‘On performance, Gov. Abubakar’s second term is Justifiable' - Al- Amin Aliyu

By Joel Uche Nwankpa on September 16, 2018

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Aliyu

Alhaji Al-Amin Aliyu, businessman and grassroots politician is the CEO of Rahama City Suite in Bauchi. In 2015, he worked for the election of Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar of the All Progressives Congress. In this interview with SOUNDBITE NEWS Intern Reporter, Joel Uche Nwankpa, he maintains that the governor’s excellent performance qualifies him for a second term in 2019 to complete his laudable agenda for the state. EXCERPTS:

 

Your governor has just returned his governorship nomination and expression of interest forms to the APC national secretariat in Abuja seeking a second term in office. Is this the overall wish of the people of Bauchi State?

Yes, this development is perhaps the most positive and meaningful in the ongoing development agenda of our state. Mind you, our people do not actually need much from their leaders other than sincerity and honesty of purpose. Before our very eyes, we have seen our governor and leader, His Excellency, Governor Mohammed Abdullahi Abubakar display these virtues since 2015 when we worked and ensured his election. And that is why today we have no regrets doing that. And that is why a Committee of Friends led by Alhaji Sa’id Dantsoho, in appreciation of the governor’s good performance contributed their resources to purchase both Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms for him to contest in the forth-coming governorship election in the State which we believe he will win again because, looking at the horizon, there is no better candidate, there is no viable rival, there is just none because our governor has something to bring to the table. His performance in all facets of life in the State has been very good and laudable. Our people have acknowledged his good performance and have expressed readiness to allow him continue with his good work because a saying in the Nigerian political lexicon says that a good term deserves another. Let me emphasize for the records that Alhaji Dantsoho presented the forms to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Alh. Nadada Umar saying that their decision to purchase the governorship forms was primarily based on what he aptly described as the tremendous successes recorded by the Governor M.A. Abubakar-led administration in all sectors especially Education, Health, Security, Agricultural Development, Youth Empowerment, Tourism, Women Development, Information and Public Enlightenment, etc in the State. Let me add that the good people of our state appreciate the peace they enjoy courtesy of the security and especially the industrial harmony in the state owing to the fact that no worker is owed a kobo. I hope you can see the point I’m trying to make. Come 2019, a second term for him has the overwhelming support and encouragement of our people.

... (cuts in) Thank you for mentioning emerging issues. You lost two senators and some lawmakers. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara has picked Peoples Democratic Party nomination form. Are these not sufficient a political deficit for your party come 2019?

Let me start with Yakubu Dogara’s case by saying we are not surprised at all. Besides, he no longer has any electoral value or consequence. We already knew he has been working for the PDP. Take for example the results of the recent Bauchi South Senatorial District bye-election. Dogara represents Bogoro/Dass/Tafawa Balewa Federal Constituency of the State. While our party won Dass and Tafawa Balewa, PDP took Bogoro LGA because of Dogara. Do you need rocket science to confirm that the Speaker has been secretly working for PDP? The most important thing is that APC won the senatorial bye-election without Dogara which puts a lie to their claim of electoral relevance. They have been peddling all kinds of lies to the Presidency and the party’s national secretariat in Abuja about the governor in spite of his active efforts to unify the party in the State. We are pleased with the emerging events in the State that have continued to vindicate our governor. Lies have short legs, they can’t run fast. These Abuja politicians are not with the people and so they have no electoral consequence whatsoever. The people are always behind the governor irrespective of all the lies and falsehood they have peddled against him in Abuja. Going forward, we love and appreciate the active efforts of the governor in unifying the party to enable it go into the 2019 elections as one solid house.

... (cuts in) Is this what probably prompted the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to assure your governor recently that he had no issues with him?  

God bless the people’s Comrade! Our National Chairman is perhaps one of the best things to happen at this crucial time in the history of our party. In no ambiguous terms, he told our governor who visited him recently in Abuja shortly after returning his forms to the national secretariat that he has no issues with him. He said he is only after the victory of the party in the country especially the presidential. He stated this to the hearing of members of the National and State Assemblies as well as members of the State’s Executive Council and top party chieftains who accompanied the governor to the National Chairman’s residence in Abuja. With the turn of political of events in the State, it is now clear to all and sundry who our National Chairman has issues with. Those working against the victory of the party are those with whom he has issues. If you are the friend of my enemy, you are definitely my enemy. End of story.

How popular is the resolution recently by the critical stakeholders to conduct the forth-coming primary elections by indirect method because there are pockets of disagreements reported in some other state chapters of your party?

For the avoidance of any doubt, in line with the directive of the National Executive Committee of the party to all state chapters to hold stakeholder meetings to decide between direct, indirect and consensus as the mode of electing candidates for the forth-coming general elections, the Bauchi State’s Executive was held on Wednesday, 5th September, 2018 at Zaranda Hotel. It was unanimously resolved at the meeting that the primaries will be by indirect method owing to the peculiarities of the State. No dissension whatsoever. Attendance at the meeting was very huge. Present were the Deputy Governor, Arc. Audu Sule Katagum, the Speaker of the Bauchi State House of Assembly (BAHA), Hon. Kawuwa Shehu Damina,  Senator-Elect, Bauchi South Senatorial District, Lawal Yahaya Gumau, Deputy Speaker, BAHA, Abdulmumini Fanti, serving and former National Assembly members, APC LGA exco, ward exco, caucus leaders and party members from the 20 LGAs too numerous to mention here due to space constraint. This is the position that was taken to the satisfaction of every member and stakeholder. This is to show how united the party is in our State.

Now, going beyond mere politics and talking about governance and performance, how do you rate the governor’s administration to justify the people’s optimism come 2019?  

Governor M.A. Abubakar reminds us of the golden era of Tatari Ali. This is the general view in the state right now. Gov. Abubakar is doing very well for Bauchi State. Check out the massive road construction and rehabilitation projects similar to Late Gov. Abubakar Tatari Ali’s dream of creating the right climate in the state to attract people from outside to develop the state with rapidity in all ramifications. Don’t forget that the present governor came at a time when the entire nation was walking the tight rope called recession. He met a state that was prostrate and an industrial crisis that was about to go into full blast. The rapid growth in population arising from increasing influx of migrants running away for safety into the State from communal clashes, kidnappers, Boko Haram and herdsmen/farmers clashes had necessitated a massive road expansion and dualization drive running into billions of naira. It is amazing. Imagine the 100 km road network from Misau to Udubo in Gamawa LGA and those under the urban renewal programme. In the state capital of Bauchi alone, extensive work has been done on existing roads, from Central Market Roundabout to Inkil Railway Level Crossing, form the same Roundabout to Awalah Roundabout. Because of the frequent fatal accidents that had occurred on some of the very busy roads, the government decided to dualize four major roads thereby extending the dualization to distances sufficiently away to prevent such accidents. This is how you know a government that works for the welfare and well being of the people. Today, residents of Ibrahim Bako and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Housing Estates where their roads came under the rehabilitation programme now have reasons to smile apart from the new Ring Road that serves as alternative to travellers and long articulated vehicles that want to avoid traffic hold-ups on that wing of the state capital. I can go on and on to talk about the several roads marked for construction and reconstruction across the entire state but inadequate space will not permit. Don’t forget that he has done these with very limited resources thereby achieving so much with so little. The upshot of all this is that the governor has continued to show great promise by laying a solid infrastructure for the overall growth and development of the state. This is what makes his second term actionable, defensible, justifiable and doable. It is only fair and proper that you allow a man who has achieved so much with so little to complete the good work.        

What is your assessment of some of the new commissioners appointed by the governor not too long ago?

It is strictly the governor’s prerogative to determine those to work with him to actualize his dream and vision for the state. Having said that, I believe the governor needed a new team to inject fresh focus, energy and vibrancy into the machinery of his government. Don’t forget that he also had to appoint a former SSG, Mohammed Nadada Umar as the SSG because of his excellent credentials. The changes have started yielding great dividend. Take for example, my friend and erudite scholar, Professor Haruna Danwanka in the Education portfolio. He is actualizing the governor’s vision for Bauchi State widely-acknowledged for its high literacy rate.  The ongoing excellent efforts in his ministry are note-worthy particularly in the way he is actualizing the vision of the governor in accelerating literacy as well as vigorously improving the State’s educational sector to compete with other leading states of the Federation. His counterpart in the Ministry of Agriculture, Alhaji Yakubu Kirfi has left none in doubt about his commitment to transform and mechanize our agricultural sector in line with the governor’s vision and thinking. We are proud of them indeed because they are bringing fresh essence to governance in the way and manner they are selflessly working for the good future of our people. In the Commerce sector, the state’s administration successfully gone very far on an Inland Container Depot for which a sum of N170 million was approved for the consultancy services. The project is aimed at creating a suitable and supportive enabling environment for business communities to operate and further develop the economic base of the people by fully exploiting the State’s vast and abundant potentials in mineral, mining and agriculture. To underscore the importance of the project to the economic blueprint of the administration, N55 million has so far been released to the contractor, Messrs Noble Gate Project Limited.  I have no doubt whatsoever about the competence, character and capacity of the team to drive the governor’s vision aimed at propelling our State to the next level. I commend the governor for this diligent discovery. The taste of the pudding is in the eating. The governor has demonstrated incredible vision and political will by tapping into the vast pool of human resources available in the state for the overall benefit of our people.  

How would you describe the Administration’s experience with political opponents? Recall that the governor was once accused of subjecting workers to endless verification exercises. How do you respond to this?

Thank you for this important question. We are not yet where we desire to be but certainly we have moved higher than where we were in 2015. To get to this point, our experience in the hands of opponents is a mixed bag. It has not been a bed of roses. The success story has had its own history of battles but the government has kept its eyes on the ball. I have just told you about the parlous situation the governor met in 2015. It is important that as we approach another crucial election, our people must be reminded of where we were before now. Sometime ago, some arm-chair commentators criticised the staff verification exercises conducted to fish out ghost workers in the state’s workforce. Ordinarily, you should expect a push-back from the cabal benefitting from the corruption. This is how corruption fights back. In a State like Bauchi with 20 LGAs now paying about N5 billion monthly to 105,000 workers as a result of the successful staff verification exercises, there is a lot to cheer about. Compare this to a state in the same North like Kano- the most populous in the country- with 44 LGAs paying N6.2 billion to 92,000 workers monthly. I need not say more here. Yet this government still believes it can reduce the wage bill. This is why the governor, his deputy and his cabinet members resorted to collecting their entitlements through a process called table payment.  More ghost workers were weeded out every month. Sure, our state is the better for it. This is how the verification exercises have helped the state. The cabal behind this ghost workers syndrome was very strong and rich so they started fighting back. Today, the state’s wage bill is N5.1 billion between the state and the local governments

There are States that still owe their workers even after President Muhammadu Buhari had intervened on about three or four occasions with the bail out and the refund of the Paris Club Debt? We learnt that the Federal Government wants to give the last tranche to States. What is the situation in Bauchi State?

Thank you very much for this important question. You would recall that this government came in at a time of global economic recession coupled with the attendant negative effect on statutory allocations. If any worker in the state is being owed in Bauchi State, you would have been hearing the labour agitating by now. No one is owed a kobo here as I have told you. You will agree with me that any state government that does not owe its workers deserves an award because this has been the greatest challenge for state governments. Even those that are paying half salaries deserve kudos in a situation where some states owe their workers for upwards of six months or more. No one in the state’s workforce is owed as salaries and backlog of arrears left by the immediate past administration have since been cleared by the governor. The labour appreciates this very much. Don’t forget also that the governor inherited a government with debt cumulative external and domestic debts to the tune of over N100 billion made up of domestic loans N48.743 billion; foreign loans of $87.572 million and contractual liabilities N41.556 billion as well as state government gratuity arrears of N7.741 billion, local government areas gratuity arrears of N6.924 billion and unpaid salary arrears of workers. In spite of paucity of resources, all these liabilities incurred are being serviced. By and large, the M.A. Administration has done very well in the circumstance. As we approach 2019 when first-term governors are now seeking a second mandate from their people, Governor Abubakar has no problem because he has performed very far above average.

 

 

 

 

Source Soundbite NEWS

Posted on September, 16 2018

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