By Charles Agwam
BAUCHI State Governor, Senator Bala Mohammed has a huge task on his shoulders. Some of the them include improving agriculture, education and creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the state.
Many reports, including that of the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, NBS, have clearly shown the worsening state of the standard of living of Bauchi people. Bauchi is one of the poorest states in Nigeria with an embarrassing record of 1.3 million out-of-school children, and one of the least educated youth and women population in the country.
There is also the case of infrastructural collapse in the state. Many government facilities are either not functional or in a state of near collapse – the failing school system, dilapidated hospitals, bad roads, etc, are testaments to these.
Even Governor Mohammed, agreed that that Bauchi has poor infrastructure. He said during the campaigns: “Our roads are in bad shape and the city is littered with trash. 1.3 million of our children are out-of-school and our youths have no jobs, except to guard posters for the governor and his friends. In our hospitals, doctors now use torchlight for operations.”
Thus, have been sworn-in as governor, Mohammed must find a way to put an end to, or at least reduce thuggery (Sara suka), poverty, drug abuse, high unemployment and empower women with useful entrepreneurial skills for self-reliance to avert an impending implosion arising from many years of neglect and exploitation.
In his inauguration speech at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa stadium, Bauchi, Mohammed assured the crowd that he would create enabling environment for private sector organizations to take advantage of opportunities that exist on the global market for both unprocessed and semi-processed agricultural products that abound in the state.
“Our state is blessed with abundance of unprocessed and semi-processed products that are in high demand all over the world. What is lacking is the capacity to tap into the treasure chest of our state. We shall promote and support value addition to empower our local farmers to eventually become competitive globally.
“My government will establish an industrial zone that will serve as one-stop investment mall for investors and business-minded people to interact. We’ll provide the needed engineering infrastructure, governance platform, tax relief and investment promotion office,” he said.
The Governor further said that he would revive the educational sector with emphasis on recruitment of more teachers, training and retraining of teachers, creation of vocational and technical education centres to facilitate skills acquisition, and boost computer literacy among youths.
“We will bridge the teacher/pupil ratio of 1:400 through recruitment of more teachers. We will also engage 1000 additional teachers to obtain higher training with collaboration with National Teachers Institute.
“More so, we shall lay emphasis on vocational and technical education to facilitate skills acquisition and produce manpower for the industrial sector. Computer literacy will be incorporated in the curriculum to give our youths competitive advantage over their peers in other parts of the country,” the newly sworn-in governor added.
It is apparent that the governor sees the urgent need to revamp the health sector, build infrastructure and create a conducive atmosphere for investors to come in and invest, especially in the agricultural sector which would open doors to employment and increase the internally generated revenue of the state.
It’s an understatement that the Bauchi people have high expectations of the governor who has promised a lot of reforms to turn around the tide of poverty and underdevelopment in the state.
Bala Mohammed clearly has the experience and the resources to better the lot of his people. But whether he will match his words with action is what the Bauchi people and onlookers are yet to see.
Born on October 5, 1958, in Duguri, Alkaleri local government area of Bauchi State, the former minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed attended Duguri primary school and went on to obtain his West African Senior Certificate Examination from Government Secondary School, Bauchi. Mohammed graduated with B.A (Hons.) in English from University of Maiduguri in 1982.
With civil service experience spanning 23 years, he worked in various ministries and government agencies, including the News Agency of Nigeria, NANA where he served briefly as a reporter. He later delved into the murky water of politics and won the slot for Bauchi South Senatorial district at the National Assembly in 2007 and was later appointed Minister of FCT in April 2010 by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Bauchi Governor who was sworn in on May 29, faces high stack of challenges he must surmount to improve on the welfare of Bauchi citizenry.