Social commentators and critics believe, on a wide misconception or an overt misinterpretation of the American concept of 100 days to 1 year in office of elected political leaders. Majority of Bauchians acknowledged that the Governor of Bauchi state, Sen. Bala Muhammed, has been able to demystify this once and for all. In the past, as is still the convention in many states of Nigeria, political office holders begin to choreograph symbolic tangibles dedicated to celebrating their days in office. Simply putting the days is seen as a landmark which should be celebrated with pomp and pageantry; to serve as a showcase of what was achieved in the first 360 days or more in reign.
In Bauchi state, however, Sen. Bala Muhammed thought differently. Nothing stops him from emblematically giving some public buildings and infrastructure momentary facelift, wrap them in red ribbons and colourful balloons and then with flashy scissors “commission” them in commemorating his 365 days in office. But then, the determined strategic thinking, planning and efficiency in service delivery anchored on transparency brought to the fore by the governor from his sojourn as a public sector operator, wouldn’t allow him to regard his year in office as a celebration of achievements and a landmark for the next generation.
Not to be mistaken, Sen. Bala recognises the already rooted culture of 365 days in office, but not as a celebration. He believes that the period does not afford any administration the opportunity to flaunt its score card. Rather, it is a period of assessment of the acceptability of the leadership projections and an opportunity of intense engagement of the people, If the period of electioneering campaign was an avenue to present ideas and concepts to the people, Sen. Bala believes that his first year in office should be a period of testing those ideas and putting his plans on the table for the buy-in of the good people of Bauchi state.
His first 365 days in office have been a period of putting in place the foundation of his uninterrupted vision for the state by setting a paradigm shift in the next three years.
Since May 29, 2019, when he was sworn-in as the executive governor of Bauchi state, it is this mindset of a strategic approach to governance that formed the basis of every decision he made. Those familiar with the public sector, from where Sen. Bala brought lavishly rich experience of planned efficiency into political leadership, understand that groundwork, although a milestone in its own right, does not tell the entire story. To Sen. Bala, first year in Office is an evaluation of the grand plan for a better tomorrow; it is the people for whom it is meant to celebrate it as a form of acceptance of his leadership style.
So what has the governor been up to in the past 365 days? For starters, no plan succeeds regardless of how noble if its target beneficiaries don’t accept it. In view of this, Governor Bala Muhammed started embarking on construction of new roads statewide for equity and fairness and for the avoidance of providing the undesirable to any community.
In his few travels across the state for official engagement, he provided immediate succor to many communities in need of emergency interventions. While trying to download his well-articulated ideas and obtain the people’s inputs, he found himself offering immediate solutions to perennial problems especially at the period of ‘coronavirus’ pandemic. As mentioned earlier, this is why the business of “celebrating” one year in office is the prerogative of the governed who already feel served within 365 days.
The last one year was also for strategic interactive sessions with stakeholders in the seven critical areas of Sen. Bala’s governance, i.e. security, healthcare, rural development, agriculture, human capital, and workers welfare, infrastructure and industrialization.
Whether it is a meeting with security agents, farmers, civil servants, journalists, artisans, union leaders, local or foreign development partners, business leaders or stakeholders, the mission of Governor Bala is unequivocally and constantly affirmed that his ultimate goal is the accelerated growth and aggressive development of Bauchi state without compromise.
At a crucial meeting with the state’s head of the civil service and permanent secretaries, Gov. Bala shared his vision to reposition the service as an efficient, service delivery organ of government and repeated the same vision at a media chat with journalists across the state as a means of setting a commendable leadership at the end of the tunnel.
At his visits to some health facilities in few local government areas, he was clear about the fact that the facilities at the health centres were in deplorable state that needed immediate reconditioning and replacements. The sum of N227 million was first released to improve facilities at the various health centres across the state to include renovation, purchase of ambulances and repair works of X-ray machines at Bauchi Specialist Hospital, Dass, Ningi, Alkaleri, Dambam, Gamawa and Azare General Hospitals while N200 million was paid as counterpart contribution to the Fund of Primary Healthcare Immunization in addition to the payment of N100 million for Basic Healthcare Provision Fund.
In addition, N673 million was disbursed to selected primary healthcare facilities that are participants in the NSHIP partnership programme and the 20 local government councils in the state were directed to contribute one per cent of their internally generated revenue to the Bauchi State Healthcare Trust Fund.
The governor has promised a turnaround in the health and education sectors as N10.8 billion was injected into the state as Education Intervention from Tetfund and UBEC.
As for security, at one of the closed door meetings with heads of security and intelligence community operating in the state, the governor promised a review of the security strategy as a new measure to tackle general insecurity throughout the state.Governor Bala said: “It is a determination of our unreserved commitment towards ensuring that the people have a good life and pursue their legitimate business in a secured environment”.
Corporate governance anchored on transparency and probity has been central to how Governor Bala Muhammed is piloting the affairs of Bauchi state.
He has opened up the political space for inclusiveness as promised during electioneering. He has been most concerned about competence as a criterion for appointing people than other considerations. Party affiliation, ethnic correctness and other sundry parameters are secondary to the governor and this much is in the full glare of all.
I am not Nostradamus, if Sen. Bala Mohammed continues with what he started, Bauchi state will be the best state in Nigeria by 2023.
Umar Usman Duguri07033873327