By Sanusi Muhammad
Before May 29, 2015, Bauchi State was a place where it appeared time had long stood still, where locusts had a long running carnival in the sun against the wish of the herder who made attempts to checkmate their malfeasance at the dying hour.
Such was the medieval approach to governance and such was the rapacious use of the public treasury.
In the event, newly sworn executive governor, Muhammed Abdullahi Abubakar had his work cut out, even as he arrived with an unimpeachable career in public and private sectors and a sincere commitment to respect the sovereignty of the people and to go to every length to seek their welfare.
M.A Abubakar’s first order of business was to drive home the imperative of public accountability without which no tangible development can be achieved. He thus declared: “We believe that it is the right of the people of the state to know what funds accrue to the coffers of the state and the various local government councils and the funds are utilized. This is the only way to secure the trust and confidence of the people in whom sovereignty lies”. He accordingly directed that all local government councils to comply with this paradigm shift.
Governor Abubakar has given a meaning to the statutory obligation of governments to publicly declare all revenues that accrue to them as well as giving an account of the expenditure. What now remains is for the governor to initiate a Bill to the State House of Assembly to pass into Law what to be probably known as Bauchi State Income and Transparency Bill 2015.
Structures and practices to ensure the order of business are instituted and functionaries in the public service made to realize that it can no longer be business as usual. Such reorientation is necessary but given how hard it is to change bad habits, the governor’s leadership style by example is a good and commendable starting point. He maintains a low-profile style of living and extremely prudent with his two eyes widely opened on each kobo requested for expenditure. What the governor’s ears always want to here is accomplishment of assignment at minimum cost not bogus expenditures tailored to cutting corners and shortchanging the state.
He has promises to keep and from all indices, he is determined to actualize them within available resources without consulting any oracle. The enormity of the challenge is clear for everyone to see and cooperate irrespective of imaginary differences that exist even within the ruling party. Practically every aspect of governance requires serious attention but since resources are always limited, priority areas have to be delineated to achieve optimum results. It is an obvious task in view of the unique difficult terrain of the state that infrastructure is a high priority area to be ignored. Two other areas that need adequate attention are education and health.
With regard to infrastructure, from the grapevine I leant that plans are already on board for execution through engagement of reputable companies that can deliver satisfactorily at minimum cost while home-based contractors with good records of performance will equally smile as the administration has a good package to take care of them. But to be honest, let the home-based contractors and suppliers put it at the back of their minds that Governor Abubakar has zero tolerance for poor performance from his body language. The better they are alerted before hand, based from his past antecedents. The man can bark, bite, chew and still move to the next level with confidence without regrets or apology to offer for reacting against the wrong.
The din of construction machineries will soon be sweet music to the ears of the people who had long despaired in an environment that was relentlessly unkind and at governance that was at best indifferent. The emphasis on the people as the centre of all development found suitable anchor in the emphasis on education and health.
Governor Abubakar is at best saving scarce resources for now to position him ignite his administration with passion as scholarships to deserving students would be made available on proof of genuine admission while health care delivery system will be brought to the doorstep of all at minimum cost.
The APC administration intends to build and equip several model secondary schools across the state as well as maintaining and upgrading existing facilities in other schools within available resources as part of the mandate. Welfare of academic and non-academic staff is of concern to the administration but to every service offered, the administration expects appreciation in pay back. Condition of civil servants shall receive a boast but must be reciprocated. Gone will be the days for nonchalant attitude to work from civil servants. Governor Abubakar would not mind to discipline any erring civil servant to save the system from further pollution and devastation.
Even though, emphasis is placed on infrastructure and human developments, but education, health and the other areas, notably agriculture and security shall receive due attention.
For a driven personality like Governor Abubakar, the ambition to print his name in gold is there as he recognizes that for success to be achieved, programmes have to be well-sorted out and executed methodically not in the haphazard fashion, even whimsical fashion to which people have long treated.
He started the journey with the right leg and still studying the environment and its people including where much is desired. Funds are scarce but efforts are made to move the state forward within what is at hand. At this juncture if one is free to suggest, the APC administration should strategize to block loopholes used to draining public resources that could have been channeled to development strides.
i. State sponsorship of pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia and Jerusalem should be stopped and the money utilized for our welfare. Any faithful interested in accomplishing an aspect of his/her religion should be able to bear the cost from an enabling environment provided by government. Nigeria is a secular state without a state religion. If Muslims and Christians are yearly sponsored to perform pilgrimages at public expense, what of those without religions that are supposed to be beneficiaries of the commonwealth? Are they not victims of marginalization and deprivation? In its recent discovery, the Senator Muhammed A. Muhammed Transition Committee discovered that every year officials of the Bauchi State Muslim Pilgrims Welfare Board steal over N800million under bogus claims and yet government is still sponsoring such wasteful venture of pilgrimage that adds no value to the generality of the people. In some cases, political thugs, hangers-on, pimps, praise
singers and women of easy virtues are the beneficiaries of the sponsorship. Religions of Islam and Christianity always preach against cheating and other vices. Let that money be channeled to better projects of development.
ii. Free feeding during the yearly Muslim Ramadan fast by government should be stopped to encourage the people source their foods as was the case before in those good days. Religion is the personal commitment of the adherent. Government should have no business with one’s religious obligation apart from regulating and why should the government make it almost mandatory to waste public resources on the personal belief of people? Those that can afford to fast and break the fast should fast. After all, Islam is a liberal religion that does not encourage laziness or begging but has spelt out conditions for practice. I know many may not subscribe to my suggestions but lack convincing arguments to defeat me. Unless if we want to continue breeding and encouraging dependence on scarce public resources. After all, how many of the people benefit from the ‘generosity’ of government in that aspect? Let that be considered. Our people still source water from ponds
and holes and why should we waste billions of their resources on sponsoring personal commitment of a selected few? There is a glaring case of injustice.
With determination, Governor Abubakar can correct the wrong although there may be selfish attacks from the usual agents of doom but that cannot disturb a sleep.
It has been 100 days since Governor Muhammed A. Abubakar took over. He came in a blaze of controversy after a period of deep political intrigues, followed by a hard-fought gubernatorial election in which majority of the people overwhelmingly affirmed his ascendency as the new face of change in Bauchi state. The people moved en masse to vote in a new leader in total rejection of the old order of impunity, brigandage and wastefulness.
The affirmation of Governor Muhammed Abubakar at the poll by the electorates was not misplaced as he set about the mission of governing the state with uncommon vision, passion and unremitting desire to repay the long-denied people of the state with quality performance and unprecedented democracy dividends. The state needs renovations and retooling from the darks years that the locust had savaged with some now regretting their past misdeeds. The team leader of the former administration was a victim of high class hypocrisy, sycophancy and un-courted praise singing. The order of that period was hypocrisy, back biting, witch-hunting and envy. Characters from all shades assembled around the leader to deceive and feed fat without service to commensurate. That was a period of experience where the blind was leading the eyed. Some members of the State Executive Council could not even communicate effectively in the common language but retained for deceit and political patronage while others mustered the art of hypocrisy and survived on the trade.
The wind of change suddenly came and the leader was again deceived. Campaign funds doled out to self-appointed political heavy weights for onward delivery were siphoned and in few cases beneficiaries were shortchanged. Branded bagged campaign grains were re-bagged and sold out while the leader was caged and spoon-fed with palatable and tasty lies. He had no option than to swallow the lies with pains. All that was blown away by the doctrine of change and Bauchi state is now regaining its lost glory that was bastardized by hawks and hangers-on in the name of politics, service and hypocritical loyalty spiced with sentiments.
Yuguda was not the main problem against the progress of the state as erroneously traded by misguided opponents some of who praise sung Yuguda in the good days and benefitted tremendously for doing that. Some of his aides that caged him for extortion and crude theft of public funds are to blame. He tried to regain his freedom but his time was up. He realized his mistakes at the exiting hour of his administration. Today, most of those hawks and vultures who fed fat from his generosity have shamelessly deserted him and steadily moving closer through deceit of loyalty to the new administration, thinking it would be business as usual. But should Governor Muhammed Abdullahi Abubakar tolerate and accommodate the malfeasance or is he determined to retrieve what were stolen from the public who were deprived from accessing the benefit of the commonwealth? The people are watching and following with keen interest how events are unfolding. Surely, Governor Abubakar
is determined to prove a point for posterity either to make or mar his ancestral home. As social critics that subscribe to the teachings and practice of unrefined communism and believe in the teachings of great leaders, we wait to see as we most sincerely wish him the best in printing his foot-prints on the sands of time from his own wisdom as he keeps a long distance from those self-acclaimed political heavy weights that are no political, social or economic value to the people. In the state, we have several identified habitual noise makers and shameless political merchants that underrate the mental capacity of others most especially those occupying the position of a governor. They claim what they are not. They always trade in gossips and blackmail to survive the odds with bogus claims of popularity and experience. In fact, they are human traders that should be avoided for any system to grow and the governed to appreciate. Governor Abubakar seem for now to have drawn a line between his administration and those hawks masquerading as politicians of value but blessed with special satanic mechanism of depriving the people access to good governance. I doff my hat for that singular action of his as a leader to watch. His recent official visit to Czech is a pointer to what the people should expect in tourism development. He has kick-started the policy of diversifying the economy with less dependence on Oil and Gas for self-reliance and bountiful harvest and sustainable growth in the immediate future. Shi kenan.