As the 2019 elections draw near, carpenters in Gombe state seem to be experiencing increased patronage from politicians and political campaign organisations.

Many of these carpenters who, before now, had been managing to survive, now have their businesses boosted to the extent that some of them now employ extra hands of between eight and ten to enable them cope with loads of work.

Those patronizing these carpenters are aspirants of different positions from State House of Assembly, Federal House of representatives, Senators and Governorship aspirants who flood every space available with their poster in the State.

Muhammad Musa, is one of such carpenters who's said the political campaigns for the 2019 general election has upgraded him from a carpenter who hardly gets jobs to an employer of ten persons.

He told Bounce News that before now, he was a wheelbarrow pusher in Gombe Plank market, but since politicians started their campaigns, things have changed for him because they've kept him busy in an effort to meet up with demands.

He said, “We charge between 2 – 5 hundred naira on each billboard and we sometimes get orders to produce between 200 – 1000 pieces”.

When asked about what he intends to do after the 2019 election campaigns, Musa said, “Well, I have owned a workshop now and by then I would have saved something to boost my work and sustain myself. 

“As for those that I am working with now, they know that it is just temporary, so I believe they are planning towards that too, “he added.

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Side Hustle

Another business enjoying a boost at this period is that of securing these billboards from political rivals. 

A normal occurrence is the destruction of these billboards by rival political thugs.

Bounce News investigations revealed that politicians pay security personnel or individuals to guard these campaign billboards.

Usman Abdullahi of Tudun Hatsi, Gombe, is one of such youths who said he has already gained from these political activities in the build-up to the 2019 general elections. 

He stated that in the few months that he had been guarding political billboards, he has been able to save what could be the beginning of self-reliance for himself after the elections.

Umar Gagare, one of those guarding political billboards in Gombe metropolis said the new discovery is enriching to him, but that he is afraid of what would happen if the free money stops coming. 

“I have started getting used to this free money and now it appears that my master is stepping down for his rivals and I don’t know what will happen to my income if that happens”.

Abdulhameed Muhammad, a black market petrol vendor in Tsohuwa Miluku, Gombe, told Bounce News that he is making money from portraying three political billboards in his place of business.

To most youths engaged by politicians to manage and guard these billboards, it has put an end to their problem of joblessness as they are being paid between 2 – 4 thousand naira every week, a development many of them see as a way of making ends meet. 

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Flip Side

Though it might be very rewarding for now and the politicians also appear to have these boys as their supporters, experts in the state are however saying that there could be more to that. 

This is because most of the youths engaged are doing nothing other than getting free money which will stop coming as soon as political campaigns are over. This could leave them with no option other than to be engaged in crime.

Alhassan Yahaya, the immediate past chairman of Gombe state council of the Nigeria Union of Journalist [NUJ] is one of such people who described the newly discovered way of getting free money amongst youths as a time bomb and further proof that poverty is on the increase in the society.

He said, “You see, this is a very big challenge for us living in the North Eastern states of Nigeria because most of our youths have abandoned their jobs and professions and embraced this guarding of political billboards just because of the money politicians are paying.

''The problem here is that the politicians will definitely stop paying the money in few days to come, by then, the youths would have already been used to the free money, what do you expect from them?” Malam Alhassan queried.

He added saying “this is a problem that we seriously have to call on the government to look into and introduce programs that will change and address such problems because if not, with such practices, youth restiveness and social vices will be guaranteed during and after the elections.

Most of the youths doing the new business claim that they have signed a pact to live in peace before, during and after the 2019 elections.

When asked about their preparations, should there be breakdown of law and order by these youths and also the political gladiators of these youths, he said “Kalare (political thug] is a common criminal activity as far as we are concerned and anybody who is a criminal is liable to be arrested for committing an offence”.

He said “What the Police are doing is to sensitize the youths. Whatever the weapon or materials they are using, the police will recover them, and we are also trying to let them know that crime does not pay.

“We do know that these youths are engaged in this type of activity, but we advise them to look for something more reasonable to do and anyone of them caught engaging in violence will be arrested and the law will surely take its course,” Shina stated.

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Money Politics

Many have been wondering why money has a stake in Nigerian politics and why youths are being used by politicians. Muhammad Bello, a lawmaker representing Gombe south in Gombe state house of assembly gave an insight.

He told Bounce News that money has been part of democracy right from day one

“You cannot do politics without giving money to supporters who are expected to fuel their cars and have refreshment when they come for campaigns or political meetings. 

“You might have supporters who are jobless and would want to follow you for campaign and don’t have what to leave for their family.

“I am strong advocate of supporting or assisting people who prove their political support, but what I don’t support or do as a politician, is give youths money to go after my political rivals and their supporters because that is bad for democracy”.

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