BAUCHI STATE: A BRIEF ASSESSMENT FROM 1976

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As I sat to pencil this piece, I thought of several favourable and unfavourable factors that may attract me attacks from those I may offend consciously. But, let me crave the indulgence of all for the fact that some readers may be pleased with what I may say while others may be offended for obvious reasons by my acts of commission or omission.

As a public commentator, I remain politically sensitive, and I may tread on sensitive corns. If I do so, it was intentional and not unintentional. I set out neither to please nor to offend. I remain committed to stating the facts no matter whose ox may be gored and I have no reserved apology to offer.

Nigeria came to be on January 1, 1914, after the amalgamation of Northern and Southern protectorates, by the British colonialists. For understandable reasons, Nigerians tend to disregard the years of colonial rule, as if they were not part of our history. Those years constitute a very important component of our past, and are, indeed, crucial in the formation of our present character. Many of our achievements and failures can be traced to our experiences during those formative years of history.

The history of the evolution of Bauchi State illustrates the close affinity of the past and the present. In his broadcast, on February 3, 1976, Gen. Murtala Muhammed, declared among others that, “the present North-Eastern State is divided into three States as follows: Bauchi State consisting of Bauchi Province less Jarawa district, with headquarters at Bauchi”. Bauchi Province was an entity which started evolving since 1902 when it was first created by the British.

At that time, it consisted of the present Bauchi, Dass and Ningi Emirates, and the whole of the present day Gombe and Plateau States. The present Misau, Katagum and Jama’are Emirates were initially part of Kano Province. In the late 1920s, Plateau province was created and the three Emirates of Misau, Katagum and Jama’are were merged with Bauchi from Kano. The original Bauchi Province was large because, further back, in the 19th century, Bauchi Emirate extended to the banks of River Benue and Wase in present-day Plateau State. Wase was established by Madakin Bauchi Hassan which controlled the entire Plateau area as a sub-Emirate of Bauchi, ruled by scions of the Madaki House.
The struggle for the creation of Bauchi State was waged by civil and public servants at their own risk, but not for personal gain as stated by an erudite scholar, Dr. Musa Babayo (Talban Katagum).

The issue originated from the mistake made by the Yakubu Gowon administration when North-Eastern State was created in 1967. The composite State consisted of Borno, which was a proud empire in its own right up to the end of 19th century, and a large chunk of the Sokoto Caliphate consisting of seven flag bearers of Danfodio; Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Jama’are, Katagum, Misau and Muri. Throughout the 19th century the Caliphate of Sokoto and Bornu had been rivals.

In the 1820s, a fierce battle was fought between the two rivals in which Bauchi featured prominently and the matter was not forgotten. So when the capital of North-Eastern State was located at Bauchi, Bornu considered it an insult. The then military governor, Col. Musa Usman, himself an indigene of Borno, took side with his kith and kin and the capital was relocated to Maiduguri which later encouraged a struggle for freedom from the other components.

More ever, during the nine-year rule of Musa Usman, majority of developments were concentrated in Maiduguri to the utter neglect of other components.

Thus, when the same people who fought for the creation of Bauchi State found themselves at the helm of affairs of their nascent state, they jealously insisted on even development of the respective components to avoid the mistakes that necessitated their struggle.

Unfortunately, their successors mistook that laudable characteristic for the enshrinement of sectionalism. The patriots who fought bravely shoulder to shoulder to have a State could not have become so base in their latter relations with each other. As usual, history was neglected and the intentions of the heroes were hidden. Therefore, the laudable objectives of the founding fathers were carelessly misinterpreted to become vice by their successors. Seeds of future discord were sawn. Part of the result of that sorry situation was witnessed when Gombe State was created in 1996 and many youths, civil servants and even elders took matters to extremes. There were jubilations as Gombe indigenes bid Bauchi state farewell.

Presently, there is an underground agitation for Katagum State out of Bauchi State which is expected to materialize in the immediate future. What may happen then will largely depend on what is done today.

I took time to follow those threads because I wanted to stress that the past and the present are closely connected and we cannot really hope to understand the current situation without studying the past. The problems confronting Bauchi State are so numerous that we are often at a loss as to where to begin. A glance at the past can make the difference. When we consider the situation of today, the most obvious problems are underdevelopment of the state, unemployment of the youths and their propensity for violence. Less obvious but equally serious are the problems connected with education, healthcare, and infrastructure.

The usual tendency by those in leadership is to enumerate those problems without considering the past and present efforts and their results. In 1976, Bauchi State had virtually nothing on the ground with the State capital not even connected to the national grid. The whole State including Gombe had only 100 primary schools and healthcare did not reach even some Emirate headquarters. Faced with such a gigantic task, the first administration had only N200million with which to kick-start the State. The only way forward was to look deep into the heap of problems and pick those that could be tackled with ease while making sure essential services and normal government business were maintained. No administration in history can claim having the capacity to solve all problems.

The only difference between one administration and another is largely determined by the ability, intelligence and patriotism of those in leadership. Some are opportunists lacking the ability to perform while others were created and blessed with leadership expertise. A brief look will suffice to illustrate my point; Colonel Muhammed Bello Khaliel – 1976 – 1978, spent roughly two years in leadership but was able to establish a solid government structure and provided roads, water and housing for the state. Colonel Garba Duba – 1978 – 1979, was more engaged in organizing a smooth transition to civil rule and maintenance of provided services. He was instrumental to the establishment of the Federal Polytechnic in Bauchi. Abubakar Tatari Ali – 1979 – 1983, constructed several roads, schools and hospitals and rationalized higher education.

He established a solid revenue and industrial base for the state’s sustainable growth that was abandoned later by his successors.

Brigadier-General Sani Sami – 1983 – 1985, completed inherited projects, rehabilitated Bauchi Specialist Hospital, boosted agriculture and sports. Colonel Chris Abutu Garuba – 1985 – 1988, he established Bauchi State Integrated Rural Development Agency (BASIRDA), developed sporting facilities with the transformation of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa stadium, the multi-purpose indoor sports hall and Olympic-sized swimming pool. He established Inland Bank, Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic (ATAP), Bauchi Television Station (BATV) and Bauchi State Transport Corporation (Yankari Express). Colonel Joshua Mamman Madaki – 1988 – 1990 was very passionate about massive wheat production, expanded Gubi dam and established Ibrahim Babangida Square in Bauchi apart from maintenance of other infrastructures. Colonel Abu Ali – 1990 – 1991 was another transition administration that embarked on the completion of projects. He was succeeded by Dahiru Deba from 1991 – 1993. His administration believed in all round development of the state and many policies were initiated and later implemented by others. Wing Commander James Yana Kalau 1993 – 1994 executed virtually no project but wasted more time on fighting fuel scarcity.

He was succeeded by Navy Captain Rasheed Adisa Raji 1994 – 1996 who constructed legislative quarters in Bauchi and paid more attention to the success of the Family Support Programme of Maryam Abacha. Colonel Theophilus Oladapo Bamigboye 1996 – 1998 had passion for education to which he gave adequate attention. He supervised the demerger with Gombe State. Wing Commander Abdul Adamu Mshelia was in Bauchi as governor from 1998 – 1999. As a transition governor, he paid more attention to the success of the transition to civil rule but established the Bauchi Fertilizer Blending Plant. Ahmadu Adamu Mu’azu was next to govern Bauchi state from 1999 – 2007. He had a passion for good roads, beautification, rural development, water supply, education and health. He boosted tourism and served the State to the best of his ability. He is rated as one of the best governors ever in the history of the State. Isa Yuguda was next from 2007 – 2015. He supported human development, rehabilitated few roads, improved healthcare, supported agriculture, tourism and education. He was instrumental to the upgrading of the former Bauchi Specialist Hospital to a University Teaching Hospital and in place, provided a band new Specialist Hospital equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and an international cargo airport in Bauchi.

Yuguda established a state university and upgraded the former Formal and Non-Formal Institute of Education to a College of Technical Education at Kangere.
Muhammed A. Abubakar was the next to govern the state from 2015-2019. His administration was purposeful but slow with a clear direction. He piloted the affairs of the state with caution and focused on infrastructural development, education, healthcare, agriculture and security. It is rated as a government with lean resources but achieved few feats within its scarce resources. The administration settled several outstanding financial commitments with donor agencies for the good of the state. It exited with tangible legacies of pride provided within three years largely in a recession period. M.A Abubakar was succeeded by Sen. Bala Abdulkadir Muhammed on May 29th 2019.

From the brief enumeration, it can be seen that from inception in 1976 to date, the efforts of most administrations were on addressing the problems of infrastructure and other facilities. The overall result is that the status of the State was lifted from a provincial backwater to a frontline State, at least in the Nigerian context. From the records, succeeding administrations apparently went for the more visible policies and projects, thus avoiding the invisible and more tedious ones.

The practical impact of those tendencies brought high infant and maternal mortality, prevalence of diseases and epidemics, high rate of school dropouts and failures at national examinations, crime, social vices, a rising tide of communal intolerance and clashes, youth unemployment etc. These problems are the result of an accumulation of policies of avoidance over many decades. It is not suggested that previous administrations were irresponsible or deliberately refused to address the social issues but serious attention was not given as required. Moreover, the pressure of running government often prevents those at the helm from seeing the larger picture which manifests into noticeable disengagement between those in authority and those engaged in research. Advisers of policymakers are more often selected from among politicians than among technocrats and academics, and policies tend to be short-sighted, self-serving and aimed at immediate acclaim. The situation remains worsened that many of the power brokers are mere political jobbers lacking capacity and credibility to guide any serious administration.

Meanwhile, whether the people appreciate the efforts of their leaders or not, the foundation must be laid for the empowerment of the people so that the dream of the founding fathers can be realized. In doing so, care must be taken to formulate policies based on research and knowledge, not on assumptions, gut reactions, superficial emotions or self-centred considerations as was the case. As the state is expected to steadily progress, what the government should expect from the people is organized opposition, outcries and support to perceived more credible politicians for better results. It may be untimely to assess the performance index of the Sen. Bala Muhammed led administration for now, but so far, it has started implementing its blue-print on infrastructural development, education, housing, repositioning the civil service for an expected optimum result as well as adequate clean water supply and agriculture.

The government is determined from its policies to resuscitate dormant state-owned industries the likes of Zaki flour mill, Gubi Dairy farm, Madangala sheep ranch, Galambi cattle ranch, Bauchi Meat Company, Misau ceramic factory and several others through partnership with Nigerian Bank for Commerce and Industries. If these policies can be actualized, Bauchi State would be transformed into the commercial hub of the North-east and will improve the socio-economic rating of the state and reduce unemployment to the barest minimum.

Muhammad is a commentator on National Issues.

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