A Peep at Mr. President’s Governor

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Nseobong Okon-Ekong writes that Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State has recorded an overwhelming glut of achievements straining for attention

Overseeing governance in the home state of the sitting president comes with peculiar pressure. Ordinarily it should be a privilege that comes with a lot of advantage. The president’s governor should be manifesting the signs of a child who exhibits behavioral problems from being overindulged by their parents; assuming the president is seen as the father of the governor of his home state.

The governor should go on an ego trip of self-importance, considering himself as one with a license to do as he pleases over the rest of his colleagues. The rules for selection of chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum should be changed to favour the governor of the home state of the sitting president.

However, recent history of the relationship between sitting presidents and governors of their home states show anything but a healthy liaison. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo made it a trying time for former Ogun State Governor Gbenga Daniel. The chaos between the two leading sons of Ogun State only had a fresh air blown over it with the continuing efforts to sell the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

As Director General of Abubakar’s campaign, Daniel and the leadership of the PDP had to enter a plea for forgiveness for Abubakar who was famously alleged to have transgressed against his principal while serving as Vice President to Obasanjo. Daniel was in an undeniable quagmire, as he too needed to be forgiven by Obasanjo for doing, whatever, wrong. Ask Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State who managed a soured link when he supposedly fell from grace as political godson of former President Goodluck Jonathan. The previously excellent political link between the two leading Izon men had degenerated to a point that it nearly cost Dickson a second-term in office.

However, Governor Aminu Masari of Katsina State may count himself lucky. As governor of President Muhammadu Buhari’s home state, there has been no hint of frosty association between the two men. Manifestly, everything appears to be going well. Masari, it seems, is swathed with the same mix of sweet and bitter outcomes that are prevalent in the Nigerian polity. His state, Katsina, and we must rub it in, which is Buhari’s, as well, is not immune to armed banditry and natural disasters that may have been under publicised. Perhaps, a closer look at Katsina under Masari may reveal that the heat that is threatening to become a raging fire that may consume Mr. President has a huge smoldering section in his home state. Nonetheless, these aspects of intense storms have not been able to eclipse the giant developmental strides recorded by the Masari administration.

In Katsina State today, there is an overwhelming glut of achievements straining for attention since Masari, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives took the reins of governance in 2015. There are many gems that need to be recommended for consideration. From contracting of a 60MVA transformer and a 132/33KV transmission line in Katsina that will significantly improve power supply and raise the production capacity of small and medium enterprises in the state to laying the foundation stone for the construction of 200 housing units for civil servants under the housing delivery for Nigerian workers; a joint venture between the Federal Mortgage Bank, the Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress of Nigeria; there lies the verve for the actualisation of the six priority areas of the Masari administration; namely education, health, water, agriculture, youth and women development and roads. Under each of these sub-heads, the Masari administration in Katsina State has recorded landmark achievements under its belt that are often understated because of his modesty.

There are many illustrious developmental strides that Masari should rightly earn bragging rights for. These include commissioning and handing over of the Masari Study Centre to the National Open University of Nigeria in fulfillment of the administration’s pledge to simplify people’s quest for education. The centre was built/equipped by the Katsina State government. The government’s effort

in raising the standard of education has started yielding results as the Government Girls Day Primary School Malumfashi won the 1st runner-up in the Best School category for 2017 President’s Teachers’ and Schools Excellence Award (PTESEA) of the Federal Ministry of Education. This is one of the evidence of Masari’s commitment to providing the right and conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning by carrying out comprehensive rehabilitation in places like the Galadima Primary School Malumfashi. The administration introduced the S-Power programme which has so far recruited 5,000 qualified youths to teach in primary schools. It also intends to engage another 3,000 university graduates of Education, Technology, Engineering and other science-based courses.

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In early July last year, Masari admitted he witnessed one of his happiest days in his 69 years on earth. He said he was more than proud to have brought something that will impact positively not only on the lives of our people but also the West African Sub-region. He was referring to the entrance of the Dangote Group into the state to start agricultural production that involves the utilisation of out-grower and cluster groups in the production of tomato and other agricultural products apart from the 10,000 hectres of tomato the group was embarking on. The Masari administration signed the agreement to lease the Katsina-Songhai initiative to the Dangote Group for a period of 10 years. Dangote has invested over N500 million on the programme to establish and agricultural research institute and also an agricultural processing plant.

In 2017, the Masari administration employed 700 doctors, nurses and other supporting staff. Last year, it employed 54 doctors, 700 nurses and other supporting staff in state owned hospitals. It is on record that the government carried out massive renovation, expansion and remodeling of the Galadima Abdullahi General Hospital Malumfashi to reinvigorate the health delivery system as one of the cardinal objectives of the administration.

These efforts have also attracted contribution of philanthropist, Muntari Sagir who has undertaken the comprehension renovation, expansion and upgrade of structures at the Tsamiya CHC Malumfashi as part of his social service to the people. The Katsina State government has prioritized healthcare delivery. To this end, it has so far employed more than 1000 healthcare workers across the cadre, while upgrading healthcare delivery institutions to meet the demands and needs of the people.

Other governors may have had a hard time to get the brigade headquarters of the Nigerian Army. That can hardly be a problem when your son is the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; so in February last year, the Headquarters of the 17 Brigade of the Nigerian Army started operations in Katsina with Brigadier General Lukman Tokunbo Omoniyi as Brigade Commander.

It is a measure of the good relations between President Buhari and Governor Masari that a monumental international project like the Niger-Nigeria Hydrocarbon Pipeline and Refinery Projects which has kick-started a win-win cooperation, involving crude oil export from Niger and construction of refinery facilities in Nigeria. The initiative will provide a reliable market for the stranded crude oil from Niger Republic and also provide petroleum products for Nigeria. The refinery will be built in Katsina State.

Masari’s sumptuous chronicle of achievements have not been without a few black spots. Frequent clash between herders and farmers, leading to loss of lives and property have been recorded in places like Gora Village in Safana local government area. In Sabuwa local government area, local farmers have been attacked by armed bandits. There have also been incessant attacks by armed bandits on neighbouring villages in Zamfara state to Dansabau village of Kankara local government area.

The state is also struggling with natural occurrences like the over-flooding of the bank of the Jibia River which consumed many lives and property worth millions of Naira and led to the establishment of an IDP camp. The tragic loss included a bride that just got married. Masari described as the worst disaster ever in the state.

Speaking of landmark achievements, it is also noteworthy to mention the elevation of a woman as the

Solicitor General/Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Justice. She is Barrister Safiya Badamasi. The state government has also trained hundreds of young men and women in various trades.

OFF THE CUFF:

*For it to sustain its respect and acceptability, the Armed Forces must maintain its purpose of being, and remain fair to all devoid of sentiments

Masari condoling the Nigerian Armed Forces for loss of officers/men in Metele

*It is obvious that adequate security cannot be guaranteed in a society overwhelmed by poverty. Our resolve therefore, to face and eradicate it is resolute and effeminate. All hands should therefore be on deck to ensure that all the programmes record remarkable successes

Masari offering a suggestion on how to ensure security of lives and property

*We should all embrace the spirit of sportsmanship in the election to display high degree of moral value and credibility to ensure the election is free and fair

Masari urging politicians to play by the rules

*It’s time for us to pause and reflect on where we were, where we are, where we are heading and how we intend to get there. It’s incumbent on all patriotic citizens to assist the leadership to successfully navigate the country out of the dire straits in all positive ways we can

Masari calling on all Nigerians to do their best to move the country forward

*We must resist, reject and renounce politics of negative instincts, and put a distance between us and the proponents and promoters of such divisive tendencies, as their interest is at variance with the nation’s

Masari pleading for better cohesion among all segments of the society

*We all have a role to play in the realisation of a better society, but as a leader, anytime you move to effect a change, some people of different ideologies will mischievously play politics with it. But, a good leader must have the courage to forge ahead

Masari encouraging people in leadership to be resolute in pursuing their goals for the good of the majority

*We are working to bring back the kind of leadership where the people will be very much involved in the dispensation of their affairs. They will be educated and empowered to be bold and courageous enough to hold their leaders accountable based on the tenets of democracy

*Yes am a politician facing elections but I am a leader; I will therefore not play to the gallery. We will continue to implement policies that, to the best of our conviction, believe are in tandem with the needs and aspirations of our people

Masari pledging his loyalty to the people always

Masari on the need for a strategy that promotes an educated followership

*What happens to our people and society at all times is our business, that’s why we take actions and decisions that may be very unpopular to our people but we have the conviction they are right. We are not, in any way going to play to the gallery just to get praised

Masari justifying his policies that may not be popular with some people

*As a responsible government, we will continue to extend our hand of friendship not only to the Nigeria Labour Congress but to all other stake holders to ensure that an acceptable standard of workers welfare is defined and sustained

Masari stating his respect for workers

*We are indeed ordinary mortals that are bound to make mistakes, but never shall we, consciously, take any action or implement any program or policy that will have negative repercussions on the lives and well-being of our people

Masari seeking understanding from the people for some of his policies

*Youth is the most fascinating segment of any society not the least because of its seemingly boundless energy, exuberance, and zeal. Views differ as to the exact period or bracket that could actually be considered as that of youth

Masari asserting his understanding of youth