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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Bago already proving his mettle

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By Awaal Gata

There is this popular saying in Hausa that “Juma’a da zata yi kya’u tun daga Laraba hake ganewa”. A maxim recently rendered by Forbes succinctly translates it: “Who you are now is who you will be in the future.” This encapsulates the situation in Niger State at the moment. The man who will become the Governor of Niger State from May 29, 2023, Rt. Hon. Mohammed Umar Bago is already boldly evincing that his reign will herald the socio-economic revolution perennially being sought by the state.

Using the Bago Foundation, which he founded in 2010 to help people in need, Bago has already hit the ground running, since he was issued his Certificate of Return as the winner of the March 18 gubernatorial election in Niger State and since the committees for transition and inauguration were composed.

First is in the realm of education, given the axiomatic fact that education is the foundation of any development that will sprout in society. To this end, an essay competition has been launched and its results are slated to be announced on May 27 in commemoration of Children’s Day. The competition is tailored to bring back the lustres and respites with which the day was known in the yore.

The competition is for students in secondary schools in the state. The theme is: “The Niger State I Want”. The theme is a pointer that the people will be a veritable constituent of the government of the veteran lawmaker when it comes to decision-making. Consideration of the opinions of the people in governance cannot be overemphasized because they are the ones who know what ails them.

Secondly, Bago is already demonstrating that he is a staunch proponent of the commonsensical belief that development doesn’t take place amidst insecurity. Since the development of Niger State was what utterly spawned his interest to lead the state, he has promptly hatched a strategy that will herald sustainable peace in the state. For example, in Minna, the capital of the state, youth restiveness has been ubiquitous in recent years. To curb it, he has initiated a community violence reduction strategy which is modeled after the United Nations Integrated Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR). DDR directly contributes to the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16.1. SDG 16.1 enjoins, among other things, the stoppage of drug abuse and the exploitation of young people. The former is believed to be the main fuel of the restiveness.

As part of the activities billed to prosecute the strategy, sensitisation sessions have been going on on the radio stations in the state. One of the sessions was aired on 91.3 Stereo F.M., Minna. It featured the sextet of Maurice Magaji Esq., Coordinator, Bago Economic Think-tank; Apostle Solomon K. Favour, Niger State Director, Politics and Governance for Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria; Galadima A. Bala Katcha, a Senior Lecture at IBB University, Lapai; Alhaji Umar M.K. Garba, Secretary, Minna Central Mosque; and Dantani Mohammed Salau, Chairman, Minna Metro Command of the Police Community Relations Committee (PCRC).

During the session, they pathologised the problem, the best ways of tackling it, and the preventive approaches that should be adopted.

To Salau, the problem is being caused by effete laws which government has to promptly strengthen. Salau further opined that both the parents and the government are complicit in the ways they train children, adding that policies that would prioritize their education and the acquisition of lifelong saleable skills must be formulated.

In the same vein, Katcha attributed the problem to idleness, citing the popular saying: “An idle mind is a devil’s workshop”.

According to the scholar, many of the youth are jobless and nothing is being done about it. Therefore, they embrace thuggery to eke out a living. He said the government has to begin to holistically put in place the necessary tools and environment that will make them well-educated, inventive, and innovative.

On his part, Magaji attributed the problem to the erosion of family values and the implementation of government policies, assuring that the Bago’s administration will plug every antithetical gap.

Another radio programme came up on 9.7. Prestige F.M., Minna in furtherance of the advocacy against the menace of youth restivness, thuggery and drug abuse. I have been made to understand that the the advocacy programmes will continue on all radio stations in the state, alongside the airing of jingles.

Also, as part of the strategy, many repentant restive youths are being engaged to rein in and admonish the active ones that such a lifestyle is wasteful. A series of podcasts in which they are featured have been going on. There have also been podcasts featuring religious leaders. They are aimed at rendering religious insights to the issue.

However, since the strategy was hatched, no report has emerged about the perpetrators attacking people or embarking on looting sprees. It used to be a daily affair. This shows that the strategy has been effective.

Bago has also been having meetings with many international organisations and think-tanks on how they could contribute to the growth of the state and also shore up its indices of prosperity in the spheres of education, health, ICT, agriculture, and human capacity development. Because of his magnanimity, many international development partners are looking forward to partnering with him for the growth of the state when his administration finally comes on stream.

It is ecstatic that he has continued to demonstrate that his administration will extensively embrace ICT for being the new order of the world and for the deluge of opportunities its offers. It won’t be a surprise if Niger State becomes Nigeria’s hub of startups under Bago’s administration. Bago demonstrated his flair for ICT when he adroitly participated in a two-day Open Event organised by Lab Space Innovation Hub and Minna Startup Community. At the event, he related his fertile plans and vision to support startups and improve tech infrastructure in the state. Officials of the hub are anticipating partnerships.

Bago has equally started touring the state ostensibly to decipher the states of its infrastructure so that he could devise the best ways shoring them up. The tours are exemplifying that he isn’t going to be an armchair governor.

For example, he was at the ground breaking ceremony of the Tegina-Kontagora road funded by the Federal Government of Nigeria on Monday, May 15.

During the event, the governor-elect re-echoed his determination to herald a sustainable change in the said. He said: “I am delighted to reassure you of our commitment to prioritising the security and welfare of our people, delivering first-rate social amenities, revamping our infrastructure, expanding our revenue base through enhancing economic frontiers, and upholding accountability in repositioning Niger State. This five-point charter represents the very essence of our promise to construct a prosperous and functional system that meets the needs of every Nigerlite, young or old, male or female, and home or away”

On October 19, 2022, I did a widely circulated Op-ed that Bago is a disrupter of the status quo and also a pacesetter, given his history as a person and as a politician. I was right. I am still right. This is yet another disruption of the status quo. In Nigeria, elected officials wait for their inaugurations before they begin to exert themselves. The political scientist wouldn’t have that before he begins to exert himself ostensibly because of his ravenous hunger to transform his state.

I also opined in the op-ed that he is a model candidate, given the tones with which his campaign was run. The graduate of Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto, has once again shown that he is a setter of paces. Today, for and in our country, the ex-banker and alumnus of Cambridge University is a model Governor-elect, given the aforementioned pivotal achievements and more. Hinged on the Hausa popular saying, Bago is certainly going to be a model governor in Nigeria.

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