Mr Bala Ibrahim is Jigawa State Commissioner for Information. He is also the Chairman, Publicity Committee of the Badaru Governorship Campaign Organization. He thinks that given the enormous work Governor Abubakar Muhammad Badaru has done in the state in the last three and a half years, marketing his principal won’t a problem. He says, in this interview, that Badaru judiciously spends the states resources.
How would you convince a voter to cast his vote in the coming election for the continuation of the Badaru government.
Jigawa is an agrarian state. It has about five million people. About 89% of the population live on agriculture. That is the mainstay of the economy here. The government right from the creation of the state depends solely on the federation allocation , meaning the government based its expenditure on what its gets from the federal allocation. The state has a very low capacity of generating revenue because of many economy factors.
When this government came to power, this was a major problem that confronted my principal when he was sworn in as governor, the revenue of the state was almost nothing. This meant that if the price of oil goes down, the revenue of the Federal Government naturally goes down and, of course, the state allocation too automatically drops. That was exactly what happened to the three tiers of governments in 2015 when there was change of guard.
The price of oil nosedived from about 140 to about 40 dollars per barrel. That affected the revenue of the state severely. So, instead of getting about N7b per month, we now came to be getting about N2.5b. And coupled with that, our salary bill is about two billion naira every month. So you see that the little we had was not enough to take home and we had a lot infrastructure deficit and lot of services to render. Meanwhile we came with promises that we were going to meet. And yet we inherited huge contractual liabilities amounting to billions of naira, to be specific, about N130 billion. Believe me, the purse of the government was extremely low because the government only inherited N16 million when it came in.
It was a precarious situation. But we were very lucky that we had a governor, a very successful business man, a veteran financial expert, a man who has the love of the people at heart, a man who also has the fear of God. He studied the situation and addressed the issue one after the other. The first thing is, he said we needed to curtail the cost of governance. The cost of governance was reduced to about 60% which went a long way in saving money. The governor, you all know by now, is not a spendthrift. He goes for value for money. His managerial ability during this trying period also surprised the opposition as to why and how the government of Jigawa under Badaru was able to pay salary the following month.
Since then, for the past three and a half years, everybody gets his salary by the 25th of every month. Another thing the governor did was that he resolved with his cabinet that all abandoned projects worth about N90 billion must be completed before anything else, the internally generated revenue is just about N130 million per month which is nothing to talk about. He said the contractual obligation of the state with the contractors must be respected irrespective of which administration initiated them. He said the state government would not embark on new projects until the ones his government met are completed.
All the contractors were called for a meeting, there, he appealed to their conscience so that they all looked at the contract sum and see how the cost could be cut down without reducing the value of the job. Thankfully, all of them saw reasons with the governor. Some of the contractors gave a discount of 20%, some 25%, some less. As we speak, there is no one single project of the previous administration that has not been completed by the Badaru administration.
Another thing I want you to recognize is the fact that Jigawa is a salary-economy state, meaning if the state fails to pay salary for one or two months, even our market will be affected, the markets depend solely on the salaries of workers. And that is how the money goes round the state.
Any impact on the agriculture sector?
The state has made giant strides in that area. We might not make noise, it is deliberate. Jigawa now produces its own rice which we sell to other states. We produce our fertilizer too. The government has been able to attract private investors into its economy. Presently, Dangote Rice is here, Lee group is here, Walcourt is also here and many others process agricultural produce.
The governor has set the state on a sustainable economic growth path. The only way this can be consolidated on this trajectory is to return the government back to power, because if there is any change now, it could spell disaster for the state because new policies will come,new vision will come which might retard the progression the state is witnessing. Presently, the government has raised the standard of living of an average Jigawa person.
Some people say there is really no difference between the APC and PDP and even style of leadership.
That is not correct. The difference between both government is like Coke and Fanta. The difference is very clear. This government is extremely prudent when it comes to the use of resources. Here, public funds are used for public interest; not only that, funds when used for public interest in terms of infrastructure, you will see it physically; it is not on paper.
There are a lot of infrastructure in the state that are not really generating any income at the moment. The state airport for example, tell me what revenue it is generating, yet the previous government spent humongous amount on the airport. I am sorry to say, the previous government just spending money the way they liked.