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Abubakar Bello: Governance with the people

Towards actualising his primary avowal to do governance with – not for – the people of Niger State, the state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello recently…

Towards actualising his primary avowal to do governance with – not for – the people of Niger State, the state governor, Abubakar Sani Bello recently started a working tour of the 25 local governments in the state. A move tagged ‘Midway Performance Assessment/Feedback Tour’, which has seen him winning instant accolades across segments of the state, has so far taken him to six of the councils, including Wushishi, Mariga, Rafi, Magama, Rijau and Kontagora.

The governor is inded not one who dissipates resources on publicity stunts in the media-going on radio/television and investing heavily even in newspaper adverts to announce all manner of achievements – because, as he has said time and again, “My works will speak for me”.

From community/rural electrification projects, to urban/rural road construction and beautification, channelisation of waterways, renovation/construction of schools, equipping of hospitals, recruitment of health professionals and up-to-date payment of workers’ salaries and allowances, Governor Bello has delivered quite a sizeable chunk of his campaign pledges, and has remained unrelenting.

It is the desire to sustain the development strides of his administration that primarily impels his latest community visits, as he believes that meeting the people right within their communities remains the surest and best means to know where the shoe pinches them.

To him, sitting down with, and listening to them explain their worries at town-hall gatherings offers the rare but often overlooked means to making governance relevant and people-focused. The tour will, without a doubt, equally enable him to assess the impact of projects so far completed for the people and the need for adjustments or additions, where necessary.

According to him, it is not fashionable anymore for the state governor to sit down in Government House to know what gives the people headaches in the remotest parts of the state. Budget making and budgeting must necessarily involve gathering fresh and raw data about actual needs of the people and from the people themselves. Governance to him should not be reduced to mere armchair affair in which the governor relies solely on reports of lieutenants and requests from elected representatives of the various constituencies. On-the-spot assessment of facilities and situations of the people must facilitate the basis upon which government spending must be based and focused.

Governor Bello’s words: “I understand staying in the office will almost always deny me the chance to get first-hand information from the people on their plight. That is why we have decided to come out and meet with our people directly and frontally. We have decided to face rural development because often times they get abandoned by the government”.

However, while the governor is indeed aware that it is difficult for the state to meet up with demands of every community all at once, considering obvious paucity of funds, government cannot also afford to take its eyes off some needs that have to be met with urgency and despatch, given obvious needs of the people. The governor also cannot afford to make commitments that are not realisable in the short term, particularly because of the extreme seriousness he attaches to whatever promises he makes! To him, promises are not empty political pledges!

The governor visited Bangi in Mariga local government area where the biggest challenge of the people is water and he promised to address the problem. In Magama local government, in Nasko village, the governor pledged to commence water projects, not only for Nasko town but across other towns in the state, considering the general problem regarding water scarcity; he also promised to provide solar street lights, disclosing that Salka Central Primary School will be included in the next phase of ‘Whole School Renovation Scheme.

In Rijau local government, Governor Bello listened to the people, admitting that although he knew Kontagora-Rijau road was in a bad shape, they (the people) would need to exercise a little patience. He nevertheless approved the remodeling of Tungan Magajiya General Hospital in the town.

At the Emir’s palace in Kontagora, he reiterated his commitment to provided potable water for the people and dispelled the rumour of plans to close down the School of Nursing in Bida.  His words: “The state is in dire need of health workers, how can any sane person want to close down a health institution that has produced reputable health workers. Kontagora School of Nursing started long before me, we will build more across the state if we have the resources,” the governor disclosed.

He also made on the spot assessment tour of the ongoing “Whole School Renovation” of Muazu Ibrahim Commercial Secondary School, Kontagora, expressing dissatisfaction with the work in some part of Government Girls’ College (Unity) Kontagora and Government Secondary School, Rijau, directing affected contractors to redo the roofing to required standards.

So far, there have been gains from the visit. While some people have expressed joy for seeing and meeting the governor physically for the first time, many commended him openly for the enablement to contribute to how their lives are being run. However, while government cannot afford to be carried away by the ovation and fanfare which do greet such appearances, it is important to state that only key projects would be identified and pencilled down for immediate execution within the limited resources available, while other projects will be carried over into new budgets in the succeeding year(s).

This is hinting and emphasising the importance of budgeting and that projects to be executed have to be in the budget, except for such projects which can be accommodated as a matter of exigency.

I stated long ago at the commencement of the present  Abubakar Sani Bello administration that the governor’s frequent unscheduled visits to some key areas in the state and some government departments is a demonstration of pragmatic approach to governance. So far, I have not been failed for holding such view.





Ebbo is senior special assistant to the Niger State Governor on ICT.

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