By Suzan Edeh
THE emergence of Mohammed Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as the Governor of Bauchi State did not come as a surprise as the people aspired for change after 16 years of lack-lustre governance of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
With 100 days down the line, the state has undergone a massive political restructuring that has driven home a message of no pain, no gain. Thus, political office holders are now adjusting under the new policies and style of leadership of Governor Abubakar.
One notable aspect that changed in the government of Bauchi State since Abubakar came on board is the war against corruption, which is in tandem with the mandate of the APC government at the centre.
During his swearing in ceremony at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa stadium, on May 29, 2015, the governor declared that it was not going to be business as usual for corrupt office holders and is going ahead to ensure that.
Lamenting how he inherited an empty treasury from the previous administration and vowing to effect a change, which he noted would not be done overnight, he said: “For us to be able to correct this ugly situation, it will take a lot of time. Therefore, it is not going to be magical. I am urging the good people of Bauchi State to understand. I am not saying we are shying away from the challenge before us. I am assuring that we are equal to the task and we will do everything to bring the state out of the financial quagmire” He further took the war against graft to the doorsteps of political officers in the previous administration by establishing a recovery committee saddled with the responsibility of recovering all looted government properties and funds.
The committee under the chairmanship of Air Commodore Ahmed Tijani (retd), has recovered millions of naira, lands and other looted properties. So far, the committee has recovered over 70 vehicles, N600 million worth of generators and a number of air conditioners from the officials of the immediate past administration of former Governor Isa Yuguda.
Another issue is the recent appointments of the state government, which some political analysts have criticized, alleging that they are one sided in favour ofgodfathers who ensured the governor’s victory. It was even alleged in some quarters that some powerful PDP chieftains who contributed to his victory are seen in his government. One vivid example of such appointment is the emergence of the 11th Emir of Misau in Bauchi State following the death of Alhaji Muhammadu Manga I.
The appointment created a crisis in Misau local council as irate youths set ablaze four cars and vandalised some properties in the palace.
Governor Abubakar approved the appointment of Alhaji Ahmed Sulaiman, who was the Secretary to the State Government, as the 11th Emir of Misau. The appointment was alleged to be against the wishes of some people, who preferred the biological son of the late Emir, Aliyu Tella Manga.
Ten candidates, including the SSG, contested the seat but the king makers shortl isted three and submitted the list to the governor so that he could pick one as the new Emir. Those nominated by the king makers were Ahmadu Ahmadu, Aliyu Tella Manga and Suleiman Manga.
Apart from being one-sided, the government trimmed down the number of political appointments to cut the cost of governance.
The issue of the payment of workers salary which has continued to generate controversies in the country is gradually being laid to rest in Bauchi as the new government had set machineries in motion to ensure prompt payment of workers salary.
Governor Abubakar assured civil servants that payment of their salaries is among his top priorities despite poor financial base of the state. He said that the state government had to make sacrifices to settle the three months outstanding salaries of workers in order to improve effective service delivery.
Abubakar said: ‘’Barely two months that the administration came into inception, the government succeeded in paying three months salaries owed workers and very soon the remaining outstanding salaries will be paid to workers. It could be recalled that N5 billion was given to the state from the federal government out of its sale of liquified natural gas. This money collected from the federal government was not meant for the payment of salaries, but the state sacrificed it to pay workers. The 5billion naira was shared between the state and local government areas. N2.1 billion was for the 20 local governments while N2.9 billion was for the state.’’
The delay by the government in setting up an executive cabinet has slowed down the activities of the government, particularly in the ministries. With 100 days in government, political watchers are of the opinion that Governor Abubakar should have established a vibrant executive to fast-track government programmes and policies.