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Monday, April 15, 2024

Re: Bauchi Spent Over N5 Billion On Foodstuffs, Refreshments In 2023, More Than The Combined Budget For Provision Of Water Facilities, Health Centres



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Our attention has been drawn to a news item orchestrated by Wikki Times and reported by Sahara Reporters to manipulate and twist obvious facts in order to create sensational but deliberate falsehood and mislead the public.

The report should be condemned in its entirety for desecrating all the rules of journalism.

In the first place, the report that the state government spent over N5B on foodstuff and refreshments than the combined budget for provision of water facilities, education and health services is FALSE and MISCHIEVOUS. It is a figment of the imagination of the writer.

In the second place, assuming without conceding that there were any grounds to suspect a skewed budgetary allocation or performance, the author made no attempt whatsoever to crosscheck or seek further explanation with the relevant government departments to ensure a fair and balanced reportage.

In the third place, the cardinal journalism dictum that facts are sacred and opinion free was jettisoned by the author who recklessly oscillated between ‘fact’ and opinion, forcing a fiction down the throats of unsuspecting members of the public.

This could have been the result of the pre-determined posture of the authors of the story whose blind rage against the Bala Mohammed Administration has equally blinded them to every canon of journalism.

Here are the facts:

It is no news that, arising from the removal of petroleum subsidy and the associated hardship, the Federal Government and the various State Governments had agreed to take action to mitigate the sufferings of the people. In that respect, the Federal Government announced the arrangement to provide each State with N5billion, under a structured loan and grant facility, to acquire food items for distribution to citizens as palliatives to ameliorate their sufferings as an emergency intervention. It is also a fact that only N2billion was ultimately disbursed by the Federal Government.

Under the arrangement, States were to purchase 100,000 bags of rice, 40,000 bags of maize and fertilizers to cushion the effect of food shortage that had arisen. Additionally, 180 trucks of rice were to be distributed by the Central Bank of Nigeria with a call for individual states to augment such arrangements in order to expand the benefits to a greater number of citizens.

In view of the disbursement of only N2billion, the State had purchased 88,889 bags of rice of 25kg and had released additional funding of N2billion for the procurement of additional quantities of grains as well as settlement of outstanding gratuities and leave grants to civil servants to provide further succour.

The distribution was successfully carried out across the State to the satisfaction of the citizens with a wide coverage among the needy segments of the society. This exercise was conducted across all the States with varying quantities of foodstuff and materials distributed. It is surprising that the exercise in 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 hosted on the State Government’s website and made available to the public since 27th January 2024. Specifically, the sum of N4,542,604,244 was reported as expenses incurred under the distribution of foodstuffs, catering and materials supply. This comprised of the palliatives distributed as noted earlier as well as relief materials which included food items and building materials that were provided at various times within the year to victims and communities of the flood disasters that occured in various Local Governments in the State that had led to the destruction of homes and farmlands;food and material support for Internally Displaced Persons who had sought refuge in the State from crises in their primary places of residences in neighbouring states;and for victims of various fire and other natural disasters that occured accross the State.

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The writer had 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 value and had reported N6.49billion as having been incurred.

The writer’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 in the sum of N2,543,577,442.85 as against only N1.302billion reported by the writer.

Going into specifics, the state had incurred the sum of N425.3million for Rehabilitation and Repairs of Water facilities; N1.302billion for the Construction and Provision of water facilities; N469.82million for the 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 in the sum of N2.28billion which included Purchase of Agricultural Equipment of over N367.8million; Construction of Agricultural facilities of N239.4million; and Personnel Costs of N1.425billion among others. The author had reported only the N239.4million in his write-up.

In Healthcare, the State met 78% of its budget with total actual expenditure of N17.99billion which included the purchase of Health/Medical Equipment in the sum of over N5.69billion; Construction/Provision of Hospitals/Health Centres in the sum of over 1.414billion; Rehabilitation of Health Centres at over N606.4million; and a Personnel Cost of over N7.07billion. Only the 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 by the writer. The achievements included the Purchase of Teaching and Learning Equipment of N160.9million; Purchase of Books and Equipment in the sum of 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.

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Related to ICT; one would indeed be surprised as to why only N34.174m for Construction of ICT Centres was isolated and reported when there are other additional achievements that included Maintenance of Office ICT Equipment of N255.2million; Purchase of Computers of 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, we have done well in our Public Financial Management practices and are open to scrutiny in our efforts to entrench transparency and accountability in governance. The State’s Budget Performance Report for 2023 is available to the public on the State’s Website. Overall, we achieved 86.8% performance in the implementation of the budget, which is not only impressive, but deserving of commendation rather than an attempt to twist facts and report falsehood.


From the abundant evidence of gross under-reportage of the performance of Bauchi State in the areas of social services, the lies and unsustainable opinion, it can be seen that the author had only one mission: to discredit the Bauchi State Government by portraying it as being guilty of mismanagement of public funds.

Though the author did not intend it, by some curious irony, the Government feels vindicated that, even accidentally, its traducers are now beginning to accept that it is indeed prioritising foodstuff 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, we state without equivocation that no amount of blackmail 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. But that power should be exercised with utmost responsibility. 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, we invite them to undertake a fact-finding tour of the state instead of staying in their offices to spew out blatant falsehoods that discredit both innocent public officers and the journalism profession.

Comrade Mukhtar Gidado
Special Adviser Media and Publicity to the Governor
22nd March, 2024.

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