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RE: JONATHAN ASAKE: The Price For Integrity In A Corrupt Political Space

Hon. Jonathan Asake

"From his humble beginning as the son of a clergyman to his venturing into politics, a short stint at SOKAPU, and his inglorious return to politics, Asake's story has been one of misrepresentation and mismanaged fortunes." Edward John Auta.

Since the decision of Hon. Jonathan Asake to abandon the task given to him by the people of southern Kaduna, and embark on a wild goose chase that eventually proved to be the magic wand that handed the APC the governorship election of Kaduna State, both Asake and his surrogates have been involved in a series of appearances and publications across media platforms to justify his involvement in the 2023 governorship race under the platform of the Labour Party. 

The piece, JONATHAN ASAKE: THE PRICE FOR INTEGRITY IN A CORRUPT POLITICAL SPACE by one Magaji Garba is one of such efforts, which, by the way, have failed to make the desired impact, except, perhaps, for those who do not know Asake's history or the story of his SOKAPU presidency.

From his humble beginning as the son of a clergyman to his venturing into politics, a short stint at SOKAPU, and his inglorious return to politics, Asake's story has been one of misrepresentation and mismanaged fortunes.

His election into the House of Representatives in 1999, for example, was by sheer luck. He clinching the PDP ticket micro-zoned to the Bajju area against the more politically exposed and experienced Ango Isaac Makama (Pst. Isaac Issues), in a selection process that involved mainly the Bajju political leaders at that time. His tenure in the Green Chambers, however, was a disappointment and remains the worst in the history of representation in the constituency. It was without any record of constituency project to his credit, save for a few bicycles he bought and shared to party members, a major reason he lost his re-election bid in 2003, at a time when most people were not even paying attention.

Similarly, Asake was given other opportunities in the political space under the PDP. He served as Special Adviser to the then President Olusegun Obasanjo between 2003 and 2007; Special Adviser to the Honourable Minister of Environment, Mrs L. L. Mallam, between 2013 and 2015; and Interim Chairman, Zangon Kataf Local Government Council in 2015, but again with no records of gains or development to his credit for the people in return. 

Asake has also attempted to run for other political offices without success. He ran for the PDP ticket  Zangon Kataf LGA in 2012 Council Elections and came a distant last; ran for the House of Representatives ticket in 2015, again he came last. By this time, it was clear that his political career was in the reverse gear, and, in dire need of a face-lift, he saw SOKAPU as a veritable platform to save his dying political career unknown to the good people of Southern Kaduna, especially the elders, who had protected the SOKAPU presidency from politically exposed characters like him.

Those who could see tomorrow had warned that electing Asake as president of SOKAPU would have dire consequences on SOKAPU as a body, the southern Kaduna struggle, and Mr Asake himself, given his standing as a very ambitious politician; and it did not take long to prove those people right. The rest is history.

From the allegations of high-handedness and sidelining of the vast majority of his EXCO, to the question surrounding the administration of donations for palliative during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, the 120 million naira donation by Wike, and most disappointingly, the sudden and unilateral decision to join the governorship race in the state, Asake worked assiduously to destroy his Integrity and that of SOKAPU - a situation that has now necessitated the dissolution of the EXCO and appointment of an Investigative Committee to probe the allegations of financial impropriety around the necks of Asake and his successor.

But it is not only at SOKAPU that Asake had issues with public funds. There have been issues of financial mismanagement/embezzlement of campaign funds by members of the LP, the party whose ticket he flown in the gubernatorial elections. Consequently, only a daft would describe discussions around these weighty allegations as the "price for integrity in a corrupt political system," or "a fight by the old political order against Asake for daring to stage an upset in the political system," as Mr Magaji tried to do in his piece. 

One may not know how old the Asake image launderer was or where he was settled before the return to democracy in 1999. This is because, for anyone who was either not born or too little to remember where and how southern Kaduna was before the return to democratic rule or was completely not in touch with the area at that time, it is very easy for such a one not to appreciate some of the developments the old order brought to the region. Those of us who had cause to live and attend primary and secondary schools in the villages, walked very long distances to access them; the same was the case with primary or secondary healthcare facilities. No electricity or water,  no access roads and bridges, and very few houses could boast of being built with cement or even roofed with modern roofing sheets. The people considered rich at that time were majorly retired civil servants or senior military officers who often used their retirement benefits to build fairly good-looking houses. The road to Kaduna was like a dungeon, and commuters could take as long as five hours just to travel from Kaduna to Kafanchan due to the terrible condition of the road.

Today, the PDP political elites whom we often conveniently bash as "the old order" have completely rewritten our history. From Ung. Rimi Bajju (Asake's village) through Kamrum, to Abet, Jaban Kogo, Gidan Manna, Sabon Sarki to Kwaturu, the PDP elites influenced the construction of a road that connects all these communities to Kafanchan and Kachia axes. The road from Bondong to Manchok with a bridge across a river that used to consume human lives every rainy season, Mabushi to Manchok, Kagoro to Manchok, Manchok to Jos, Mararaban Kagoro to Gidan Waya-Forest-Gwantu, Badde to Jagindi, Kamantan through Kamuru Station, to Dutsen Bako and to Crossing; Kachia through Awon Village to Gurara Dam, Gwantu to Arak in Sanga, several irrigation dams across LGAs, Water projects in Kajim, Kafanchan, Zonkwa, and so on, that were abandoned after 2015, and the mentorship of young people such as Mr Asake, the Mark Jacobs, the Nenadis, the Moriks and Makogis (of blessed memory), Ado Dogo, and others who are still relevant in SK, Kaduna or Nigerian politics because of the early exposure given to them by the PDP elites at that time, among other legacies spread across every LG, and too numerous to mention.

Having been part of the then-young people given political opportunities at the highest level, but failed to live up to expectations, Asake is one of the living examples of the members of the old order who have failed the people of SK. To claim, therefore, that his opportunistic venturing into the governorship race last year was to challenge the old order or fight for SK, is both dumb and reprehensible. Mr Asake and Magaji need to tell the people of SK why a man who claims to love his people so much would choose to close his eyes and deafen his ears to what mattered to them the most, and even claim that his refusal to do their bidding ahead of the March governorship election is tantamount to fighting for them. 

Why did he, despite knowing he won't win the governorship elections, given his ill-timed and ill-prepared participation in the race, go against the counsel of SOKAPU, the Southern Kaduna Leadership Council, and various community and religious associations who saw the need for a unity of votes of the people of SK in favour of the PDP candidate? 

Why did he spend millions on media appearances and street shows to insist that he was in the race and cast aspersions on our religious and community leaders under the guise of fighting for the people of SK?

Why did he work very hard to lead some of his people astray and ultimately create room for the victory of Uba Sani against the wishes of the vast majority of the southern Kaduna people?

Why did he, allegedly, collect monies from the APC through Chief Femi Fani-Kayode to up his evil plans of paving the way for the passage of the APC in the state?

The truth is, in the eyes of many fair-minded southern Kaduna people,  Mr. Asake would be remembered as that SOKAPU President who mismanaged COVID-19 palliative and IDPs funds and abandoned the work his people ELECTED HIM to do at SOKAPU to work for the VICTORY OF THE APC in the state and extend the practice of the anti-unity Muslim-Muslim Ticket that has served the people no good under the Elrufai regime. 

He is simply a bad example of integrity in any system, political or not. Even as the candidate of the Labour Party, there are serious allegations of diversion of campaign funds by members of his party.

May God be kind to SK and never let us elect as leaders of our struggle, men and women whose blind ambition for political popularity or wealth would lead to the decimation of institutions and struggles for our emancipation, or followers whose ignorance or love for mundane benefits would lead them into defending evil schemes such as Magaji Garba has done.

Edward John Auta writes from Narom Village of Zonkwa Ward in Zango Kataf LGA of Kaduna State

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