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Governor Bago’s first year: Building Rome in a day

It was an unexpected gift from the core All Progressive Congress (APC) party structure of Niger State to Nigerlites on May 27, 2022, when the…

It was an unexpected gift from the core All Progressive Congress (APC) party structure of Niger State to Nigerlites on May 27, 2022, when the party voted massively for farmer Umar Muhammad Bago to fly the party’s flag in the 2023 gubernatorial election. It was a relief that saved the party from sinking in the troubled waters it was sailing on and gave hope that, through purposeful and strategic campaigning, we can still have decent political practices in Nigeria. As much as his emergence took the uninitiated by surprise, it was a well-deserved victory for a thoroughbred technocrat and deft politician.

Farmer Governor Umar Muhammad Bago is no stranger to taking on the establishment. He cut his political teeth in 2011 by facing the ruling party in the local government of the then-incumbent governor. For context, Dr Muazu Babangida Aliyu was at the peak of his political popularity in 2011 due to his ability to navigate administrative complexities, drive significant change, and his deep understanding of democratic values. Yet Farmer Governor Umar Muhammad Bago’s electrifying campaign gave the PDP a bloody nose. It is one of the best youth-based campaigns in the political history of Niger State. The momentum contributed significantly to the defeat of the PDP in 2015.

When the farmer governor mounted the saddle exactly a year ago, there was enormous pressure on him to live up to the expectations of Nigerlites across the board. Farmer Governor Umar Muhammad Bago took over a state that was in dire need of massive road rehabilitation. The farmers were in need of the government’s strategic intervention. Our schools, hospitals, and major services were all begging for urgent attention. Lest I forget, our party, the APC, also needed reorganisation.

But the farmer governor rose to the occasion. Armed with banking, legislative, and political experience, he commenced ambitious and daring moves never seen before in the history of public service in Niger State. He laid emphasis on urban renewal, agriculture, rural development, and improving the income of the state via tax reforms and human capital development through education and skills acquisition.

These bold and strategic moves have produced results that are difficult to ignore. His administration is constructing and dualising the 84km Minna-Bida road. This road is the lifeline and only state road between Abuja to Lagos or between North and Southern Nigeria. The 80km Rijau-Kontagora federal road is also under construction.

Rijau and its environs boast the best livestock anywhere in the country, and the road will open up the area for investment and export. The Borgu-Agwara road will bring an end to the neglect of the Agwara local government. Agwara is the only local government in Niger State without a tarred road leading to it. There is purposeful construction of 556km of roads across the state, with Minna, Bida, Kontagora, and Suleja being the major beneficiaries.

There is a strategic expansion of Bida through the construction of the Bida ring road. To improve the efficiency of government, the governor is building a new district called the 3-Arm Zone in Minna, the state capital, to house the executive, legislative, and judicial arms of government.

The farmer governor has upgraded and rehabilitated the Bola Tinubu International Airport in Minna to open up the state to investors. As it stands, Niger State pilgrims will be flying to Saudi Arabia from Minna for the first time in many years. Furthermore, the construction of Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University Teaching Hospital has reached an advanced stage.

Through the instrumentality of the farmer governor, the Niger State Revenue Board announced a 170 per cent growth in the amount generated in comparative terms between Q1 2023 and Q2 2024.

The farmer governor has purchased 5,000 tractors and other mechanised farming equipment to boost agricultural production in the state. The governor has left no one in doubt, including the federal government, of his seriousness and belief in the potential of agriculture to answer the unemployment conundrum. True to his conviction, the governor added the title “Farmer Governor” to his name.

The governor also acquired 30 CNG buses to ease commuting in a fuel-efficient manner

These are the uncommon feats the farmer governor has achieved in just one year despite the lean resources. Niger State is now a massive construction site and a big farmland cultivating tonnes of food to feed the nation. Indeed, Farmer Governor Umar Bago has built Rome in a day!

Needless to say, the atmosphere in the state has had a commensurate impact on his output. Every nook and cranny of the state and the country, from the president to the common man on the street, are commending his efforts, supporting him, and encouraging him to do more.

Also, it is significant to say that the farmer governor has placed the Niger State political class in a favourable position in national politics. He has also reorganised the APC at the state level and rendered the opposition PDP lifeless through his deft political moves.

The farmer governor’s leadership thus far is a departure from mercantile leadership to transformational and genuine leadership.

 

Abdul is the Gorozon Nupe and the Deputy Chairman of the House Committee on Finance in the 10th Assembly

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