Alhaji Al-Amin Aliyu, an accountant, business man, grassroots politician is the CEO of Rahama City Suite in Bauchi. He played vital behind-the-scene roles last year in the All Progressives Congress (APC) to actualize the election of Governor Mohammed AbdullahiAbubakar of BauchiState. In this interview with EMEKA ODOM, he speaks on the governor’s development roadmap for the state, maintaining that he is creating an investors’ paradise in Bauchi
How do you classify Bauchi State today in terms of the vision of the present administration in the state vis-a-vis the state’s potential for growth?
As you may well know, Bauchi state is basically agrarian with many mineral deposits. It is also a tourist destination. Above all, we are a peace-loving state. We take pride in our love for scholarship. We are a highly politically-conscious people. Political discourse in pre-independence North started in Bauchi. Don’t forget that Nigeria’s first and last Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, thegolden voice of Africa, hailed from Bauchi. We have produced three Secretaries to the Government of the Federation, Heads of Service of the Federation, Cabinet Ministers, etc. I have gone this far to show you how Bauchi is. We are about 9 million people or even more. But let us go to the aspect of your question about what is the vision of the present administration under Governor Mohammed AbdullahiAbubakar, the fifth democratically elected governor of the state. He is a man of vision, a dogged and astute administrator who is always planning, strategizing and networking for the good of our people. He has visited countries and places including the Czech Republic where he signed a memorandum of understanding, all geared to take our state to the next level. I have lived the better part of my life in Bauchi state and I am now hovering around my golden age, I can say with certainty that since the glorious days of our first elected executive governor, late AlhajiAbubakarTatari Ali, we have not witnessed the kind of all-round development such as is taking place now in the state. Though he may not fully know it, Governor M.A. Abubakar reminds us of the golden era of Tatari Ali. His government is a pleasant throwback to that era which readily evokes fond memories. This is the general view in the state right now. Gov. Abubakar is creatingan investors’ paradise in Bauchi. By embarking on a massive road construction and rehabilitation work, Tatari Ali’s dream was to create the right environment in the state to attract people from outside to develop the state rapidly. This is exactly the spirit behind Gov. Abubakar’s massive interest in road infrastructure into which he committed over 60 per cent of state’s 2017 capital budget. And even at that, do you know why, at the beginning of the life of this administration some of us who campaigned vigorously for his election started getting afraid?
… (cuts in) why?
You know this government came in at a time of global economic recession coupled with theattendant negative effect statutory allocation to states from the federation account. Many of us feared that the situation was bad for the state particularly viewed against the backdrop of campaign promises to the Bauchi state electorate. Do you know that the governor remained unruffled and calm. He is indeed a great leader who knows how to inspire and motivate his people at a critical and crucial time as this. We believe God brought him at a time as this to carry out this rescue mission. Even when we feared that a workers’ strike might engulf the state over unpaid arrears of salaries and pensions left by the past government, the governor galvanised us to assure the workers that their money will be paid as and when due. Today, he has fulfilled the promise and Bauchistate is witnessing the kind of industrial harmony that is unprecedented in its history because no worker is owed any kobo as we speak.
What is the general state of security in BauchiState bearing in mind that it is the capital of the North East geo-political zone that includes Adamawa, Borno and Yobe which had been worst hit by insecurity?
A responsible government know that it is its duty to secure the lives and property of its people. The Gov. Abubakar-led administration is on top of it. That is why the state has remained largely safe, secure, stable and peaceful. Besides, no profitable investment can take place in an insecure environment. In a proactive manner, the government has ensured that crime and criminality have no place in the state as cattle rustling, kidnapping and banditry are constantly on the security radar in the state. The on-going road infrastructural projects across the three senatorial districts of the state are also part of the proactive means of guaranteeing elaborate security. Upon its official assumption of office, the administration awarded two major contracts to reputable companies to construct 100 km from Misau to Udubo in Gamawa LGA while the other is a 4km urban road. It is note-worthy that more than half of the roads which originally had single lanes are for dualization which we think is far better. A unique feature of the 400 km road construction and rehabilitation projects valued at over N20 billion is the emphasis which the administration has placed on quality after thoroughly screening the contractors. The governor takes time to personally inspect the projects to ensure compliance with standards. This is the template that guides all other projects taking place in the other sectors. It is a system that ensures strict compliance with standard rules and procedure based on best practices. This is how the state is being run now such that development is built around the state institutions and agencies and not persons. This is what you get when you elect a good, thorough, seasoned and experienced administrator who understands the place of systems as a means of creating growth and development for the people.
Recently, there were reports of outbreak of meningitis in some states of the North where the heat wave has been most rampant. What is the experience in Bauchi State?
If there is any state of the federation where a government is known to have demonstrated uncommon foresight, it is in Bauchi under Gov. Abubakar. This state is the only state in the entire federation to allocate a whopping 16 per cent of the entire budget to health which is even above the 15 per cent approved by the 2001 Abuja Declaration. This is unprecedented. I believe it is clear to you why diseases and epidemics will be far from Bauchi State because of the administration’s concern for the health of its people. Does it then surprise you that the government seized the initiative of clearing the backlog of unpaid counterpart funding of health facilities in the state? So let me inform you that it has paid the N100 million Bauchi State Government counterpart obligation under the quadripartite agreement with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dangote Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for the strengthening of polio immunisation in the state. This programme is to give access to the rural communities to enjoy health facilities. To express appreciation to the state government, Mrs Jenny Sequira who is the Senior Programme Manager, Vaccine Delivery unit of the programme visited Bauchi Government House last week where the governor expressed the commitment of the state to the excellent programme. Also, as fallout of the governor’s last trip to the Czech Republic, he has officially launched a mobile clinic donated by that government as well as two additional clinics acquired for the three senatorial districts to evenly deliver health services to the nooks and crannies of the state. Don’t forget also that it was the same Czech government that not too long ago gave state cheaper agricultural equipment to make agriculture attractive as an alternative revenue source as well as an employer of labour. The governor is virtually doing everything to explore the vast potentials of agriculture in our agrarian state. Every responsive, responsible and reasonable state government in the country has embraced the agricultural revolution as a means of diversifying revenue source. Under the Czech package, our traditional agricultural method will be revolutionized to pave the way for the introduction of farming methods that are driven by mechanisation and other modern science and technology technique.
The reason why this is a good deal for our toiling farmers is because it will finally rescue them from the old antiquated farming practices that take so much human energy, time and resources but give far less yields. It is interesting to note here that because we now have to test our soil to determine its suitability for the cultivation of the crops to increase our yield per hectare. We must fully embrace science and technology. We need to embrace these new developments and innovations that are now available to our agriculture under the Czech agric development package. We have a lot to gain from this deal which the farmingpopulation in the Czech Republic are already enjoying. For example, the yield per hectare of maize in that country is about 40 tons while the highest in Nigeria is just about 5 tons. It is regrettable but because we have a visionary and energetic governor who will stop at nothing to better the lot of his people, the situation is being immensely reversed. You can see that this particular challenge he met after his inauguration is being vigorously reversed. What about the current Anchor Borrowers’ Fund?Consultants have been engaged to guide farmers and provide them with access to the fund. All interest on the loan will be shouldered by the state government.