ADDRESS BY HIS EXCELLENCY, SEN. BALA ABDULKADIR MOHAMMED, CON, (KAURAN BAUCHI, JAGABAN KATAGUM) THE EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF BAUCHI STATE ON THE OCCASION OF HIS SWEARING-IN AS THE GOVERNOR OF BAUCHI STATE FOR A SECOND TERM AT THE ABUBAKAR TAFAWA BALEW STADIUM, BAUCHI ON MONDAY, 29TH MAY 2023
- The National Chairman, People’s Democratic Party (PDP)
- Other Party Officials,
- Senior Citizens and Guests from Across the Country,
- The Former, Serving and Senators Elect,
- The Former, Serving and Members House of Representative Elect
- Your Excellency, the Outgoing Deputy Governor of Bauchi State,
- Your Excellency, the New Deputy Governor of Bauchi State,
- The Rt. Honourable Speaker, Bauchi State House of Assembly,
- My Lords, the Chief Judge and Grand Khadi,
- Honourable Members (Former, Serving and Elect) Bauchi State House of Assembly,
- Traditional Leaders,
- Former Members of the Bauchi State Executive Council,
- Secretary to the State Government,
- Chief of Staff, Government House,
- The Head of Civil Service,
- Chief Executives of Parastatals and Heads of Extra–Ministerial Departments,
- Invited Guests,
- Members of the Press Corps,
- Ladies and Gentlemen.
To Allah the Most Beneficent, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful, without whom none of us would be here today. He makes all things possible in his own time. He gives power to whom he chooses and takes it away when he chooses.
With humility and in total submission to the will of Allah, I accept this call to serve, not because I see myself as the most qualified but because it is a divine mandate over which I have no choice.
I wish to recall with extreme joy and gratitude that, on this day four years ago, I stood at this podium to take the oath of office and oath of allegiance as your Governor and to deliver my first inaugural address to a mammoth crowd like this one. I find it indeed humbling that forty-eight months, (that is, two hundred and eight weeks or one thousand four hundred and sixty days) later, here I am again to deliver my second and, by the provisions of our constitution, final inaugural address on the auspicious occasion of my swearing in as Governor of our great state for another four years.
Looking into the faces of the exuberant crowd of our patriots here present, I recognize the overwhelming significance of this moment. I appreciate the trust that has been reposed in our administration by the majority of our people who voted for me. I am conscious that my re-election signifies the endorsement of the manifesto of our great party and the “My Bauchi Project” agenda on which platforms I ran for election in 2019. I am honoured that today’s inauguration represents a validation of the performance of our Administration during the first term.
But it goes beyond that. I see it as a summons to do more. Not as Governor of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) under whose platform I ran or any partisan or sectarian interest but for everyone residing in Bauchi State: indigene and non-indigene, citizen and foreigner, rich and poor no matter one’s station in life.
Yet, while acknowledging the neutrality demanded of me in my position, it is only proper that I acknowledge with gratitude first, my political party that gave me the platform to run. Secondly, also deserving of my gratitude are members of my team: the SSG, my chief of staff, commissioners, special advisers and special assistants who brought their expertise and competences and stood by me, all through both exciting and challenging moments, to produce the performance that culminated in my re-election. I would like to say that, for me, the dissolution of the state executive council will not put a stop to the virile relationship that we cherish. on that note, should circumstances dictate the return of any of you, It is my sincere wish that you will avail the state the benefit of your patriotic service. Not the least, I want to thank our royal fathers, my Lords spiritual and temporal, civil society organizations, my colleagues members of the fourth estate and all our compatriots without whose continuing prayers and support this day would not have been possible.
As the sages have aptly remarked, unless you understand the take-off point of your journey, the chances are that you may never get to your destination. So, to fully appreciate the journey you and I are about to start, let me take you back a little. In the course of the visioning process that produced our strategic document and action plan in 2019, our environmental scan revealed both the remarkable opportunities as well as the profound headwinds that we must astutely and courageously navigate to either steer the ship of state to a stable trajectory or drift in disarray into political oblivion and irrelevance. We chose the former.
Those headwinds included: Insufficient cash flow, a huge loan portfolio; accumulated outstanding liabilities, dearth of critical infrastructure, collapse of educational institutions, ineffective healthcare delivery services, high rate of unemployment and drug addiction and gangsterism. Equipped with this knowledge, our 2019-2023 Programme of Action and the Medium-Term Plan had sought to tackle wide-ranging challenges characterized by low and fragile economic growth, insecurity, weak institutions, inadequate public service delivery, gross infrastructural deficit, climate change and the attendant weak social indicators.
Undeterred by the headwinds and other challenges, we set out with the twin objective of improving the living standards of the people and placing the state among the first ten most economically viable and socially developed states in the country.
Today, I can look back to the journey of the past four years with a mixture of pride (not arrogance) and sobriety (not disappointment). For instance, while substantial mileage has been achieved in infrastructure, social services, economic development and poverty alleviation, the anticipated investments into the economy slowed down from 2019 onwards because of the negative impact of certain macro-economic variables which were characterized by external shocks principal among which were the COVID-19 pandemic, collapse of global crude oil prices and worldwide social conflicts of which Nigeria was not spared.
Let me expatiate.
THE MACRO-ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT IN 2019
HUGE DEBT PORTFOLIO
The Administration inherited a very huge debt portfolio in excess of over N100b (One Hundred Billion Naira) made up preponderantly of the Paris Club, Budget Support and the Bail Out Fund, and some foreign loans. Repayment of these loans is mandatory and deductible from source. So far, we have repaid over 50 percent of the debt, a situation that has exposed the state to serious economic constraints, especially in view of the dwindling resources both nationally and internationally. Thus, right from inception, the Administration was compelled to devise creative strategies for meeting the huge expectations of the people.
CRIPPLING WAGE BILL
Without a strong private sector capable of complementing the role of Government as the major employer of labour, Bauchi State has always carried a huge wage bill. In fact, more than 80% of the allocation to the state from the Federation Account goes into the payment of salaries, pensions and gratuities. Unfortunately, before the advent of this Administration, the issue of salaries, pensions and gratuities had been mired in corruption and lack of accountability. To compound matters, on assumption of office, we met a scenario where months would pass without the payment of salaries.
THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
As we are all aware, less than a year after we assumed office, there was an outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic which had very serious adverse effects, socially and economically, on the state, the nation and the world at large. It was a game stopper. No aspect of life was spared: economic, social and administrative aspects of life shut down as people were compelled to stay at home. For a new administration that was confronted with the humungous governance deficits it inherited, the epidemic was a significant drawback. And as if Bauchi State was specially targeted, I became one of the first governors in Nigeria, to be infected by the virus.
The paucity of funds inherited by the Administration was further compounded by a porous and inefficient internally generated revenue (IGR) collection system that prevailed at the time.
Ironically, these deficits in governance contributed to the high expectations the people had by electing this government, in the legitimate hope that it would turn things around.
Other key challenges faced were lack of needed equipment and machinery, poor maintenance and management of existing infrastructure and facilities, inadequate and untrained/inexperienced staff to drive policies and programs of government.
READY TO WORK
ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL REFORMS
For some of you who may be wondering how we were able to accomplish the modest progress that we have made in the macro-economic environment, and which earned us the trust and confidence of the people of Bauchi State, the first was the initiative we took to reform the economic and financial sector. Highlights of this reform were:
- Reducing the debt burden of the state by constantly honouring the obligations that we inherited.
- Resisting the temptation to embark on a borrowing spree except for completion of inherited projects and providing strategic new infrastructural projects across the state.
- Embarking on a payroll reform that has substantially tackled the problem of ghost workers. The outcome of the payroll reform is the consistent payment of salaries and pensions before the end of every month since the inception of this Administration. I am proud to say that we are not owing the workers and retirees any month’s salaries and pensions.
- Improvement in the remuneration and working conditions of the civil service by being one of the few states to implement the minimum wage for all categories of staff with consequential adjustment and payment of arrears. We approved the promotion of deserving state and LG staff and also paid their consequential arrears that emanated thereof.
- Renovation of the state secretariat and the local government secretariats across the 20 local governments of the state to improve the physical working environment of the workers.
- Renovation of the palaces of traditional rulers across the 20 local governments in the state.
- Renovation and upgrading of the state’s liaison offices in Abuja and Kaduna, as well as the complete renovation and rebuilding of Bauchi State Government House.
- Domesticating the Federal Government’s procurement policy has also sanitized our processes, infused greater transparency and compelled compliance with due process and accountability, thereby enshrining our key policy thrust of “USING LITTLE RESOURCES TO DO MUCH, in accordance with the globally acceptable best practices.
- Initiation of public budget hearings in each of the senatorial districts to enhance inclusive governance and citizens’ engagement,
- Introduction of the cashless policy in 2019/2020 and
- Creation of the treasury online portal for the publication of monthly, quarterly, and yearly reports aimed at boosting public confidence through transparency and accountability.
These efforts at improving the macro-economic and governance environment have had the salutary effect of restoring confidence in the system thereby facilitating the prosecution of the agenda of the Administration.
POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE REFORMS
My civil service and legislative backgrounds had always impressed on me the importance of operating within the ambits of the law. Thus, working with the State House of Assembly, we were able to institutionalize some important milestones in policy and legislative reforms. In all, 48 executive bills scaled through the State House of Assembly. That translates to the passage of one executive bill every month, a very significant development considering that the executive arm that I head, and the State House of Assembly were controlled by different political parties. The executive bills passed include:
- A bill to establish the Bauchi state public procurement bureau 2020.
- A bill for a law to harmonize, integrate and consolidate all revenues collectible by ministries, departments, agencies and local governments in Bauchi State
- A bill for a law for the establishment of the Bauchi state vigilante and youth empowerment agency.
- A bill for a Law to establish Bauchi oil and gas Academy Alkaleri.
- A bill to establish the Bauchi state public complaints and anti-corruption commission and for connected purposes.
- A bill for a law to establish Bauchi state and local government contributory pension scheme and other related matters.
- A bill for a law to establish Bauchi state infrastructure development and maintenance agency.
- A bill for a law to amend the Bauchi state urban planning development board and
- A bill for a Law to Establish Bauchi State Signage and Advertisement Management Agency (BASSAMA)
- A bill for a law to establish Bauchi state audit service commission and for matters related therewith 2021.
- A Bill for a Law to Establish the Bauchi State Rural Access Road Authority.
- A Bill for a Law to amend BAROTA Law 2020 and Repeal the Road Traffic Law (CAP 137), Bauchi State Road Traffic (Control of Traffic) Law (CAP 138) and Bauchi State Road Traffic Mobile Court Law (CAP 139).
Such a bipartisan breakthrough was made possible by the pragmatic posture of the stakeholders who prioritized the overall interest of the state over and above any other considerations. I want to thank the assembly most sincerely for the statesmanship displayed by the leadership and members and look forward to a deepening of the already established cordial working relationship. I say so in expectation that implementing our robust vision will entail such disruption of the routine and therefore requiring legislative backing. I pledge the support and cooperation of the executive branch in this partnership for the development of our state.
SETTLING OF ARREARS OF GRATUITIES
In spite of the bold steps taken in the areas of financial reforms and the governance environment, I am pained to note that, trying as much as we could within our first term, the challenge of gratuity payment has defied our best intentions and efforts. It is for this reason that despite settling over N4 billion without accumulating new ones, we still have about N23 billion outstanding, inherited from previous administrations in the state.
The enactment of the State Contributory Pension Scheme by this Administration was in furtherance of its genuine desire to ensure that the intractable problem of payment of gratuities does not outlive this Administration. By the grace of God, we shall prevail.
MASSIVE INFRASTRUCTURAL DEVELOPMENT.
Notwithstanding the financial constraints we encountered, we constructed over 1,000 kilometers of urban and rural roads, connecting major commercial areas with markets and providing access to basic social services. Our urban renewal efforts not only eased transportation bottlenecks but also drastically reduced the heavy incidence of accidents that had hitherto overwhelmed the medical facilities with mindboggling orthopaedic cases.
Our aggressive infrastructure remediation interventions have also recorded big wins in the provision of water supply which has been a major problem in both the urban and rural areas of the state. I am happy to report the following huge gains in this area.
- Completion of the rehabilitation of the Upgraded Bauchi Urban Water Supply Scheme under the Third National Urban Water Sector Reform Project (NUWSRP) which commenced in 2015 with Bauchi State as one of the selected beneficiary states. The Project which was in limbo before we took over was meant to resolve the water supply challenge of Bauchi metropolis from now to the year 2027 and beyond. At its full capacity utilization, it will provide the water demand of over one million inhabitants of Bauchi metropolis. Determined to solve the water challenge of Bauchi metropolis and fired by a political will that defied all odds, including the COVID-19 shut down, the Administration paid its counterpart funding, a situation that earned us the full support of the World Bank towards completing the project.
- Construction of a dedicated power line from Azare to the waterworks that serves both Azare and Jama’are towns. The project, which is ongoing and to be completed soon, will ensure quality power supply from the national grid which in turn will enhance the supply of water.
- Completion of the rehabilitation and expansion of the Alkaleri Water Supply Scheme and
- Completion of the rehabilitation and expansion of the Bogoro Water Supply Scheme.
- Rehabilitation of earth dams and irrigation schemes to support agricultural and potable water needs of the area and
- Other water supply projects include the provision of over 10,000 motorized, solar and hand-powered boreholes in many communities of the state, as per the implementation of the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) Programme.
Any account of our infrastructure success will be incomplete without mentioning the construction of 1, 800 units of two and three-bedroom houses across the major urban areas of the state, which include Bauchi, Azare, Misau, Jama’are, Ningi and Dass. These are designed to bridge the huge housing gap confronting our civil servants and other low-income earners, and which had deprived them of the required dividends of democracy and improvements in quality of life.
I am also delighted to note that significant progress has been made in the construction of our new Multi-purpose Government House Complex. Perhaps I should re-emphasize the point that when completed, not only will the complex house the official residence and offices of the Governor and some other Government House personnel, but it will also deepen the Government’s urban renewal vision.
I am happy to note that these investments in infrastructure and services have created a huge multiplier effect across the state by providing the required micro economic impetus for sustainable development, especially its positive effect on our GDP and socio-economic stability. By initiating these interventions, the Government continues to stimulate economic growth through jobs creation, poverty reduction, increase in commercial activities as well as support for SMEs in the formal and informal sector.
We were able to achieve this because we made equity, justice, inclusion and service delivery the cornerstones of our public policy. Those developmental footprints were possible because of the policy framework that made the local governments the pivot of government’s intervention activities and that accorded traditional and religious institutions their dues.
The construction of palaces, building of Police posts, procurement of equipment for the security agencies, establishment of a vibrant vigilantes (hunters, law enforcement agencies and community volunteers) and similar expenditure formed critical components of our security strategy aimed at deepening governance and community engagement and ensuring that Bauchi State has remained the most peaceful state in the North East zone.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, with all humility, to the glory of God, it was in recognition of these developments in infrastructure and services, that the Federal Government conferred on us the Presidential Award of the best state in the federation in Rural Infrastructural Development.
Through innovative financial management, from a paltry Three Hundred Million Naira per month, our administration has raised the monthly IGR to One Billion Naira and above monthly. Besides, by domesticating the national procurement policy and the adoption of global best practices in procurement, the Administration laid the foundation for a transparent economic environment. In recognition of our prudent financial management, only last week, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) bestowed an award on the state for good financial management and transparency.
Another significant policy thrust of our administration is the freeing of resources and plugging of leakages to facilitate our ambitious development agenda of building a new Bauchi State. Though the government is yet to hit its IGR target, it is important to state that the various tax codes and policies we inherited have been improved and modernized, using modern techniques, strategies and technologies, leading to improved internally generated revenue. The combination of the innovative strategies employed by the BIRS and more importantly because, unlike before, tax payers (individual and corporate) can now see a connection between what they pay, and the dividends of democracy are responsible for the improved IGR situation of the state.
We have recorded some encouraging successes in addressing youth empowerment. During the period under review, thousands of youth were exposed to skills acquisition in trades such as carpentry and furniture manufacturing, SME, agriculture, tailoring and clothes weaving, hairdressing, fisheries, animal husbandry, and many other skills. Similarly, the Administration procured and distributed 1000 tricycles and 350 mini buses, on an interest-free basis, for intra-city and intercity transportation. This has impacted positively on the lives of their owners with substantial trickledown effect on the transportation value chain where you have mechanics, auto-electricians, vulcanizers and spare parts dealers.
It is instructive to note that over 80 percent of the beneficiaries of the transport empowerment have repaid the loan. It has now become a revolving fund and we are encouraged to continue.
As would be expected, engaging our teeming youth population productively has had the concomitant benefit of taking some of them off crime and criminality. With the problem of rural-urban migration at the back of our mind, we created the Kaura Economic Empowerment Programme (KEEP), through which government was able to touch the lives of thousands of youths and women in all the twenty local government areas of the state.
In recognition of the place of agriculture as the main employer of the majority of our people, upon assumption of office, we quickly articulated a comprehensive agricultural development plan with the value proposition of using our land asset to unlock the state’s industrial potentials. Progress has been encouraging. Actions taken so far include:
- Training of 2000 youths in modern farming techniques
- Ensuring that farmers timely access fertilizer at affordable prices
- Blending our own fertilizer to guarantee efficiency, affordability and employment.
- Allocation of land to commercial farmers including civil servants, to key into the value chain.
- Creation of a buffer stock to avoid waste and secure competitive prices for farmers and other agric stakeholders.
We are encouraged by the interest shown by manufacturing companies across the world who are eager to benefit from our value proposition in the agric sector. A concrete demonstration of this is the establishment of the N5 billion Tiamin Rice Project with a value chain that includes large scale rice cultivation and with a capacity to process about five tonnes of rice annually. The project, which has already taken off, promises to create over 10, 000 direct and indirect jobs when fully operational.
REVIVING THE EDUCATIONAL SECTOR
With electioneering campaigns over, I believe that we can all be on the same page to acknowledge that, after four years, we have recorded remarkable improvement in the education sector. Education infrastructure, training of teachers, prompt payment of education counterpart funding and accessing funding and payment of examination fees for students have not only been placed on the front burner of administrative action, but also attracted tremendous support from donors, the Federal Government and other development partners. No wonder Bauchi State has consistently recorded improved performance in West African Examination Council (WAEC) and National Examinations Council (NECO) between 2019 and 2022.
It is gratifying to note that our reform measures in education is hitting the right target. As WAEC records show, Bauchi State recorded a remarkable increase in percentage of candidates with five credits and above from 37.4 percent in 2019 when we took the mantle of leadership, to 65.5 percent and 68 percent in 2020 and 2021 respectively.
It would have been surprising if the outcome had been different, taking into consideration the planning, intellectual input and resources invested into rescuing education from the doldrums where it was by 2019. First was the redemption of the state’s counterpart funding to the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), which made it possible for the Government to access over N9 billion locked up in the agency for three years prior to our assumption of office. With the funds in our kitty, we were able to follow up with massive injection of funds for the provision of over 5, 000 new classrooms, school furniture for both teachers and pupils, construction of boreholes and toilets in the schools and settlement of the outstanding examination fees owed to the WAEC and NECO. We have equally defrayed backlog of scholarship to the students and reviewed the amount upward in recognition of rising inflation, so as to encourage the students in their pursuit of higher education.
Another major breakthrough was recorded with the introduction of biometrics in the school management system, which drastically reduced absenteeism and lateness among pupils and teachers alike, thereby restoring discipline to the school system.
As a result of our commitment to tackling the scourge of out-of-school children, we are able to qualify and access the technical and financial support of the World Bank through the Better Education Service Delivery for All (BESDA), which has assisted us in reducing the number of the out- of-school children from 1.7M in 2018 to the current 1.4M. With the help of the community leaders and traditional leaders, we will continue to work towards improving enrolment, retention and completion in our schools. It cannot be overemphasized that this is a collective effort that requires all hands on deck as we strive to lay a solid foundation for the future.
Guided by the dictum that health is wealth and prompted by the deplorable state of the healthcare delivery system it inherited, our Administration hit the ground running from Day One by declaring an emergency in the health sector. To address the situation, the Government prioritized the following areas:
- Rehabilitating existing healthcare infrastructure
- Rehabilitating and re-equipping the health institutions, particularly one general hospital in each district headquarters across the 20 LGAs of the state.
- Siting of one functional PHC in each of the 323 wards in the state.
- Rehabilitating health institutions to produce critically needed medical personnel and for capacity building.
- Restoring the confidence of development partners some of whom had developed cold feet in dealing with the state due to institutional lethargy, and lack of payment of counterpart funding.
- To plug the gap in human capital in the health sector, we employed 100 Doctors, 1,200 Nurses as well as resumption of the pre-service scheme, where students studying medical courses are included in the state payroll.
- At the end of World Bank supported Nigeria State Health Investment Project (NSHIP), which assisted us in rebuilding our Primary Health Care Centres, we have now qualified for another World Bank Supported Project called “Immunization Plus and Malaria Progress by Accelerating Coverage and Transforming Services Project,” (IMPACT). The State has already paid the counterpart funding, which will assist us further in continuing to enhance the services provided by our health care facilities
- Partnering with the Federal Government to ensure that Bauchi State leveraged every healthcare entitlement for the benefit of the people.
In recognition of our modest efforts in the health sector, we were recently honoured by the UNICEF as the second best in improving primary health facilities and services in the North East, which attracted the grant of $400,000.
DEBILITATING ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT
My dear compatriots, achieving the modest successes noted above has happened despite serious debilitating factors top on the list being the acute shortage of funds. To close the financing gap for our ambitious infrastructure projects, the state has been compelled to take short term commercial loans whose tenor and cost are not recommended under normal circumstances. Sadly, these are not normal times. Inflation at 22.5%, plummeting naira value, high cost of PMS due to inadequate supply and frequent power outages have taken a huge toll on government finances. The consolation is that our Government has an impressive debt servicing record that not only guarantees creditworthiness but that, by the grace of God, we will maintain a reasonably good debt sustainability ratio.
THE WAY FORWARD
As the sages say, experience is the best teacher. We have gathered so much on the road that we can claim, with all modesty, that we have enough to draw from to launch the next phase of our developmental agenda. However, conscious that no one has a monopoly of wisdom, just as we did prior to taking office in 2019, the strategy of our government for going forward is being distilled from both our experience and the report of two expert committees that I commissioned recently.
Our primary focus remains peace and security and the welfare of our people and everybody living in Bauchi State. In sectoral terms, we shall not only prioritize education and agriculture as critical areas with inestimable value chains that will impact on all our plans, but I also hereby declare an emergency in these two sectors. They will rank only with staff salaries and security as first line charges critical to the survival and future progress of the state.
The state of emergency in education is geared towards achieving the following outcomes:
- To decisively establish modalities for depoliticizing, redressing and facilitating the state’s exit from the out-of-school syndrome that has gripped the country, particularly the state, for a long time.
- To redesign and infuse into the school curricula, new strategies to benchmark positive mindset changes that would inculcate in our children, sentiments of patriotism, courage and a ‘Bauchi First’ consciousness.
- To establish a sustainable template for the rapid production of people with marketable digital skills that will not only equip them for self-employment but to consciously prepare them for the growing global digital market.
- To produce highly skilled hands for the oil and gas industry as well as the other spin offs of our imminent investment revolution.
- To transform Bauchi State into a veritable destination for education tourism given the existing number of tertiary institutions in the state.
- To devise a capacity building programme for stakeholders in the educational value chain, particularly teachers and administrators, with a view to achieving the above stated objectives.
- To articulate the funding implications of this grand programme by leveraging on the World Bank AGILE project to renovate all our secondary schools to make them conducive for learning and sustainable educational development that will create excellent transition from Secondary to Tertiary level.
- To identify other development partners for the purpose of ensuring global best practices and conferring international recognition on the educational programmes of the state.
- To create a competitive scholarship scheme in specialized areas to deserving candidates to study locally and internationally with a view to creating the necessary human capital for development.
- To establish clear and achievable timelines for each of the activities listed above.
My dear compatriots, history shows that no nation or people has been able to transform their societies without vigorous practical educational reforms. The long-term benefits are usually enormous. But it also calls for short term sacrifices and pains by all stakeholder groups. I look forward to robustly engaging the development partners and other stakeholders in this journey to transform Bauchi’s educational system into a world class engine of growth and development and the happiness of our people.
In furtherance of this, we shall create the EDUCATION EMERGENCY ENGINE ROOM (3E 4 Education) that would constitute the situation-room for driving the revolution in our education sector. Membership of the engine-room will be drawn from various sectors, to confer multidisciplinary expertise on the body.
AGRICULTURE: OUR LAND, OUR DESTINY
To be sure, modest successes were recorded in the agric sector in the first term of this Administration. However, preoccupation with its huge infrastructure goals entailed that the Government was limited in its ability to allocate enough resources to other critical areas or goals. One of such goals was the dream of unlocking the state’s vast agric value chain and harnessing its land resources for the envisioned revenue and industrial transformation. The Bauchi agric value chain is vast and promising: large expanse of arable land, diverse economic crops and trees as well as opportunities for animal husbandry and food processing. Add to this, the fact that Bauchi has also achieved certification as a food export processing zone. In view of these positive factors, I make bold to say that this time around, unbundling Bauchi as a catalyst for agro-business, employment creation, revenue generation and food security is not just urgent but a survival imperative that makes it mandatory for the Government and all stakeholders to kick-start action without delay. I dare say that being another critical area, the Government has decided to declare a three-year state of emergency under the name Our Land, Our Destiny (OLOD), in agriculture starting from the next farming season. Just as in education, we shall create the “Our Land, Our Destiny Committee that would establish the template for revolutionizing the agric value chain within three years. We are also going to leverage on the World Bank Supported Agro-Climatic Resilience in Semi-Arid Landscapes (ACReSAL) to increase the implementation of sustainable landscape management practices in targeted watershed in Bauchi State and strengthen Bauchi’s long-term enabling environment for integrated climate-resilient landscape management. Bauchi is the first State in Nigeria to launch the project and we have already paid our counterpart funding and established a functional project implementation unit (PIU).
To this end, we shall embark on allocation of land to young farmers across the three senatorial zones of the state, establish extension services to interact with and provide technical support to farmers and intensify the construction of buffer stock facilities in various parts of the state and encourage the formation of co-operatives to give farmers better bargaining power .
To the glory of Allah (SWT), Bauchi has been relatively safe and secure, even in the face of what can be called the Nigerian security pandemic. Though we will not gloat over it because we want everywhere in Nigeria to be safe, it is imperative to point out that achieving the reputation of the safest state in the North-East did not come by accident. It is the product of seamless and rigorous collaboration between the Bauchi State Government (including the state vigilante) and our patriotic and selfless security agencies. Despite some man-induced security breaches, we are satisfied that insecurity is not as pervasive as it is in some states.
Going forward, we have decided to put into action the already established Bauchi State Vigilante & Youth Empowerment Agency that is modelled after Amotekun in the South West. This security agency will stabilize the substantially effective security infrastructure already existing at the local government level. It is expected that about 20,000 youth will be recruited under the first phase of the programme. It is important to state that the vigilante has been very effective in checkmating the activities of those who infiltrate our rural areas with the sole intent of displacing the indigenes.
To such people, let the word go forth from here that while we will always welcome visitors on genuine legitimate missions, we will never allow our land to be taken over by bandits coming from some other states. To put it starkly, what we have achieved we will maintain at all costs.
Therefore, I want to assure our traditional rulers, religious and community leaders that they will continue to play their God-given roles as our ‘first line of defense’ as we strive to checkmate the marauders including those involved in illegal logging, sale of charcoal and destruction our traditional forests. These heinous activities must stop. To this end, I enjoin our highly revered traditional rulers to take this as a sacred duty because to whom much has been given much is expected. With all due respect, we can no longer tolerate the nefarious activities of these people. Therefore, going forward, traditional rulers will be held responsible for such mindless plundering of the state’s resources under their watch.
Still on security, and in recognition of Bauchi’s vast land boundaries with seven states, we also intend to promote the establishment of the highly successful ‘inter-state’ security model that I initiated when I was minister of the Federal capital territory (FCT). That collaborative arrangement involved the FCT and all the states bordering the capital city namely: Nasarawa, Kaduna, Niger and Kogi States. In the context of Bauchi, such an arrangement will include Kano and Jigawa to the North, Taraba and Plateau to the South, Gombe and Yobe to the East and Kaduna to the West. That is why the state is pursuing partnership with the Chinese in deploying modern technology for surveillance and tracking to boost our security architecture. The Chinese Ambassador and his officials have visited Bauchi to express their strong commitment in collaborating with the State to achieve this objective.
TRADE, COMMERCE AND INVESTMENT
To appreciate the importance of trade, commerce and investment, one only needs to understudy Dubai. Through creative leadership and out of the box thinking, the leaders have turned the Emirate into such a strategic financial and commercial hub, a real estate spectacle and a tourism wonder that hardly would a day pass without a notable global organisation or some celebrity touching base with the Emirate. That is the power of focus and vision. And we intend to tap into that vision as Bauchi has several factors now going for it as an investment destination.
- Our impressive ranking 4th (2021) and 6th (2022) on the ease of doing business index makes Bauchi a veritable investment destination.
- Our massive infrastructure initiatives and projects that earned the state the FG award as first in rural infrastructure development.
- Government’s people empowerment and skills acquisition programmes that has not only raised their purchasing power but equipped them for work.
- Natural endowment with the raw materials for the extractive industry: Vast arable land and huge agriculture value chain, oil and gas, solid minerals and incomparable tourism potentials.
- Easy access to the State capital through the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International Airport which is only 35 minutes flight time from the Federal capital territory of Abuja. Government is presently talking with some airlines towards establishing regular flights in and out of the state capital on a daily basis.
- Reputation as the safest state in the North East if not the entire northern Nigeria guarantees safety of lives and investments.
- Huge market: Strategic location as a hub surrounded by seven states and with a population of over ten million, investors can tap into the huge market existing in the state and its surroundings.
- The International Conference Centre component of the ongoing new Bauchi Government House Complex is designed to provide the North East hub for conferences and convention by governments, corporate bodies and other interests. Our vision is to position Bauchi as the Convention Capital of the North East.
- Planned replication of the Azare Modern Market model in the major cities of the state, as well as creation of farmers markets and supermarkets in strategic places in our towns.
- To leverage on our oil and gas sector to create economic and investment opportunities across the huge value chain with a view to achieving our goal of industrialization, revive our moribund industries and creating new ones in partnership with the private sector.
FEDERAL ROADS AND BAUCHI DEVELOPMENT
Though we have received wide commendation for our achievements in infrastructure particularly roads, the deplorable state of Federal Roads leading into and out of Bauchi constitutes a big threat to the vision of positioning Bauchi State as the business hub of the North East. The worst hits are the Bauchi-Gombe, Bauchi-Babaldu, Babaldu-Kari, and Bauchi-Jos-Akwanga roads. That there is no reliable land corridor to Abuja, the seat of the Federal Government, is frustrating. It was in response to that frustration that we undertook the reconstruction and dualization of the Airport to Bauchi metropolis Road to guarantee the safety of indigenes and visitors alike and to reduce the sufferings of our people who are the ultimate users of the road. It is for this reason that we will continue to collaborate with the new administration of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR and my colleagues, the Governors of neighbouring states, to ensure good roads in and out of Bauchi. We will also lobby to get reimbursement for the federal roads that we have built so that we can reinvest the funds in other priority areas.
PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP & PRIVATISATION
In line with global best practices, we plan to adopt the PPP model to attract both local and foreign investors, which has worked very well in many places if we are to optimize the potentials of the huge value chain we plan to unbundle, in the extractive sectors of the economy, commerce and industries, tourism and hospitality, health and education.
Let me use this opportunity to clarify that the government has not sold any public asset. However, given the abysmal failure of government to revive its moribund industries over the years, commonsense dictates that we adopt creative ways of reviving them through PPP, commercialization and privatisation. Implementation of this plan will follow industry best practices that guard against handing government assets to incompetent briefcase carrying speculators; only reputable and capable investors, not brief case clutching opportunists will be considered.
It is very important to point out that our human capital remains the bedrock of the Administration’s effort at creating a new narrative in governance. It also goes without saying that consolidating on our ambitious developmental agenda will demand of them higher levels of initiatives, commitment and personal sacrifice. What this means is that in addition to sustaining the regular payment of salaries, pensions and wages as at when due, Government will expose a critical mass of civil servants to targeted human capital development programmes in line with global best practices. More fundamentally, though we have done some strategic hiring to fill yawning vacancies in some strategic sectors recently, the Government recognizes the huge burden placed on the existing work force. In order to ensure that the MDAs are appropriately and adequately staffed, and that employment opportunities are opened for qualified youth of the state and ultimately recalibrating the civil service for efficient service delivery and sustainable growth, I am delighted to announce that the embargo on employment is hereby lifted.
SALARIES, PENSIONS AND GRATUITIES
It is with deep sense of satisfaction that I want to categorically say that since the inception of this administration we have been paying monthly salaries and pensions without default.
I want to reiterate my earlier assurance that as a civil servant, I will spare no effort to ensure that our labour has integrity, and the welfare of our civil servants will remain top priority at all times.
On concerns over gratuities, I wish to reassure the workers that the Government will fast-track ongoing effort to create the required synergy between the PENCOM and the recently established Bauchi State Contributory Pension Scheme to defray the backlog and guarantee regular payment of gratuities. I wish to reiterate my earlier assurance that it is a moral obligation on the part of the Government to guarantee the payment pensions and gratuities. To that extent, no effort, I repeat, no effort will be spared to guarantee the economic rights of senior citizens and the welfare of their families.
As I indicated earlier, the paucity of funds has compelled the Administration to go for short term commercial loans to fund its development plans particularly capital projects such as roads, water and other social infrastructure. However, we are not allowing the modest successes that we have recorded to blind us to the pitfalls inherent in unguarded exposure to short term commercial loans. Therefore, we are eager to exit the practice and adopt more friendly approaches in project financing. In this regard, the Government is left with one or a combination of four options:
- To adopt aggressive and effective strategies for increasing internally generated revenue (IGR)
- To key into the Federal Government’s lending plan which will enable the state to access huge funds at single digit interest rate.
- To float a state bond that guarantees access to reasonable funds with long term gestation and minimal monthly repayments.
- To explore the possibility of attracting huge support from donor and multilateral agencies and other development partners without mortgaging the future of the state.
ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Our Administration will strive to ensure that the Judiciary is accorded its rightful place as the third arm of Government as we work towards its autonomy, improving the working conditions and the welfare of judicial officials, and accelerating the dispensation of justice in order to drastically reduce the unacceptably long awaiting trial time.
WOMEN, CHILDREN AND VULNERABLE GROUPS
These four years have provided for me greater insight into the ecosystem of our hardworking women whose unquantifiable contributions to the society and their sufferings are not always adequately appreciated. This recognition places on us, the Government and people of Bauchi State, the sacred duty to adopt strategies that would eliminate obstacles to their work, welfare and happiness. Similarly, we have a moral duty to give priority to the welfare of other vulnerable groups such as people with special needs as well as the Almajiri children who experience untold hardship in the society. One way of achieving this, is the effort we made to domesticate the Child Rights Act and other legislations that enhance the rights and wellbeing of vulnerable persons and groups. In the case of the Almajiri, in collaboration with UNICEF and other development partners that are already doing a great job in the area of supporting vulnerable groups, our Government would work with the traditional and religious institutions to ensure that the system is refined to conform to universal standards.
Apart from satisfying extant regulatory requirements, the government’s digitization of the state-owned television and radio stations has stimulated an effective flow of information between the government and the people. On account of that, we shall continue to invest in digitization of the state-owned television and radio stations as well as the expansion of community radios across the 20 LGAs.
ELITE AND STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT
My dear compatriots, with the election over, we must now prioritize governance over politics, the collective over the personal, principle over ego, consensus over conflict and turn challenges into opportunities. No matter where we stand, we can and should never disagree on one point: the primacy of Bauchi over each and every one of us. That is the bond that holds us together.
At this stage, I must re-emphasize that without a critical mass of the elite agreeing to set aside their differences and deliberately pull their intellectual, material and social capital together, achieving the Bauchi of our dream will remain a mirage. Therefore, with all humility, I am calling on all and sundry who mean well and who, like me, have benefitted from our dear state, to put aside our differences, place our agenda on the table and work together with the present Administration to advance the interests of the state. Together, we can succeed.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
Let me reiterate the fact that Bauchi State has no reason to be poor.
I want to assure you that by the grace of God, the Mandate you have renewed will be deployed to position Bauchi State WHERE it ought to be, a position that, if I may repeat, is characterized by good governance anchored on transparency and accountability, an inclusion and diversity management policy, founded on the principles of equity, justice and fairness, prudent management of resources, peace and security, all leading to shared prosperity for all.
Finally, I consider the above deliverables, as minimum milestones that I shall, for the next four years, commit my every energy, faculty and fibre to achieving, not because I want to be remembered by them, but because you deserve no less for entrusting in me, the son of a humble District Head from the backwaters of Duguri, with your present hopes and aspirations and above all, the future of generations to come.
When all is said and done, that is my only way of thanking Almighty Allah for his Beneficence, Mercy and Compassion.
So, help me God.
God bless Bauchi State!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.