February 23, 2020

Bala Muhammed: Breathe of fresh air in Bauchi

Bala Mohammed

Alleged N321bn Fraud: Court quashes report indicting 2 ex-Bauchi govs

Sen. Bala Mohammed, Executive Governor of Bauchi state

By Muktar Gidado

Senator Bala Abdulkadir Muhammed is the Governor of Bauchi State is no longer news. What made his new title newsworthy is how he came about it. He was elected by the good people of Bauchi State during the March 9,2019 general election. The validity of his pronouncement as governor, however, was in doubt to those that lost the election . Through two stages of court, pronouncements vindicated his claim and the mandate confirmed, but the ultimate and most important validation of the Supreme Court was needed. That waiting period was a very tensed one giving the kind of pronouncement, both shocking and expected, coming from the justices of the highest court of the land. Muhammed was eventually declared as the duly elected governor of Bauchi State.

Also read: Supreme Court: I feared I could suffer Ihedioha’s fate because of my opponent’s overconfidence – Bauchi Gov

That said. Muhammed, from the outset, knew he was not coming to Government House for a tea party. He saw how the previous administration ran governance in the State. Having superintended the affairs of the country’s capital for more than five years, he knew the State could be run better and even more efficiently. He sought the advice and blessing of his party, got the party ticket and today, the rest is history.

Considering his popularity, love, concern, and the huge expectations of the citizens of the State on him, the Governor even before taking the oath of office, inaugurated a team of experts comprising technocrats and professionals to conduct needs assessments on the challenges facing each critical sector of the economy with a view to repositioning the state and its economy.

To ensure effective service delivery, the people’s governor hosted members of the State Executive Council, Special Advisers, Permanent Secretaries, Local Governments Caretaker Chairmen, Heads of Extra Ministerial Departments and other Political Appointees on a 2-day retreat conducted at Bauchi State University, Gadau.

For the first time in the history of the State, the governor did not only supported the conduct of the retreat but participated fully throughout the two days period of the event. The glamour of the retreat was the full participation of Alhaji Yayale Ahmed, a one-time Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Emirs of Bauchi, Misau and Dass, Alhaji Rilwanu Sulaiman Adamu, Alhaji Ahmed Sulaiman, Alhaji Usman Bilyaminu Othman respectively. Others are Alhaji Adamu Aliyu, Walin Katagum, Senator Mohammed Mohammed, Alh Mohammed Maishanu, Professor Gambo Laraba Abdullahi,  Senator Adamu Gumba,  Dr Safiya Iliyasu, among others as invited guests.

During the retreat,  24 papers on various critical issues were presented, Governor Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed unveiled his administration’s blueprint and roadmap for a greater Bauchi State. While unveiling his agenda, the Governor said the blueprint was to enable him to overcome the numerous challenges affecting the progress and development of the State and to perform better than his predecessors.

That is not even the meat of this opinion. The thrust is actually how he went about the job in the last few months as Governor. Less than a month after he was sworn in, Muhammed swung into action as he ordered the release of N200m monthly for payment of gratuities and other entitlements to retirees of both State and local government within the civil service. This singular action brought commendations, encomiums and prayers to the governor from the pensioners, who before then, were neglected by the previous administration.

There isn’t anything spectacular about giving what is duly theirs though, it is finding the courage to do what is right that made it special. It was the right thing to do.

Road network is part of the yardstick of development. This, Muhammed, understands perfectly. Not with the way he opened up the roads network of Abuja as a minister. He has since flagged off a whopping N23 billion road construction and rehabilitation in the State. What is more? He also released 50% of the total sum to the contractors, the first of such in the state as a fresh Governor. With this, the landscape of the State is totally changed. Very soon, the economic activities would pick up especially for farmers who find it difficult to get their produce to the market due to the bad road network. Talking about farming, Muhammed bought 6000 metric tonnes of fertilizers and then subsidized it to N5500 per bag to the farmers. You can be sure that there is a bountiful harvest this season.

One of the most cherished assets of Muhammed is education. For him, outside the almighty God, education is the next big thing to mankind, because, according to him, education liberates the mind. One is not surprised that within this short period, he has facilitated the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) support for the State with N600 million for the provision of learning materials for primary school pupils. This aside the State government rehabilitation and construction of a new block of classrooms. Not only that, because of his passion, enthusiasm and commitment showed towards education, the State only recently benefitted from a $3 million grant to address the menace of out-of-school children from the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).

There was a scarcity of water in the State. This preceded his administration. The scarcity was the first of the many challenges that he had to tackled shortly after assuming office. He released about N137million to the State Urban Water and Sewerage Corporation.

All these ‘minor milestones’ have not gone unnoticed. December 19, 2019, in Abuja, at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, The Nigeria Small and Medium Enterprises Summit and Awards (SMESUMA’19), endorsed by the Nigeria Small and Medium Enterprises Agency of Nigeria-SMEDAN recognised his contributions towards ameliorating the challenges faced by entrepreneurs in the state as he was accorded the Best SME Governor. The governor, ably represented by Mr Ladan Salihu, former Commissioner for Information, now Chief of Staff, said he was happy that within his short stay in office, his little contributions to the growth of the State economy was appreciated.

Just a few days back, Nigerian Television Authority, (NTA) Channel 5, recognised him as the most valuable supporter of the television station. These accolades, even though unsolicited, are testaments to a good job and the new fresh air Muhammed has brought to governance in Bauchi State.

*Gidado is Senior Special Assistant to Bauchi State Governor on Media.