By, YAHAYA SARKI
Special Adviser (SA) Media to Kebbi State Governor
Democracy is the government of the people, by the people and for the people. This is the widely accepted definition of democracy globally. It is the will of the people.Any form or type of leadership short or devoid of democracy is now detested and vehemently rejected by well-meaning individuals, societies and nations at large.In fact, in Nigeria, it has been a steady and happy story from 1999 to date. Nigeria is no longer the Phariah nation that it used to be in the commity of African nations and the world. This was then due to the recurring invasive and debilitating military incursions into democratic governance and the subsequent trampling on all democratic institutions.
Democracy has indeed trudged on in spite of all the odds. Nigerians now have the right to vote and be voted for under a free and independent atmosphere occasioned by democracy. This ineviable feat indeed needs no further illustration as the fact is as glaring as it is a reality.Happily, today, Saturday, June 12,2021, Nigerians and indeed the people of the Land of Equity, Kebbi State are celebrating 22 unbroken years of the nation’s return to democratic rule . This day , indeed calls for more praises to the Almighty Allah, celebrations, pomp and ceremony, nay, to commemorate the epoch – making day .
Same goes to the elated, pious, patriotic , peaceful and law abiding people of Kebbi State who have also happily joined other well meaning citizens to mark the day . In fact , it is not surprising that this happy development is as such as their reasons to be joyful on this great day are not in anyway far fetched . They have reaped , they are reaping and they will continue to reap abundant dividends of democracy, courtesy of the hardworking, ever resilient , patritoic and pious exemplary leader, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the Matawallen Gwandu who has been successfully and relentlessly piloting the affairs of Kebbi State from 2015 to date . The people of the state have really never had it so good like in the past six years , with Bagudu at the helm of affairs of the state.
The emergence of Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu as the elected governor of Kebbi State, the Land of Equity is indeed a blessing to the people of the state. Since he assumed duty as the Governor of Kebbi State, following his landslide victory in the 2015 Gubernatorial Election under the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC), Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has always held that the entire Kebbi State is his constituency. Matawallen Gwandu , His Excellency, the Governor of Kebbi State, the Chairman, Progressives Governors’ Forum, Chairman Presidential Taskforce on Rice and Wheat Production in Nigeria and the Vice Chairman, National Food Security Council, vowed to ensure that people of Kebbi State, irrespective of their party affiliations , irrespective of their religious or ethnic backgrounds must be positively touched with ceaseless and abundant dividends of democracy, myriad of formidable infrastructural developments , as well as economic empowerment to bolster the living standards of all the law abiding and peaceful citizens, including the state civil servants, women and youths, as well as retirees,with unparalleled of the highest esteem .
The state under the able leadership of Senator Abubakar Atiku has now been put in its proper place in history and in the map of the globe and that of Nigeria. Kebbi State has indeed transcended to become a Pacesetter and a trail blazer, where in many instances , it leads , while others follow and emulate.
Bagudu’s Kebbi is now the beacon of hope of the country, as well as a hub in many sectors, especially in agriculture and toursm in terms of the historic rice revolution and in terms of security of lives and property. All these and myriad of other tangible and invaluable achievements were happily recorded, courtesy of the people’s Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu. The people of Kebbi cannot be happier than now .
One therefore wonders and ponders how a Governor of a State like Kebbi can effectively govern his state with meagre financial resources. How can a Governor like Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, whose penchant for hardwork, dedication, patriotism and transparency are unparalleled is achieving this enviable feat . His sustained delivery of the direly needed dividends of democracy to the electorate is also legendary and hitherto unheard of in the history of the state. He is like performing magic by achieving myriad of development strides, in an unparalleled manner , within the last six years. This is so in spite of the impact on the economy of the state, Nigeria and the entire world by the Coronavirus Disease Pandemic ( COVID-19).
The visible and tangible achievements recorded by Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu since he assumed office as the Chief Executive of the state cannot be over emphasized . These ranges from infrastructural development to human development and empowerment. Almost all the sectors of the state have positively been touched particularly Agriculture, Health, Education, Security , Youths and Women Empowerment as well as electricity supply, the list is on and on.
The State under the watch of Governor Bagudu has already made headway in agriculture, particularly in rice farming. The land activity has received the greatest attention of the government with myriad of successes recorded in increased rice production not only in Kebbi State, but across Nigeria. The Government of Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has been steadfast and committed over the years to turning Kebbi State into an agrarian economy and promote it to the level of major revenue earner to the state economy. Recently, the state had celebrated its 5th Year Anniversary of the National Rice Festival with the display of an array of Rice Pyramids, showcasing massive production of rice and the success of the administration in the sector, even with the daunting economic challenges . Consequently, this remarkable achievement in rice production in Kebbi State paved the way to Nigeria becoming self sufficient in rice and ending the importation of the commodity . President Muhammadu Buhari has times without number mentioned and commended Governor Bagudu for his dynamic role in revolutionising rice production in Nigeria. The President referred to Governor Bagudu as an ‘ Ambassador of Rural Transformation. ‘
To ensure the security of lives and property of all law abiding residents in Kebbi State. The State Government has been supporting federal security outfits including the vigilante groups with operational vehicles and other security equipment to bolster their operations throughout the state. This is in addition to convening several town hall meetings with all the critical stakeholders, including community, religious leaders, women and youths groups, as well as top security chiefs in the state .
Health is wealth , no individual or community can actively contribute to the development of his state or country in the absence of good healthcare delivery. Bagudu’s administration has given premium to healthcare delivery particularly for women and children under various programs, policies and interventions . Notably, the wife of the Governor, Dr. Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu,has over the years being actively pioneering healthcare delivery to women and children, as well as being in the forefront of sensitization on the dreaded COVID-19 Pandemic.
The state government, in collaboration with International Donor Agencies, rehabilitated and equipped the 225 Primary Healthcare Centers across the state, free medical outreaches to people of the state, immunization against various diseases, renovation of Kebbi Medical Center, Kalgo, renovation of Sir Yahaya Memorial hospital to a befitting modern Hospital,, renovation of General Hospitals and many other projects too numerous to mention, in addition to capacity building and training of various categories of medical staff.
In the area of infrastructural development, roads, bridges and culverts were constructed across the state, even the ones destroyed by the devastating flood which wrecked havok to farmlands and vital government and private infrastructure. In his quest for even development, Governor Bagudu has awarded construction of a road project in Zuru emirate which is adjudged to be the longest in the state .The State capital, Birnin Kebbi has also recently witnessed construction of new roads , culverts and drainages to bring to an end the perennial flood problem being experienced in the state capital. Residents of GRA, Badariya, Shiyar Fada and Jega Road among others are elated and breathing a sigh of relief as a result of these developments in their areas.
As the backbone of human development, education under the incumbent administration too was not left at the Pheriphery, as the sector had witnessed tremendous human and infrastructural. Capacity building for enhanced modern learning equally took center stage in the scheme of the incumbent administration. Two Thousand teachers and One thousand supporting staff were recruited to boost manpower in our schools. Primary and Secondary schools, as well as tertiary institutions were renovated. More classrooms, hostels and laboratories are being built across the state to ease congestion and provide conducive learning environment for both teachers and students. Three tertiary institutions under the Ministry for Higher Education were upgraded to degree awarding institutions. They are Adamu Augie College of Education Argungu, the Kebbi State College of Nursing Sciences and Midwifery, Birnin Kebbi and the College of Health Technology, Jega .
One remarkable feat Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu achieved through his political tenacity was the gradual assimilation of all the major political players into the fold of the ruling party, the APC. This has ensured that the state’s political terrain is in tandem with the center to which all the aggregate parts are attached to including Mr. President.
We cannot forget the efforts of the indefatigable Governor by approving the release and payment of over N 3bn gratuity to retired civil servants of both the state, local government and local education authorities. Another N 2bn for constituency projects across the state with the full involvement of the state lawmakers, approval for empowerment/ projects worth over 464 million to the vulnerable to touch the lives of women, youths and orphans through the ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, approval for the release of over N 600 million for the payment of NECO, WAEC and NABTEB for secondary school students in the state.
In his efforts to bolster women and youths participation in federal government’s empowerment and youths employment, as well as other interventions programs, the Governor approved the establishment of Kebbi State Data Portal (www.dcp.kebbistate.gov.ng).The portal was also launched, so as to enable the people of the state, especially youths to benefit from the myriad of interventions from federal government and other organizations in the country.
This invaluable gesture was part of the unwavering commitment of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, to ensure that women and youths are not left out at the periphery but are fully engaged in all productive sectors.
The aim of this laudable effort is to collate accurate data of all unemployed, educated, uneducated youths in the state in a smooth and transparent manner free of charge.
Kebbi State Government has also engaged reputable Consultants for the training of Ten Thousand Indigenes of the state who will benefit from an agricultural loan under the Nigerian Incentive Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural lending, NIRSAL Microfinance Bank . Majority of the beneficiaries are women and youths, the registration and training has been ongoing.
The workaholic Governor has also approved the allocation of 22,000 plots of land across the state under the Accelerated Residential Plots Porgramme. The programme was initiated by the Governor to enable first time land owners to build their own houses in line with his aspiration for affordable housing to all .This is in a bid to drastically reduce the housing deficits across the state and make housing affordable to people in the state.The list is on and on, but to mention just a few within a span of five months between the end of 2020 and early 2021 and to date .
Certainly, Governor Bagudu routinely move in and out of his state to other parts of the country and other parts of the world, are all in the bid to attract investment and more developmental projects to his own dear state.This is usually achieved through mutual collaborations between nations, states and indeed , federating states of a country, like Nigeria.
Any patriotic follower of events in Kebbi State can also attest to the fact that, the numerous trips of Governor Bagudu had yielded a lot of tangible fruits for the people of the state who have never had it so good like between 2015 to date . Many dividends of these trips are glaring across the state .
Some of these dividends include the now flourishing large and medium scale rice Mills dotting the landscape of the state, helping to reduce poverty , unemployment and restiveness, as well as bolstering food security in the state , apart from the multiplier positive effects on the economy of the state and that of Nigeria, in an era of economic down turn, occasioned by the raging global Coronavirus disease pandemic and other salient and intrinsic factors.
They also include the establishment of a Tomatoes Paste Factory in Ngaski, attracting world acclaimed investors like Dangote who is building Rice Mill and Sugar Factory, the Kebbi/NNPC Ethanol Project in Zuru Emirate, as well as the signing of many workable and plausible Memoranda of Understanding ( MOUs), between the Kebbi State Government and many private investors to come and invest more in the state , as well as many other renowned International Organizations. They include the World Bank, CBN, NNPC and UNICEF, among others.
This is due to persistent efforts of the Governor in ensuring that people at the grassroots are not left behind, especially on issues of their healthcare, education, empowerment and development in all facets of life.
And in his desirable quest for a one united peaceful Nigeria, in his capacity as the Chairman of the APC Progressives Governors’ Forum, Governor Bagudu never tires in leading his counterparts crisscrossing the nooks and crannies of the country from North to South and East to West, in search of peace and national cohesion .
It is on record that more than any other Governor, the Progressives Governors’ Forum Chairman, the Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku has made several trips, in an effort to douse tension and search for peace across the country.
In an effort to foster lasting peace and cohesion in the country, His Excellency, Governor of Kebbi State and Chairman Progressives Governors’ Forum, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and the Governors of Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Oyo, and Jigawa States held a meeting with the national leadership of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN), at the International Culture and Events Centre in Akure, Ondo State capital in an effort to broker peace on the issue of the planned Fulani eviction.
Again, the Peace Ambassador, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, with other two Governors, met the leadership of the Fulani and Igbo Communities in Owerri , for a truce and peaceful coexistence in an effort to mend the fragile relationships among different ethnic groups and religious divides. In attendance were the Governors of Imo state, Senator Hope Uzodinma,
the Governor of Jigawa State Muhammad Badaru Abubakar,
the Deputy Governor of Imo state,
the Speaker, Imo state House of Assembly,Miyetti Allah National President Muhammad Kiruwa and his Secretary,Miyetti Allah Branch Chairmen of Imo, Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi States, religious and community leaders.The intent of the meeting was to reconcile the Fulanis and host community (Igbos) , and to also foster peace and trust between the parties in question.
Any right thinking indigene of Kebbi State or even an avid observer of the collossal transformation that has been ongoing in different sectors of Kebbi State, from 2015 to date, cannot, but vehemently commend and support Governor Bagudu’s quest for formidable development of Kebbi State.
Governor Bagudu should also be given a pat on the back for dedicating his life for his own dear state, Kebbi and indeed, Nigeria. He deserves sincere accolades and not otherwise .
It is a clear and an indisputable fact that, while other states grappled with the backlog of unpaid salary arrears, Kebbi state civil servants are paid as and when due on monthly basis. Pensioners, too, smile to early alerts from their banks, barely the very month they left service. Therefore, there is a smooth transition of salary and pension money on monthly basis in the state. Bagudu’s Welfare Policy, in Kebbi state, has greatly helped to develop and implement proper working environment for the workers in the state.
Gov. Bagudu, having realised that a good welfare policy provides better physical and mental health to the workers and thus, promotes a healthy work environment, the Kebbi State Government was one of the first few elite states in Nigeria that implemented the new National Minimum Wage of N30,000. Even with the lean revenue resources of the state, the Governor took the bull by the horns and approved the new wage, well ahead of other seeimingly more buoyant states in the Federation.This caurageous gesture by Governor Bagudu has no doubt cemented the cordial relationship between the organised labour (NLC) and the Kebbi State Government, thus, a sustenable industrial harmony thrives in the state.
Without any doubt, in the last six years, Bagudu has made tremendous efforts towards improving the standard of living of the workers, with the resultant multiplier effects on the workers’ psychology, leading to improved productivity,which the Governor has always acknowledged and commended in many public gatherings .
Beyond the timely payment of workers salary and monthly pensions, Kebbi State Government is also gradually defraying the gratuity of retired civil servants.To Bagudu’s credit, he recently gave an approval for the release of 3 billion naira as payment of gratuities to verified retired civil servants in the state, comprising State, Local Government, as well as Local Government Education retirees. This was happily contained in a statement signed by the Hon. Commissioner of Finance, Ibrahim Muhammad Augie in Birnin Kebbi, on Thursday, 31st December, 2020.
According to the statement, N2 billion had been approved for the State Government verified retirees, while N1 billion was approved for Local Governments and Local Government Education Authorities. It said that, all necessary process for the electronic payment to all categories of the affected beneficiaries, on a very favourable equitable ratio had already been put into motion.
This happy development, certainly, sent workers, especially, retired civil servants of the both tiers of Government in the state into jubilant mood . It will be recalled that,only last May, 2020, the sum of N2 .403 billion arrears of gratuity was paid to all the categories of verified retirees, across the State, local Governments and Local Government Education Authorities.
It is on record that, from inception of this Government, to date, therefore, a total sum of N20.052 Billion (Over Twenty billion naira), was approved and paid as arrears of gratuities to the State and Local Government retirees of Kebbi State, according to the State’s Commissioner of Finance, Hon Ibrahim Muhammed Augie. Augie emphasized that, Kebbi State was among the elite states that pays both Salaries and Pensions regularly, without any outstanding arrears, from inception in 2015, to date.
It is also pertinent to state that, Governor Bagudu had settled the backlog of gratuity arrears he inherited.This Government met a liability of N4,376,242,726.93, which was not only liquidated, but an additional sum was provided, which beefed the whopping amount of money up to N20,052,000,000.00 Billion.
At this point, it is pertinent to state that the resources at the disposal of Government to execute necessary economic and social development demands are scarce, considering the limited revenues accruing to the coffers of the state government, more so, under the current scourge of Covid -19 pandemic and other formidable extraneous factors inhibitng smooth governance. Government would gradually attend to all issues , in view of the lean resources available, as well as the competitive expectations from the citizenry, for Government to execute the direly needed developmental projects that have direct bearing on them.
In order to bolster cordial labour relationship and reassure the public, the commitment of the Government of Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, on sustaining continuous welfare of civil servants and retirees in the state, the Kebbi Government had expended N20 bn on payment of retirement benefits in 6 years.
It is important to state that unlike in other states, Kebbi Government did not go to any bank to borrow money to pay for pension and gratuity. We all know the implication of borrowing or incurring debts to our economy, especially, if the resources are not managed prudently by any incoming Government. Posterity will bear the brunt.
Again, we equally need to appreciate the commendable gesture of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu during festive periods like Sallah and Christmas to civil servants, organizations including the labour, tribal groups, religious organizations, NGOs/CSOs and individuals, all this is geared towards improving the welfare of people.
What is required now is mutual understanding and prayers for the Government . In addition, the citizens have obligation, especially those better informed about the current economic circumstances of the world , the Federal and State Governments, to educate others, appreciate the effort of Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu and fervently pray for lasting peace and development in Kebbi State and Nigeria, in general
Times like this call for mutual understanding. Let us all join hands to support and cooperate with Government to move Kebbi State to greater heights under the leadership of Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (Matawallen Gwandu).
The Governor is also not resting in his quest to take Kebbi State to greater heights in many ways , just as he is trying to diversify its revenue base, to make less dependent on oil revenue , through the monthly allocations from FAAC. He is tirelessly implementing some laudable programmes and policies in this direction . Projects like the biofuel project in partnership with NNPC is a glaring example . The list is indeed endless . All in the bid to make Kebbi State the true leader it has been .
In fact , on this historic day of 2021 Democracy Day in Kebbi State, the giant strides of the people’s Governor , Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu whose achievements in the last years are unbroken and tangible, will always be remembered and go down in the annals of history . Kudos and carry on the Sage and Iconic Matawallen Gwandu .