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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Good Governance: Kaura and Allegations from Bottom Pit of Hell – By Sanusi Muhammad

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Bauchi State under Governor Bala Muhammed is fast-tracked to become the economic hub of the Northeast sub-region and burgeoning state despite teething financial problems threatening the implementation of his robust blue-print for the advantage of the state.

The state now has a respected reputation as one of the most peaceful in Nigeria with a functional government determined to achieve 100 percent transformation within a targeted period.

Within his few years in office, Governor Bala deployed expertise to set the state on a new course. His administration has since overhauled governance, blocked leakages, raised new revenue generation strategies, improved security and sanitation, kick-started the expansion of infrastructure to attract domestic and foreign investors as well as an open-door policy of administration.

He has kept to his campaign promises to the people that mandated him to govern them, and has since forged a new civil contract with the people for better service delivery beyond 2023.

He has laid the foundation for a functional, livable and sustainable Bauchi State that can compete favorably with other advanced states in Nigeria in terms of infrastructure, health delivery, security, agriculture; and the provision of quality education and abundant clean water to all.

His administration has empowered a large number of youth and women selected across party divide with sewing and grinding machines, motor and tricycles, as well as farming implements etc.

As an accomplished journalist and technocrat, Governor Bala does not believe in waste. He has so far completed most inherited projects with direct bearing on the lives of the people hitherto abandoned and embarked on new development projects that include; new fully furnished modern model schools, rehabilitation of dilapidated structures and construction of brand new housing estates in the six emirates of the state.

Not only that, he has given the state, a brand new Government House, an international conference centre, a standard Hajj camp, a reactivated Greater Bauchi Water Supply Scheme and several other projects beyond imagination.

While deploying his best to the good of the state, those in blind opposition with their foot-soldiers stationed on some social media platforms, see nothing good in rendered services for parochial interest to satisfy their inner hate and envy against successes recorded.

In a terse reply to an imagination of detractors of the administration through a spurious allegation from the bottom pit of hell and ignorantly published by Sahara Reporters, an online medium without cross checking the facts needed in accordance with the ethics of the journalism profession, Comrade Mouktar Gidado, media handler of Governor Bala Muhammed said: “The allegation of expending over N5billion on foodstuffs and refreshments in 2023 more than the combined budget for provision of water facilities and health centres, was an attempt in futility without reliable facts to twist obvious facts to create sensation and mislead the public as the cardinal journalism dictum that facts are sacred and opinion free was jettisoned by the author of the mischief who recklessly oscillated between ‘fact’ and opinion, forcing a fiction and evil imagination down the throats of the unsuspecting public

“Arriving from the removal of petroleum subsidy and the hardship associated, the federal government, along with the state governments, had agreed to mitigate the associated sufferings of the people. Towards achieving that, the federal government agreed to extend N5billion under a structured loan and grant facility to acquire essential foods as palliatives for distribution to ameliorate the sufferings as emergency intervention.

“Instead of the N5billion grant, only N2billion was extended by the federal government which was reported through the media by most states. Under the agreement, states were to procure 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize and assorted fertilizers through purchase and distribute same to the public

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“Additionally, 180 trucks of rice were to be distributed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with the states to augment such arrangements to expand the benefits to reach a greater number of beneficiaries.

Bauchi State Government with only N2billion grant extended, the state government purchased 88,889 bags of 25kg of rice with an additional contribution of N2billion from its purse for procurement of additional quantity of grains as well as settlement of inherited outstanding gratuities and leave grant to civil servants as succor. The records are there for public scrutiny but ignored by mischief makers to achieve an intention of character assassination and to ridicule the purposeful administration that has no axe to grind with anyone

“The distribution was carried out across the state with a wide coverage among the needy segments. The exercise was conducted with varying quantities of foodstuffs and materials distributed. It is surprising that of Bauchi will be isolated and reported negatively and mischievously.

“The efforts of the State were reflected in the Budget performance for the year 2023 which had been posted on the State Government’s website for the public information since January 27, 2024. Specifically, the sum of N4, 542, 604, 244 was reported as expenses incurred for distribution of the foodstuffs, catering and materials supplies. These comprised the palliatives distributed as noted earlier as well as relief materials including food items and building materials provided at various times within the year to victims of the flood disaster communities that occurred in various Local Governments in the State that had led to the destruction of homes and farmlands; food stuffs and material support to Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who sought refuge in the state from crises torn areas in neighboring state; and to victims of various fire and other natural disasters across the state.

“The write however added up to that Meal Subsidy and Entertainment  of N149.7million incurred in all the MDAs as part of Personnel Cost; Meal Subsidy to Public Schools (schools feeding) in the sum of N1.25billion; as well as expenses incurred on Refreshment and Meals for events, hosting business and other official missions from Federal Government agencies and delegations from international partners across all MDAs throughout the year in the sum of over N531million in order to the inflate the amount, it was reported that N6.49billion was incurred which is a parochial lie from mere imagination.

The reporter’s analogy to reflect under-delivery in the performance of the state in Agriculture, Water Supply, Healthcare delivery and Education were, to say the least, absolute falsehood and ignoble. The budget performance report had indicated that the state’s achievement of a 77.2% performance of its water supply budget of N2,543,577,442.85 as against only N1.302billion reported

“Going into specifics, the state had incurred the sum of N425.3million for rehabilitation and repairs of water facilities; N1.302billion for construction and provision of water facilities; N469.82million for purchase of water facilities and equipment; as well as personnel costs in excess of N296.87million Similarly, in agriculture, the state met 67.3% of its budget of N2.28billion which include; purchase of agricultural equipment at over N367.8million; construction of agricultural facilities at N239.4million; and personnel costs of N1.425billion among others. The author had reported only the N239.4million in his write-up

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“In healthcare, the state met 78% of its budget with actual expenditure of N17.99billion which include; the purchase of health/medical equipment at over N5.69billion; construction/provision of hospitals/health centres at over 1.414billion; rehabilitation of health centres at over N606.4million; and personnel cost of over N7.07billion. Only but N1.414billion was noted by the writer

“For the education sector; the sum of N22.06billion representing 78.2% of the budget was achieved as against the N690million naughtily reported. The achievements include; the purchase of teaching and learning equipments at N160.9million; purchase of books and equipment at over N581.7million; construction/provision of public Schools at over N176.5million; rehabilitation and repairs of public schools/libraries and sports facilities at over N705.98million; and personnel costs of N12.67billion.

Related to ICT; one got surprised as to why only N34.174m for the construction of ICT centres was isolated and reported when there are other additional achievements that include; maintenance of office, ICT equipment of N255.2million; purchase of computers at N35.7million; software charges and renewal of N61.96million; internet access of over N35million; ICT consulting of N18.2million; and rehabilitation of ICT infrastructure of over N9.07million among others.

“As a state, Bauchi has done well in Public Financial Management practices and the records are there for scrutiny in an effort to entrench transparency and accountability in governance. The State’s Budget Performance Report for 2023 is also available to the public on the state’s Website.

“Overall, the Sen. Bala administration has achieved 86.8% performance in the implementation of the budget, which is not only impressive, but deserving commendation rather than an attempt to twist facts and report falsehood for the gullible

“From the stated evidence of gross under-reportage of the performance of Bauchi State in areas of social services, the lies and unsustainable opinion, shows the mindset of the author: to discredit Bauchi State Government administration by portraying it as guilty of mismanagement of public funds. Although, the author may not have intended, by some curious irony, the government feels vindicated that, even accidentally, its traducers are now beginning to accept that it is indeed prioritising foodstuffs for the people (‘stomach infrastructure’) alongside its huge groundbreaking performance in the provision of infrastructure, the absence of which largely explains the perennial underdevelopment of the state.

“Finally, let it be clear and without equivocation that no amount of blackmail or ridicule will derail the patriotic pursuit of holistic development of the state which is at the core of the “My Bauchi Project” roadmap of the Bala Mohammed administration. For Wikki Times and the Sahara Reporters, we have no grouse against their constitutional responsibility of holding the government accountable to the people as a right. But that power should be exercised with utmost responsibility as enshrined in the statute books. We are not to teach them that facts are sacred and that when in doubt, they should leave out. Besides, since they are interested in good governance, indeed in the welfare of the people of Bauchi State, as a government that has subscribed to the Open Government Initiative, they are advised to undertake a fact-finding tour of the state instead of staying in the comfort of their offices to spew out blatant falsehoods to discredit both the innocent public officers and the respected journalism profession. We have labored to strengthen the records for posterity and for those in any doubt”.

Muhammad is a commentator on national issues

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