Things That Cannot Wait: A Memo To Umra Returnee
Mukhtar Muhammad Mk
Your Excellency, I join the good people of Bauchi state in welcoming you back, after your annual leave, where you observed a lesser hajj and preceded to Czech Republic for working visit amidst freezing weather. I believe the recess has afforded you opportunity to take stock on the journey so far, consult widely and be re-energized for the tasks ahead.
Your Excellency, you may not remember, but this is the third time I am writing a memo to you while returning from foreign trips. I do this because your paid advisers may have difficulty in giving you the clear account of what transpired while you were away. Often political advisers tell their principals what would consolidate their relationship! The First two were written during last year’s Umrah and Hajj respectively. I made the suggestions to you in my sincere belief that you were going to be receiving suggestions and ideas from compatriots who were desirous that you succeed. Thankfully, most of the issues I raised in my earlier memos have either been addressed or received positive response. This has testified the fact that my governor is receptive and has embolden me and other social commentators to commit their ink in making Bauchi state great again.
Now that you are back, you should quietly adopt a personal road map of what you will do and not do during this controversial, open-ended and booby trap-laced year, especially now that drums for the 2019 elections have been rolled out. It is in this misty atmosphere that you must navigate a way for yourself and Bauchi state because there are many things that cannot wait. Here are ten of them.
The first thing that cannot wait is the formation of new cabinet. I have no doubt that you will soon make the long wait a past story. The delay in forming cabinet months after Governor MA dessolved the erstwhile is likely to worry Bauchians who have been waiting to see what shape MA Abubakar’s new cabinet will take following the dissolution of the first cabinet on basis of poor performance. However, the delay more likely reflects the complex nature of forming a government in Nigerian states, where a governor has to include members from every local government. Adding to the complexity is the issue that the APC is a broad coalition containing many influential people that will want to see their efforts to unseat the PDP rewarded with prominent cabinet posts for their allies. Whatever may be the factors that led to the delay, the governor must juggle and shop for skilled technocrats and politicians with the requirement to repay political allies, while navigating the shifting alliances of internal party politics.
The second one is the appointment of the local governments care taker chairmen. Your Excellency, for democratic values to be nurtured, flourished and consolidated in Nigeria, attention should be paid to the leadership at the grassroots levels. Local governments as a third level of government are closest to the people. If federalism from the perception of mutual agreement by levels of government to share power of the state in formal constitutional or legalistic arrangements, then governments would have understood why they need to make the local governments run properly. Without respect for the powers of the local governments, the separateness, and independence that their operations entail, democracy will not make much progress.
The third is the completion of the ongoing projects. Your Excellency, as you know better than I do, there are many projects under execution most notably schools, roads and hospitals. Completion of these projects will undoubtedly put Bauchi to the greater level. While proposing new projects might usher new musings especially at this time when politicians started blowing whistle for 2019.
The fourth is about the condition of education in the state. This one is not about infrastructure, rather is about the welfare of teachers, recruitment of new ones, and providing them with modern instructional materials. Because a mental siege has been imposed on Nigerians by domestic newspapers making mockery of their individual intelligence by devoting much space to complaining about lack of furniture in public schools. A common newspaper story is “pupils learning under a tree,” which we think is a big scandal. When you think about it, pupils learning under a tree will still pick up something if the teacher is good and his welfare is properly maintained. It is better to have a good teacher without a good classroom than to have an air-conditioned classroom without a good teacher.
This one is about the unemployment bedevilling the youth of the state. When this government came in, it embarked on series of verification to scrutinize the civil service of the state and block leakages, which is a very good idea. But since then, the embargo imposed which prevented replacement of the ghost workers that where on the state’s voucher before. Your Excellency, thousands of youth have graduated in the last two years and have joined the list of job seekers. Although, the Federal government’s NPower program has eased the tension, there will be increase of jobless youth in wake of NPower.
The next one is recent movement by some crooks to bring your government down. It possible because they have connived with some people within the government who are leaking confidential information and documents for peanuts. Your Excellency, this issue should be urgently investigated and those involved should face the wrath of their actions.
This one is about the unpaid gratuities, leave grants and the promotion of the civil servants of the state. Your Excellency, we are not unaware of how you were trapped by the erstwhile PDP government. Leaving a debt of over 30 billion Naira despite the economic boom in their era. However, your speech in May last year during civil servants day has restored the hope of the state’s civil servants retirees that soon and very soon they will chant goodbye to recession.
The ninth thing that cannot wait is the issue of sycophants. This is the group of praise singers that put Bauchi state on an imaginary pedestal with their mellifluous words that flows seamlessly. Their words of praises remove every constraint and reservations in the eyes of the Bauchians, making the government break limits, shift barriers misplace priority and do things which didn’t match his intellectual capacity of the public office holders. Also, they act very fast in pointing out the enemies of the governor. Because of their need to protect and consolidate their positions before Governor MA Abubakar, They perceive anybody who tries to take his attention away from them as a foe. This issue should be addressed because many people who have the capacity to help the government to prosper are loosing interest in it due to the attitude of these sycophants.
The last thing that cannot wait is the empowerment of women and youth. Your Excellency, I am not unaware of the fact that even if the embargo is lifted, government doesn’t have enough resources to employ as little as 30 percent of youth seeking for job. Hence, skill acquisition centers should be established to train even those were not destined to attend formal school. And the graduates who are clamouring for juicy jobs should be motivated on how to become self relient without joining public service.
Mukhtar Muhammad Mk, Public Relations Officer of the National Association of Nigerian Students Writes from Sokoto.