Niger State Government and France have reaffirmed the commitment of their governments to improve their existing relationship for mutual benefit.
This was the outcome of the meeting between Niger State Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago and the French Ambassador to Nigeria yesterday in Abuja.
In a press statement made available to newsmen by his Chief Press Secretary, Mal. Bologi Ibrahim, the governor disclosed that the diplomatic ties will focus on education, agriculture, energy, investment, job creation, tourism, and culture, among others.
Governor Umaru Bago, who highlighted the natural resources that abound in the state, emphasized that the state has a comparative advantage in food and cash crops.
He explained that strengthening the relationship will no doubt create job opportunities for youth and improve the socio-economic status of the state.
The governor further stated that the policy thrust of his administration covers infrastructure, health, education, and renewable energy, among others.
He disclosed that his administration intends to create jobs for about 400,000 women through shea butter processing and other cash crops, explaining that a state-of-the-art garment factory for mass production of school, military, and vigilante uniforms will be established.
Governor Umaru Bago told the French ambassador about the intention of his administration to cultivate the habit of planting ten million trees in the next four years as part of an effort to mitigate climate change and address global warming.
The French Ambassador to Nigeria, Ms. Emmanuelle Blatmann, said France was looking forward to strengthening its bilateral relationship with Nigeria, especially with the Niger State Government, for mutual benefits.
She said the French government was committed to ensuring the success of the partnership and, consequently, providing advanced technology and scholarships for the people.
The Ambassador noted that over three billion Euros had been expended on rural electrification in Northern Nigeria by the French government.
Governor Mohammed Umar Bago has declared that the era of doing things without due process was over in the state.
The Governor made this declaration at the flag-off of a three-day workshop on efficient procurement, optimal and effective store management; enhancing service delivery through capacity building for Local Government procurement, planning and store officers, held at Legbo Kutigi International Conference Centre, Minna, Tuesday.
He disclosed that the present administration in the state was desirous of changing the narrative and putting things in proper perspective.
The Governor, who observed that an average civil servant was an honest person, added that it was the politicians who corrupted them and that no civil servant would engage in corrupt practices without the backing of the politicians, who were mostly their principals.
"If you see any civil servant doing something wrong, he has the backing of a politician who is his principal. The civil servants are not the real culprits; they only take bullets for their bosses.
"It is time to stop taking bullets for the politicians; let's start dodging the bullet and let the bullet hit the real culprit," said the Governor.
He also stressed the need for subordinates to tell their principal officers the truth with documents to back it up in order to exonerate themselves when something went wrong.
The Governor added that every stakeholder should be blamed for the backwardness of the state, adding that there was a need for a change of attitude so as to take the state to the level it ought to have been.
He said the workshop with its theme was timely, especially as it was coming a few weeks after they were on board, explaining that the training was to add more knowledge and capacity for the participants to carry out their functions effectively.
He equally directed that the Local Government Service Commission organize a similar workshop for the 25 local government council chairmen and heads of legislative councils in the state, as according to him, it will enhance rancur-free service delivery at the local government level.
Earlier in his address, the Chairman of the state Local Government Service Commission, Engr. Mohammed Ahmed Dabban, observed that the theme of the workshop had highlighted the importance of the procurement unit in local government administration, saying the unit was created to ensure transparency, accountability, and due process in local government administration.
He disclosed that a lot was expected from the participants when they returned to their respective local governments. He added that the commission has a lot of initiatives in stock that are in line with the vision of the present administration and will have a direct positive impact on local governments in the state.
Similarly, the Permanent Secretary of the state local government service commission, Dr. Nuhu Garba Ngaski, disclosed that procurement, planning, and store management were key ingredients in effective service delivery at the local government level.
He said the procurement unit in each of the 25 local government councils were newly created, hence the rationale behind organizing the workshop, as the knowledge to be shared by the resource persons will assist in the day-to-day running of the local government. He urged the participants to pay much attention, ask questions, and make suggestions where necessary.
In his goodwill message, the Permanent Secretary of the state Ministry of Local Government, Community Development and Chieftaincy Affairs, Alh. Abubakar Aliyu Mila, calls for close synergy between the offices of the procurement and staff officers and that of the council Chairman so as to have a rancur-free service delivery in all the local government councils in the state.
There were other goodwill messages from the Emir of Minna, Alh. Dr. Umar Faruq Bahago, represented by the Ndaeji Minna, Alh. Mohammed Aliyu Madugu, the Chairman of Borgu Local Government Council, who is also the Chairman of ALGON in the state, Alh. Yarima Kilishi, as well as the speaker of the state assembly, Rt. Honourable Abdulmalik Sarkin-Daji, represented by his Deputy, Hon. Afiniki Dauda, who is representing Gurara constituency.