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OPINION

As Bauchi Changes Gear

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“Not all the waters in the rough rude sea can wash off the balm of an anointed king”, are quintessential lines of Williams Shakespeare. And how well it did fit in on Wednesday, May 29, 2019 when the citizens of Bauchi State ushered in a new governor.

You needn’t be told that a historic event was about to take place in Bauchi State as a day before the inauguration of Distinguished Senator Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed as the new governor of Bauchi State, the streets of Bauchi adorned new looks with the colours of the Peoples Democratic Party ,PDP, (which had found things difficult politically in the state)  suddenly became the rave of the moment. While billboards and posters of the incoming governor lit up the streets, the trees swayed through and fro, while the birds chirped across town. Certainly it was a new dawn.

And so it was no surprise when on the d-day, Bauchi went agog! As early as 6am on Wednesday – inauguration day, the road leading to the famous Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Township Stadium had basically been shut down. While motorists scrambled to make it to the venue, the seas of head that thronged to the venue made vehicles looked like toys. The people of Bauchi State basically had made it a point of duty to herald the entrance of one of theirs – a great son of the soil who had through thick and thin engraved his name in the political firmament of not just the state but by sheer dint of hardwork, the nation’s as well. His pedigree in public service is second to none.

By 7:30 am the about 60,000 capacity Tafawa Balewa Stadium had been filled to the brim. Not a single seat was empty, forcing a number double this size to stand and wait for the event of the day.

While inside the stadium had its own bustle and hustle, the scene outside the stadium could best be described as unbelievably dazzling . But for the security forces on duty, the mammoth crowd would have been overwhelming.

It was more like a fun fiesta, while groups upon groups tried to outdo each other in the battle to show presence, some others like the traditional horse riders by sheer ecstatic skills and beauty of their horses caught the sight of many a crowd. This was just as party men, supporters and the huge fan base of the governor engaged in different acts of celebrations, turning the environment to carnival-like that even the noises from South Africa’s vuvuzela would be envious of.

Despite the atmosphere, there was a note of peaceful tolerance that pervaded the venue. Folks were at their best behaviours as everyone seemed to agree that the purpose was one – celebration of a new governor.

As the frenzy continued and guests kept trooping in, it was not until about 9:40am that the convoy of the Governor  – Senator Bala Mohammed  arrived that hell was let loose and the crowd went gaga. Dressed in a white creamy babanriga and his now very unique cap, Bala Mohammed, his wife and family rode into the venue waving to the crowd as he made his way to the venue. Needless to state that by now the entire crowd had gone bananas as almost each and every youth struggled to run and escort the governor into the stadium.

No sooner had he made his way into the stadium did the stadium erupt into a roar only likened to a winning goal scored on the last second of a soccer World cup final. It was simply exhilarating. As was the very unbelievable number of sea heads , so was the happiness and joy in the faces of all who had come to witness the occasion . It was simply historic.

Kaura! Kaura! Kaura which was the governor’s nickname engulfed the entire stadium that it took pleas for the crowd to be calmed down so the event of the day could get underway. Step by step, the events of day went by and the governor got sworn in. He was to later give a speech that could only be described as inspirational.

“This is a victory for the long suffering electorate of Bauchi State who watched helplessly as their collective patrimony was squandered through a mindless patronage system that excluded the vast majority, from the dividends of democracy. It is a victory to restore the historical stature of Bauchi State as a foremost Agricultural Belt; a Manufacturer and Exporter of solid manpower, a Tourism destination of global acclaim; a peaceful, serene and clean environment that has been home to peoples of different ethnic backgrounds, faith systems and ideological persuasions, all pursuing their legitimate life goals without fear or molestation. It is a victory for our senior citizens, the patriots who have been denied their legitimate entitlements in terms of pensions and gratuities, and who, for a moment, are left to wonder whether the section of our first national anthem that assures, that the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain, was inserted in error. My message, to such disconsolate compatriots, is that hope has come! That is the essence of this victory. That is the challenge of the moment”, the governor’s speech read in part.

Lamenting huge loan profile, high unemployment level, dearth of infrastructure, low cash flow, dearth and collapse of educational and health facilities amongst other challenges, the governor promised to change the tide and take Bauchi State to its desired level under his project tagged the Bauchi project.

“In order to reverse this trend, we must be prepared, all of us: men and women, young and old, urban dwellers and rural dwellers, self-employed and government worker; to the sacrifice for the common good. That is the essence of sacrifice. And that is the only way to change the narrative, from despair to pride and fulfillment. To achieve this change in narrative, my administration will embark on a paradigm shift; that recruits every stakeholder in the Bauchi Project as a development partner; an arrangement that will attract partners from all over the world according to global best practices; a process that, within the next four years, will lift Bauchi to one of the five most attractive states for investment, in Nigeria. This is what I have tagged: My Bauchi Project”, he stated.

As events came to a close after the ceremony, Bala Mohammed danced to his traditional Kaura dance rhythm openly  atop the roof of his car as he drove to the Government House, and again let go off another round of frenzy as another funfare  resurrected leading to many guests attesting to the fact that  never in the history of the state had such a crowd been assembled to celebrate an individual .

Given the complexity of Bauchi politics which Governor Bala Mohammed is very much at home with, it would be no risk to bet that Bauchi State is in for it’s best ride for indeed, not a few politician in the country can boast of the pedigree with which the Amiable Kaura comes into Bauchi government House with.

The stakes are high and Governor Bala Mohammed perfectly knows this. Luckily for him, he is well rooted politically as well as being the guru that he is in public service. How best he blends these rare traits amongst politicians remain to be seen. One thing is sure, however , and that is the fact in few months from now, it will be a different feel amongst the electorate in Bauchi State. It is time for a different ball game for simply put, Bala Mohammed is here!

– Chimobi wrote in from Bauchi.

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