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HomeOpinionHow to Change Bauchi in Four Years: 10 Point Progressive Agenda

How to Change Bauchi in Four Years: 10 Point Progressive Agenda

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By Saadu Umar

Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence…. (John Adams, 1770)

Bauchi State needs change, a radical change to arrest the slide into poverty, inequality, unemployment, illiteracy, debt hole, hunger and malnutrition. The stats are damning. We must reverse these terrible stats and set Bauchi on the path of growth, prosperity equality, security and development.

Look at these abominably damning facts:  Bauchi is the 8th (or 3rd) poorest State in Nigeria according to Gov Bala as reported by the Guardian. 86.6% poverty rate (UN poverty index 2015). Unemployment and underemployment hover over 64% according to government sources, some accounts put it over 80%. The illiteracy rate is over 60%. 1.2 million out of school children according to SUBEB source.

63% debt growth rate, one of the fastest in Nigeria. The foreign debt of over 134.9 million dollars. More than ₦154 billion in domestic debt. The most indebted in the North-East and among the top 10 in Nigeria. While our IGR per capita is a measly 1,725 Naira only, our operating cost is a massive 63.6 billion Naira. No pipe-borne water anywhere in the state save in Bauchi town and one or two more. No meaningful lights everywhere. No infrastructure especially in the rural areas outside Bauchi. No rail, no roads – good roads. Inadequate schools. Insufficient health care facilities.

48.6% and 28.2% stunting growth and acute malnutrition among children respectively. Kids dying of hunger. An alarming crime rate rose in the state. Recently, both the Commissioner of police and the director of DSS were publicly reported decrying the rising rate of kidnapping, murder, banditry and other crimes. Even Gov Bala was not left out, hear him: “You have seen what is happening in Bauchi recently, criminality everywhere, kidnapping and stealing…” (NAN)  Bauchi State is 3rd on the list of “Top 10 most dangerous states in Nigeria” according to reports by Nigerian Infomedia. We can go on and on.

One remarkable thing about all these stats is that Gombe State is doing better in almost all the indices. What a shame!

Regrettably, there seems to be no sign that much will change unless we change course. And, I believe we can change the sorry  story by implementing the following 10 Point Progressive Agenda:

Education

Our children will start learning in their mother tongue. We will introduce a linguistic policy that will see the use of Hausa as the language of instruction in our schools. Our schools will focus on imparting sound knowledge and getting rid of useless subjects, subjects of indoctrination – colonial relics. We will prioritize the teaching of science and technology in all our schools. We will enhance and improve the teaching and learning of the English language. Almajiri and Islamiyyah schools will be reformed and introduced to the teaching of maths and sciences. We will build more schools and elite institutions to cater for our educational needs. Students will have access to loans for their educational needs.

Poverty Alleviation

We will launch a crushing war on poverty through direct cash payments to the poor and vulnerable. We will give up to ₦100,000 to 200,000 families. We will provide direct cash payments of ₦100,000 to women raising kids. ₦60,000.00 will be paid as unemployment benefits tied to community service and/or enrollment in skills acquisition and vocational training programs. There will be help for poor farmers to raise their farm income. Rural roads will be constructed and means of transportation will be provided for the rural poor.

Unemployment

We will work aggressively to bring down unemployment numbers to around 13% from the current high of 64%. Our target will be to create 250,000 decent-paying jobs annually. We will provide skill acquisition programs for our youths. The unemployed graduate will be retrained to equip them with a new skill set that will make them more employable and competitive in the labour market. We will provide entrepreneurship training. Mentorship. Vocational education will be encouraged. We will provide easy access to capital and loans. We will encourage the use of labour-intensive technology in all the sectors of our economy. Investment in agriculture and its diversification will be tailored towards the massive employment of the youth.

Local Government Autonomy

Our local governments will no longer be chained up by bureaucrats in Bauchi. We will grant full autonomy to LGAs and will be allowed to function based on their constitutional powers without any interference from the State government.

Free Fair and Credible Local Government Election

The Bauchi State Independent Electoral Commission will be truly independent to enable it to conduct free, fair and credible elections. The Electoral Law will be amended to allow the use of card readers and other technologies designed to enhance the quality and credibility of elections and greatly reduce fraud and malpractices.

Government Reform

Our government and the civil service must be reformed in an efficient and right manner for effective service delivery. We will reduce the number of working days from five to four and adjust working hours from 9 am – 5 pm save a few essential MDAs like schools and hospitals.

We will address pay disparity and harmonize the salary structure. Persons with the same qualifications, same experience and same efforts will earn the same salary. All outstanding gratuities will be settled. We will cut operations expenses by up to 40% which will go into social spending.

Government bids and contracts would be transparent, fair and be available online. Politicians, including their wives and children, in public service, will be banned from being state contractors directly or through proxies. Government corruption will be fought vigorously and effectively.

Religious and Traditional Leaders

We will engage religious scholars and traditional leaders and make them part of the governance process. Religious scholars will be utilised to lead in changing our value system. They will be supported to inculcate positive values and morals in our kids such as patriotism, self-reliance, hard work, honesty, the dignity of work, unity in diversity, and trustworthiness. The religious scholars will be paid, from the security votes, a lump sum of up to ₦3 million per annum.

Agriculture

We will revolutionise agriculture with massive public spending. Diversification of agriculture will be encouraged by adding floriculture, horticulture, fisheries vegetable production etc. on top of crop production and animal husbandry. We will establish community farms and invest in them. We will engage the private sector and FDI to establish agro-industries in the state. The government will intervene to make sure agricultural jobs are well paid just like other well paid Government jobs.

Infrastructure

Although we will address infrastructure, given our precarious situation, we will give human infrastructure a lot of attention. There will be heavy investment in social safety, schools, education and health. Special funding will be devoted to rural roads, bridges and the provision of potable water in our towns and villages.

Economy, IGR and Debt

Bauchi is ranked at the bottom half of our nation’s economies. In terms of GDP, Bauchi is ranked at number 24 in Nigeria below states like Borno – a state ravaged by insurgency. Therefore, we will work hard to grow Bauchi’s economy and take it to the top 10 economies in the country. This growth will be inclusive, fair and equitable – leaving no one behind. Inequality will be addressed. We won’t sell public assets or privatize public properties. We will be pro-people of Bauchi, not pro-business. Market fundamentalism will not be allowed to take root. We will diversify our economy and make agriculture, education and digital economy the cornerstone of Bauchi’s economy.

We will pay our debts and reverse the unsustainable 63% debt growth rate. We will welcome untied foreign aid and seek foreign direct investment to help grow our economy.

We will significantly raise our per capita IGR from the current ₦1,725. Our revenue base will be expanded and leakages in the system plugged. Each and every citizen should pay a fair and just tax. TSA will be introduced.

In conclusion, facts are facts. Facts don’t lie. Those facts are unendurable, utterly unendurable to every citizen of Bauchi. Except, perhaps, those responsible for this state of affairs, those who are benefiting from and exploiting the miserable status quo and deplorable, depraved partisans who would rather prefer the abyss of hellfire, in blind worship of partisanship, to the high heavens offered on a platter by the patriotic progressive promises.

If you’re not amongst them you have to stand up and endorse the Progressive Agenda. Moreover, you can equally share your thoughts with us.

In the end, one thing is clear and necessary, we must all rise to stop the slide into more misery and help our fellow citizens to the good life, a life of ease. The life Allah desires for us:  “Allah desires for you ease and does not desire for you hardship.” (Quran 2:185).

Rabbana Atina Fid Dunya Hasanatan wa Fil Aakhirati hasanatan-wa-Qina Azaaban-Naar.

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