Monday, October 19, 2009

The Perfidy of 'Sardauna of Sokoto' Foundation

Barely two months after N10billion was raised at the launching of the First Lady Cancer Centre, businessmen, state governors and politicians again gathered in Kaduna for another session of naira rain. However this time, it was for launch of the Late Sarduana of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello Foundation.

According the organisers, the objective of the Sardauna Foundation is to undertake research on the life and legacies of the late Sardauna, in the areas of values in service, leadership, development strategies, education, religious and ethnic tolerance, transparency and accountability. And according to media reports, the sum of N5.4billion was realised at the event, with Kano state government donating a sum of N779million (!). Other northern states were also noted to have donated between N200-N250 million each.

I have so much respect and admiration for the Late Ahmadu Bello. In fact, if one-third of all the northern state governors followed the legacies of the Late Sardauna, northern Nigeria is likely to be one of the best places to live in the world. It is on record that Sir Ahmadu Bello led northern Nigeria to great heights with zeal, audacity, momentum and focus.

During his reign as Premier, he established the largest University South of the Sahara (Ahmadu Bello University), the largest Polytechnic in Africa (Kaduna Polytechnic), one of Africa’s biggest conglomerate (Northern Nigeria Development Corporation), one of Africa’s biggest printing press (New Nigerian Newspapers), one of the leading banks (Bank of the North Ltd) in Africa etc.

However, when I read about how taxpayers money are been doled out and frittered away by elected politicians at ‘social events’, I can help it but cringe. It pains me to the bone marrow that our leaders can squander the state resources ‘willy nilly’ on useless and silly projects without been questioned.

This is not the first time, when monies from state coffers are donated towards advancement of individual causes that serve little or no public benefit. We see monies thrown at libraries, foundation, pet projects that lack any clear purpose. These projects serve as conduit for our greedy and corrupt leaders to siphon taxpayers’ money.

Tell me, what does Sarduana Foundation mean to millions of children that die yearly due to preentable diseases? What does Sarduana Foundation mean to millions of Almajiris begging on the streets of Lagos and Abuja? What does Sarduana Foundation mean to dilapidated hospitals in the north? What does Sardauna Foundation mean to millions of northerners that have no access to pipe borne water? What does Sarduana Foundation mean to the average northerner that cannot afford a single meal a day? What does Sarduana Foundation mean to millions of northerners who are homeless? What does Sardauna Foundation means to millions of unemployed youths in the north?

Now going back to the actual donations, there are few questions we need to ask the state Governors. Now that N5billion has been realised, how is it going to be spent? Who are the administrators of the Sardauna foundation? Who will hold the administrators accountable on how the money realised will be spent?

It is high time we as individuals need to start holding our leaders accountable for their actions. I cannot imagine my State Premier donating $7m of taxpayers’ money towards a foundation, irrespective of whom the foundation is set up. And by the way, were these donations appropriated in the state budget? Did the state legislative assembly approve such expenditure?

Truth be told, we do not need to raise N5.4billion before we research the legacies of the Late Sarduana. His legacies are there for all who care to see. However, what has the northern leaders done in the last 43yrs to improve on the legacies of the Late Sardauna? What is the state of university/polytechnic he left behind? What happened to the NNDC? Where is New Nigeria newspaper? What happened to Bank of the North?

The Late Sardauna was not allocated money from the ‘Excess Crude Account’, yet he built schools, media empire, financial institutions. The Late Sardauna did not enrich himself through dodgy and sham foundations. He did not coerce government contractors into donating money for pet projects that did not serve any public good. I do not think he was junketing overseas for medical treatment while local hospitals in the North remained non-functional. I also do not think he was sending his children overseas for education, while the educational institutions in the North remain perpetually shut down.

If these northern states are so rich that they can raise N5.4billion, then Gov. Fashola shouldn’t have had to go through the pain of repatriating the Almajiris begging on the streets of Lagos back to the north.

Let make no mistake N5.4billion is a colossal amount of money, irrespective of the currency. If N5.4billion is spent on Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, it might at least reduce Pres. Yar’Adua overseas medical trips. The money is enough to save future generations in the north from dying from illnesses such as Malaria and Polio etc.


Anonymous said...

True words. They should be held accountable. The money raised could be put to better use. It could go a long way in reducing the hardship suffered by many if used to take care of other pressing issues.

Seyi said...

I'm sure the Late Sardauna will be cringing in his grave when the donations were been announced. God help us!