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OPINION

Bauchi Governorship Poll: Options Before The People

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On Saturday, barely 48 hours from now, the people of Bauchi State will file out to vote between Governor Mohammed Abubakar of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and candidates of other parties for the governorship election holding in the state and other states in the country.

The die is cast; the election is here. The Bauchi people are beleaguered with the choice between the near absence of government in the past and the full blown government presence in the state, security of lives and property, updated salary payments, scholarship awards, rehabilitation, renovation and reconstruction of roads, schools and health centers. This is besides the transformation of agricultural production and businesses in the state.

According to keen observers of governance in the state, the excellent performance by the APC government in the state was made possible because Governor Abubakar, aside being a lawyer, is mindful of his primary responsibility to the people of Bauchi. Section 14 (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government’’. The thinking is that Bauchi people won’t forget so soon about the sordid past under the PDP government.

When Governor Abubakar took over the mantle of leadership of Bauchi State on  May 29,  2015, he inherited an empty treasury and outstanding four months salaries owed to workers by his predecessor and outstanding gratuities worth over N15 billion which he had to settle.

He equally inherited 105,000 staff with monthly salaries of N5.1 billion even though the State however receives not more than N5 billion monthly as federal grants. It is pertinent to note here that Kano State with 44 local government areas has 92, 000 workers on its payroll as against Bauchi which has only 20 local governments with 105, 000 staff.

A cursory glance at his yearly budget, policies and programmes shows that ‘’youth and women empowerment’’ has remained a common denominator, signifying a high priority precept upon which Governor Abubakar’s administration in Bauchi state is predicated.

Based on this emphasis, he has initiated and embarked on several youths and women empowerment schemes, development projects, held innumerable interactive sessions with the youths, women, students and the vulnerable generally with avid determination to identifying their core values and needs.

The bottom-line of the various youth and women empowerment scheme instituted by the current government perhaps have seen to the relative peace in the state.

‘Res ipso loquito’: the facts, they say, should speak for themselves. The people of Bauchi State will repeat what they did in the presidential/National Assembly polls penultimate Saturday, which is an indication that the electorate appreciate Governor Abubakar’s productive and honest leadership compared to those that failed several integrity tests in places they served in the past by voting immensely for the APC on February 23. While the APC polled 798,428 votes to beat the PDP which scored 209,313 votes in the presidential election in the state, APC also got three Senatorial seats with many House of Representatives seats. Bauch State is highly loyal to APC and that loyalty will equally be demonstrated during the governorship election this coming Saturday.

Most of the stakeholders in the state say the people’s loyalty to APC is their obligation to Governor Abubakar’s commitment to good governance in the past three and a half years. They recall how the governor had to devise means of generating funds to pay the backlog of the four months salaries left by his predecessor and maintain regular and prompt payment knowing that Bauchi is a civil servants State.

He dualized Gidan Mai to Awalah, Awalah to Giwo academy road, wuntin dada to miri roads in order to alleviate accidents and beautify Bauchi City. Other ongoing roads are federal low-cost roads, Azare metropolitan road as well as the 115 kilometers Misau to Udubo roads

The United Nations Children’s Fund had prior to Governor Abubakar’s assumption office announced that out of 1.2 million school-age children in Bauchi State, 777,000 were out of school. Perhaps, this prompted the state government to launch a state-wide school enrolment campaign in November, 2015.

On March 14, 2018, Governor Abubakar declared a state of emergency on the state own tertiary institutions during the matriculation ceremony of a total of 3,442 new students of the College of Education, Kangere, Bauchi for the 2018/2019 academic session. He lamented that the administration inherited a sector that was in a state of comatose. Following this declaration, Bauchi State government allocated N41, 472, 337, 266 representing 21.8% of the total budget to Education. This is far more than UNESCO’s recommendation of 13% of budget to education sector.

The Governor’s blue-roof revolution is registered in the nooks and crannies of the state, resulting in increase in child enrolment, increased quality of teachers whose motivation is now next to none. He said since children are the future, he has since put them at the centre of his administration. “I have given them considerable amount of attention through projects that have direct bearing on their lives,” he said.

Of course, this informed the recent commendation to Governor Abubakar by United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF in recognition of his commitment to better the lives of children in the state. UNICEF, through its Bauchi-Field Officer, Abdulai Kaikai, premised their commendation on the governor’s commitment at improving the welfare of children at the Bauchi State Orphans and Vulnerable Children Agency (BASOVCA).

BASOVCA is a tuition-free vocational college for the Bauchi indigent children who could not fit into the conventional school system.  The college is said to currently have 170 students undergoing different vocational trainings.

Besides, the governor is said to have constructed more than 600 Primary and Junior Secondary schools, renovated more than 800 schools scattered across the length and breadth of the state. This is just as 28,000 desks were provided for these schools in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and SUBEB.

This wise investment has seen the rise of the percentage of passes in WAEC and NECO from a dismal 3% in 2015 to 27% in 2017. Over 10,000 classrooms constructed and rehabilitated, a similar number of classrooms furniture. In January 2018, Governor Abubakar travelled to Czech Republic to visit 15 post-graduate students he sponsored to study modern agricultural methods and techniques in that country.

The Governor interacted freely with the students, listened to their complaints and challenges being faced by them. The governor assured them of swift and prompt intervention. This was just as he charged the students to be good ambassadors, not only for Bauchi State, but the entire nation by respecting the law and holding on to their studies assiduously. However, on completion of their studies, they will join the budding Department of Agriculture in Bauchi State University, Gadau to contribute their quota to state building.

In Governor Abubakar’s maiden broadcast to the people of the state on June 2, 2015, he was asked by the media what was his priority and he answered education, education, education.  And immediately he assumed office he constituted a high-powered committee under the leadership of the deputy governor, Nuhu Gidado, with prolific and erudite scholars across all the diverse fields of knowledge with the view to overhauling the education system.

The committee was mandated to come out with a road map of addressing the prolonged neglect of the sector by successive administrations. The government is however painstakingly implementing the recommendations as it affects the various levels of education in the state. In the 2016, 2017 and 2018 budget, the education sector took the Lion share of about 20 per cent with corresponding releases. The world is moving towards technical education, so the governor allocated over N100 million for the procurement and provision and distribution of technical materials in eight technical colleges of education.

While some states were distributing wheelbarrows, kitted shoe-polishing baskets and tea-making equipment for youth empowerment, Governor Abubakar’s administration in April 2018 entered into an agreement with Hakar Engineering Limited for the supply of 500 tractors for distribution to frmers.

The governor who said then that the supply of the tractors was meant to boost agricultural activities and widen opportunities for youth employment in the state added that it would be executed through public-private-partnership. The tractor scheme tagged, “Subsidized Agricultural Tractorisation Ownership Programme”, involves the supply of 500 units of 75 horse power fully equipped tractors with plough, ridges, harrow and trailers. The tractors which were distributed to registered farmers and farmers’ cooperatives on loan to be repaid over a period of three years were aimed at reducing rural-urban drift and diversifying the economy through agriculture.

Other youth empowerment schemes include the employment of 400 youths as cosmopolitan cleaners, which is directed at reducing unemployment among unskilled labours and eradicating extreme poverty in the state.

Governor Abubakar’s astonishing performance has not stopped him from rendering his social responsibility to students of Bauchi State origin scattered all over the various citadel of higher learning across Nigeria. To some, power, especially political power, is a means of discriminating against others or prove social class, but for Abubakar, the exalted office of the governor has not changed his disposition to friends and the downtrodden. This, analysts say, is the kind of leadership the people yearn for, and the people of Bauchi State will confirm this when they throng out en masse next Saturday to cast their votes in the governorship poll.





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