By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
HAVING risen through the ranks of the Bauchi State Civil Service to the position of director before venturing into politics, Barrister Mohammed Abubakar had a clear view of the situation in Bauchi State before his inauguration in May 2015. It was that clear perspective that granted him the insight to soothe the felt needs of the people of the state.
The bequest of the preceding regime was in any case, a challenge that would have daunted any other less courageous politician. The governor was welcomed to office by a disgruntled civil service which had issued a strike threat following months of unpaid salaries. That situation was not helped by nearly N100 billion debts accumulated by the preceding regime that the new administration had to shoulder. That was besides the challenge that came from the insurgency in the North-East given that the southern edges of the Sambisa forest, the base of the Boko Haram insurgents, extends to Bauchi State.
In addressing the restiveness that was the hallmark of the civil service that preceded his advent, the governor summoned the courage to tackle the horrendous hold of ghost workers on the state bureaucracy. The fight against ghost workers has caused the state to have net savings of N1 billion monthly from its recurrent expenditure.
Obligations to the civil servants
Governor Abubakar’s immediate response to the apathy he saw everywhere was to, through tact, bring down the tension in the civil service by settling the obligations to the civil servants. Calming the civil servants and bringing sanity to the bureaucracy was important given the pivotal role that it was to play in the delivery of the governor’s promises to the citizenry.
That trajectory proved helpful as the governor has through the Bauchi State Planning Commission articulated annual market calendars that have now proved as useful guides to potential investors wishing to invest in the state.
The effort to boost the capacity of the private sector in the state has also been helped by the active synergy between the state administration and some international bodies including UNICEF, World Bank, USAID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Governor Abubakar’s effort in reaching out to the populace saw to the establishment of a programme directed at the youths, termed YESSO- Youth Employment and Social Support Operation, a programme directed at boosting the entrepreneurial capacities of the youths. Given that Bauchi State is mostly a rural state, the Governor Abubakar administration has directed its efforts towards boosting agriculture in the state through empowering farmers.
The Abubakar administration lent its support to the capturing of the biometric data of farmers in the state, which itself is part of a scheme that allows small-scale farmers access farm inputs directly from suppliers at subsidised prices under the National Agricultural Payment Initiative, NAPI.
At least 800,000 small-scale farmers in the state have been enrolled into the scheme which is itself a modification of the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme, GESS practised in some other states. The Governor Mohammed Abubakar-led administration has also caused farmers in the state to participate in the Federal Government Anchor Borrowers programme for rice, wheat, and maize production.
The state government expended N194.6 million in purchasing equipment and other logistics for the about 8,000 farmers in the state who have been enrolled into the scheme. These are besides other support given to farmers including tractor hire at subsidised rates, and expenditure of N2 billion in the purchase of assorted fertilisers distributed to farmers in the 2015-16 farming season.
The projects which covered such sectors as health, water, and environmental schemes, were carried out under the 2015 Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS) of the Bauchi State Office of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
SDGs Office has also constructed 19 primary health centres, staff quarters and VIP toilets in various locations across the state during the period. In an effort towards making a better life for the rural people in Bauchi, the Governor Abubakar- led administration has also drilled 33 solar-powered boreholes, 57 hand-pumped boreholes, supplied six ambulances and equipped the 19 newly constructed primary health centres.
The Bauchi State SDGs Office in conjunction with a private concern also trained 2,340 unemployed youths in digital applications with the expectation that the trainees would establish their own businesses in digital applications.
The impactful efforts of the Mohammed Abubakar administration in the lives of the citizenry have been mostly helped by the enhanced security that the people of Bauchi State have witnessed since the advent of the administration. The administration has through deliberate support to security agencies and through programmes and policies helped to dissuade the citizenry from the message of the Boko Haram insurgents leading to enhanced security in the state.
For his efforts in strategic planning and mobilising the resources to impact the majority of the people of Bauchi State, Barrister Mohammed Abubakar is Vanguard’s Man of the Year, 2017.