HON. MUHAMMED ABDULLAHI IDRIS is the Bauchi State Commissioner for Information and Culture who serves as the supervisor of information dissemination and chief propagandist of the state government by virtue of the position. In this interview with 247ureports.com, he spoke on issues of importance to the development of the state and debunked several allegations of poor performance etc levied against the M.A Abubakar led administration.
Persistent verification exercise
Hon. Idris: The issue of verification is a policy of government to fish out cheats that have been steadily feeding on the lean purse of the state government through fraud. The M.A Abubakar administration has vowed to fish out those criminals that hitherto defied solutions. No responsible administration can fold its arms and continue to tolerate fraud in its system for fear of baseless accusation. Neither the governor nor any of his aides is interested in subjecting civil servants to the verification exercise but as a duty and a promise to the people, we have to remain focused and determined to doing the right thing. Mind you, we are agents of change from the old order and the governor is operating on the same page with President Muhammadu Buhari. Bauchi administration has zero tolerance for corrupt practices and other criminal activities. That forms the reason why the state governor introduced a handsome package to any whistle blower on ghost workers.
Number of ghost workers flushed out so far
Hon. Idris: Since the beginning of exercise, several ghost workers were identified and flushed out while the exercise is still on until the system is sanitized. Government is aware of the fact that there exists a cabal within the various ministries that must be disbanded before any tangible result can be achieved and we are on that assignment. For instance, in the ministry for health, the cabal has been disbanded and sanity is now restored in that ministry. Other ministries are doing the best to disband any cabal for the system to appreciate. In my ministry, we have disbanded the cabal but we are not resting.
Allegations of poor service delivery
Hon. Idris: The opponents of this administration are doing their uttermost best to redefine service delivery to suit their selfish interest. Mind you, Bauchi state is not in the outer space and all that has been achieved by this administration are there for any doubting Thomas. Ours is an administration that does not believe in unnecessary image laundering or making headlines of newspapers. We are very conscious of what we say and when to say for public consumption. We pay more attention attending to the needs of the people within our limited resources than engaging our opponents in unnecessary war of words. But for any person in doubt of what we have enumerated as achievements in two years, I invite such a person to visit the state with a neutral mind to verify our claims. Our detractors should put it at the back of their minds for posterity that Governor M.A Abubakar inherited a near collapsed state that was heavily bastardized and its resources mismanaged. The debt profile of the state was unbelievable the civil service was over bloated with ghost workers and unnecessary employments that encouraged redundancy. What the administration inherited was a very sad and pathetic situation. With caution and determination of the governor, the state is gradually regaining its lost glory and respect. Before the terminal end, I assure all those now scuttling our efforts to success through unnecessary opposition an improved state with good roads, a functional health delivery system, secured and industrialized state and a happy and thankful people.
Slow execution of contracts
Hon. Idris: As I stated earlier, the governor inherited virtually an empty treasury that has not been denied by his predecessor because he exited from government without paying three months salaries of workers and accumulated pension. Contractors were owed huge amount of money for contracts executed. So, when this administration came on board, it had to introduce several cost saving measures to meet the immediate needs of the people. The mode of payment of the few contracts it awarded in 2015 had to be negotiated to tally with availability of resources. Not that the execution of the contracts were planned to be slow, but the contracting firms are under strict supervision and monitoring unlike the practice of the past. Contractors have to use specified materials as indicated in the terms of contracts awarded. Therefore, in order to meet the terms of the contract agreements, the contractors import some of their materials with scarce foreign exchange and we all know the time duration of arrival and clearance of goods at the sea ports. But most of our awarded road projects are nearing completion while others in other sectors are almost completed. We want standard finishing to commensurate with cost implication not haphazard finishing just because we want to be praised.
Poor information dissemination
Hon. Idris: I may tend to agree with you that the activities of the state government are under reported by a cross section of the media for reasons we cannot understand. I have personally with the approval of the State Governor held several meetings with those concerned including the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Bauchi State Council for a way out. I think the situation is improving and we shall continue to partner with the NUJ and its affiliates for improved service.
What of your ministry?
Hon. Idris: My ministry is leading the crusade as expected and we are strategizing on how to confront the challenges most especially as we are approaching 2018. Mind you, we have to improve on what we inherited and clear the mess heaped on the ministry by past administration. The ministry was relegated to the back bench in the scheme of things by the past. Look at what we inherited in BRC, BATV and the Community Radio Stations. The various information centres across the state were converted to gossiping centres while the former practice of educating, entertaining and informing the rural people through rural cinema shows was not in existence. We actually inherited heap of problems that we are addressing with caution. We have no single functional outside broadcast vehicle, our state library is outdated, our public address systems are non-functional, we have no government press, the community radio stations need attention etc. But with hope from the State Governor, we are steadily clearing the mess for better service as the governor has approved the digitalization of BATV that will soon commence..
Feud with national and few state assembly members
Hon. Idris: It is no more a secret that majority of those national assembly members from our state and few state assembly members are at loggerheads with our administration. Although, the governor has made several efforts to normalize the situation for the interest of the state, those in disagreement with us have resisted all attempts including that of the national headquarters of our party, APC. The governor is not interested in joining issues with those national and state assembly members because of his God-given position as leader of the party in the state and the chief servant. But from what oozes out of the colony of those in blind opposition, they are not ready for truce. They have forgotten that the state belongs to all of us and for whatever reason the governor deserves support to succeed. Some of them are personalizing the issue for selfish interest while the Governor still considers them as his brothers and sisters operating on the same page to develop the state. He has no interest in the lingering feud and there is no need for it. The Governor has never attempted to stop any interested person from contesting the governorship position in 2019. Why then the fight? Any person that is interested in the 2019 contest is free to contest on the platform of any party including that of the ruling party. What then necessitates the mudslinging? Let them see reason and soft pedal in the interest of the state. The governor has severally extended his hands of friendship and brotherliness to all those opponents to join him and develop Bauchi state and he is still expecting a positive response. His administration has suffered series of sponsored blackmail and ridicule on the pages of newspapers and the electronic media but still, he loves to carry those in opposition along for a united, developed and peaceful Bauchi state.