When Abdullahi Ganduje dismissed his media adviser, Salihu Tanko-Yakassai, popularly known as Dawisu, for publicly criticising President Muhammadu Buhari and the All Progressives Party (APC), it was the second time the Kano State governor would clampdown on dissenting appointees.
Yakassai was sacked shortly after authoring a viral post on Twitter in which he asked Buhari to resign for failing to address insecurity in the country.
But earlier, in April 2019, Ganduje had also dismissed Mu’azu Magaji, his commissioner of works and infrastructure, for celebrating the death of late Abba Kyari, former chief of staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Kyari, a very powerful official in the Buhari administration, died from complications related to coronavirus on April 17, 2020.
Before his unexpected demise, Kyari was believed to wield enormous powers – in fact he was seen as even more influential than the president.
But the commissioner, Magaji, appeared to be among many Nigerians who rejoiced over the former chief of staff’s demise, going by posts he reportedly made on Facebook and Twitter.
One of Magaji’s posts read, “Win win … Nigeria is free and Abba Kyari dies in epidemic… The martyrdom of man is perfect!”
In another post, Magaji observed that the Office of Chief of Staff to the President was too powerful and suggested that it should be broken into two.
He wrote, “For the good of Nigeria and Mr President… the CoS (Chief of Staff) 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.”
Magaji added that Kyari was only a support staff member in the Presidential Villa and as a result, his death should not be such a big deal.
“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!
“I am not a hypocrite and I won’t pretend! While at personal level I pray Allah grant Abba Kyari Jannah…I sincerely believe Nigeria needed a better CoS period!,” Magaji said.
Ganduje sacked Magaji immediately the posts went viral on the social media.
A statement by Muhammadu Garba, commissioner of information, explained that Magaji was sacked for making ‘unguarded utterances.’
“Governor Umar Ganduje has relieved the appointment of the commissioner of Works and Infrastructure, 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,” the statement said.
The statement added, “As a public servant, the commissioner ought to have respected the profanity of the office by refraining from any act capable of rendering the office to disrepute.
“The action of a public servant, personal or otherwise reflects back on the government and therefore, the Ganduje administration would not tolerate people in official capacities engaging in personal vendetta or otherwise.
“Late Abba Kyari had led a life worthy of emulation by serving his country to the best of his ability.”
Ganduje reportedly reappointed Magaji as chairman, project committee on industrialisation and pipelines, about six months after dismissing him as commissioner.
The governor also pointed to ‘unguarded utterances and comments’ as reasons for sacking Salihu Tanko-Yakasai just a day after he criticised Buhari and the APC over the high level of insecurity in the country.
Clearly, we as APC government, at all levels, have failed Nigerians in the number 1 duty we were elected to do which is to secure lives & properties. Not a single day goes by without some sort of insecurity in this land. This is a shame! Deal with terrorists decisively or resign. https://t.co/L5YCvik1Eb
— Peacock (@dawisu) February 26, 2021
Reacting to a series of abductions of students in the northern part of the country, the media aide had tweeted: “Clearly, we as APC government, at all levels, have failed Nigerians in the number one duty we were elected to do which is to secure lives and properties. Not a single day goes by without some sort of insecurity in this land. This is a shame! Deal with terrorists decisively or resign.
“Just last week it was #freeKagaraboys, today we have anew hashtag #RescueJangebeGirls, who knows tomorrow what hashtag we will come up with? Perhaps one for ourselves when we get caught up in one of these daring attacks.
“This is sad and heartbreaking, I feel helpless and hopeless. I completely agree. Hypocrisy is in our DNA. Imagine what’s happening in the North now under GEJ or OBJ, what you will hear is he’s the enemy of the North and Muslims, but here we are, being ravaged by all sorts of insecurity but no collective rage…”
Ganduje had also suspended Dawisu for criticising Buhari in the wake of #EndSARS protests that rocked the country in October 2020.
Dawisu had attacked the president for keeping mute in the wake of attacks on protesters by soldiers during the protests.
In a tweet on his Twitter handle, Peacok @dawisu, he had said, “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 fails 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 heart-breaking.”
Read Also: Blasphemy: Nigerians knock Ganduje, say he does not have a single shred of religious legitimacy
The media aide was reinstated after a two-week suspension, before he was eventually sacked after his latest episode of ‘unguarded utterances and comments’ against Buhari and the APC.
He was relieved of his job while in the custody of the State Security Service (SSS), which had arrested him for criticising Buhari and the APC over rising level of insecurity in the country.
- Dawisu regains freedom
Meanwhile, in a post on his Twitter handle on March 2, 2021, Dawisu announced that he had regained his freedom from DSS detention.
Alhamdulilah I've regained my freedom. I've nothing but love to all those who added their voice 1 way or the other during my trying times. Especially the #FreeDawisu ARMY & others who played a critical role in my release, esp my sister @Sholiberry, family & close friends. Thank U pic.twitter.com/ZkwMQEz6Ha
— Peacock (@dawisu) March 2, 2021
In the tweet, he expressed appreciation to all those that added their voice to calls for his release.
- Ganduje, a controversial governor
The Kano State governor, who was elected on the platform of the APC in 2015, gained notoriety when, in October 2018, a newspaper, Daily Nigerian, published a video which showed him pocketing wads of American dollars in what was said to be bribe payments from public works contractors.
In the video recorded in 2017, in what Daily Nigerian said was a sting operation aimed at beaming a spotlight on the governor’s alleged penchant for contract racketeering, Ganduje could be seen collecting the dollars before rolling them into the pockets of his white ‘babanriga‘ dress.
Ganduje claimed the video was fake, and dragged the newspaper to court.
Despite the video and widespread perception that he was corrupt, Ganduje in August 2020 drew angry reactions from Nigerians on the social media when he claimed that his administration had zero-tolerance for corruption.
The governor told Kano State’s Public Complaint and Anti Corruption Commission that any corrupt individual should not go unpunished in the state.
Eyebrows were raised when, in spite of the allegations of corruption hanging on his neck, the APC Caretaker and Extra-Ordinary National Convention Planning Committee named Ganduje head of its National Campaign Council for the Edo State governorship election.
The People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria’s opposition party, capitalised on the situation by playing the ‘Ganduje dollar’ video at the popular Ring Road in Benin, capital of Edo State. The PDP candidate, incumbent Godwin Obaseki, eventually defeated Osagie Ize-Iyamu in the governorship election.
In December 2020, the East Carolina University in the United States denied appointing Ganduje as a visiting professor, saying that a letter received by the Kano State governor from a member of its faculty was unauthorised by the appropriate officials.
It would also be recalled that, earlier in August 2020, Ganduje had expressed his readiness to sign the execution warrant of a 30-year-old man, Yahaya Sharif-Aminu, who was sentenced to death by hanging by a Kano Upper Shari’a Court, after he was convicted of making blasphemous remarks against Prophet Muhammad, under Section 382 (b) of the Kano State Penal Code Law 2000.
Ganduje said that he would not hesitate to sign the execution order at the expiration of the 30-day grace if the convict failed to appeal the judgment.
He said at a stakeholders forum, “If the 30 days elapses and the convict has not appealed, and there is no evidence that he had appealed, I will not waste time in signing the warrant for the execution of the man who blasphemed our Holy Prophet of Islam. Lawyers just told us that the case could go up to the Supreme Court. So if that happens, I will not waste time to abide by the verdict right away.”
But a Kano State High Court saved the musician, Sharif-Aminu, from Ganduje’s wrath when, on January 21, 2021, it quashed the death sentence passed by the Upper Sharia Court and ordered a retrial of the matter.
* Ganduje’s spokesman refuses to respond to questions
Meanwhile, Ganduje’s spokesman refused to respond to questions when The ICIR sought official comments over the governor’s penchant for clamping down on dissent.
The ICIR’s correspondent also wanted to know if it was the governor that notified the State SSS to arrest Dawusi.
Abbar Anwar, chief press secretary to the Kano State governor, said he would get back to The ICIR, but he did not fulfill his promise as of the time of filing this report.