Retrospect of challenges and hopes in Bauchi
Recently, Governor Muhammad Abdullahi Abubakar of Bauchi State reminded the people about the challenges confronting the state and raised their hope of a better future.
Sources close to the governor said coming at a time of enormous challenges, the new administration decided to do things differently, after realising the alleged damage done to the state by the immediate past administration.
The governor had in his 100 days address remarked that, "We have taken the time since our inauguration as a government to fully assess the status of our system after the horrendous abuse it suffered in its structure, staffing, process management and most especially resource management.
To that effect, the administration immediately sets up a committee to ascertain the level of the damage and proffer solution to reposition the state.
An asset recovery committee headed by retired air force officer, AVM Gamawa was also constituted to recover illegally acquired assets from the former governor, his associates and government officials.
Preliminary reports from the committee about the ongoing recovery have shown that it has recovered over 70 cars and many plots of lands and the process is ongoing.
The committee had also purportedly recovered the state owned “Embraer 145 Aircraft" which was stranded in Morocco for a while as a result of an alleged failure of the previous administration to settle some money being owed to companies that performed safety checks on it.
According to the governor, "since we took the oath of office, our administration has not looked back on its promise to restore the dignity of Bauchi State and enhance the living conditions of our people.
"The reigns handed to us by the previous administration were no doubt replete with massive profligacy with state resources, wanton disregard of laid down administrative processes, absolute rot in resource management processes and crass nepotism in undertaking general governance duties," he said.
However, former Governor Isa Yuguda has also given his own side of the issues raised by the incumbent, especially in respect of the controversial aircraft.
Daily Trust reports that based on the seeming success recorded by the Assets Recovery Committee, the Bauchi State government broadened the committee's terms of reference to the State’s Ministry for Local Government Affairs, State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB) and the N2.Billion Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria.
However, while the government is taking these measures to recover assets, some observers, especially members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are alleging that the move was just a mere witch hunt.
According to them, it is only the former governor’s associates and family members targeted.
They pointed out that while assets like cars and lands recovered from Yuguda’s wives and other members of his family and associates were highly publicised in the media to tarnish his image, other people were either shielded or their confiscated assets kept secret by the committee, because of their closeness to the present administration.
Similarly, the reports of a Technical and Transition Committee had prompted the setting up another committee by Governor Abubakar to review the state’s annual budget, which according to him is meant to reduce spending and focus on priority areas.
"A deliberate effort in this regard is 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.”
He said the comprehensive document submitted by the committee helped the strategic focus of the Bauchi State government to strive towards the attainment of an educationally enhanced, economically advanced and constructively vigilant population.
"These have 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," he said.
Works and reforms in the outlined priority areas according to the governor will be vigorously pursued by the government.
He said the civil service reforms embarked by the government have in the first 100 days of the administration earned for itself a toga of a labour friendly administration.
The governor said that his administration has allowed the civil service the freedom to operate according to the civil service structure.
"It will be recalled that, immediately after we assumed office, we were able to resolve numerous industrial disputes and strikes including those by the NLC, Staff and students of the Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic, and the Staff of
being the College of Agriculture."
He added that another dispute between Resident Doctors, and management of the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University Teaching Hospital, was equally settled.
He added that the government has also paid a larger chunk of staff salary arrears as a mark of its commitment to the welfare of its workers.
He said as part of measures to re-structure the civil service, the government has conducted 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," he said.
Governor Abubakar has also promised to embark on development and refurbishing of infrastructure to achieve developmental goals and strengthen agriculture, tourism and solid minerals sectors to raise Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
He said the state government has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on wildlife conservation in order to boost the tourism potentials of the state through proper utilisation of the Yankari Game Reserve.
Abdullahi Bala, a resident of Bauchi observed that like his predecessor, the governor has earmarked wonderful programmes but expressed fears on the possibility of executing them.
“Our major concern is that the governor has penchant for lamentations about the past, instead of just drawing a line and planning ahead.
“I wish to suggest that since he has gotten the mandate of the people, he should stop the blame game and embark on projects that would have positive impact on the lives of the people,” he said.
Lilian James, a school teacher, said unless the governor reduces his constant traveling, Bauchi will not see any difference from what obtained in the past.
“The governor is always out of town and I wonder if he will achieve anything tangible by proxy. We had the same problem with Yuguda who wasted more than half of his tenure in Abuja and abroad. We have this one will make a difference,” she said.
Governor Muhammad Abdullahi Abubakar