Kebbi: The quest for democracy’s dividend

By Mukthar Bala

In Nigeria, the relationship between the electorate and the elected is dangerously skewed in favour of the latter. Since 1999, successive governments have been consistent in raping the nation and the masses of their shared patrimony. Cronies and apologists control the narrative around leaders while the masses are left high and dry. The impunity at the corridors of power waxes strong and the electoral grab and win system seems to have emboldened the charlatans in power.

But for the Jega revolution that returned some sanity to the process, by relocating power to decide to its real location, the people, Nigeria’s democracy was heading for the rocks. Even at that, Nigerian politicians develop wilful selective amnesia; they tend to forget the source of their power the moment they are elected into office and the poor electorate are left to rue their chances.

Unlike in the past where every problem of governance was blamed on the president in Abuja, continuous advocacy by political commentators has successfully returned the lens of scrutiny to governors; and this makes sense. After all, governors are the real custodians of the power that directly affects the electorate. This development has exposed the folly of many governors who came into office under the grandiose illusion of business as usual, but not the occupants of the Kebbi state government house. Why should they? After all, equity can only be delivered with clean hands and Kebbi state seems to have found the one who is willing to do the needful in the face of adversity.
Before the emergence of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu , Kebbi state was the perfect example of ‘the land’ in Gbemisola Adeoti’s Ambush. While the people are hardworking, strong and committed to their age-old means of livelihood – agriculture- successive governors of Kebbi state since the return of democracy seemingly blocked the industry of the people.

Anyone who is familiar with the political and social indicators of Kebbi State before the election that brought in the Senator Bagudu led dispensation knows that the realities are different today, Kebbi has been transformed from the very picture of dereliction that it used to be to a city under construction and the prospects are heart-warming.
Quite uncharacteristically, the government in Kebbi state is delivering on its campaign promises and the people of Kebbi are for the first time knowing what it feels to be in a democracy. No one would have taken Bagudu serious when he declared during his inauguration that his government is all about the people, but any doubt about that statement would have been laid to rest with his array of people-oriented policies that are implemented swiftly with vigour and commitment.

For instance, at the wee days of his administration, Bagudu, who understands the value of quality foundational education, an area he has been known to complain bitterly about, took a state-wide tour of educational facilities in the state, specifically secondary schools. Expectedly, the schools were decrepit; students were left with little or no facilities or learning materials. In some schools visited, students sat on bare floor to receive instruction and this broke the governor’s heart. On his return from the field, Bagudu immediately awarded a contract for the renovation and repositioning of all the secondary schools in Kebbi state.

After two years of concerted efforts at revamping the schools, they are today wearing a colourful look. Some of the heritage schools have even been fitted with modern teaching aides and equipment like projectors and computers in a bid to raise the level of education, which experts agree, was in dire need of intervention. Students in tertiary institutions also have smiles on their faces as the governor recently approved a huge amount to be used in offsetting the registration fees of Kebbians studying in Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto.
Without wasting time lamenting as many governors were doing about the dire straits their states are, Governor Bagudu swung into action, rolling out his ‘Agricultural Empowerment’ policy, dispelling fears that the governor may toe the path of his predecessors, whose lack of initiative meant he inherited a derelict state devoid of any IGR potential. His bold and audacious plan hinges on the state’s natural and human resources and one gets a feeling the man knows exactly what he was doing.

“We shall create incentives for our young men and women to undertake activities that they can choose, from agriculture to processing, mining to skills that are required elsewhere so that they can find jobs that will satisfy their skills endowment and position our state for greatness,” he submitted. It didn’t take long before the hens were home to roost because, in one fluid movement, the governor struck a partnership deal with Bank of Industry, Central Bank and Lagos state to harness the human and natural resources of the state, especially rice production.

Equally, Bagudu was swift to provide relief materials to flood victims. He assured them that government will do all within its power to assist them. Needless to say, that has been done and the affected people have all regained their footing in the economic indication board and all necessary steps have been taken to avert a recurrence. IDPs were not left out; motorised boreholes and other amenities that will make their lives bearable in the camps have been provided by the governor in partnership with donor agencies and the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Perhaps, the most glaring achievements of Governor Bagudu over the past two years are the construction of roads, culvert and erosion projects all over the state. Over 80 km of roads have been constructed in Kebbi state within these last two years – Koko-Mahuta-Dabai road, Kao’je-Illo road, Shema-Bakoshi road, the Kwanar Dabai- Zuru, Maga-Ribah road and 56.8 kilometer Ribah-Bena road projects, among many others across the state.

In fact, the achievements recorded by the Bagudu administration in Kebbi state within two years of his stewardship cut across all the sectors of the state’s economy. With his prevailing and sparkling performance this could be the only time Kebbians are tapping the dividends of democracy.

Bala writes from Abuja.

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