Good and inclusive governance as well as people’s trust are, perhaps, the most important factors in the quest for the socioeconomic development of any society. Its’ imperative is such that it brings with it and indeed guarantees stability, prosperity, and collective well-being of the people.
In establishing good governance, a leader must come with vision, courage, tolerance, and humility to make that quantum leap because transformation, progress, and development are not achieved in a vacuum. Indeed, hard work is fundamentally a prerequisite for building today for tomorrow and automatically earning the trust of the people.
After a triumphant entry and assumption of office, as the 6th executive governor of Niger state, His Excellency, Mohammed Umar Bago realised how trust would not only be vital to his success but that all campaign promises must be delivered to earn and sustain that trust and consequentially avoid the fatal mistakes of his predecessors.
Given the size (vast landmass), diversity, and development challenges of Niger state, the herculean task of spearheading the affairs of the state is enormous but surmountable. In order to confront our growing challenges, Governor Mohammed Umar Bago rolled out the policy thrust of his administration that would expectedly trigger improvement in the socioeconomic conditions of the people.
The policy thrust and roadmap targets a transformation programme that would help accelerate good governance, overcome obstacles, and harness the full potential of the state to spur inclusive growth, support economic transformation, and promote development.
With a resolve to tackle the mirage of developmental challenges facing the state, the governor listed security, agriculture, education, commerce, tourism, health, infrastructure development, and women and youth empowerment as the central focus and priorities of the administration as contained in his inaugural address to the people of the state shortly after taking the oath of allegiance administered by the Chief Judge of the state, Justice Halima Ibrahim Abdulmalik.
The new administration is taking the issue of security seriously. The re-articulation of the state’s development agenda upholds insecurity as the most compelling task ahead of the government. “We will tackle insecurity challenges bedeviling the state with the intensity and urgency it deserves,” Governor Umar Bago assured in that historic inaugural address.
To do so, the governor, with the swiftness of military dispatch, has set the ball rolling with his recent visitation and consultations with the nation’s Service Chiefs and Heads of para-military outfits, to consolidate the already established, long-term collaboration with security agencies towards a peaceful Niger state.
Governor Mohammed Umar Bago will strive to boost the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the state and diversify its economy through agriculture, solid minerals, and tourism as well as other potential areas of comparative economic advantage.
In repositioning the state for greatness, the governor is aware of and recognizes the potential of agriculture to rapidly promote growth as the backbone of the state’s economy. Consequently, the new administration will facilitate the attainment of food sufficiency; provide jobs across its value chain while providing the needed revenue for critical development of the state, and reduce the over-dependence on federal allocations.
However, the state government will also leverage assistance from international development partners, aids and donor agencies to fund some critical and revenue-yielding sectors of the state’s economy especially tourism and road infrastructure.
Promoting gender and youth mainstreaming is essential for an all-inclusive government. Governor Mohammed Umar Bago is aware and has decided to inspiringly support the future. He wants to bring women and youths not just to the table but empowered to make meaningful contributions to the progress and development of the state.
The new governor, in driving the policy, earmarked the positions of vice chairman and secretary of the 25 local government areas of the state to be held by women under his administration while 90 percent of those who would be appointed to his cabinet would be youths.
“Our administration’s determination to create a better future for youths and women will be unwavering; we will create opportunities for gainful employment for them within the state and beyond.” I am confident that the engagement of our women and youths in skill acquisition will create the desired multiplier effects to change their socioeconomic status.
The government understands the yearnings and expectations of the people, which is why it has chosen to do things differently, that is taking a departure from the past and in the overall interest of the people. It is in demonstration of this resolve that Governor Mohammed Umar Bago immediately, on the inauguration, revoked the houses and plots of land at the proposed Three Arms Zone in Minna, which was sold to commissioners and other key government officials by the immediate past administration of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello. He said the Three Arms Zone will be completed to provide accommodation to the Three Arms of the government as was contained in the original master plan.
A better future is here, within our grasp. There is no doubt that armed with a modern governance framework, a pro-growth and development policy, the new administration can deliver. But we must all be prepared to leave our comfort zones if things must get better. However, there is high optimism that, with collective support and cooperation, the new government shall achieve remarkable milestones beyond expectations. Niger state is a work in progress!
…Ibrahim is the chief press secretary to the governor