By Bala Ibrahim
Pursuant to my last article on the poor handling of the pandemic in Kano, many issues came up, with the need for us to visit our conscience, as the foremost. Amongst the issues raised, is the worrisome involvement of Dr Amina Umar Ganduje, one of the daughters of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, in the affairs of the state.
Reports have it that, the medical community in the state is perturbed, by the incessant and inexperienced interference of the young doctor, in virtually everything healthcare-related in the state. Although Amina is a medic, on training at the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, she has not yet gotten the needed exposure and experience for high-level decision making of the present pandemic level.
Again, by virtue of her being the daughter of the state’s chief executive, it is morally wrong to let her participate in the purchase or distribution of any item, for, or by the state. Doing that could result in a conflict of interest, and a clear clash with a conscience.
The dictionary describes conscience as a person’s moral sense of right and wrong, which is expected to act as a guide to a person’s behaviour. God gives each person a conscience, as the antenna or compass, that should guide him to do the right or the reverse.
Without fear of any contradiction, conscience is one of the ways we know about the existence of God, because like the late Hausa musician, Dankwairo said, everyone knows when he does the right, and everyone knows when he does the wrong. For the man who goes by the nickname Khadimul Islam, or the servant of Islam, Ganduje needs no special tutorial on the relationship between conscience and the conflict of interest.
Indeed Kano state government and many apologists of the government, have put some defense and denials, about the alleged involvement of the governor’s children in government, as well as the widely publicized insinuation of the other room’s influence, but the speed with which the claims are coming, alongside the displayed disposition of the governor, make the balance of probability inevitably tilt against the Government House.
It takes two to tango. There is no way the names of Dr Amina and the other room would continue to feature with negative connotations, if they are not active, directly or indirectly, in the affairs of the state. As relations of His Excellency, there would be a conflict of interest, that ought to prick their collective conscience.
A friend once told me a story, of how in the time of late President Umaru Musa Y’aradua, they put a proposal for the procurement and supply of some desperately needed essential Agricultural equipment, through the president’s nephew, who later became a minister after the demise of president Yar’adua. Using the nephew, they met the president in person, who received them warmly and hospitably. The president perused through the proposal and directed them to submit the same to the then minister of Agriculture.
The minister was so excited because at least, the biggest hurdle in the bureaucracy has been crossed. Shortly after, the president sent for him, and enquired, have you received the proposal, from my nephew? He answered in the affirmative, excitedly.
President Yar’adua told him not to shortlist them because they are not qualified. By virtue of him being my nephew, any decision I take on a company to which he has an interest, would result in a conflict of interest, which would clash with my conscience, he said.
That was how my friend, who came all the way from America for the project, lost that important contract, that was channelled through the highest hand in the country.
However, depending on one’s antecedents, particularly his patriotism and contempt for corruption, the person may be quickly cleared, even where his actions carry the color of conflict of interest.
In a book written by Honorable Sidi Ali Hameed, titled, Power Of Powers, which eulogized and highlighted the good qualities of late Muhammadu Ribadu, Nigeria’s Minister of Defense in the first republic. Hon. Sidi Ali narrated a touching story on the importance of clean conscience, and how people with such conscience are exonerated from corruption.
By virtue of his position, the minister of defense was the most senior minister, who acts for the prime minister whenever the prime minister was away. A situation arose, where Tafawa Balewa, the prime minister was out of town, so Ribadu was acting. Chief Festus Okotie Eboh, the then minister of finance was also out of town, so again, Ribadu was acting as the minister of finance. The day also coincided with the day of the Tenders Board meeting, to which Muhammadu Ribadu and Okotie Eboh were members. There was the crucial issue for the purchase of a new defense house in Marina, and written invitations were sent to those that applied to sell their property. This is a purchase for a property to be used by his ministry, the ministry of defense.
At exactly the time the board normally seats, minister Ribadu called for the files. He went through all the bids, selected the one he found most suitable, and minuted as follows: “As minister of defense, I bought the new office. As minister of finance, I approved the purchase, and as prime minister, I have no objection” Signed, Muhammadu Ribadu.
The files were dispatched to circulation for relevant actions. When it got to the permanent secretary in the ministry of finance to authorize payment, he picked out the file and locked it in his drawer, until the return of chief Okotie Eboh, the proper minister of finance. In excitement, having detected a fraud, he reached out and drew the attention of the minister, to the anomaly.
The minister perused properly and asked the perm. sec. with a sigh of surprise, What is the fraud here? As of this date, who was the prime minister? He answered, Muhammadu Ribadu sir. As of this date, Who was the minister of finance? He answered, Muhammadu Ribadu sir. Who again was, and still is, the minister of defense? He also answered, Muhammadu Ribadu sir. What then is the fraud? the minister enquired.
The building was bought, and nobody questioned the rationale behind the action of Muhammadu Ribadu, because he was an attested man of a clean conscience.
Are those defending Khadimul Islam, trying to convince us that, the alleged involvement or interference of the other room, and the products of the other room, would not conflict with his interest, or prick his conscience, as did late Muhammadu Ribadu?
If we have a conscience, it’s good to carry it along, all the times.
Bala Ibrahim, a Media Advisor writes from Kano.