Friday, September 30, 2016

Governor Yahaya Bello and the Challenges Ahead

The September 20th 2016 Supreme Court’s verdict in favour of Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state has finally put to rest the legitimacy issue that has trailed his government since its inception on January 27th 2016. Bello will now assert full authority and put a strong personal stamp on his government. 

Governor Yahaya, one of the youngest governors in Nigeria has found himself in the saddle of responsibilities at a period that Nigerians’ quest for change is strong, and peoples’ expectations from the leaders are very high. This is because most states, including Bello’s Kogi have witnessed a near breakdown of most systems- high level of poverty, corruption, energy crisis, insecurity and the pitiable misrule. 

Governor Bello’s four years in office are very critical for him, if he is truly determined to make any difference as a young man. A man many young Nigerians are hoping his achievements will serve as fulcrum for youths to prove a point that they can lead in creative and innovative ways during a period of uncommon challenges. 

The Yahaya Bello I know during my short stay at the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC) will make a difference. He was at the Allocation Department, while I was at Planning, Research and Statistics. Working with the speed of the expectations of most Kogites, Yahaya has already formed a team of great thinkers- silicon-valley-thinkers; men and women who can move the government with the speed of the imagination of most Kogites; those whose senses of judgment are centered on the challenges of un-locking the future for ordinary people. And they are already bringing new direction to the public sector’s role in providing the needs of the people.

Within a short time in office, Bello was able to fix many roads, including the notorious bad section of the Lokoja-Ajaokuta Road around Ganaja Village , despite being a federal government road. Bello has gradually cleared salaries for workers at the 21 Local Government Areas in Kogi State and the process is still ongoing while the Kogi State Staff Review and Complaints Committee is doing an excellent job. Bello has gladdened the hearts of many young Nigerians who have been following his steps- his ability to transparently utilize the FG bailout fund- Kogi is the only state to have released the facts and figures on how the bailout funds was spent. The Governor has organized a retreat for his political appointees on innovative strategies for development, a plausible step which will make his aides be in tandem with the new direction. 

Innovative and good leadership always think for the future, Bello has demonstrated that he is a young man that thinks for the future- his government is at the final stages of signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with JUMA International, LLC, a US based company for foreign direct investment worth One Billion Dollars in Agriculture and Agro-allied technology. The governor also promised to construct a Sea Port Terminal in Lokaja. 

Governor Yahaya Bello said that, “there was no victor, no vanquished” for his victory and his emergence as governor was ordained by Almighty God. There are political challenges ahead, but for sure, Governor Bello and his team will be the engine room for greater equality of opportunities for all Kogites. He will build a system that will swing the government away from the traditional methodology of concentrating on only ‘off-the-shelves’ ways of improving governance. Governor Bello has proved that he will bring new feasible ideas that would trigger development; eradicate poverty by uplifting individuals, fight crimes with employments and opportunities and fight official corruption the ways it ought to be. However, Kogi people should brace up for difficult political and economic reforms resulting from a quest to form new directions and reengineering that show the administration thinks at the speed of the expectations of ordinary people. Kogi people need to be patient as their young governor gradually institutionalizes new political, economic and social order for the state. 
 Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Jimeta, Adamawa State,, 08036070980

Friday, September 2, 2016

Governor Bindow and his Roads

Both supporters and antagonists of Adamawa state governor, Muhammadu Umaru Jibrilla Bindow share a common view- that the Governor has performed well so far, and is doing excellently well especially, in terms of infrastructure development. However, he has also failed woefully in certain strategic areas. With regards to infrastructural development, his critics have been able to pick holes in his work. For instance, the appearance of potholes in some areas of newly constructed roads has brought up questions about the quality of the roads and whether they are built to lasting quality. Some civil engineering experts opine that the quality of the roads ought to be at least 6 to 8 inches compacted aggregate of laterite, stone dust and gravel as a base for at least 8 inches asphalt pavement. On the contrary, Governor Bindow’s roads are made of just laterite as a base for few inches of asphalt pavement. This is one of many discrediting analysis of Governor Bindow’s new constructions.

The development drive has also been concentrated within the state capital and a few towns, which has earned the governor the sobriquet ‘state capital governor’ among his critics. 

Governor Bindow has also failed in the aspect of workers’ salaries. Teachers, healthcare and local council workers are being owed salaries of several months. The workers’ screening exercise embarked on, was also handled shoddily; some workers who have served the state for many years were alleged to have been screened as ghost workers. Though, Adamawa state has a bloated workforce and fraud-riddled workers' payroll. 

Governor made a political blunder in his failure to manage the widening division within his own party and the growing disconnect between him and some political bigwigs in the state. Governor Bindow erred by sidelining many members of the legacy parties- ACN, CPC and the ANPP. The only political bigwig that is with the governor is former vice president Atiku Abubakar. And Atiku’s well-established vast political structure, immense war chest and history of successes in political battles has emboldened Bindow so much that some political observers believe the governor often appears ‘self-assured’ in the murky waters of Adamawa politics. There are even insinuations that Bindow has started reaching out to some of his governor-colleagues to support Atiku’s quest for presidency come 2019. Well, it is politics. 

Nonetheless, while Bindow feels safe in Atiku’s arms, he faces a formidable opposition, or better said, a ‘threat’ within his political party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), that may easily consume him. And his opponents may have an edge over him if they play their cards together and smartly- they will sway aggrieved members of the APC and they may also have ‘Abuja’ on their side.

There is need for Bindow to look inwards and start re-engaging all APC stakeholders, instead of just local government party chairmen. Politics is all about state-wide development, party politics, patronage and representative engagement. Bindow has scored low in all. 

Looking at the current atmosphere of Adamawa politics, the masses’ view of governance is that the governor and his few lieutenants have cornered everything. Other important stakeholders are just doing ‘siddon look’. 

The fear for the governor is, when the chips are down, most of his right men today will not swim and drown with him. And, equally important, despite Atiku’s immense war chest, of recent, winning elections in Adamawa is becoming very difficult for Turaki - his preferred candidate, Yayaji Ibrahim Mijinyawa, lost twice, the Adamawa APC governorship primaries. 

If he must succeed, Governor Bindow needs to redress his style of politics. There is still ample time for reconciliation, realignment and the spirit of give and take, because most the ‘arms’ around him might not be able to hold him when the storm comes. 

Zayyad I. Muhammad Jimeta, Adamawa State, 08036070980

Thursday, September 1, 2016

OPEC Secretary General meets Nigerian Ambassador

Vienna, Austria, 30 August 2016--OPEC Secretary General HE Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo met with HE Gazing Jessy Napmwang Dangtim, Charge d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Austria and Slovakia, at the OPEC Secretariat.

Mr. Dangtim, who was accompanied by the First Secretary at the Nigerian Embassy, Mr. Charles Oko, congratulated the Secretary General on his new position. He said Nigeria is proud of Mr. Barkindo’s appointment as the head of the Organization, adding that he is ideally suited to meet the challenges facing the global oil market today.

The Secretary General said he was grateful for the support and looked forward to working with OPEC’s Member Countries. He recalled OPEC’s ‘founding fathers’, who he described as “visionaries” who saw the wisdom of working together in order to support and promote market stability. Today’s challenges, he said, are a reminder that producers need to “return to basics” and further enhance efforts at working cooperatively.

The Secretary General noted that the oil industry tends to move in cycles, which is a constant challenge to market fundamentals. As a result, he said, it is the general consensus of the industry that some form of coordination is needed among producers.

The officials discussed other issues as well, noting that one of the main challenges ahead is continuing to strive for stability in oil producing countries like Nigeria. Such efforts are essential to ensuring a reliable supply to the global market.

The Secretary General also said he supports Nigeria’s ongoing efforts to diversify its economy, expanding its agricultural sector. The future of Nigeria looks bright, he said, particularly if the continued pace of diversification can be sustained.