One On One With Governor Ganduje By Jaafar Jaafar

Governor Ganduje of Kano
Governor Ganduje of Kano
A story was told on how Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State mistook his driver with a bystander when he was a commissioner of Works during the military era in the 90s.
One day, the story goes, Ganduje was chauffeur-driven to attend some official duties in one of the ministries in Kano. After a while, he came out, wading through a file on his hand, he subconsciously beckoned to a person standing near his car assuming that he was his driver – unknown to him that the driver had gone to ease himself. “Shiga mu tafi Audu Bako Sakateriya.” (Enter, let’s go to Audu Bako Secretariat)”, he ordered.
“To yallabai,” (Ok sir), the man, who is a learner, took the order of the commissioner.
Ganduje was still attending to files as he sat in the owner’s corner of his Peugeot 404, unmindful of how his “new” driver handled the car.
Minutes later, the man managed to drop Ganduje at the state secretariat. The “driver” remained in the car waiting — and sweating, thinking of how to reverse the car out of a maze of cars at the parking lot of Audu Bako Secretariat.
A few moments later, Ganduje returned, still engrossed in checking the files. “Mu tafi,” (let’s go), he ordered.
The driver hesitated and mumbled. “Ranka ya dade, wallahi ribas ne kawai ban iya ba…” (Oga, truly I don’t know to reverse a car), he said, fidgeting with the gear lever, sweating.
Ganduje then looked at the “driver” and discovered that a wrong man drove him. He snapped: “Ina direban? Fita ka ban waje! Da baka iya ba ka dauko ni?” (Where is my driver? Get out! And you dared pick me without knowing how to drive?)”. He then took over the wheels and zoomed off.
Behind the anecdotal effect of the foregoing lines, lies a story about a dutiful and workaholic man — a man whose first campaign slogan aired as radio jingles in 1998 was hinged on a three-pronged alliterative question: Ganduje ina za ka? AIKI. Daga ina ka ke? AIKI. Me ka ke yi? AIKI (Ganduje, where are you going to? WORK. Ganduje, from where are you? WORK. Ganduje, what are you doing? WORK).
I was in Kano at the weekend to honor an invitation extended to me by the executive governor of Kano State, Dr. Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, for a one-on-one meeting to discuss certain issues affecting our state.
I jotted down some questions, advices, commendations, and observations I wanted his administration to adopt for it to achieve success.
Very welcoming and superbly intelligent, even as a deputy governor, Ganduje would spend the whole night attending to state matters and report to office early in the following morning.
“Jaafar, so you managed to come?” he asked rhetorically as he ushered me into the drawing room.
“Your Excellency,” I said in obeisance, “I will honor your invitation any day.”
But the journalist in me didn’t stop me to “enter” offside. From questioning the rationale behind some of his decisions, particularly the issue of spending N180 million on renovation of his deputy’s residence, to asking how he would manage the state amid cash crunch, the governor intelligently responded to my questions.
He explained at length about the damage in the deputy governor’s house (some of which I am aware of), the size of the construction work, and why the decision was taken.
My advice, to which he seemed in acquiescence, is to stand down the decision for a while and roll out people-oriented programs that will redeem his image.
The governor took time to explain some of his plans for Kano State and how he will rollout new programs and projects and also consolidate the achievements of the immediate-past government.
I advised him that in order for him to also stand out and leave a solid legacy, he needs to bring something new to people of Kano State. “Your Excellency,” I said, “ensure that you bring light rail or tram in Kano State. I know it is costly but try and do it.”
“I actually have that plan as I have also set up a committee on the matter. We are looking into actualizing the idea through PPP arrangements,” he said.
I also advised him that in order to save cost, he should look into the possibility of publishing the Weekly State Executive Council Meeting decisions ONLY on the website of Kano State and social media platforms in order to save cost of placing advertorials in newspapers.
“With this, you will save nearly N200 million every year,” I said allusively. I explained to him that as a damage control strategy to detangle out of a web of recent PR crisis, the people will welcome any cost-saving decision. People of Kano will be happy to hear about his husbandry of public resources in these trying times. I can see how he marveled at this idea, and then promised to seriously look into it.
On “sacking” of sanitation workers, Governor Ganduje explained that it was a verification exercise embarked by his government towards exposing ghost workers and ensuring prudent management of resources. The governor explained how he saved millions of naira through the verification exercise.
We discussed issues of agriculture, healthcare delivery, education, among others.
I left Government House around 2:15 am.

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