By Etop Ekanem
Association of Local Governments in Nigeria, ALGON, has honoured four governors across the country, including Governor Badaru Abubakar of Jigawa State, who was awarded Best Governor in Infrastructure Provision award, during the association’s annual investiture and awards night in Abuja.
Reading Abubakar’s citation, Gambo Kagar, Chairman of ALGON, said: “Before the ‘salary bailout’ became a popular catch phrase in the states, Badaru was quietly augmenting the allocations of almost 70 percent of his 27 local governments, so they could settle recurrent liabilities till the financial situation improved.
“This went on from November 2015 to March 2016, and it helped thousands of local government employees to continue getting their pay cheques on schedule without realising that a rescue operation was in place at the state level.”
The ALGON chair said what was particularly endearing to its selection committee was the fact that while billions of naira were going into capital expenditure in Jigawa, it remained one of very few states where all state and local government salaries including optional allowances, and all pension and gratuity liabilities were paid as and when due since the administration’s inception.
He added that “Badaru took the politically-unpopular decision to complete all the ongoing infrastructure projects he inherited from the previous administration after verifying them for value for money and economic impact.
“The audit panel came up with a figure of N91.6 billion in ongoing projects, mainly roads, hurriedly awarded between January and May 2015, and N13.6 billion unpaid vouchers.
“Over N11 billion discounts were negotiated with the contractors with N8.2 billion savings realised on road contracts alone, and contractors were given a commitment to instant payment of verified valuation certificates, which prompted them to resume work at a dizzying pace.
“As at May, 716.5 kilometres of those inherited projects were completed with Governor Badaru keeping to his word and paying over N31 billion as and when due.”