Why Bago worries more about next four years than first 100 days
By Hamza Waziri
I was recently engaged by some concerned Nigerlites who wanted to know if our brand new Governor, Rt. Hon. Mohammed Umaru Bago, had achieved or recorded any meaningful achievement in his first 100 days in office.
I inquired about the significance of 100 days in office, and they simply said it was a yardstick for measuring performance, a barometer of sorts for determining the direction in which a new government in power was headed.
They suggested that 100 days in office should also serve as a prism through which the citizens see and judge the motives and motions of their new leaders.
Well, while it is hard to argue against the above submission, we must not forget that in reality, 100 days in office in Nigeria is just a tradition, a ritual that elected leaders mark with little or no consideration for its significance.
Achievements recorded or not recorded by a leader in 100 days in office should not and cannot be used as a barometer to measure the performance of their government, especially because 100 days is not 1,460 days (four years).
A serious government must not build on a faulty foundation just because it wants to impress.
We expect that governments at both federal and state levels should prioritise the security of life and property of the people, and in their first 100 days in office, we expect that significant progress should be made to create the basis for rolling out drums and clinking glasses, unlike what has been obtainable in the country.
Hon. Bago, on two occasions, downplayed the significance of the 100 days in office. On the first occasion, when he paid a visit to the members of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) after his victory at the 2023 gubernatorial polls, at their IBB Pen House Secretariat in Minna, the State Capital, when asked about the matter, he said: "100 days in office are insignificant; we don't want to do projects for just quick wins; we are talking about Niger, where we intend to execute many and very important projects that will not only outlive us but the ones that even the next generation will be proud of ".
Governor Bago repeated himself when he had an interactive session with media men in Government House after receiving his Certificate of Return.
Without an iota of doubt, most people expect to see some infrastructural developments within the first 100 days of the new administration, but any keen observer will realise that a lot has been going on even before Hon. Bago was sworn in as the new governor of Niger State.
Some of Hon. Bago's achievements are intangible but crucial steps in a direction expected to have long-lasting positive impacts on the development of the state, which deserve our commendation.
One such step was his visit to President Ahmed Bola Tinubu and all the Service Chiefs to plead and lobby the relevant authorities to change tactics and improve the security architecture to curb the heinous activities of bandits and kidnappers.
Even before Hon. Bago went to Abuja to see Mr. President and the Service Chiefs, he held a critical meeting with the security heads and the traditional leaders in the state to find long-lasting solutions to the security challenges in the state.
Before Bago came on board, Nigerlites were not finding it easy to travel on roads from one local government to another, as travelling became a sort of death warrant, and there was no peace even in the cities, especially in Minna, the state capital, as street urchins took over our streets and became very daring in carrying out their heinous acts in broad daylight.
Today, even though the security challenges are not completely under control, I make bold to say that even Mr. Governor's greatest antagonists will attest to the fact that there is significant progress in curbing the security challenges in both urban and rural areas as these evil-doers have been decimated.
Governor Bago also promised during his campaign tour that he would ensure food security by revolutionising the agricultural sector, a promise that is already being fulfilled as he demonstrates his administration's resolve to maximise the agricultural potentials that abound in the state by vowing to revive the Niger State Agricultural Mechanisation Development Agency (NAMDA), formally known as Agricultural Development Projects (ADP), with the procurement of 300 tractors, out of which 10 will be given to each of the 25 local government areas of the state.
In addition, Governor Bago has flagged off the sales and distribution of fertilisers as well as other agricultural inputs to farmers in the state at a subsidised rate.
Furthermore, Bago has been able to ensure the payment of state civil servants' salaries within the same month, unlike in the past, when they were made to wait until the first week of the following month before getting paid.
Hon. Bago has been able to enter into a concrete agreement with AEDC for a steady electricity supply, and today Nigerlites enjoy at least 16 hours of power supply daily. Additionally, he has set a record for appointing 131 women at once, and we all know that empowering women can boost productivity, increase economic diversification, and increase income equality, in addition to other positive development outcomes.
Within this short period, Bago has also been able to provide at least a temporary solution to the Madallah market traffic nightmare for the commuters plying on the Kaduna/Abuja road every Thursday The marketers were simply asked to leave the roadside or face the full wrath of the law while work is in earnest on how to relocate them to a well-secured and safe place permanently.
As one of his campaign promises, Hon. Bago was also able to push for two ministerial slots for the state, as he argued that since the return of democracy in 1999, the state has always given maximum support to the centre, but we have never been carried along in the scheme of things after President Obasanjo's administration.
On the Minna/Bida road reconstruction debacle, the Bago-led administration has been able to resolve the setbacks on the road project as approval of N3.5 billion has been obtained to be paid as compensation to those affected by the road project, while groundbreaking will take place in November 2023 as soon as the Compensation Committee is done with its assignment.
In addition, within his 100 days in office, Governor Bago's ambition to build a "New Niger", is becoming a reality as contract agreements have been signed by the Niger State Government with some reputable companies to reconstruct Minna township roads and build the Bida ring road. Suleja and Kontagora are next in line for such gigantic projects, even as the 25 local government areas of the state are expected to benefit from the 556 kilometres of roads to be constructed across the state.
It may also interest you to know that a contract worth N18.9 billion has been signed to convert the Shiroro Hotel, which has been in comatose, to the Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida University Teaching Hospital (IBBUTH), while another N11.6 billion contract has also been signed to redevelop the abandoned Three-Arm Zone project, also situated in Minna. Hon. Bago's ambition is to turn Niger State into one of the fastest-developing states and among the top economies in Nigeria and beyond. In that case, insecurity, food security, and a tottering economy should be our concerns, as bandits, herdsmen, and Boko Haram insurgents have put the country under siege and their activities have been on the rise since Buhari’s second coming.
Those should be our major goals, rather than concentrating our energy on which infrastructural development a government has recorded in its 100 days in office.
From the office of the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Niger State. written by Hamza Waziri.