The Telegraph newspaper has crowned Governor Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano State the Best Governor in 2018 in the areas of health and education despite an unresolved bribery allegation against him.
The award came at a time Mr Ganduje is facing allegation of collecting $5 million kickback from contractors.
The Daily Nigerian, an online medium, had first published a series of videos showing Mr Ganduje collecting bribes from contractors in what the newspaper called a sting operation. Similar videos soon surfaced online sparking a national outrage and demand for investigation by Nigerians.
Although the videos were also authenticated by PREMIUM TIMES in-house experts, the videos were dismissed as ‘cloned’ by the governor who subsequently headed to court to seek redress.
The court last week ordered the seven-member committee set up by the Kano State House of Assembly to investigate the allegations to stay action. The lawmakers had earlier invited Daily Nigerian to defend the allegations which it (newspaper) honored, standing by its publication.
The court order followed a suit filed by one Muhammad Zubair, National Coordinator of a Non-governmental Organisation, Lawyers for Sustainable Democracy in Nigeria that the Assembly has no right to investigate the matter.
But the committee vowed to continue with its assignment despite the court order.
The chairman of the committee, and member representing Kano Municipal, Baffa Danagundi, announced the committee’s decision on Tuesday in Kano while briefing journalists on the court order.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission boss Ibrahim Magu last week ignored a question posed to him on what the agency was doing about calls for investigation. Mr Ganduje cannot legally be prosecuted while in office but he can be investigated.
An ex-governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, was investigated while in office and immediately picked up for questioning as soon as he left office a few weeks ago. While Mr Fayose is of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, Mr Ganduje is a governor under the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
Honored Despite Allegation
Meanwhile, at the Telegraph organised award occasion, after eulogising Mr Ganduje, the Managing Director of the newspaper, Funke Egbemode, said “it is good to celebrate those that are making a difference in our lives”, in obvious reference to the governor.
A statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES by the Chief Press Secretary to Mr Ganduje quoted Mrs Egbemode saying: “We believe that if we appreciate those that did good things we are at the same time encouraging them to do more in life.”
She reportedly added that, “Globally, education and health are two significant areas where successful governance and credible development index are often measured and rated.
“As a consummate politician and administrator par excellence, Ganduje realised from the outset, he had to make indelible impact on the lives of his people. And he truly did with affordable healthcare and functional education.”
The managing director also acknowledged that, “Ganduje believes strongly in the words of former South African President, Nelson Mandela, that, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
Presenting the award to the governor on Saturday night at Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos, a former minister of petroleum, Don Etiebet, on behalf of the company, acknowledged how Mr Ganduje transformed both the health and education sectors in Kano State, “within a twinkle of an eye.”.
“The outstanding performance of governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje made him stand out among his peers. While understanding the relevance of education in the state development, Ganduje believes in healthy population. That is why he did it diligently to see that he leaves indelible marks in these all-important sectors.”
In a three-minute acceptance speech, the governor appreciated the award. He spoke about the multi-cultural nature of the state, saying that “being the most populous state in the country, we don’t want to have a population that will be a liability to us. We want see that our population becomes an asset. Not a liability. That is why we are doing our best in these and all other areas in this administration.
“We assure you that Kano will continue to excel in all sectors of the state. This honour, as being presented here, is meant to encourage us to continue building a stronger state with viable economy and productive population,” he reportedly said.
Mr Ganduje added that “We are grateful for such recognition, as you are receiving this intimidating entourage on the podium.”
Meanwhile, the newspaper listed over 200 achievements recorded in the state’s health sector and others in education under the leadership of Mr Ganduje
Other governors who received awards as tweeted by the newspaper’s handle “@newtelegraphng” are: governors of Delta Ifeanyi Okonwa (good governance), Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa (human capital development and infrastructure), Dave Umahi of Ebonyi (agriculture), Yahaya Bello of Kogi (security), Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara (youths empowerment) and Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto (man of the year).
Other recipients are: PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar (political icon of the decade), Senate President Bukola Saraki (politician of the year), chairman of BUA group, Abdussamad Rabiu (man of the year), minister of power, Raji Fashola (most outstanding public servant), and John Basco (humanitarian award).
On the media, entertainment and sports category, the proprietor of DAAR Communication, Raymond Dokpesi (media icon-broadcast), Ajibola Ogunsola (media icon of the year-print), Esther Onyema (sports person of the year – female), Bolanle Ninalawo (actor of the year) and Shaffy Bello (actress of the year).
The public and corporate organisations awarded at the event were Bureau of Public Enterprise (most productive government agency), UBA (Bank of the year), Access Bank (sustainability award of the year) and Transcorp Hilton hotel (hospitality brand of the year).