…We believe Salihu Kakasai acted irresponsibly

The on-going debate over the sack of Salihu Tanko Yakasai, a social media aide to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano State, is healthy.

The debate is healthy because Nigeria is a democratic country and there is the need for citizens and members of the public in general to ventilate and examine any action taken by a public official, including governors and even the president of the country.

Salihu Yakasai was sacked by Governor Ganduje on Saturday for criticising the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), especially on their handling of insecurity in the country. He had, in a series of tweets on Friday attacked Buhari, in reaction to the abduction of some female students of Government Girls Secondary School in Jangebe, Zamfara State.

Salihu had twitted among other things that- “Clearly, we as APC government, at all levels, have failed Nigerians in the number 1 duty we were elected to do which is to secure lives & properties. Not a single day goes by without some sort of insecurity in this land. This is a shame! Deal with terrorists decisively or resign.”

Explaining the reason for Salihu’s sack, the Kano State Commissioner for Information, Malam Muhammad Garba, said the action was taken for the aide’s “unguarded comments and utterances.”

Garba said Salihu had failed to differentiate between personal opinion and official stand on matters of public concern and therefore could not be allowed to continue to serve in a government he does not believe in.

He stated further that- “The governor also warned political appointees and public servants to guard against making statements capable of drawing superfluous controversy.

“The statement reaffirmed the commitment of Governor Ganduje to the policies and programmes of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari,” the commissioner was quoted to have said.

The official position of African Community News (ACN) on the sack of Salihu Tanko Yakasai, is that the action of the Kano State government, is in the right direction for the following reasons:

There is no doubt that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) have failed to live up to the expectation of the people of Nigeria in many areas, especially their failure to secure the lives and properties of Nigerians and others living in the country.

However, the matter in issue here is, the right of an aide to a public official to speak on matters in which his employer is a first-line stakeholder and therefore would be directly affected; as well as in a manner that such position by the aide may be interpreted to be the position of his boss or employer.

It is a universal truth that a position taken by an aide to a public official is assumed to be the position of his boss or employer unless such an employer or boss issues a disclaimer or reprimand the aide.

The above is also the position of the law, which succinctly explained it in the principle of vicarious liability which states that an employer may be held responsible for actions, damages and offences committed by an employee.

It therefore becomes a duty on the part of employees, including aides of political office holders, to read the content of their comments side by side their possible consequences before pushing them out to the public. It is just not enough to argue that everyone has a right to free speech without marrying it side by side with the fact that- freedom of speech, like every other freedom, has limitations.

If we recall that Salihu Tanko Yakasai was suspended in 2020 for posting a similar criticism of president Muhammadu Buhari and was later recalled following the intervention of some elders in the state, it is obvious that his repeat of the action means it was deliberate, premeditated and an affront to the governor and his administration.

By repeating the act after his earlier suspension was lifted, Salihu is assumed to have been prepared for whatever consequences his latest action would generate; and therefore, baseless and out of place for anyone to either shed crocodile tears for him or cry more than the bereaved, as we say in Nigeria.

It is a well-known fact that Ganduje is an ardent supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari and has been very loyal to the president; as can be further testified through many factors including the Governor’s efforts that led to Buhari’s massive win in Kano State during the 2019 presidential election.

It therefore won’t be an extreme position to even suggest that Salihu, by repeatedly taking opposite stand with Governor Ganduje on matters that affects the President or the public, may be a saboteur, being sponsored by vested interest(s) to undermine the governor and pitch him against the presidency.

We there agree the Kano State Commissioner for Information Muhammad Garba that you cannot be allowed to continue to serve in a government that you do not believe in.

As an unelected aide, Salihu has the right to disagree with Ganduje on anything, including the Governor’s stand on the president and his policies, but that is only when they are in a meeting or privately, where he is allowed to offer his advice as an adviser.

However, should an aide, in this case, Salihu, insist on opposing his boss’s stand in the public, he has only one option- RESIGN. And where he refuses to resign, should be dismissed for gross misconduct and insubordination.

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