By Saleh Ibrahim Bature*
I greet Your Excellency with the perfect Islamic salutation of As-Salamu Alaikum warahmatullah. I will begin this open letter by praying to Almighty Allah, the Supreme Lord of the world, He who has dominion over ALL things, the omnipotent and omnipresent God who gives power to whosoever he wills, to grant you good health, increase you in piety and give you the strength and wisdom to chart a new course for Bauchi state.
As you begin the business of governance after the usual euphoria of electoral victory, I humbly and respectfully wish to remind you about the promises you made to the people of Bauchi state during electioneering campaign. “A promise is meant to be kept or fulfilled and not at all to be broken.” Most politicians are enamored of the crowd, attracted by its sheer size and electrifying impact. As such, they get overwhelmed and make promises they hardly ever intended to fulfill.
You would recall a promise you made about accommodating the aggrieved All Progressives Congress, (APC) aspirants in Bauchi State. You promised justice and equal treatment by the PDP. The Daily Post quoted you in an October 17, 2018 post as saying: “I want to carry along not only APC aggrieved aspirants to my fold but all those who want the state rescued out of the current challenges it is facing under the APC led government”.
Barrister Muhammed Abdullahi Abubakar, your predecessor, had a large number of disillusioned party members, aggrieved workers and other individuals who have been irked by his hawkish nature and style of leadership. I fear you will repeat the mistake of Isa Yuguda in an attempt to please and pay back politicians. You should employ caution to avoid over bloating the work force and overstretching the meagre resources of the state by unnecessary appointment of political jobbers. An avalanche of appointment-seeking politicians across the state is making subtle and surreptitious moves to get close to you. I advise you to be wary of them.
As you rightly said, the people of Bauchi State collectively ousted the APC government from power because of lackluster performance, broken promises, maladministration, high handedness and fraudulent appropriation of funds entrusted to it. I hope you will take heed from your predecessors. Dr. Adamu Muazu has been in self exile since the time you humiliated him at the polls to become a Senator in 2007. In the same vein, Mallam Isa Yuguda, your erstwhile boss did not also make it to the Senate in 2015. He is pathetically tossed around by life today. Muhammed Abubakar, the man you displaced from Government House last month is fighting with all his resources and energy at his disposal to be appointed a minister. In the lives of these 3 former governors, there is a lesson for you to learn.
Your Excellency, by the grace of Allah, you are today the Executive Governor of Bauchi State. God almighty has answered your wish and prayer. The mammoth crowd at your swearing-in ceremony on May 29, 2019 at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium in Bauchi is unprecedented. Permit me, Sir, to remind you about the maxim that says: “to whom much is given, much is expected”. Thus, the people of Bauchi State have entrusted you with much, much more will, therefore, be expected of you from them. You told journalists that you “will turn around Bauchi State if given the opportunity in 2019 apparently to salvage our people from APC failed promises”. As the governor, the responsibility for providing good governance and protection of lives and property is squarely dependent on you. In the next four years, the time during which you will hold sway as the governor, people will judge you by the promises you made and kept. And it is on these promises they will gauge your performance. People will keep a watchful eye on your government. As a leader, you should not, therefore, expect sugarcoated opinions and flattery from the people you lead.
It is saddening that Your Excellency is taking over the mantle of leadership of one of the poorest States in Nigeria. You come at a time when Bauchi State leads the pack of out-of-school children and high maternal mortality rate in the country. The task ahead of you is herculean. You have the unenviable record of 1.2 million out of school children in your state. Political thuggery characterized by hack and stab (Sara suka) is a factor in the state. Bauchi State generates paltry internal revenue that can hardly complement the monthly federal subventions. There is high degree of poverty and illiteracy among the populace. There is dearth of infrastructure and the few existing ones in the state are decrepit. The debt profile you have inherited is disturbingly high. I do not know the magic wand or miracle you will use to bring succor to the people. I pray you will succeed. I also pray and hope that your vow to change the fortunes of Bauchi State will come to fruition sooner than later.
A banker as well as a journalist, Mallam Saleh Ibrahim Bature, the author, is the Zonal Director of North East Zonal Directorate of National Gallery of Art. He is reachable via firstname.lastname@example.org