By Suzan Edeh
…How we’re handling insecurity in Bauchi – Yuguda
SINCE the May 29, 2012 Democracy Day celebrations, the question on the lips of many remains: What have political office holders been able to achieve since their inauguration on May 29, 2011?
In Bauchi State where Mallam Isa Yuguda holds sway as the governor, the last Democracy Day Celebration was an avenue to give account of his stewardship since he was re-elected in the April 2011 gubernatorial elections. Yuguda, it would be recalled had on May 29 last year, pledged to correct all the mistakes made during his first tenure in order to change the fortunes of the state for the better.
“This time it will not be business as usual because I want to correct all the mistakes I made during my first tenure in office. My administration will place high premium on the security of lives and property, while a lot of investment opportunities would be explored to create jobs for the teeming youths in the state,” Yuguda noted during his inauguration at IBB square in 2011.
He also reiterated the commitment of his administration to deal ruthlessly with anyone, who would constitute a clog in the administration’s wheel of progress. With one year gone since this pledge was made, what the governor has done so far, has been a subject of discourse in the court of public opinion. Whether he has acted in accordance with his campaign promises, is still being debated by followers of political events in the state.
Areas like Health, Security, Human Development, Transportation, Water Supply, Agriculture, among others, have received the governor’s special attention within the period under review.
The state government constructed and commissioned five new general hospitals, in addition to the over 1,000 Health Centres across the state. One of the hospitals, Tafawa Balewa Hospital, which is a 144-bed state of the art hospital, was built at the cost of 577 million.
In furtherance to his bid to ensure optimum healthcare in the state, Yuguda created four new agencies. They include; Bauchi State Agency for the Control of HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Leprosy, BACATMA, Bauchi State Primary Health Care, , BSPHC, Bauchi Hospital Management Board, HMB, and Bauchi State Health Insurance Scheme, BHIS.
In ensuring the security of lives and property, the Yuguda administration was able to combat the menace of a youth cult group, otherwise known as Sara-Suka( political thugs). Before now, the youths were dreaded across the state, because of the mayhem they usually left behind after attending any political activity.
Another step taken by the Yuguda’s administration is the creation of the Sayawa Chiefdom through a law passed by the Bauchi State House of Assembly. It was said that the agitation for the Sayawa Chiefdom was the reason for the recurring crisis in Tafawa Balewa Local Government, which successive administrations battled to solve without success.
An indication that the security level in the state had improved, was made by the Chief Press Secretary, CPS, to the governor, Mr. Micheal Adeyemi. He stated this shortly after he led journalists on inspection tour of some projects within the state capital.
“What is worth celebrating on Democracy day in the state is the fact that the state has been experiencing relative peace for some time, especially in the troubled Tafawa Balewa axis where crisis have been recorded in the past. It would be recalled that the state government took bold steps at addressing the issue.
“First, the Sayawa Chiefdom was created and the council was relocated to Bununu town. This is a very great achievement by the Yuguda led administration. There is no state that is totally free from crisis, but compared to other states, Bauchi state is peaceful, ”Adeyemi stated.
Further checks showed that scholarships were awarded to 20 students to study Aeronautical Engineering in the United States of America and 45 others in different institutions across Asia and Europe.
One area in which the state appears challenged is the aspect of inherited debt from previous administrations. Under this, a N22 billion debt owed to banks is believed to be the most pressing challenge before the administration. Inspite of the huge sum of money channeled towards combating water scarcity in the state, some residential areas are still battling with water scarcity, forcing the state government to take drastic measures to surmount the problem.
Present efforts have led to the activation of the old Water Pumping Facility which is now said to pump about 2.4 million gallons. Another source of worry in the state, is the controversy surrounding the creation of the Sayawa Chiefdom. The Sawaya people have taken the state government to court over the matter, describing the development as incondusive.
This has continued to fuel tension in the area until this moment. Another area in which the Yuguda’s administration is often criticised by opposition parties, is the poor relationship the Governor has with the media in the state. This is occasioned by his frequent trips and absence in the state. Although he had asserted that his frequent absence from the state was to attract more dividends to the state, his relationship with the media on the issue remains unhealthy.
How we’re handling insecurity in Bauchi – Yuguda
Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State in this interview with newsmen discusses the insecurity situation in the country and the efforts by his administration in restoring peace in the state. Excerpts:
WHat efforts are you taking to ensure security in Bauchi?
Our country has being going through a lot of trial and as journalists you will appreciate that you are the conscience of the society and your job is a very risk job, it is just like that of my own job. I swore by the Koran, when I was taking oath of office that I will protect lives and property.
We have sworn, also to protect property. If any person’s property is destroyed today in Bauchi state, if it is not an accident, if people go and just burnt somebody’s house, then, I am held responsible, that is why I have a law in place today if there is arson by any group of people that local government would not have subvention for that month until it fixes that house.
If they kill your animal and you come and report that your animal has been stolen, then we use the local government money to buy your animal and we give it back to you and then the balance is what the local government will get so that everybody will be on his toes. If you lose one life without due process, the local government will forfeit its subvention until the day it produces that hoodlums.
We call the family, we compensate them for the life. This law was recently passed to bring more sanity into our system.
Anytime you see anything about Bauchi, either mayhem or Boko Haram and I assure you the opposite is the case. We had an incident of Boko Haram in 2009, that is when we had an attack and that was when we engaged them that night for 12 hours.
You have to tell Nigerians, you have to help Nigeria because there is no country that can develop without regards for lives and property. Believe me Nigeria is one of the safest countries on earth, despite all our kidnappings. There are some countries on earth, I don’t want to mention the country but you people should know, every minute a woman is raped, every minute, a human being is killed.
In fact, in one of those countries, a budget of one city is almost twice the budget of Nigeria put together. As way back as 2001, they were budgeting $30bn for security but have you ever seen it in their papers? We make our own country so insecure because they read us. Immediately you write, they go to internet to read about Nigeria and you now go to them to discuss investment with them, they will say no.
I also want to appeal to you because we have to have respect for human lives you will never see any gruesome picture in the newspaper in the west, the human being slaughtered and you see his/her pictures on the pages of newspapers. It gives us an impression of a country that is not safe. It does happen in their countries too, they slaughter people, but you will never see them give it prominence on the pages of their newspapers. Those gruesome pictures on the pages of our newspapers turn away people from us.
What efforts are to making to compare notes with your fellow governors in the north who are having the same security challenge?
We have been meeting of recent and we share our own tactics with my neighbouring states, Plateau, Kaduna, Kano, Borno, Yobe including Taraba, Gombe and Adamawa. We as governors and also the stakeholders intend to meet very soon because it is our own time that God has decided to give us leadership.
It is our own responsibility, not about Bauchi being peaceful and Gombe is not peaceful. Bauchi is being peaceful and Borno is not peaceful. If you see the kind of damage that the economy of Borno state has undergone, gentlemen you will weep. Borno has a history of 1,200 years of Islamic civilization.
Go and look at the history, but you can see that 1,200 years of a town that had civilization of peace (because I slam preaches peace, Christianity preaches love,) so where the two come together, you can imagine the kind of leadership we are going to have but today the economy of Maiduguri that was serving Cameroun, Chad, Niger, apart from neighbouring states in Nigeria, but today the margin has been closed.
Hardly will you find one or two families that will put pot on top of fire before they feed their children. I am not speaking for the governor but that is the reality and these are your people, your own brothers and sisters. It can happen to you.
The situation is that we are trying our best. We are sharing our tactics. It is not something that I can discuss on the pages of newspaper. I am assuring you that, we are still working as a team.
On Boko Haram: Almost all of them are graduates; some of them are mechanical engineers, some of them very, very intelligent. They have decided to take up arms because there is no job. Imagine somebody who doesn’t have a job, nowhere to go and they say an idle man is the devil’s workshop and they are there in thousands. Eventually they will have a meeting point, eventually they will have somebody who has power to indoctrinate, power to use them, the power to incite them to do something.
It is not my own making that I am created as a Fulani man neither yours that you were created as a Yoruba man. All of us have a duty to our country to make it a great country. Instead of abusing the President, advice him. What has he done, because God has chosen him to be the President. He is the only one out of 150 million people. God chose him, it is not him. He cannot give himself power. If you force yourself into power, you will see that God will force you out.