It a fact that, democracy as a system of governance vests virtually all the powers of decision making on the people. The people are the focal point of every democratic leader’s exploits in office. In advanced democracies, elites and political office holders are very much aware of the dangers associated with wielding their perennial powers wildly and at the expense of the masses. They know that unless they deliver on their campaign promises and except they leave the people happier than they met them, they stand the risks of being crushed at the polls.
An enlightened electorate know the power they possess and the opposition knows how to utilise aggrieved electorates to unseat a seating government. So, every decision of a democratically elected government is made to reflect the needs of the people. Policy thrust, policy implementation and project execution are done at the behest of the people with some level of probity and accountability.
In Nigeria, the relationship between the electorates and the elected is dangerously skewered in favour of the later. Since 1999, successive governments have been consistent in raping the nation and the masses of their shared patrimony. Cronies and apologists control the narrative around leaders while the masses are left high and dry. The impunity at the corridors of power waxes strong and the electoral grab and win system seems to have emboldened the charlatans in power.
But for the Jega revolution that returned some sanity to the process, by relocating the power to decide back to its real location, the people, Nigeria’s democracy was heading straight for the rocks. Even at that, Nigerian politicians develop wilful selective amnesia; they tend to forget the source of their power the moment they are elected into office and the poor electorates are left to rue their chances.
Unlike in the past though that every problem of governance was blamed on the president in Abuja, continues advocacy by political commentators has successfully returned the lens of scrutiny to the governors and this makes sense. After all, governors are the real custodians of the power that directly affects the electorate. This development has exposed the folly of many governors who came into office under the grandiose illusion of business as usual, but not the occupants of the Kebbi state government house. Why should they? After all, equity can only be delivered with clean hands and Kebbi state seems to have found the one who is willing to do the needful in the face of adversity.
Before the emergence of Governor Bagudu, Kebbi state was the perfect example of ‘the land’ in Gbemisola Adeoti’s Ambush. While the people are hardworking, strong and committed to their age-old means of livelihood, agriculture, successive governors of Kebbi state since the return of democracy appear to be deliberately blocking the industry of the people. Anyone who is familiar with the political and social indicators of Kebbi State before the election that brought in the Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu led dispensation knows that the realities are different today, Kebbi has been transformed from the very picture of dereliction that it used to be to a city under construction and the prospects are heart-warming.
Quite uncharacteristically, the government in Kebbi state is delivering on its campaign promises and the people of Kebbi are for the first time knowing what it feels like to be in a democracy. No one would have taken governor Bagudu seriously when he declared during his inauguration that his government is all about the people, but any doubt about that statement would have been laid to rest with his array of people-oriented policies that are implemented swiftly with all the vigour and commitment that the people deserve.
For instance, at the wee days of his administration, Governor Bagudu who understands the value of quality foundational education, an area he has been known to complain bitterly about, took a state-wide tour of the educational facilities in the state, specifically secondary schools and as expected, the schools were in a very bad shape, students are left with little or no facilities or learning materials. In some schools visited, students sit on the floor to receive instruction and this broke the governor’s heart. Therefore, upon his return from the field, governor he immediately issued a contract for the renovation and repositioning of all the secondary schools in Kebbi state.
Anyone who is not a mischief maker in Kebbi state can confirm that after two years of concerted efforts at revamping the schools, they are today wearing a colourful look. Some of the heritage schools have even been fitted with modern teaching aides and equipment like projectors and computers in a bid to raise the level of education which experts agreed was in dire need of intervention. Students in tertiary institutions also have smiles on their faces too as the governor recently approved a huge amount to be used in offsetting the registration fees of Kebbians studying in the Usman Danfodio University, Sokoto.
Without wasting time lamenting as many governors were doing about the dire straits their states are, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu swung into action, he rolled out his ‘Agricultural Empowerment’ policy and this dispelled any fear that the governor may toe the path of his predecessors whose lack of initiative meant he inherited a derelict state devoid of any IGR potential. His bold and audacious plan hinges on the state’s natural and human resources and one gets a feeling the man knows exactly what he was doing.
“We shall create incentives for our young men and women to undertake activities that they can choose, from agriculture to processing to mining to skills that are required elsewhere so that they can be able to find jobs that will satisfy their skills endowment and position our state for greatness,” he submitted and it didn’t take long before the hens were home to roost because, in one fluid movement, the governor struck a partnership deal with Bank of Industry, Central Bank and Lagos state to harness the human and natural resource potential of the state especially rice production.
Equally, when the floods came calling, Gov. Bagudu was swift to provide relief materials for the affected victims, he assured them that government will do all within its power to help them back to their feet “My administration will do everything within her power to help you back to your feet” He declared. Needless to say, that has been done and the affected people have all regained their footing in the economic indication board and all necessary steps have been taken to ensure that a repeat is not experienced. The IDP’s have also not being left out, motorised boreholes and other amenities that will make their lives bearable in the camps have been provided by governor Bagudu in partnership with relief organisation and the federal government of Nigeria.
Perhaps, the most glaring achievements of governor Bagudu over the past two years are the construction of roads, culvert and erosion projects all over the state. Over 80 km of road has been constructed in Kebbi state within these last two years. Koko-Mahuta-Dabai road, the Kao’je-Illo road, the Shema-Bakoshi Road, the Kwanar Dabai- Zuru, Maga-Ribah road and the 56.8 kilometer Ribah-Bena road projects and lots of many others both in the state capital and the adjoining towns and rural areas.
In fact, the capture all the achievements recorded by Gov. Bagudu’s administration in Kebbi within two and half years of his stewardship cut across all the sectors of the state’s economy, goes beyond ordinary piece of this nature but with his prevailing and sparkling performance, surpassed to say, this could be the only time Kebbian are tapping the dividends of democracy.
Kamaru writes from Birnin Kebbi