The essence of governance is service. What however best defines and gives governance a pride of place is credible leadership. Leadership hits the heights of credibility only when piloted by a leader of an equally credible character.
The Eclectic leader’s operations tools include such character ensemble as genuine zeal and passion to serve, honesty, clear vision, integrity, courage, determination, fairness and an uncanny crave for the best of results. A privileged service association with the incumbent Governor of Niger State, Alh. (Dr.) Abubakar Sani Bello, spanning some five years – a period that also afforded me an opportunity to study from close quarters his person, leadership qualities and style of governance as well as general ways simply throw him up as a credible leader. This much fellow governors of North-Central region demonstrated recently when they unanimously adopted him as the leader of their forum (North-Central Governors Forum). Governor Abubakar Sadeeq has since justified the huge confidence reposed in him by his colleagues with a fair number of impressive and far-reaching development plans and actions.
Through a personal, quiet observatory prism over the past five years, I have constantly observed in Governor Abubakar Sadeeq a leader of quintessential and selfless qualities, one with a strong will to not only pilot the affairs of our dear state, but also deliver strategic dividends of democracy to his people so as to better their lot. And he came away with tones of success.
His approach to governance upon inauguration in May, 2015 was roundly dubbed by keen observers as a classic novelty. It was an exemplary showing which portrayed him as a naturally humble person and leader whose heart harbours no grudges nor ill-will towards anyone, not the least leadership actors before his own advent. Indeed, His Excellency surprised many members of the opposition parties and past leaders in particular, when he declared in his maiden official address to his people in May, 2015 that he will set out to first and foremost, complete viable physical projects initiated and left uncompleted by his predecessors. And he kept his words. Several projects either uncompleted or abandoned covering the administrations of late Engr. Abdulkadir Kure and Dr. Babangida Aliyu were completed by Governor Abubakar Sadeeq Sani Bello, a singular act that drew rounds of genuine applause from across various quarters in the state.
The governor accorded the works and infrastructure sector priority attention for obvious reasons. A whole lot of intra and intercity roads were in a bad state of disrepair: wide and deep potholes, lacerations and ditches paved most of these roads.
The governor swung into action, first declaring zero tolerance for potholes on strategic roads around our cities, moving swiftly to match word with action. But he also went beyond official pronouncements of filling potholes to outrightly reconstruct most of these intra-city roads. Evenly distributed along geo-political lines, such fresh and well asphalted roads can be accessed in our major towns and cities across the state. Similarly, work on the Minna – Suleja high way undertaken in part by Governor Abubakar Sadeeq’s government has reached an advanced stage of completion. Suffice it to say the governor’s huge effort on this major high way is akin to settling a debt of honour as both the road and project are owned by the federal government. Thus, when work on the Minna – Suleja high way is finally done, the person and government of Alh. Abubakar Sani Bello would stand distinct in the annuals of history as major motivators of its success.
Again, work on the Minna – Kontagora high way also motivated by our governor is in progress. The cap may well be the Minna-Bida high way reconstruction. The governor not only took the crucial project closely to heart, but has also secured funds required to execute it to desired quality, size and shape. The contractors, Dantata and Sawoe, have since mobilised to site, and work shall begin in full throttle in the close season. The project is expected to be completed within 18 dry months.
In contrast to wisdom in some opposition quarters, other prioritised sectors received as much attention from the APC government in the state. A ready example is the water sector. Prior to Governor Abubakar Sadeeq’s assumption of office, the Water Works in Minna, Suleja, Gurara Kontagora, Borgu, Bida, Agaie and elsewhere were comatose. Well burnt-out and in some cases dead water pumping machines littered these water works. Power supply was epileptic even as management grew leprotic across board.
In swift section, our leader charged like the bull at the embarrassing situation by first acquiring a total of 69 high lift water pumps identified by experts and ministry officials as some of the most potent in the world, having been manufactured by KSB-Germany, a water pump making company widely acclaimed as arguably the best in the business. A couple of high capacity power plants were equally acquired and mounted at water works that required them. Indeed, all acquired technical equipment have since been installed, with managements across board carefully reviewed and sanity restored. The result is that water supply across the state has vastly improved.
Our governor made three classic policy moves in the education sector that tickled the fancy of several trend watchers, drew rounds of applause from across various quarters and made us, his cabinet members, well proud. First, on assumption of office, he declared an emergency on the sector and swiftly followed up with an aggressive enrolment drive, a development that presented dozens of under privileged wards with an invaluable opportunity to beat poverty via quality education, greater ambition and inner drive. Second, he channeled much of the resources pooled from Counterpart Funds to the construction and renovation of hundreds of classrooms, supply of learning materials as well as engagement of more teaching hands. Third, the governor motivated the establishment of a score of model schools across the three geo-political zones in an exemplary policy poise dubbed as whole school approach programme. The biggest of the pack, a grand model school situated at Mararaban Dandaudu, pooled wards and a host of brilliant and tested professional teachers from across the length and breadth of the State. The all round impressive results are glaring to see today.
The transformation campaign in the health sector over five years is no less impressive. Here, Governor Abubakar Sadeeq exhibited unequalled measure of zeal, ambition, commitment and determination. The challenges presented here were enormous. Most of the challenges lay in the Primary Health Care sub-sector.
Dozens of Primary Health Care facilities and centres hitherto in limbo were reactivated even as diseases outbreak in the state has virtually become history. Lolo, as our governor is fondly addressed by teeming admirers, went on to revitalise the famous Bida School of Mid-wifery with both structural facelift and huge institutional accreditation success, something that stood in the past like a jinx. And in submitting to yearnings for equal institutional presence and learning opportunities, the governor followed up with the establishment of another school of Mid-wifery in Kontagora. This institution is equipped with modern learning facilities and has since been in operation.
Governor Abubakar Sadeeq’s government is arguably the most strategically active in the sectors of information and transport in recent times. It’s for instance to his huge credit that the duo of state radio and television are back today in full technical and programme operations, having been equipped with state of the art facilities. Media and technical experts have since identified the two stations as among the best in the country.
Lolo made good his words to turn things around in the transport sector with the acquisition of about half a century total number of admirable commercial transportation vehicles. Prior to acquiring the recent fleet totaling about 37, the governor effected measured charges in the management of the Niger State Transport Corporation in a move viewed by trend watchers as representing a purposeful plan to turn the sub-sector into a money spinning hub.
With such line-up of impressive efforts and score card of stewardship, one can only feel proud to be part of Lolo’s government and history in the making.
Engr. Muhammad Panti is Commissioner in the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure, Niger State.