Bauchi state electorate have once again shown to the world that they are true democrats and now more civilised politically than they used to be. They showcased their political sophistication during the recent 2019 general election when they voted candidates of their choice base on competence, character and virtues into various elective offices regardless of their political parties.
For example, the new governor was voted on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while some of the newly elected national and state legislators were on the platforms of the All Progressives Congress (APC), People’s Redemption Party (PRP) and the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP).
All they want is good leadership and good governance. That also indicated that if any politician betrays or takes them for granted, they will change him no matter how arrogant or powerful he thinks he is.
APC ruled the state in the last four years under the administration of former Governor Mohammed Abubakar who was voted out in the last governorship despite the power of incumbency and the popularity of President Muhammadu Buhari.
But all these are now history; Bauchians have brought a brand new governor in the person of Bala Mohammed, fondly called ‘Kaura’ because he holds the traditional title of ‘Kauran Bauchi’, to pilot the affairs of the state for the next four years or beyond if they are satisfied with his stewardship.
I have no doubt that Bala will by Allah’s grace get it right in the state, considering his track record.
Bala Mohammed was born in 1958 .He studied English at the University of Maiduguri (1979–1982), where he gained a BA. He joined the Democrat Newspaper as a reporter in 1983, then worked in the public service as an administrative officer from 1984-2000. He worked in the Ministries of Internal Affairs, Solid Minerals, Power and Steel and Transportation and Aviation. He retired as Director of Administration in the Nigerian Meteorological Agency. He then served as a senior special assistant to Isa Yuguda of Bauchi state from 2000 to 2005. He was Director of Administration at the Nigerian Railway Corporation from 2005 to 2007. Mohammed was elected Senator for Bauchi South in April 2007 for the All Nigeria People’s Party. He was later appointed as Minister for FCT in April 2010.
When Mohammed took over as Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) the first thing he did was to address the problems of land racketeering by setting up a committee, a development that led to the upgrading and repositioning of land administration in the territory.
Others are development of Katampe District, executed through PPP and estimated at over N61, 194, 747, 645.00, with Kagini 1 District costing N52, 609, 879, 284.47, while Maitama Extension District gulped N137, 454, 626,929.00.
The ex-minister equally recorded tremendous achievements in the areas of agricultural development and railway modernisation. The first phase of the light rail and Abuja-Kaduna railway projects embarked upon by his administration is expected to ferry 700,000 passengers daily. Another is the second phase of the Abuja Railway connecting the ever busy Nyanya-Mararaba axis valued at $750m, was initiated by him.
He will be remembered for the reconstruction and expansion of the country’s most modern 10-lane multiple carriage super highways: the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua (Airport Road) Expressway, and the Outer Northern (Murtala Muhammed) Expressway otherwise known as the Zuba/Kubwa/City Centre highway, as well as the dualization of the Nyanya-Abuja Expressway, all of which were completed.
Others were Resurfacing/Reconstruction of aging Roads in Garki 1 and Wuse 1 Districts; expansion of Kuje-Gwagwalada; Gitata bypass; Karshi-Apo bypass; Sunrise-Guzape bypass; Gwagwalada-Dobi connection and the Bwari Township roads projects; the Gurara-Lower Usman Dam road that connects the FCT with Kaduna state at Jere; completion of work on Tanks 1 and 6 with 40, 000 cubic centimeters storage capacity.
He attracted foreign and local investments, totaling over $20 billion.
In a drive to make Abuja Africa’s preferred investment destination, a 37-storey World Trade Centre estimated at $1.2bn (N180 billion) was initiated at the former Bakassi Market under a Public-Private-Partnership arrangement with Churchgate Group; the Abuja Town Centre project valued at $2.7bn to bequeath to the nation’s capital a world-class 24-hour business district comparable to Manhattan in New York, Oxford Street in London, or the Champ D’Elysee in Paris; the Abuja Millennium City Project, the biggest single private investment in housing in Africa valued at $18bn handled by a consortium under the incorporated name, Nigeria Centenary City, a PPP initiative between FCTA and COHART Group worth $150million to develop Abuja Film Village International (AFVI); a PPP initiative for Katampe District infrastructure with capital inflow of over N61billion and the Land Swap Project ($4.5bn), which had the richest man and woman in Africa, Aliko Dangote and Folorunsho Alakija respectively participating.
Determined to promote the culture of recreation, cleanliness and ascetic beauty of the FCT, the minister through Otunba Runsewe Committee revived parks and gardens in the territory and also introduced a robust and dynamic traffic control and regulation via doubling the staff strength of the Directorate of Road Traffic Services (VIO) and provision of better equipment.
He equally completed and commissioned major interchanges at AYA, Asokoro, Banex Junction, Jahi/Mabushi Link and Gwarimpa 11 Kado/Life Camp Junction thereby significantly freeing traffic flow in the city and its environs.
Moreso, Bala succeeded in enforcing Abuja’s master plan; substantially raised the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) profile of the FCT; facilitated the passage of FCT Internal Revenue Bill by the National Assembly; attracted foreign investors in the expansion of the $700million Abuja Botanical Gardens and Parks; review of the concessionaire of the Eagle Square and International Conference Centre to private facility managers thereby enhancing their status, preventing revenue leakages and easing mounting security concerns among other achievements.
Having said these, the people of Bauchi state have made the best choice of governor and I believe that based on his achievements when he administered the nation’s capital and his development blueprint for Bauchi, Bala Mohammed will get it right in the state. However, we need to assist him with prayers to be able to implement his campaign manifesto.
Ibrahim is chairman BAYODA and writes from Bauchi via 08124735584.