Bauchi: Has Abubakar met expectations?

In this piece, NAJIB SANI appraises the three years in office of Bauchi state governor, Mohammed Abubakar
Dividends of democracy beyond hype Governor Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi state, came into power on May 29, 2015.
By May 29, this year the governor has been in the saddle for three years, out of four years tenure.
The question that readily comes to mind especially at this time of the year-in commemorating democracy is: Has the governor delivered on his electioneering campaign promises? Another question that is commonly asked across the state is: Have the people of Bauchi felt the dividends of democracy under Governor Abubakar? Good governance is at the heart of issues being discussed around the state as the tempo of political activities ahead of 2019 general elections gather momentum.
Bauchi residents and the people in general ask if anyone can feel the presence of the government beyond media hype.
Changing currents of politics The history that was made in 2015 when an incumbent government- the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), was voted out after 16 years in power at the centre and some states of the federation, including Bauchi, is a turning point as well as dynamism of politics for critical observers of Nigeria politics.
In Bauchi state, Abubakar emerged as governor in the changing tides of politics on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC).
It is not news that Abubakar has indicated interest to run for second term in 2019.
Although, he has not yet formerly declared his ambition, his body language, political meetings and utterances at public gatherings, could point out that he is in the race again for governor of Bauchi state in the next poll.
Bauchi residents do not need further proof of Governor Abubakar’s plot for second term in office.
This is because they have witnessed the governor overtly canvassing for votes to ensure his victory in the 2019 contest.
Canvassing support for second Our Correspondent reports that the governor used several fora to present his scorecards of achievements with a view to canvassing support for a second term bid.
It would be recalled that, the governor had during the recent public lecture organized by the Alumni Association of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Bauchi to commemorate his third year anniversary in office, claimed that despite paucity of funds, his administration has recorded ‘tremendous’ successes.
According to him, when he took over the mantle of leadership of Bauchi state on 29 May 2015, he inherited an empty treasury and arrears of four months salaries owed the Bauchi state workers by his predecessor and outstanding gratuities worth over N15 billion which he had to settle.
He lamented that he equally inherited 105, 000 staff with monthly salaries of N5.1 billion, adding that the state however receives not more than N5 billion monthly, as federal grants.
The governor disclosed that Kano state with 44 local government areas has 92, 000 workers on its payroll as against Bauchi which has only 20 local governments but has 105, 000 worker.
Abubakar said his government had to devise means of generating funds to pay the backlog of the unpaid four months salaries by his predecessor and maintains regular and prompt payments, noting that Bauchi is a civil servants state.
“We give thanks to God that we pay salaries regularly and we do not owe any worker his salary”.
He said.
Aside that, the governor said the administration embarked on projects such as roads construction across the state.
He stated too, that within the period under review, he dualized Gidan Mai to Awalah, Awalah to Giwo academy road, wuntin dada to miri roads in order to alleviate accidents and beautify Bauchi City.
Other ongoing roads according to him are Federal low-cost roads, Azare metropolitan road as well as the 115 kilometers Misau to Udubo roads.
Buhari’s visit to Bauchi President Muhammadu Buhari had during his recent visit to the state commissioned the Gombe road and State house of assembly road rehabilitated by the governor.
Also speaking with Blueprint, the Special Adviser to the governor on media and strategy All M.
Ali said his principal should be commended for his prudence and stopping wastages in governance.
He said the governor had on assumption of office slashed his salary and that of his deputy governor by 50 per cent.
He deducted that of his aides by 30 per cent.
Aides lament harsh working condition However, our Correspondent observes that several aides to the governor including the former Commissioner of Planning, Shehu Barau Ningi, Senior Special Assistant on Scheduling, Tahir Ibrahim Tahir, as well as the Special Adviser on Investment, Samaila Sunusi, resigned their appointments citing ‘lack of enabling environment to serve’ as reasons for their resignations.
But the governor’s spokesman alleged that the ex- cabinet members quit the government ‘because they could not cope with the new twist as monies meant for projects are not shared among politicians as was the practice in the past governments’.
Counting Abubakar’s achievements Ali said the other achievements recorded by his boss include construction of 19 new primary health centres, resuscitating the moribund Bauchi Fertilizer blending plant, procurement of 500 tractors for farmers to boost agriculture in the state.
On the education sector, the Special Adviser explained that the governor allocated 20 percent of state’s annual budget to the sector now in addition to renovation of classes, establishment of vocational colleges for male orphans in Bauchi, female orphans in Misau, where they would be taught skills and trades for self -sustenance under the Bauchi State Orphans and Vulnerable Children Agency (BASOVCA) within ‘just’ three years.
These, he said were achieved in three years despite paucity of funds.
While some residents who responded to Blueprint said they expected much from the APC government, stressing that in 2019, politicians would only be voted based on their performances regardless of their political platforms.
A lecturer at the Bauchi College of Agriculture, Shehu Zailani, opined that lack of resources to fund some projects was the governor’s major challenge.
“I personally sent a comprehensive proposal on how to train 1, 000 youth and women on various agricultural fields and I learnt that it was approved by His Excellency but the funds to run the program was not released till today”.
He said.
He appealed to the state government to develop the college of agriculture in order to tap the wealth of experience of the experts in the college rather than collaborating with ATBU in need of agricultural professionals asserting that agriculture could boost the economy of the State.
Reacting to the achievements of the governor, members of the opposition however said that the governor had collected much money on behalf of the state, such as the Bailout Funds, Paris Club Refunds, among others, worth billions of naira, but with nothing to show for it.

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