Three Years Down The Line: A Reminder To Governor Bala Mohammed 

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Sen. Bala Muhammad

By Sulaiman Maijama’a

This is a difficult piece to write. How can anyone  following my writings from the start of the Bala Mohammed’s led-administration not submit that I have been a hailer of this government? In 2020, to celebrate Gov. Bala’s first anniversary in office, I dedicated a Fifteen-paragraph piece, titled, “Gov. Bala @365 day: journey so far”, in which I dwelled much on the governor’s giant strides, despite inheriting a failed government. In his second year, it was a Thirty-five-paragraph piece I wrote, titled, “Two years under review: Bauchi State wears a new face”. These are apart from the weekly piece I used to write, which, if aggregated, would produce a voluminous book. All in an attempt to unveil the achievements and areas of strength of this government. 

This year as the governor marks his three years in office, it should be a time for sober reflection and critical thinking on the underperformed areas, or to put it more appropriately, areas more need to be done.

I feel i will not be fair to the governor if i don’t help him embark on self-assessement and self-criticism, in order to increase his speed.

“Verily, political power is a vicegerancy from Allah and a stewardship from God’s Apostle”, says Imam Muhammad Ibn Abdulkarim (as quoted in “Principles of Leadership”). Caliph Muhammad Bello is quoted in “Usul al-Siyasa” to have said, “be informed, my brother, that one of the most serious misfortunes that may befall a servant of Allah is to be a leader for the consequences of having to render a full account of the office.” It is on this note, that leaders at all levels need to be reminded of the responsibilities they are saddled with.

There is no iota of doubt that, under the leadership of Senator Bala Muhammad, Bauchi State has become the Ameerah among its sisters in Nigeria, in terms of infrastructural development. Bala Mohammed has actualized a gleaming new city. If one is to aggregate the number of infrastructural projects so far executed in the state and divide them by the number of days within three years (1095 days), they will discover that, there is no single day that passed on without a project, since Bala Mohammed assumed responsibility as the Executive Governor of Bauchi State.

However, beyond physical projects, have other sectors not been forgotten? Has education received the priority it is worth?  Someone will say that, His Excellency has built new model schools, upgraded and renovated many. Yes sure, I sited them many times as achievement. But beyond the surface, what about the welfare of the teachers, their salaries and allowances? To the best of my knowledge, since His Excellency came in, no single teacher in Bauchi State has been promoted. More importantly, we do not have a single strategic policy on improving standard of education. These can defeat the aim of the polished model schools.

Let me remind His Excellency that during the previous administration of Muhammad Abdullahi Abubakar, he used to have Special Adviser on Students’ affairs, the position Governor Bala is yet to appoint, despite its importance. It seems an irony  that, governor Bala has SA unmarried women, but does not have one for students. Maybe the absence of this position is the reason for the tribulation befalling the indigene students of Bauchi State,  because they do not have anyone, appointed apart from commissioner, to stand for them and to speak their voices.

I believe that Governor Bala is passionate about quality education, because appointing Dr. Aliyu Tilde as Commissioner for Education is an indication to that. But I don’t know the wisdom behind the termination of sponsorship of 200 students of Malikiyya College of Health whose sponsorship was offered by the previous administration. Some of them had to give-up schooling for lack of financial capacity, and nothing is yet done.

In the same vein, international scholarship, the like of which is obtainable in sister states like Kano (where super-intelligent students are sponsored to study abroad) has been terminated, local scholarship was paid only once and partially disbursed to only few students whose institutions are domiciled in Bauchi State. Similarly, I don’t know if His Excellency is aware that the medical bond given to medical students as stipends by the previous administration has been disrupted, despite the challenges of the health sector. As the saying goes “Health is wealth” and “education is the backbone of every development”. These students are asset to our society, thus, however much is invested in them will eventually pay back. His Excellency needs to ponder on this.

On the issue of salaries, there still exists a problem. Not only that, people worry why despite death, retirement and record of no employment, there has been an  exponential rise on the Bauchi State wage bill from N4.5 billion to N7billion?  I’m not unaware of the fact that, in order to address the challenges on the issue, the governor on Thursday, September 10th, 2020 hosted a Media Parley with civil servant, labour leaders, Government’s officials, elder statesmen, stakeholders and the Media where massive corruption in the system was exposed. But recommendations were made by the financial consulting firm, DYNATECH Solutions Limited, contracted by the state government but nothing seems improving. Some civil servants still spend months without salary. They are really suffocating.

I know some people tell the governor that no government is without fault; every government comes with its shortcoming, but frankly, in Bauchi State, come with any shortcoming but not issue of salaries, because Bauchi is a civil servants state. We like His Excellency, but we fear his opponents will use this to their advantage and campaign against him.

On the other hand, business people in the state have also been registering their discontent. His Excellency may have forgotten that during his electioneering campaign at Central Market, Bauchi, he promised that, if elected, he would inject in annual budget,  Five Hundred Million Naira (500, 000 000) earmarked as loan to business people in the state. I believe this will be a good initiative and will help improve business, alas, three years gone, it is yet to be actualised. 

Similarly, His Excellency should begin to see to the welfare of his people, especially politicians who had made sacrifices to ensure that he comes on board. Honestly, many of them are not better than those in opposition party, despite their contributions and closeness to this government. These people may not summon courage to tell the governor, but when you speak to them off the record, they open up. You cannot accuse them of anticipating a pay off from the government they brought in. Let me borrow Mahmud Jega’s words: to accuse a politician of expecting something in return from the government they supported and brought in, is like accusing a person who attends prayers of expecting to be rewarded in the hereafter.

There are many ways these people can be helped. Why not learn from Jigawa State, give them small small contract, say, Mr. “A” bring furniture in SSG’s office, give him N500, 000;  Mr. “B” provide fuel for official cars in the governor’s office, 1, 000 000; Mr. “C” bring chemicals for washing toilets in the government house;  produce chairs in primary schools;  build toilet among others. Don’t give them contract above N5 Million, they will still appreciate and be contented. With this, money will be circulating among people, thereby increasing the welfare of all and sundry. Being a staunch supporter of this government, I don’t want to believe that the contract is for “family and friends”, a slogan this administration is taunted with. 

Finally, commiserations to the governor on his defeat in PDP Presidential Primary Election, held yesterday. Keep the dream alive, future holds a lot.

We still need him as the executive governor of our dear state. One year is enough for him to remedy the aforementioned observations I raised out of concern.

My best wishes.

Maijama’a, Faculty of Communication, Bayero University, Kano can be reached via

sulaimanmaija@gmail.com

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Sky Daily