The first 100 days in office have come to be the most important days of any administration as it what determines and give the administration’s policy and direction. It also gives a peep into the expectations and acceptance of the new administration by the people.
It is also the period during which any new administration demonstrates its resolve to serve and win over the loyalty, trust, confidence, and support of the populace. This can only be done through projects and execution of policies of direct impact and bearing to the immediate needs of the people.
The first 100 days in office is the “foundation laying period” of any Government. It is also when it becomes obvious on whether or not the administration is on the right path.
It is in a bid to have a true assessment of the Governance offered by the infant administration of Barr. MuhammedAbubakar; and his Deputy, Engr. NuhuGidado, the Substance Publication went to the Bauchi State to put the Governor and his administration on the spotlight.
Our trip to Bauchi was eventful and adventurous as well as exciting especially due to the fact that some of the towns that were known for such filth and dirt; like the Toro Local Government were now clean and neat. We were taken to the Governor’s Office where we waited before our team was ushered into the Governor’s Office which was modestly furnished. The Governor received us warmly; and without much ado, we went straight into the purpose of our visit.
Our encounter was quite interrogative and revealing as we did not leave any stone unturned; while the Governor on his part left nothing concealed. Excerpts:
TSPUK: Mr. Governor Sir, congratulations on your first 100 days in office. How has it been?
GMA: Alhamdlillah. We bless the name of almighty Allah. It has not been an easy ride, but it is with an utmost sense of fulfillment that I am telling you that since we took the oath of comment to work assiduously for the progress of Bauchi State and its people; we count each day as an opportunity to serve our people to the fullest. Though relatively short, but, we do believe that the 100 day mark is a worthy milestone for our strategic focus and general direction of our Governance to be evaluated on the gauges of intent, posturing and deliberate action.
TSPUK: Many State Governors complained about meeting an empty treasury and huge debt burden, was it the same with Bauchi State?
GMA: It will amount to stating the obvious talking about the high debt profile of the state. The reigns handed down to us by the previous administration were no doubt replete with massive profligacy of state resources, wanton disregard of laid down administrative processes, absolute rot in resource management processes and crass nepotism in general governance.
Since our inauguration, we have taken the time to fully assess the status of our system after the horrendous abuse it suffered in structure, staffing, process management and most especially resource management.
TSPUK: Did that in any way stop your administration from hitting the ground running?
GMA: Somehow it did. We received the reports of the Main Transition and Technical Committees and those comprehensive documents have commendably enriched the strategic focus of our administration to strive towards the attainment of an educationally enhanced, economically advanced and constructively vigilant population.
These helped us outline priority programs in line with our campaign promises, enumerating impactful programs that will portray our preparedness to leave Bauchi State far better than it was bequeathed to us.
A deliberate effort in this regard was the setting-up of the Budget Review Committee which was mandated to draw up areas of focus in line with prioritization for provision of funding, and has since submitted its report to Government.
This also formed the setting-up of the state’s Assets Recovery Committee, one that has garnered statewide applause by conducting a rancor free recovery process of huge numbers of vehicles, generating sets and transformers that had been frittered away and personalized by officials of the previous administration and their cohorts.
The Committee has also recovered several plots of land arbitrarily allocated against extant laws. I am proud to inform you that these unrelenting recoveries drive have been fruitful in locating the state owned “Embraer 145 Aircraft” in Morocco. Series of meetings have just been concluded with a view to receiving the aircraft at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport Bauchi in a matter of days.
Consequent upon these commendable feats, our Government has just broadened the terms of engagement and reference of the Recovery Committee and accordingly mandated it to beam its searchlight on the State’s Ministry for Local Government Affairs, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the case of the Central Bank of Nigeria N2 billion Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises Loan
TSPUK: Sir, is it safe to assume that good governance is back on track in Bauchi State?
GMA: Indeed, the relative quiet that has characterized our initial days in government should be taken as enough evidence that precious time has been deployed literally to the task of cleaning the rot left behind by the previous government.
Our government has in these 100 days earned for itself a toga of a labour friendly administration; one that has allowed the Civil Service the freedom to operate in the maximization of its duties as enshrined in the state’s civil service structure. It will be recalled that, immediately after we assumed office, we were able to resolve numerous industrial disputes and strikes.
These were those by the NLC, Staff and Students of the Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic and the Staff of the College of Agriculture.
Similarly, the Government intervened to resolve the dispute between Resident Doctors and management of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital. We have also, in an unprecedented feat, been able to achieve the settlement of a larger chunk of staff salary arrears as a mark of our commitment to the welfare of our workers. Let me once again reiterate that all civil servants, especially teachers, whose salaries have unjustifiably not been paid, will have their cases verified and settled accordingly. All these we were able to achieve without the bailout funds that were graciously extended to States by the Federal Government, as we are yet to receive it.
We are however in the process and relentlessly following up to access the funds as information at my disposal from the State Accountant General is that approval has finally left the Federal Ministry of Finance to Zenith Bank Plc.
We have been able to create an enabling environment; we are now good to go with our planned restructuring of the MDAs and the overhauling of the civil service.
This prompted us to carry out an interim verification exercise for civil servants on the State and Local Governments payrolls. We are now at the point of carrying out a biometric exercise as a way of further identifying ghost workers and other irregularities.
TSPUK: These are some remarkable feats. But were you able to replicate it in all the sectors of the state?
GMA: (with a smile) Yes we did. Our Government appreciates the indispensability of health to the socio-economic development of our people, so we took the following measures among others, in the area of health care delivery services.
We released the sum of N160, 000,000:00 which was the State counterpart fund contribution for the sustenance and strengthening of routine immunization in the State under the tripartite arrangement between the State Government, Bill and Melinda Gate and Dangote Foundations.
We also released the sum of N87, 000,000:00 for the procurement of essential drugs for our Hospitals.
And the accreditation of Dental Health Services Training at the State College of Health Technology Ningi; and Nursing and Midwifery in the same college has been facilitated.
We initiated a five point health Agenda tagged “LafiyaGarkuwa” which cardinals points are:
Agenda 1: Strengthening primary Healthcare and Routine Immunization across the State
Agenda 2: Ensure access of mothers and children to reproductive, maternal, new born and Child health Services, including access to quality and cost effective live saving drugs.
Agenda 3: Motivating frontline health workers for effective and quality service delivery.
Agenda 4: Improving funding of health sector through innovative financing mechanisms, accountability and transparency.
Agenda 5: Demand creation Via Health Education, awareness creation and strategic Communication.
- In order to address the problem of infant mortality, Government has declared free medication and other health services to children under the age of five years.
TSPUK: Mr. Governor Sir, in our clime, for any government or administration to be adjudged a “working” government, such government must been seen to either be initiating or executing physical projects towards infrastructural development. Sir, what has your administration done in that regards in its first 100 days in office?
GMA: A 100 days is not enough to initiate and completely execute the much needed physical projects to attain the desired infrastructural development. I must tell you, as long as we exist, there will always be need for such development because it is always evolving, but this is not to say in the period under review, we did not achieve anything in the area of physical development. We have just concluded processes for the commencement of work on the reconstruction of Misau-Bulkachuwa-Udubo road and CBN roundabout-Federal Low cost-Railway Road in Bauchi.
Our Government also acknowledged that the protection of new and existing infrastructure is essential to infrastructural developments. That was why at the inception of this administration, we carried out an audit and found that there was no single serviceable fire truck in the whole State. Accordingly, our Government has put up all the available 5 fire trucks in Bauchi and Azare for thorough overhaul while negotiating for the purchase of more in an effort to improve safety measures for residences and other public areas across the State.
TSPUK: Sir, on our way to Bauchi, a member of our team was quick to point out an achievement in waste disposal. He said when he came to witness your inauguration; the whole state was lined with filth and heap of refuse. How were you able to achieve this remarkable feat in the period under review?
GMA: (laughs) that is very true and this formed our strong commitment to enhancing the image and environmental features of the state’s metropolis. This has so far caused about 420 youths and women to be employed for the provision of cleaning services.
TSPUK: Sir, with the falling price of crude oil which has resulted into poor earnings for us as a nation, and with the call for diversification of the economy especially through with agriculture. What framework or policies have you been able to come up with in your first 100 days in office?
GMA: Our core focus has been with regards to establishing the entire agricultural value chain process and its economic impact across various parts of the state. In line with this ambition, for this farming season, we have procured 2,500 metric tonnes of urea for our fertilizer blending company in order for us to make up and distribute up to 10,000 metric tonnes of fertilizer
At the flag off of the sale of the commodity earlier on in Misau, we had announced government subsidy with the prices pegged at N2,750 for a bag of NPK and N3,000 for a bag of Urea. We observed that these prices are the cheapest throughout the Northern part of the country. A Committee was inaugurated on the distribution exercise that has been able to ensure delivery of the commodity down to the electoral wards level in the State.
As part of achieving our desired goals and agenda for the agricultural sector, our visit to Czech Republic was with the intention to forge strategic partnerships in the areas of agricultural implement acquisition, enhancement of agricultural produce, operational as well as technical capacity development through knowledge and technology transfer processes. In the area of the planned acquisition of modern farm implements, it is worth noting that we have already started discussions with our local company- MessrsSteyr Limited with a view to encouraging industrial sustainability and growth.
Food security is one area we would really want to improve upon. We want to reduce the wastage of farm produce in Bauchi State. To achieve this, there has to be a timely and more efficient evacuation of agricultural produce, and to further complement the take-off arrangements with foreign partners, so our government has commenced the repairs and reconstruction of some wash-out on rural feeder roads that are considered as major links to markets. So far, funds have been released and, in most cases, work has commenced on the following roads;
- Tudun Gambo-Gokaru
- Jama’are bye-pass
All these projects are being undertaken through direct labor by our team of engineers pooled from the relevant government ministries, thereby enhancing cost-effectiveness, performance and further employment of rural labor.
TSPUK: Sir, Bauchi state is home of one of the important tourist attraction of this country..
GMA: (cuts in) The Yankari Games Reserves..
TSPUK: Exactly. Sir, we will like to know what your administration has done in the last 100 days towards the repositioning and revamping of the Games Reserves and Tourism in Bauchi State.
GMA: We are so blessed as a nation and as a state. We know of some counties in Africa that Tourism is one of their mean sources of revenue generation. Countries like Morocco, Kenya, Seychelles and Tunisia. And also some European countries like Greece, Hungary, France and Czech Republic too.
This is the reason why during our recent visit to the Czech Republic, we executed a mutually beneficial working relationship with regards to revamping our tourism potential through the enhancement of wild life conservation and Anti-poaching method at the Yankari Game Reserve. These have been concluded through historic working agreements and Memoranda that have been executed with different parties. At the moment, funds have been released and various works are about being completed by a committee we have set up to ensure that all facilities, such as potable water, power, telecom. Internet facilities, game viewing vehicles, Kitchen/restaurant, furniture and linens, etc, at the Yankari Game Reserve are functional and befitting.
When all these are fully implemented, it will surely kick start the revamping of the tourism sector as a whole
TSPUK: Sir, one of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is the provision of portable water to all. We cannot task you on the MDGs, but we will like to know the effort of your administration towards the provision of this essential need to the good people of Bauchi State?
GMA: Water is life and as Late FelaAnikulapo said in one of his songs, “water, e no get enemy’
TSPUK:(cuts in…) Sir, you also listen to Fela?.
GMA: (laughs..) almost every Nigerian listened to Fela directly or indirectly. One thing I can affirm to you is in the past few weeks, we have witnessed an improvement in Water Supply in Bauchi metropolis as a result of some critical interventions we embarked upon within our first 100 days in office.
We carried out the reconditioning of the 3.0MVA Power transformer to serve as back-up to the 5.0MVA Power transformer at the Main Treatment Plant.
We procured chemicals for proper and adequate disinfection of treated water at the main plant, and the regularization of monthly payment of power bill to Jos Electricity Distribution Company.
TSPUK: Sir, with many of your colleagues implementing drastic austerity measure which saw many states suspending sponsorship of pilgrimage, why did your government still have such policy in place?
GMA: It is true that holy pilgrimage either as a Muslim or a Christian is personal, we asked ourselves some questions?
Was it the sponsorship of the pilgrims that was bad or the abuse of the system that serves as a means to fleece the state of funds?
We said to ourselves it was the abuse of system, and we identified the anomalies and leakages, after which the government sponsored some pilgrims to Saudi-Arabia during the 2015 Hajj Exercise by providing befitting accommodation, medical services and other basic requirements for them. I am bold to tell you thatabout N1bn was saved by the State Government through renegotiation of the cost of accommodation and other expenses normally incurred by the Government during the Hajj exercise.
TSPUK: Your Excellency, Bauchi is in the North Eastern region of the country which was plagued with insurgency and insecurity. In your last 100 days, what has your administration done to compliment the Federal Government’s efforts towards tackling these security challenges?
GMA: Since assumption of office, the Government has been working hand in hand with security agencies (i.e. Police, SSS Army etc), and State Security Council meetings have been held regularly. Similarly, there were deliberate but silent efforts we made to achieve the relative reduction in the menace of “Sara-Suka”. On assumption of office we, quickly but quietly, targeted and got ring leaders in the company of some parents and traditional leaders, to appreciate and come to terms with Government readiness to take the menace head-on. We also promised them maximum attention in the areas of education and skills acquisition.
Also, some proactive measures were taken against real or perceived security threats. This I cannot disclose so as not to compromise the safety of personnel and the success and efficiency of those measures. By the grace of God Almighty, the measures have paid off as Bauchi State has remained the most peaceful State in the North East Sub-region.
TSPUK: Sir, what should the people of Bauchi State expect from your administration?
GMA: I want the good people of Bauchi State to know that even though we are still grappling with the challenge of huge paucity of funds as a Government, we will strive to achieve the programs that have been outlined for the progress of our state, with particular attention to the improvement in living conditions of our people and enhancement of the volumes of economic activities undertaken within the state. We are also committed to a continued improvement in the provision of essential utility services and other basic infrastructure in the areas of transportation, education and health. I also want to assure them that we pledge to continue to work in an effort to build ourselves a memorable legacy, In-shaa Allah.
TSPUK: Your Excellency, we must say a big thank you for granting us this interview within such short notice despite your tight schedule. It is a great honor.
God willing we shall be here once again to mark your first year in office and by then, we shall be at the Yankari Games Reserves..
GMA: (laughs.) You are welcome and Insha Allah, it shall be so. Safe journey and may almighty Allah go with you.