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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Generosity in Leadership: Bala Muhammed Leads – By Sanusi Muhammad



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He won the 2023 gubernatorial election with a landslide victory. Not because other opponents slept during the campaign, but because he performed creditably to the advancement of the state in all facets of development.

His widely applauded generosity of spirit, large-heartedness, liberal disposition and non-antagonistic political and leadership style were in evidence during his hosting of his immediate predecessor, Barr Muhammed A. Abubakar’s landmark elevation as Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN).

Despite whatever political friction that transpired between them in the less than cordial transition in 2019, when M.A Abubakar unexpectedly from All Progressives Congress (APC) calculation failed to secure, a second term mandate, governor Bala Muhammed led members of the state executive council to celebrate with the erudite legal giant who had risen to the apex of his career in the legal profession, and the first indigene of Bauchi State to attain such status.

The amiable incumbent was munificent in his laudation of his predecessor who responded in kind with no less charitable encomiums on his successor. This perhaps unanticipated fallout of the gesture of Bala Muhammed, as many analysts pointed out, was M.A Abubakar’s physical presence at the lavish State Banquet, the first of its kind in history, the former was seen publicly or privately in company of his successor at an occasion hosted by the state despite imaginary political differences that was grossly misunderstood, misinterpreted and twisted by blind opponents of good governance.

Bala’s exhibition of humility, charitableness, and affability that was largely responsible for the rapprochement is symptomatic of his signature political style on display.

In his usual style, Governor Bala Muhammed does not allow the immense powers of the exalted office he occupies to induce in him a sense of hubris.

The photographs of Mr. President and preceding governors of the state relating amicably on that occasion was amply publicized in the media courtesy of Comrade Mouktar Gidado (Special Advisor) Media/Communication to Governor Bala Muhammed, and Bauchi State is most likely the only state with that kind of governance continuity where the governors since creation in 1976 could still affect that degree of cordiality despite the albeit brief break in political transmission with most of the past governors.

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While Bala has received accolades for his unaffected and unobtrusive leadership style as governor during his first tenure, others have not failed to paint out what they perceive as a weakness of this disposition to politics in a complex, cosmopolitan city like Bauchi where leadership cannot afford to be perceived as a popularity contest and the governor must be prepared to take some hard decisions to enforce law and public order.

Those who argue for a tougher governance stance on the part of the governor contend, for example, that even though Bala Muhammed was responsible and responsive in reacting to pockets of organized labor protests that rocked several states, exhibiting commendable emotional intelligence in handling the situations, he did not firmly communicate to labor leaders that the state will not tolerate a descent to anarchy. Instead, he initiated an amicable settlement with labor.

After all, the nationwide protests were against the federal government’s salary structure, condition of service and other fringe benefits which had nothing to do with Bauchi State civil service directly. Still as a leader, he quickly intervened and brokered truce with labor for the good of the system. Not only that, he had earlier before then, directed payment of accrued leave grants to civil servants while meeting the already steady payment of pension and gratuity to those that deserve.

At a time when security situation in the state capital and few other places was becoming worrisome, the governor, had only an option to ban commercial motorcycle operation. He immediately cushioned the effect with 1000 tricycles that were distributed evenly and extended support to registered vigilante groups operating throughout the state.

Not only that, security agencies operating in the state were supported with gadgets fitted vehicles and other incentives for optimum result excluding other periodic supports.

Then there was the battle for the governor’s second term in 2023 which was hotly contested and overheated unjustifiably. This was no function of a less-than-exemplary performance in his first tenure.

Indeed, across sectors, the administration had embarked on landmark projects with Bauchi State becoming a virtually construction site across the 20 local governments.

His adroit handling of the Corona virus pandemic early in the life of his administration was a pointer to his no mean leadership capacities. Because he kept his eyes firmly on the ball, his administration successfully midwife the delivery of such epochal projects as the over 3000 housing scheme across six local governments, the completion of the Bauchi Greater Water Supply and the rebranded, befitting Bauchi Government House  edifice among others.

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The intensity of the 2023 gubernatorial contest in Bauchi State was influenced largely by envy, hate, ethnic factors cum religious propaganda, misdirected youth angst and complacency of few cases on the part of the ruling PDP cadres that had become too used to seemingly effortless success in past elections before 2015.

This also resulted in the party’s alienation from several of its traditional high-vote constituencies that displayed apathy to the polls. That the governor still won a reasonable emphatic victory was indicative of the satisfaction of large segments of the electorate with his leadership and performance despite constraining primordial tensions and sectarian pressures. It was a glaring landslide victory even affirmed by the Supreme Court.

What then should we expect of Governor Bala’s performance in his second term? The anticipation of the people is high and the Governor knows of it. If the morning of the commencement of the second term is an indication of what the day will bring, we are expecting a less pacifist, more activist and a, no nonsense Bala Muhammed who goes for the best.

The governor’s body language is clear that he will not tolerate the sad news of poor corporate governance, irresponsibility, and managerial incompetence emanating from some components of his government.

“Governor Bala Muhammed is an exceptional leader when it comes to service. He works 24/7 round the clock attending to state matters for the service to appreciate. He has groomed us in such a way that we hardly get tired. He sets the pace which we follow. His journalistic training is still very much with him. He is a leader anywhere, anytime and anyhow. We are proud to have the opportunity of associating with him in serving humanity”…….Comrade Mouktar Gidado (Special Advisor Media/Communication).

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues

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