Bauchi under Bala Mohammed: Beyond mere rhetorics






Within the last two years that Governor Bala Mohammed assumed power, the electorates have every  cause to be grateful that  transformation has come. NAJIB SANI reports.
Governor Bala Mohammed of Bauchi state would be marking his two years anniversary in office on May 29 2021. Recall that the electorates in the state made  history in the last 2019 polls when they voted out an incumbent governor and elected a new one in the person of Gov Bala. This was the first time a serving governor would be defeated since the transition to civil rule in 1999.


Roads project


Within the period under review, the governor has embarked on the provision of infrastructures by giving special attention to roads construction and building of housing estates in all the six emirate councils of the state.
It is therefore no wonder that he is being described as ‘Roads Governor’ by the citizens. This is because his administration has invested billions of naira on several roads projects.
It can be conveniently said that most of the projects completed and the new ones flagged off in the state within his two years in office are roads as he has so far awarded about 30 road contracts across the state.
Some residents of the state however have urged him to lift the embargo on employment so that teeming youths can get jobs, address delay in payment of salaries of some workers as a result of the hitches on the side of consultants hired to be paying the salaries and disburse adequate funds to settle gratuities of retired workers. They are of the opinion that he should combine projects with social welfare in order to ameliorate the sufferings of the people.
But the governor while speaking at a different fora lamented the poor infrastructures in the state especially roads. According to him, neighbouring Gombe state created in 1996 and Jigawa state are better than Bauchi which became a state in 1976 in terms of infrastructures.
He attributed the problem to  failure of successive governments, hence his resolve to embark on the infrastructural projects to resuscitate the state.
Classroom blocks/housing
Apart from the roads, another thing his administration is commended for is the construction of blocks of classrooms in each of the 300 wards of the state. The other laudable project initiated by the government is the 2, 500 housing scheme. It is in consideration of Bauchi’s increasing population. Initially, 2, 500 houses were awarded for construction but due to increase in the prices of cements, the number was reviewed downward.


The scheme targets the construction of houses across the six emirates of the state namely Bauchi, Katagum, Jama’are, Misau, Ningi and Dass.More than 50 percent of funds for the roads, schools and houses were disbursed to the contractors. But to ensure value for money and avoid corrupt contractors from shortchanging the state, Bala set up a projects monitoring and evaluation committee headed by Mohammed Dadi and charged it on regular monitoring of the awarded projects.


On-the-spot

not satisfied with their reports and assertions, the governor embarked on a tour across the 20 local governments to see things for himself. The tour which was conducted for four simultaneous days ended recently.Blueprint can report that there were both good and bad stories that unfolded during the inspection tour.
For instance, in Zaki local government of Katagum Emirate, the governor revoked a contract for reconstruction of a district head palace over delay in execution of the project. He lamented that despite paying 100 percent of the contract fee, the contractor sought further increase in the name of variation which was approved but he failed to complete the project within the stipulated time.
He said that the district head had to use his personal money to fund the project, pointing out that the government can no longer condone the unruly act of the contractor.
“This is the place and the umbilical cord of every Katagum person and that is why when we came, it was the first palace we awarded a contract for it to be rebuilt. We gave money 100 percent and later, there was a variation. We paid half of the money, but the contractor did not deliver the contract. Other palaces that were started after it, have been completed, these are in Warji and Toro. Why should this one not be completed? By the responsibility conferred on me, the contractor is my friend and my associate from the same political party, but because of the trust and responsibility, I have revoked this contract. We are going to award it to somebody that would do it and then, the rest of the issue would be sorted out between me and him,” he said.
Emirate estates/Kaura City
An inspection visit to the housing estates shared across the six emirates showed that they were almost complete. What remains however are access roads, water, street lights, electricity, hospitals, police stations, markets and schools that need to be provided in line with the governor’s pledge when the project was flagged off.


The project is in collaboration with Family Homes Funds Limited.Most of the people who commented on the housing project appealed that they should not be distributed to politicians and high profile citizens after completion. They opined that they should be shared to the poor who have no shelter.
Maybe in response to that, the governor disclosed a plan to demolish the old air strip in the GRA to build an estate to be called ‘Kaura City’ containing official residences for commissioners, House of Assembly members, judges and other top government officials. The old air strip was abandoned and part of it is being encroached.
Many people ascribed abandoned projects in the state to non supervision by the governors. For example, during the immediate past administration, the dualisation of the railway to federal low-cost roads awarded at N4 billion was abandoned and subjected motorists to hardship particularly during rainy seasons. Likewise, the Wuntin Dada to Miri dual road was also not completed in the four years and the housing estate in Tirwun built by the administration of Isah Yuguda, many years ago is still incomplete. 
Outcome of media tour
In an interview with journalists after rounding off the tour, Bala uncovered that the inspection of the projects has assisted him to reconnect with his people at grassroots, supporters and to access the level of their expectations of his administration. He assured that the administration would look at ways of reducing waste of funds and blocking leakages in order to meet their needs. It was gathered that another benefit of the tour was that citizens voiced out to the governor about their priorities. For instance, in Galambi village where the governor ordered the State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) to build an additional one block of classroom for the village, the crowd shouted “We need a hospital” because there was none in the entire place. So he had to replace the new block of classrooms with the health facility. 


The governor applauded  the contractors who did well and particularly expressed delight at the project for expansion of Gubi dam that supplies water to the state capital. Many people are of the view that the recent tour of the state by the governor was beyond projects inspection as it gave him opportunity to test his popularity among the electorates who trooped out massively to receive him.
“For the past two years, we haven’t set eyes on the governor. The last time we saw was before the election. We are elated today that the governor has come to see us and inspect projects,” some rural dwellers told Blueprint.

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