For those of us that were old enough to follow governance under the
military rule in this country, the name Sani Bello was a household name. That was why I had a feeling of déjà vu when (another) Sani Bello emerged on the political scene on May 29, 2015.
He is Alhaji Abubakar Sani-Bello, the son of the military governor of old Kano state, Col. Sani Bello, during the Murtala/Obasanjo era – 1975 to 1978. This political (Abubakar) Sani-Bello is the incumbent Executive Governor of Niger state who has clinched another mandate to govern the state for a second term.
Born into an influential family by virtue of his father’s antecedents, the ordinary Nigerlites did not doubt his ability and capacity to deliver when he emerged on the scene to vie for the highest political office in the state against all odds, the odds being that the state had been governed all along by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Unseating the party that had entrenched itself in the state even if backed by an Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) could amount to swimming against the dangerous tide of River Niger!
However, Alhaji Abubakar Sani-Bello, bearing the harmless broom that symbolises the All Progressives Congress (APC), swept his way to power!
His trajectory speaks volumes: Born on December 17, 1967, he, as the eldest child of his parents, began his educational peregrinations at the St. Louis Primary School, Kano from 1974 – 1979 and later went to the famous Nigerian Military School (NMS), Zaria, from 1980-1985. Thereafter, he proceeded to the University of Maiduguri from 1986-1991, where he obtained a B.Sc. in Economics.
Coming from an entrepreneurial background, virtually all of Governor Sani-Bello’s work experience has come from the private sector. After his mandatory stint in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in Port Harcourt where he served as a supervisor in the Marketing Department of NICOTES, he worked at many other places including but not limited to big establishments like Millennium Travels and Tours, Properties and Estates Limited, Dornier Aviation Nigeria, AIEP Limited, Heritage Hospitality Services Limited, some of them even at managerial levels. He also served as a Board Member and Alternate Director of Broad Bank and MTN.
Governor Sani-Bello also had a sojourn in the public service when he was appointed Commissioner for Investment, Commerce and Cooperatives in 2009 by the immediate past administration. It was at that point that he was bitten by the bug of politics where he demonstrated his competence and also proved himself to be an incorruptible person with a firm belief that governance is all about service for the collective good of the people.
Many were shocked when he quit the position a few months later, after discovering attempts to mismanage his ministry’s fund for a ‘useless programme’ from another ministry without his knowledge and consent. This singular exhibition of uncommon honesty must have worked for him when he resurfaced to contest the governorship seat in 2015. His victory made him the 5th elective governor of the state and the 14th since the creation of the state.
A man of honour and integrity, Alhaji Abubakar Sani-Bello did not come to the scene oozing the air of arrogance typical of those from aristocratic backgrounds, waving the sceptre of fame and wealth. He put his hands on the plough four years ago, and in less than a year into his administration, he sent his critics and pessimists running for cover at the sight of the monumental achievements he had recorded.
Here is a diligent helmsman with zero tolerance for laziness and dishonesty. Small wonder, he shares the same birthday with the President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation’s anti-corruption czar, and was able to accomplish unprecedented landmarks in the past four years as exemplified by his performances in various spheres.
Flying on the wings of the Change Mantra, Governor Sani-Bello hit the ground working, guided by his RESTORATION AGENDA. It has always been the dream and aspiration of the amiable Governor to champion the cause of the common man. But as a realist, he never makes commitments and promises he cannot fulfil.
This principle has given him the leeway and latitude to fulfil the expectations of the people. His enthusiasm to excel even within the constraints of financial resources has spurred him to grow many opportunities and enterprises across the state which is endowed with the largest landmass in the country.
The last four years of the Sani-Bello administration has been anchored on continuity of programmes and policies that have impacted positively on the lives of the people, guided by gender and geo-political considerations.
Seeing his election as the apotheosis of his service to humanity, Governor Sani Bello kick-started a government guided by the philosophy of efficient resource management, accountability, transparency and fairness. Departing from the flamboyant and reckless spending of the past administration, the Governor rechanneled his energy towards development-oriented spending tied to due diligence.
The introduction of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), a potent weapon to combat corruption, wastages and other anti-development variables, provided the platform with which the administration confronted the myriad of developmental challenges confronting the state.
The Restoration Agenda soon veered into the development of massive critical infrastructure especially in the area of road construction. Within his first term, the administration, in conjunction with the state Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP III), constructed and/or rehabilitated almost 1,000 km of urban roads (over 200km) and rural roads (over 576km) across the state. This singular effort has greatly eased movement of the people and goods, and consequently increased the socio-economic activities of the people.
Governor Sani-Bello also recognises education as the bedrock of socio-economic development. He has transformed the sector, taking a very rare but positive decision to holistically overhaul existing schools instead of constructing new ones. Under the Whole Schools Development Approach, over 600 basic schools have been renovated through SUBEB, while nine secondary schools have been completely rehabilitated with well-furnished staff quarters.
It is instructive to note that while addressing the critical infrastructure deficiency in the sector, Governor Sani-Bello established the Teacher Professional Training Development Institute (TPTDI) at Dan-Daudu to tackle the critical manpower shortage in public schools in the state. He also established the School of Nursing Sciences in Kontagora, completely renovated and equipped that of Bida as well as sustained the free education at the basic level. He further ensured the payment of WAEC and/or NECO fees and scholarships.
Ranked next to education is agriculture. The sector is critical to man’s survival. The Governor has no doubt been desirous of economic prosperity for the state through the revamping of agriculture in view of its agrarian nature. Threatened by insecurity posed by the incessant conflicts between farmers and herders as a result of the territorial struggle over limited land space for grazing, Governor Sani-Bello revitalised the 31,000ha Bobi Grazing Reserve, thus making Niger the leading state in finding a lasting solution to the lingering farmers/herders crisis.
The Grazing Reserve has a veterinary clinic, pasture pilot, nine functional dams and three primary schools. He has received the commendation of the Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh, for the singular feat as a panacea for the protracted territorial war sweeping across the country.
One other remarkable achievement of Governor Sani-Bello’s administration is the breathing of life into a hitherto moribund sub-sector – the State Fire Service. Neglected for decades, the state fire sector received a new lease of life. Ten fire stations have also sprung up in 10 Local Government Areas equipped with new fire-fighting vehicles and other accompanying tools, while the remaining LGAs are expected to be covered too. The government also increased the salaries of the fire-fighters to boost their morale and enhance their efficiency in handling fire.
A significant political first recorded by the administration is the glorious completion of the multimillion naira State Orphanage Home in Minna, neglected by successive governments 32 years after it was initiated.
Governor Abubakar Sani-Bello has, in the last four years, offered a responsive style of leadership that recognises the frailty and vulnerability of women, children and orphans. It was his resolve to ensure that the less-privileged in the society are equally given a sense of belonging and made to live in a comfortable ambiance, thus ensuring that they are not added to the growing list of social vermin in the country.
Also worthy of note is the support of his alter ego, Dr. Amina Abubakar Bello. It is said that behind every successful man, there is a woman. The medical doctor has deployed her services to assist the people of the state through massive outreach programmes in keeping to the time-honoured axiom that a healthy people are a wealthy people.
As Governor Sani-Bello warms up for the second term, he will be preoccupied with leaving legacies that will be impossible to match let alone surpass.