By Sulaiman Maijama’a
This is a complex piece to write. How can anyone following my writings from the start of the Bala Mohammed’s led-administration not submit that I have been a hailer of this government? In 2020, to celebrate Gov. Bala’s first anniversary in office, I dedicated a fifteen-paragraph piece titled, “Gov. Bala @365 day: Journey so far”, in which I dwelled much on the governor’s giant strides, despite inheriting a failed government.
In his second year, it was a thirty-five-paragraph piece I wrote titled, “Two years under review: Bauchi State wears a new face”. These are apart from the weekly piece I used to write, which, if aggregated, would produce a voluminous book—all in an attempt to unveil the achievements and areas of strength of this government.
This year as the governor marks his three years in office, it should be a time for sober reflection and critical thinking on the underperformed areas, or to put it more appropriately, areas more need to be done.
I feel I will not be fair to the governor if I don’t help him embark on self-assessment and self-criticism to increase his speed.
“Verily, political power is a vicegerency from Allah and a stewardship from God’s Apostle”, says Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdulkarim (as quoted in “Principles of Leadership”). Caliph Muhammad Bello is quoted in “Usul al-Siyasa” to have said, “be informed, my brother, that one of the most serious misfortunes that may befall a servant of Allah is to be a leader for the consequences of having to render a full account of the office.” On this note, leaders at all levels need to be reminded of the responsibilities they are saddled with.
There is no iota of doubt that, under the leadership of Senator Bala Muhammad, Bauchi State has become the Ameerah among its sisters in Nigeria in terms of infrastructural development. Bala Mohammed has actualised a gleaming new city. Suppose one is to aggregate the number of infrastructural projects so far executed in the state and divide them by the number of days within three years (1095 days). In that case, they will discover that no single day passed on without a project since Bala Mohammed assumed responsibility as the Executive Governor of Bauchi State.
However, beyond physical projects, have other sectors not been forgotten? Has education received the priority it is worth? Someone will say that His Excellency has built new model schools and upgraded and renovated many. Yes, sure, I cited them many times as achievements. But beyond the surface, what about the teachers’ welfare, salaries, and allowances? To the best of my knowledge, since His Excellency came in, no single teacher in Bauchi State has been promoted. More importantly, we do not have a single strategic policy for improving the standard of education. These can defeat the aim of the polished model schools.
Let me remind His Excellency that during the previous administration of Muhammad Abdullahi Abubakar, he used to have a Special Adviser on Students’ Affairs, the position Governor Bala is yet to appoint, despite its importance. It seems ironic that governor Bala has SA for unmarried women but does not have one for students. Maybe the absence of this position is the reason for the tribulation befalling the indigene students of Bauchi State because they do not have anyone, appointed apart from a commissioner, to stand for them and to speak their voices.
Governor Bala is passionate about quality education because appointing Dr Aliyu Tilde as Commissioner for Education indicates that. But I don’t know the wisdom behind the termination of the sponsorship of 200 students of Malikiyya College of Health whose sponsorship was offered by the previous administration. Some of them had to give up schooling for a lack of financial capacity.
In the same vein, international scholarship, which is obtainable in sister stateslike Kano (where super-intelligent students are sponsored to study abroad), has been terminated. The local scholarship was paid only once and partially disbursed to only a few students whose institutions are in Bauchi State. Similarly, I don’t know if His Excellency is aware that the medical bond given to medical students as stipends by the previous administration has been disrupted, despite the challenges of the health sector. As the saying goes, “Health is wealth” and “education is the backbone of every development”. These students are an asset to our society. Thus, however much is invested in them will eventually payback. His Excellency needs to ponder on this.
On the issue of salaries, there still exists a problem. Not only that, people worry why despite death, retirement and a record of no employment, there has been an exponential rise in the Bauchi State wage bill from N4.5 billion to N7billion? I’m not unaware of the fact that to address the challenges on the issue, the governor, on Thursday, September 10th, 2020, hosted a Media Parley with civil servants, labour leaders, government officials, elder statesmen, stakeholders and the media where massive corruption in the system was exposed. But recommendations were made by the financial consulting firm, DYNATECH Solutions Limited, contracted by the state government, but nothing seems to be improving. Some civil servants still spend months without a salary. They are suffocating.
Some people tell the governor that no government is without fault; every government comes with its shortcoming. Frankly, in Bauchi State, it comes with any flaws but not issues of salaries because Bauchi is a civil servants state. We like His Excellency, but we fear his opponents will use this to their advantage and campaign against him.
On the other hand, business people in the state have also been registering their discontent. His Excellency may have forgotten that during his campaign at Central Market, Bauchi, he promised that, if elected, he would inject into the annual budget, Five Hundred Million Naira (500 000 000) earmarked as a loan to business people in the state. I believe this will be a good initiative and will help improve business. But, alas, three years have gone, and it is yet to be actualised.
Similarly, His Excellency should begin to see to the welfare of his people, especially politicians who had made sacrifices to ensure that he comes on board. Honestly, many of them are not better than those in opposition party, despite their contributions and closeness to this government. These people may not summon the courage to tell the governor, but they open up when you speak to them off the record. Therefore, you cannot accuse them of anticipating a payoff from the government they brought in. Let me borrow Mahmud Jega’s words: to accuse a politician of expecting something in return from the government they supported and brought in is like accusing a person who attends prayers of expecting to be rewarded in the hereafter.
There are many ways these people can be helped. Why not learn from Jigawa State by giving them small-small contracts? Say, Mr. “A” bring the furniture to SSG’s office, give him N500 000; Mr. “B” provide fuel for official cars in the governor’s office, 1 000 000; Mr. “C” bring chemicals for washing toilets in the government house; produce chairs in primary schools; build bathroom among others. Don’t give them a contract above N5 Million. They will still appreciate and be contented. With this, money will be circulating among people, thereby increasing the welfare of all and sundry. Being a staunch supporter of this government, I don’t want to believe that the contract is for “family and friends”, a slogan this administration is taunted with.
Finally, I commiserate with the governor on his defeat in the recent PDP Presidential Primary Election. Keep the dream alive; the future holds a lot. We still need him as the executive governor of our dear state. One year is enough for him to remedy the observations mentioned above, which I raised out of concern.
My best wishes.
Maijama’a, Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano. He can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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