Sunday, September 20, 2015

Buhari is winning the Boko Haram War; Hence, Governors Have Challenges

  


There are enormous challenges for Governors in the northeastern states torn by Boko Haram senseless war. In Borno, Yobe, Adamawa including some parts of Gombe and Bauchi states, there are widespread human movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs), insecurity, destroyed infrastructure and inaccessible land for subsistent agriculture. These problems have depressed the affected communities in these five states. 

The governors of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe are yet to unveil comprehensive and feasible post-war programmes and projects to restore communities to their pre-war peaceful and productive statuses. As the military is winning the war, communities in the northeast of the country expect the governors of these five states to come together, design programmes and projects to tackle the original factors that facilitated the growth of Boko Haram and helped the group in its recruitments and indoctrinations - abject poverty, illiteracy and the absence of employment opportunities in these states.

The Borno state governor, Kasim Shettima has announced the creation of a ministry charged with reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of communities affected by Boko Haram insurgency. Kasim’s move is a good one, but what this war-torn states need is a strong collaboration between the states governments to create a multifaceted joint commission mainly for the restoration of basic infrastructure, integration of lives and livelihood of thousands of people, the quick rehabilitation of agricultural land; the local economy; places of worship, health-centres, bridges, boreholes, schools including the creation of productive employment for the teeming unemployed citizens and those engaged in unproductive-manual jobs. This will also facilitate the fast healing of the scars of war as well as complement the security restoration and peace building by the military. The creation of a joint commission is necessitated by some basic rationales- a collective approach by affected states, efficiency, and the opportunity to easily mobilize substantial amount of funds. 

The commission should work in this way- affected communities should be identified, then a reductionist approach should be applied to restore the community and also provide it with basic infrastructure that was hitherto not available in the community. For instance, if Gamboro Ngala in Borno state is a community ravaged by the war, the commission should restore the community’s schools, water supply, arable land, market, rural electricity, in fact the entire basic infrastructure. If this is done, the lack of clear direction most war-torn communities suffer will be completely eliminated from Gamboro Ngala. Ten to twenty communities can be restored at once, because most of affected communities are not very large and reconstruction, rehabilitation and resettlement of a community may not be a billion naira project.

The big question is, where will the money to undertake such a ‘dream’ project come from? The five states of Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe have 96 local government areas (LGAs), there is no LGA in Nigeria that does not receive nearly 100 million naira a month from the federation account. If the 96 LGAs can contribute 5% of their monthly Federal Allocation Committee (FAC) subvention, that will translate into a whopping 5 million naira from each LGA per month. This means 480 million naira per month just from the 96 LGAs. Then, if each of the five states can contribute 50 million naira per month it will translate to 250 million naira. Definitely the federal government and some donor agencies will also contribute some good amount of money. If for instance, a billion naira can be generated every month, the impact can reach many war-torn communities in short time. 

If this approach is employed to reconstruct, rehabilitate and resettle the communities ravaged by Boko Haram senseless war, it will fast track the healing of the scars of war, restore basic infrastructure and local economies, including returning these communities to their pre-war or even better conditions. Though, this approach can only work if a time-frame is set for the commission to conclude its assignment. Projects and programmes to be carried out in each community is identified and specifically stated while rules and procedures are put in place to avoid turning the commission into a vehicle for awarding contracts to friends and cronies. Finally and most importantly, governors of the affected states must show commitment and strong political will to make the scheme work.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980.



Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Ministers President Buhari Will Appoint



Nigerians are anxiously waiting for President Buhari’s list of ministers. Buhari’s delay in appointing his ministers have attracted curiosity from most Nigerians on the type of ministers he will appoint. 

Many Nigerians expect Buhari to take a different direction from the previous style of presenting names of ministerial nominees to the Senate without their portfolios. If Buhari can be bold enough to send the names of ministerial nominees with their portfolios attached against their respective names, it will make a great difference and make the screening easier for the Senators while also giving Nigerians a foreknowledge of how each nominee may fare in his/her post. Though, one must admit that being eloquent on stage does not necessarily translate into performing very well in the field. Buhari should also endeavor to include young individuals in his cabinet; it will enliven his cabinet with new ideas and ‘young minds passion’ for adventures. 

This government needs some young adventurers- great thinkers, silicon-valley-like-thinkers; men and women who can move the government with the speed of the imagination of most Nigerians. Buhari needs individuals whose senses of judgment is centered on the challenges of un-locking the future for ordinary Nigerians.

Supporters and admirers of Buhari should not be deceived. Buhari also needs politicians in his cabinet; complete sidelining of politicians may be a political suicide for Buhari. He needs them in some areas- especially to hold the political front for him when the need arises.

There are some ministries that Buhari should hold dear- petroleum, finance, solid minerals, rural development, education, health, and agriculture. These ministries should be manned by professionals. Mr. President should be very strong in this regard. If he finds competent professionals from a village in Bayelsa who can effectively steer these ministries, he should be brave enough to appoint them. When professionals are appointed to man very important ministries, they know what is expected of them. They know they are called to rebuild a system that will shift the governance away from the traditional method of concentrating on only 'off-the-shelves' way of improving our society. They will not only saddle themselves with the responsibilities within their portfolio; but also be team players that will bring new and feasible ideas that will trigger development in all spheres of the society. They will help put in place, systems that will bring dynamism into governance.

Buhari needs to start a yearly continuous assessment of ministers. Each minister should be given realistic and measurable targets to achieve within a year or two. This is will leapfrog development; bring new thinking and fresh approach to governance. This will also make the cabinet an engine-room to provide broad variety of services to Nigerians, ranging from health to industrial development, security, a sound legal system, and the provision of effective infrastructure and education system and human capital development.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980. He blogs at www.zayyaddp.blogspot.com







Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Governor Bindow’s 100 days of Good and Faulty Starts


Adamawa state Governor, Mohammed Jibrilla Bindow’s 100 days in office were full of some good starts and quite a number of faulty ones. Political interests, godfathers’ influence and the lack of a well-mapped development strategy were responsible for some of Bindow’s faulty starts.
 If in the next 100 days, Bindow does not take good steps to be more tough, he will find himself in the shoes of his predecessor- a ‘curse’ attached to the politics of governing Adamawa state in the current democracy. For instance, Governor Boni Haruna started very well- had good plans for the civil service, representative government and a well-mapped out strategy to finish uncompleted and abandoned projects, but his government ended in confusion and regrets. Governor Murtala Nyako likewise, started on an excellent track- massive urban roads rehabilitation and construction, enjoyed impressive public goodwill and Nyako promised to fight corruption and poverty. Unfortunately, Nyako’s 7 years were enmeshed in nepotism and politics-overshadowed-policies. Acting Governor Ahmadu Fintiri also had a splendid start- restoration of meaning of government, but he made some costly political slip-ups. Governor Bala James Ngilari was a bit different. He came through confusion, ran a government full of confusion and lacking in many things that defines and gives meaning to a government. 
One of the big mistakes Bindow made was breaking the promise he made to work with less than 10 commissioners to minimize cost of governance- he ended up with 22 commissioners. Adamawa people were disappointed that Governor Bindow did not form a leaner but representative cabinet. People were also irked that Governor Bindow did not appoint a cabinet that is ‘bi-diverse’- policy designers and implementers, and those that would handle the political front.
Furthermore, the governor has not been properly represented as it concerns his publicity. He needs to design a public relations strategy and tame some of his overzealous aides who misrepresent him publicly by announcing government policies just to appear among the governor’s A-list aides.
Governor Bindow made a mistake by letting one of the best hands that could have handled his publicity well; lose out in the commissioner confirmation process.  The man has all the credentials to be a commissioner – both from the professional and political angles. He is worth his salts in his career and participated fully at Bindow's campaign rallies. The man was screened out basically for two reasons- both political. In retrospection, a night to the inauguration of the Adamawa State House of Assembly, a deal was agreed that the Member Representing Gombi constituency – Rufa'i Umar will be elected speaker; but in the morning, the scenario changed- Kabir Mijinyawa of Yola South was elected. The political maneuver that took place between that night and the morning was same scheme that took place in the House that screened out the man.  Governor Bindow played ‘cool’ politics with the man’s nomination- he gave him with the right hand and snatched it with the left hand. In order not to publicly offend Nyako, Bindow nominated the man, but went behind the doors to ask the state assembly members not to clear him. Though, the man has respectfully disputed the claim that Governor Bindow was behind his rejection by the House of Assembly.
On the development aspect, Governor Bindow is so far, doing well. The hope is that the current massive roads constructions and rehabilitation Adamawa state is witnessing will not overwhelm and stop Governor Bindow from the much-needed rehabilitation of schools, reviving of sound healthcare system, youth empowerment and poverty reduction.  All the road projects are concentrated within the Jimeta- Yola axis, while the other 20 LGAs are yet to feel the impact.
Furthermore, Governor Bindow has also committed some avoidable political blunders- the complete sidelining of Nyako’s men who were instrumental to his winning the election; the over concentration of political appointments in the Jimeta-Yola axis- three commissioners, Secretary to the State Government, Chief of Staff, Head of Service. Some observers had thought the Governor will appoint his SSG from the Numan federation. 
Another instance of Bindow’s faulty start is in the area of youth development.  The Governor seems to have forgotten that the youths are the largest and most complex segment of Adamawa population- youths occupy over 70% of Adamawa population. Adamawa youths expect Governor Bindow to bring a lot of changes to youth development, in regards to education, sport, entrepreneurship, agriculture, and more importantly, human capital development. The Governor is young, so he should understand and share the youth’s expectations from the government and the society at large.
Governor Bindow could fail woefully if he continues to rely heavily on the monthly federation allocation of the easy petro-dollars. He should improve on IGR collection through blocking leakages, taping on taxes and manageable overhead cost. For instance, there is no reason Adamawa state should shoulder the cost of sustaining over a large numbers of Special Advisers, while ordinary people are living in abject poverty. Governor Bindow should take a cue from Governor Nasir El-Rufa'is biometric verification of workers on kaduna   state pay roll.
This will give the state an accurate and reliable database of its workforce, determine the exact amount of money being spent monthly on staff salary, and above all, it will help the state to block leakages and save money for the much-needed infrastructure. Farmers in the state are also unhappy with the Governor- raining season is fully on, yet no fertilizers in the state.
Adamawa people expect Governor Bindow's priorities for the next 100 days to be: education, agriculture, building of basic infrastructure and healing the wounds of Boko Haram devastation. Governor Bindow’s next 100 days should be used to breathe life into Adamawa’s education sector- build new schools, equip old ones and get qualified teachers. Many communities, businesses and individuals have been devastated by Boko Haram senseless war. Governor Bindow should also use the re-development of agricultural land, assisting of artisans, youth empowerment and rebuilding of basic infrastructures as the easiest ways to rehabilitate the communities, restore local economy as well as touch and integrate the lives and livelihood of the thousands of people devastated by the scars of Boko Haram senseless war.
Governor Bindow should consolidate on some of his good starts; but he should first overcome his major obstacles which are the power-hungry politicians; the self-appointed godfathers and kingmakers surrounding him. The state’s huge debts; the dwindling monthly allocation from the easy petro-dollars as well as the peoples’ unrelenting high expectations should also be priority on Mr. Governor’s mind.

Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State, zaymohd@yahoo.com, 08036070980.