An Open Letter to Governor Masari: Of Anti Social Media Posture, Rampant Arrest, and the Issues In-between By Baba-Bala Katsina

Since July last year when I wrote you about public perception of you and your administration — Your Excellency — I have not have cause to write you an open letter until now. Not because things have not been happening to warrant that but that they are more of public concern than your administration. Like the last one however, Your Excellency, I prefer to communicate this too — to you — through this medium because I have no other means than this.

Without wasting your time since you now occupy an executive position with varieties of responsibility, I write to draw your attention to what we see as unfortunate development going on between the state and society — who in an ideal situation supposed to be partners in development rather than enemies. Relationship between people especially the social media community and your administration or you in person has assumed the dimension of a world war. Nothing prompted this letter writing therefore than your administration’s resolve to deal with your social media perceived enemies. You do not need to be reminded of its role in your emergence as governor and how it could also play same in helping you deliver your campaign promises – on which basis you were voted. This is a story for another day. But what is happening now is akin to a scenario Hausas described as “anbar jaki ana bugun taiki”, which could loosely be translated in English to mean “putting the cart before the horse”.

That you are misinformed about social media community by your aides is clear. Your comments about social media during your administration’s 100 days in office’s celebration and in your karamar sallah speech have not only confirmed it but defined the kind of perception you’re made to have of social media. You may wish from the comfort of your room appraise the writings of those enemies. I make bold to say you will discover that our concern is not you in person but the system, the state and its people. We discuss issues, not personalities. We analyse policies most. Some may have problem with how to make their argument plausible but the motive is as said. This is very simple to measure: a review of our views before this administration and now will validate my point.

It is not the intention of this group to always write and critique everything your administration does. There are instances at which small things would happen and pressure be mounted on us to write, yet we refuse, on principle ground. We would see however some things worth critiquing about which your administration didn’t even notice but we rather call one of your aides to offer our suggestions. Our motive isn’t who takes the credit, or the crowd we will pull, but how well the system works for the benefit of all. There are many occasions we defend the administration when your media team run out of ideas or stay away to avoid creating unnecessary controversies. Even in these issues of Coffin and purchase of goats we defended the administration and called on the team to put a stop to it or it will lead to where they never expected. The bloggers also, we warn them to concentrate more on enlightenment than discussing trivial issues. Your aides are fully aware of this. May be they don’t show/tell you for reason best known to them. Our understanding is, and has been – even before your administration – that, government alone can’t bring the desired development. Society has to work with the government as a partner.

Most of the opinions we hold geared towards enlighten the public to know that most of what we demand from government are actually what we should do at individual or family or community level; that no matter the performance of the government, at those levels we need to do many things if we want to see the result we want. But when anybody talks – sadly — the impression your people make you have of us is we hate you or we are being sponsored by God knows whom or want something from you. Majority of us are non partisan; we don’t have political party; neither have a godfather under whose influence we write. We rather push wheel barrow around central market to make a living than be political errand boys. Your aides too well know this, but they don’t tell you.

It takes — Your Excellency — a careless spectator to know that the trouble is with how your media team manage information and public relation. They would share an information and people ask questions, which is normal. But what they rather get is — most often — not answer but insult and name calling. An observer would see lack of coordination among your media team – each wants to outshine the other — or that in the whole administration information isn’t flowing across such that themselves – the team — most a time do not know what to say or know next to nothing beside the information they shared. Public relation is not only about information sharing but about careful study, strategy, critical thinking and management. If this is taking into consideration there will be no controversy. On this we can draw examples from other states.

The solution to this problem is simple Your Excellency. Set a secretariat from which your PR managers will conduct their work as a team; harmonise the channels of information inflow across MDAs; the  team needs to be more coordinated, work as a team and their job roles be more defined. Lead also an open and transparent government: Design a website and put all information about your administration’s plans, budget expenditure, procurement and other sensitive areas on which public are becoming so curious. This will reduce the controversy and quench the thirst of so many inquisitive minds.

Your Excellency, except your people don’t want to tell you the truth, fact is, you’re fast becoming immensely unpopular even before this rampant arrest started. Public perception about you to say the truth since the last time I wrote to draw attention about it, is not appreciating; which tells the kind of PR your media managers is doing. For this recent development the perception in the public sphere about your administration is raging.

Some think because the administration is not transparent that is why it resorted to arresting those who dare talk. Some are saying that because you so soon forget the people’s goodwill, you get intoxicated by power. Some are saying your aides are taking advantage of being in the government to get at their enemies. Some think those arrested are just a scapegoat;  suspected to be sponsored by perceived political enemies. Some, upon listening to the news on international stations said “mun san a rina. Waya ce kuka zabe shi”. The news of mother of one of the detainees crying for justice at the court hearing is fast spreading like wild fire and you would like to see the face people make and the words of curse they utter. As a student concerned with historical trends that define Katsina socio-economic and political developments I can only advise that you thread with caution. Not because of 2019 which you reminded people is not a threat but because of what you will be remembered for.

Your advisers may undermine the implications of what they are doing in your name. The story of your administration embarking on rampant arrest at the mention of your name is all over Northern Nigeria and is getting attention from the south and soon will get the world’s. This can’t continue unchecked. Your Excellency, soon, human rights organisations both in and outside Nigeria will pick interest in what’s going on in Katsina. Before you know it Katsina is in the news for the wrong reason. The blame will be at your doorstep no matter how clean your hands are. This is the problem with public perception. Remember Shema’s election eve’s gaffe and the attention it attracted from the world bodies? World is watching us closely more than we can think and the investors we always think will come will consider this as political instability. Political instability is a critical determinant factor in the direction investment goes.

A brief review into what led to radicalisation of youths in other societies will make you think twice Sir. I know you do pause to remember for how long we have been fighting Kauraye and the menace is only increasing. Why? Boko Haram was radicalised after clamp down on them by security. Shia — other events considered — are becoming fiercely radical; preferring death for living over the recent Zaria incident. Even America with all its military might have come to realisation that force can’t bring the order that the world needs. So no where in the world – Your Excellency — in history or now has this measure ever worked. We locally have a Hausa peace and reconciliation mechanisms and I think until exhausted, is too quick to resort to this option of wanton arrest and detention. Your administration is dancing on a broken bottle and your political stock at stake. Here is my little advise. Allah Rayan Jahar Katsina.

 

Baba-Bala Katsina

bababalakt@gmail.com

Twitter Handle : @BabaBala5

Tsangayar Malam Dan Malam

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