Bauchi state governor, Bala Mohammed, has clocked a year in office. In this interview with NAJIB SANI, Honourable Suleiman Mai Posta, chairman of a Bauchi based socio-political organisation ‘Democracy and Good Governance Forum’ takes a look at projects within the period under review.
You have been monitoring the activities of this government since it came to power. How would you assess it one year after?
Yes, the mandate of our organisation ‘Democracy and Good Governance Forum’ is to hold both elected and appointed political office holders responsible and accountable to the people for sustainable growth and development of Bauchi state. Now back to your question, I can strongly and boastfully inform you that Governor Bala Mohammed’s led administration in one year is equally addressing the infrastructural gaps across the nooks and crannies of Bauchi state. Remember, the present administration inherited what could best be described as a mere collapse system in the area of governance and the execution of projects including civil service welfare, among others.
Bala Mohammed, a one-time senator and former FCT minister immediately rekindled the hopes of the people of Bauchi state by embarking on the award of some key road projects to decongest traffic within the Bauchi metropolis and address the poor road networks faced by the people. These road projects include the 4.4km Gombe road to Maiduguri bye pass; the 1.8km Yakubun Bauchi quarters which have since been completed while work on the 6.2 kilometre Sabon Kaura to Jos road and that of one kilometre Muda Lawal Market road projects have reached advanced stage of completion in just one year.
The governor’s magnanimity covers the three sensational districts of Bauchi state as the one kilometre Hospital Road project and the 6.5km Jamaare road all in Azare town of Katagum local govt area was awarded and completed, while in the central zone of the state, Governor Bala is currently constructing the 16.2 km sade to Akuyam road project which is also at the stage of completion linking many communities in the two local government areas of Darazo and Misau. Lest I forget, the administration is presently constructing a virgin road linking two local govt areas of Tafawa Balewa and Alkaleri local govt areas that is the 58.4km Burga to yelwan Duguri covering over 10 communities in the areas.
Another important project of the present administration is the recent ground breaking ceremony performed by the governor for the construction of 2, 500 affordable houses across the six emirates in the state in government’s quest to address the housing deficit in the state which would no doubt create job opportunities for the people.
One other age- long problem facing the people of Bauchi state is perennial water shortage. How would you describe the effort of the government in that regard?
Let me take you down memory lane. The Gubi Dam water project was executed over 40 years back. It was popularly called Bakalori water project at that time, and was supposed to be rehabilitated in every 10 years but successive administrations in the state failed in that aspect until this Bala Mohammed- led administration came on board and with support from the World Bank group, he flagged off the rehabilitation and expansion of water facilities in the state to cover over 50 kilometres for people at the outskirts and the metropolis to benefit from potable drinking water. As we speak, the project is progressing steadily and would cost gov’t and its partners the sum of 65.5million U.S dollars. This is in addition to the construction of solar powered and hand pump boreholes across the state. I think I will commend him for that.
Reports from the development partners particularly UNICEF indicated that Bauchi state has over 1.3 million out of school children. Is this government doing something about the situation?
This is a fact coming from a reputable world organisation which clearly showed the world that there was nothing to show in the past when it comes to the issue of education that is key to the success of any policy or programme. But you are presently a living witness to all reforms and programmes aim at reinvigorating the basic education sub sector and the entire sector generally. So far through the state universal Basic education Board (SUBEB) according to our findings and the universal Basic education commission (UBEC), the sum of N5 billion have so far been expanded on renovation of schools, construction of classroom blocks and the training of teachers and all is now set for the Bala Mohammed led administration to invest the sum of N3 billion in the same subsector. Similarly, N450 million has been released to renovate some secondary schools that need critical attention in government’s guest to address the menace of out- of- school children in the state.
Health is wealth; how would you assess the performance of government in that sector?
Health and education are supposed to be the top priorities of every government. Bala Mohammed as we speak renovated over one hundred health facilities across the state in collaboration with the development partners and in line with the governor’s declaration of the state of emergency in the health sector. For instance, all the general hospitals across the state have started witnessing turn-around maintenance to effectively deliver health care services to the people. Now that the world is grappling with the novel covid 19 pandemic, Bauchi state is one of the states of the federation that ranked the best in terms of case management, contact tracing and surveillance as our governor was the first index case in the state. So despite the lean resources I can adjudge the fact that the two critical sectors of education and health are no doubt receiving the needed attention and support.
There is lamentation over the ban on Achaba by the governor through which many youths earn a living but now the outcry is much. What is your take on this?
Covid 19 is solely responsible for the ban of Achaba activities in Bauchi state as part of measures to contain its spread. Besides, the administration has concluded arrangements to distribute over 1, 000 tricycles to the motorcycle and tricycles riders association in the state as part of measures to cushion the effect of the ban on the operators and it would be given on hire purchase basis. So there is an adequate plan to cover the entire state with tricycles as more are coming so as to address the transportation problems faced by the people and the leadership of the association is happy about it.
How is the governor managing his relationship with members of the state assembly who are mostly in the opposition? Is the difference in political camp not distracting the governor?
Seeing they say is believing, you are in this state and you are seeing the number of projects and policies executed within the one year period of this government; it shows that there is cordial working relationship between the governor who is of the PDP and the assembly members with majority of them from the APC. What we are emphasising to them is that time for politicking and campaigns are over, hence the need for them to unite irrespective of their political affiliations and bring Bauchi state out of the woods. The state has suffered a lot of neglect due to political reasons, internal wrangling and the rest in the past. Now it’s time to work together and that is what you are seeing.