction of new houses and the emergence of a beautiful GRA.
Thirdly, he constructed one thousand five hundred and twelve houses (1,512) in Katsina metropolis in the following Estates: Barhin (500), Ahmadu Bello (510), Kabir Usman Nagogo (250), Makera (252). He also constructed 30 houses in each of the 34 Local Government Areas in the state (a total of 1020) to address the accommodation problem of local government employees because most of the local governments are agrarian, therefore, hardly somebody finds a descent house to rent. The subsequent administration constructed a total of one hundred and eighty houses (180) in eight years.
He also created a team of game changers by sponsoring many students for professional courses abroad who have successfully completed their studies and are now occupying important positions as medical doctors, nurses, and university lecturers. It was part of his vision that some students were sponsored to read French at Maryam Abacha American University Maradi, Niger Republic. He argued convincingly that Nigeria made mistake by ignoring French language when all her neighbours are French speaking (Niger Republic, Chad, Cameroon and Benin Republic).
He was concerned that any time Katsina State Government received a letter from governors of Maradi or Zinder, her neighbours, an outsider had to be contacted to translate the letter, thus, comprising its confidentiality. Interestingly, virtually all the French graduates are employed by Federal Government agencies that have been looking for French graduates, thus, validating his vision.
Many Nigerian products find their ways into African markets through the informal routes. Such products can be found in Niger Republic, Mali, Burkina Fasso, Benin Republic, Togo, Chad, Sudan, Gabon, Central African Republic etc. To capture some of the Markets Shema started constructing an international market called Dubai market. Substantial work was done before the end of his tenure in 2015 but the subsequent administration converted it to a local vegetables market and is yet to be completed as of June 2023.
When Shema realized that some people from Katsina especially foreigners were going to Kano on weekends for shopping he decided to establish a befitting Shopping Mall with a view to renting it out to
Nigerians and foreigners to supply some items not found in Katsina. This will boost trade and improve revenue for the state because people will come from neighbouring states and even neighbouring countries to buy what they may have to go to Kano for, if not for the Mall.
It was well planned and constructed. It is not an ordinary mall. Although Shema completed it and constituted a committee to allocate the shops but the committee did not complete the work before he left and the mall is under lock and key to date (June 2023)
Immediately he was sworn-in for the first term, Shema created a committee to collate the developmental requirements of all communities especially at the grassroots, with a view to implementing bottom to top approach concept of development, rather than imposing projects on communities which may not be their priorities.
I was the Chairman of the Committee and we worked tirelessly for over three weeks with members of the committee to make sure that no community in the state was omitted, no matter how small it was. We also compiled the needs of the communities without editing them. One issue I can never forget is the request from
Musawa Local Government that the family house of the most popular Hausa singer in history, Alhaji Mamman Shata, where he was born in Musawa town, should be preserved as a national monument by the government. Some members of the committee found the request outrageous but we didn’t remove it.
Shema not only mainstreamed the requests in his budgets for eight years but also directed commissioners and head of parastatals to collect the reports from my office and use them in their submissions to him for projects and programs. And they did so because nobody took his directives for granted. There was discipline in Shema’s government. Some people even believed that the fear of Shema was the beginning of wisdom.
My understanding of Masari is that he is a compassionate leader, always willing to assist people. Also, he holds no grudges against people for long.
He also reasons well and expresses himself in good English and Hausa. He has large heart. Masari believes strongly in justice and will condemn injustice even if he committed the act. He can be brutally frank in saying the truth no matter whose ox is gored. For example, I saw a video clip where he visited the crafts village and said that it is a laudable project which his administration
must sustain. And he did. He also constructed the first three fly over bridges in Katsina metropolis that have decongested the traffic and beautify the city.
The three governors have tried their best. However, as humans they must have made mistakes. There are lessons for us in their achievements and mistakes as we strive to make the state better in our different ways. May Allah reward them.