The essence of democracy, an alternative system of governance which vest all the powers of inclusive decision making on issues around the people, is to provide good governance and economic empowerment.
No doubt, the electorate and the entire humanity are the cardinal and focal point of concerns of every democratic leader’s exploits in office for the betterment of the people’s living standard and democratic sustainability.
In advanced democracies, elite and political office holders are very much aware of the dangers associated with wielding their perennial powers wildly and at the expense of the masses. They know that unless they deliver on their campaign promises and except they leave the people happier than they met them, they stand the risk of being crushed at the polls.
An enlightened electorate know the power they possess and the opposition knows how to utilise aggrieved electorate to unseat the government. So, every decision of a democratically elected government is made to reflect the needs of the people. Policy thrust, policy implementation and project execution are done at the behest of the people with some level of probity and accountability.
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.
Interestingly, the 2015 political revolution that returned some sanity to the process, by relocating the power to decide back to its real location, the people, Nigeria’s democracy was heading straight for the rocks. Even at that, Nigerian politicians develop wilfull 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 though that every problem of governance was blamed on the president in Abuja, continuous advocacy by political commentators has successfully returned the lens of scrutiny to the governors and this makes sense. After all, governors are the real custodians of the power that directly affects the electorate in their respective states. 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 and he has since distinguished himself from the ordinary.
In Kebbi state, before the emergence of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the state was far from enjoying the proverbial dividend of democracy. Though the people of the state are hardworking, strong and committed to their age-old means of livelihood- agriculture- successive governors of Kebbi state since the return of democracy appear to be deliberately blocking 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 Atiku Bagudu led dispensation knows that the realities are different today. Kebbi state 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.
It’s quite uncharacteristically that, 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 like to be in a democracy. No one would have taken Governor Bagudu seriously 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 all the vigour and commitment that the people deserve.
Even the opposition in the state has testified that with Governor Bagudu at the helm of affairs in the state, democracy is working and that has been what endeared many of them to join Bagudu in moving Kebbi state forward and the recent massive decamping from PDP to APC is lends credence to this.
In fact, anyone who is not a mischief maker in Kebbi state can confirm that about three years of concerted efforts at revamping the education sector, schools 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 agreed was in dire need of intervention. Students in tertiary institutions also have smiles on their faces too as the governor recently approved a huge amount to be used in offsetting the registration fees of Kebbians studying in the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto.
In agriculture, without wasting time lamenting as many governors were doing about the direstraits of their states, Governor Bagudu swung into action. He rolled out his ‘Agricultural Empowerment’ policy and this dispelled any fear 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 to 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. This 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 of Nigeria and Lagos state government to harness the human and natural resource potential of the state, especially rice production.
Therefore, with 2019 general elections approaching, the good people of Kebbi state will further strengthen their commitment to the development of the state by giving Governor Bagudu a second mandate to consolidate the good work he has started.
Yerima writes from Yawuri, Kebbi state