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March 11th Gubernatorial Election: Bauchi State Not for Sale – By Sanusi Muhammad

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It’s on May 29, 2023, Bauchi State Governor, Sen. Bala Muhammed, must have exhausted his four-year mandate pursuant to Section (182)(1)(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), and set to transfer the baton of power if he absents himself from participating in the 2023 gubernatorial election to complete a second term as a right. Many wish it to be a scenario of jubilation of transfer of power from outgoing Governor Bala Muhammed who served with passion to incoming determined and experienced Sen. Bala Abdulkadir Muhammed of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

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Arguably, his present third-term score shows a sustained political momentum spiced with unquantifiable delivered service across the state.

In fact, it can be argued that Bauchi State has the most proficient administration from the era of Abubakar Tatari Ali, with Governor Bala who pigheadedly pulled down the monster called godfatherism that caused a friction between self-appointed fraud and tricksters referred to as godfathers branded as political juggernauts that trade on people’s right, loyalty, ignorance and privilege.

It was a tough and rough battle between him and the self-appointed, godfathers for the control of Bauchi State Government Affairs that he was mandated by the majority to handle.

They claimed to have supported him to victory at the time of need, but failed to state the quantum of claimed support as a proof. In all honesty, were they a disappointed group in search of political base for 2023 or was Bala Muhammed not bold and courageous enough to have even agreed to accommodate them in his campaign train for cover? Was he an orphan in the gubernatorial race or they were stranded politicians without a parking space having parted ways with their party and the serving Mayor of that time?

No doubt, by the 1999 Constitution, all candidates for the 2023 gubernatorial election may be prima facie qualified, having attained the mandatory age of 35 years as stipulated. However, looking at the interest of the state, many may not satisfactorily fit the bill. The interest of the state should override personal interests as Governor Bala Muhammed is pursuing with vigor and adjudged the Messiah of the State on a rescue mission that gives his detractors sleepless nights and night mares.

How to sustain the enviable strides recorded over the few years should be the utmost priority of the people not to allow themselves turned into guinea pigs for political laboratory tests of the greedy and their shylock associates pounding the landscape trading falsehood and fake credentials.

The State needs a real patriot who believes in service not to be served. Who has listening ears not the issuing order type with military command as if the people are those barrack boys on sentry duty. Who respects the people’s wish and not seen and rated in behavior as a zombie, and not one who failed to secure Nigerian nation from the beastly insurgents despite the deployed manpower and resources.

Of course, opposition candidates’ should indicate that they have individually recorded significant accomplishments in their respective vacations and must have contributed in one way or the other to the development of the state they jostle to govern as some lack even personal residences anywhere within the state to claim until they joined the gubernatorial race to cover shame and still swimming in the fool’s paradise erroneously believing to be more indigenous than the original indigenes.

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Those that aspired on the platforms of opposition parties particularly the APC to occupy a not-to-be-vacant Bauchi Government House in 2023, and to be fair to Dr. Musa Babayo and Farouk Mustapha who were most qualified for the APC ticket but corruptly defeated and served in different capacities at different times, and exited with honor as a good ambassadors of Bauchi State just as Governor Bala Muhammed exited the federal civil service, the senate and ministerial position as an accomplished servant with stamped foot-prints on the sands of time with unblemished record.

The Pearl of Tourism as baptized with its enviable accomplishments brought in by Governor Bala Muhammed has already set a standard that must be sustained. Presently, all the States in the Northeast sub-region are looking up to Bauchi State as the pacesetter in infrastructural development from the account of good governance. In other words, Bauchi State electorates must resist egocentrism and extreme political intrigues in 2023 as a shield to the interest of their state from slipping into the hands of tourists and undertakers now masquerading as gubernatorial candidates.

The people should in unison with patriotic zeal endorse the continuity project of Bala Muhammed model of governance that has a proven managerial capacity and capability combined while managing the capital and human resources creditably targeted at robust economic growth and contemporary innovations. Nothing beats administrative experience and capacity and courage to lead. Short and long term economic development cannot be attained by embryonic struggles the type on display by political neophytes jostling to replace a performing indigene for a hidden agenda against the interest of the fast-tracked state.

Looking at the 2023 candidates, apart from the PDP candidate, none of them excelled one way or the other way positively. And unfortunately, some of them are lacking in character, public relations and experience. In fact, only few are generous and philanthropic with the large heart to extend assistance and support to others. Some have supported and still supporting the less privileged in their localities while some are jokers deploying deceitful mechanisms to access power.

Governor Bala Muhammed can rightly be described as a philanthropist in his class who gives and support without a request at the most appropriate time as a personal bond. The good gesture of Bala Muhammed knows no bound and ought to be commended and appreciated for emulation.

In private enterprise, some have chains of businesses running to their credit but contributing nothing positively to either the development of the state or the localities they claim to belong without ancestral history.

There is no doubt to the fact that the Pearl of Tourism is endowed with high class intellectuals, accomplished technocrats, seasoned politicians and Board Room Managers laying waste without extending their positive impacts on the people. Governor Bala is left at the scene to bear the brunt of leadership while burning the midnight oil to develop the state to an appreciable standard and for pride of all but not appreciated by his detractors and traducers left wandering hoping against hope as usual.

Taking a critical look at the standard of development the State has attained within just few years vis-à-vis economic growth, human capital and provision of infrastructure and healthcare delivery under preceding administrations at State and National levels, it follows that through all the contenders scored highly in their respective personal endeavor, many are not sufficiently equipped to step into the big shoes to be bequeathed the state by Bala Muhammed in 2027.

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To call a spade a spade, Bauchi State Government House is a big shoe yearning for a strong leg in terms of managerial skills otherwise it will drop in value, respect and worth. The space cannot be properly occupied with mere private business acumen, philanthropic activities or military activism but proficiency in corporate governance and economic spheres as opined by a public affairs commentator and corporate governance strategist, Suleyman Ahmed Malami.

There’s a great difference between steering a private business after retirement, leading a short changed and demoralized troop to theatre of war that encountered more casualties than success and governing a complex state like Bauchi.

Contributing to the debate, a onetime close associate of the de-robed Chief of Air staff and APC 2023 gubernatorial candidate, Group Captain Ahmad Musa (Rtd), who served as Nigeria’s Deputy Defence Attache’ at the Gulf Region, described Air Marshall Sadeeq Baba Abubakar as unfit for public trust which should serve as a warning to those hovering around the over ambitious politician for 2023 daylight dream of governing an already progressing Bauchi State.

How he managed the Nigerian Air force for over five years is a story for another day. Then Dr. Musa Babayo and Hon. Farouk Mustapha that had belonged to the APC were Trojan horses far better than the sacked Chief of Air Staff for the 2023 gubernatorial flag with the capacity to perform wonders against a lone ranger in the PDP stable not an opportunist loaded on the party through fraud and bribes.

By his experience and ranking, Governor Bala Muhammed expectedly should be in the frontline for the exalted office of the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, whether by rotational arrangement or competence. In other words, Bala’s 2019 offer to govern his state was cheered as a height of humility and concern to the welfare of the people forced into quandary, abject poverty and a bleak future full of uncertainties accumulated over the years.

A national figure of repute with requisite political clout for national leadership, he was in 2019 pursued to aspire to govern his ancestral home state out of underdevelopment characterized by clueless and inept leadership, what an archetype. By his body language, Governor Bala Muhammed’s message to the society is that of ‘charity must begin at home in service’. Thus, 2023 is not the time for ‘it’s our turn: ‘Bauchi South, North or Central’ at the expense of merit because Bala belongs to all.

The dangerous temptation Bauchi State must doggedly resist is not to allow the big fish that providentially entered into their net escape carelessly until 2027. If Bala is allowed to escape at this crucial period of the state’s progress, that will be a curse and suicidal to human development and the aggressive development of the state that has since May 29, 2019 commenced with dexterity and passion.

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues

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