With the continued descent of Nigeria into economic quagmire and seemingly irredeemable infrastructural decadence of monumental proportions, social dysfunction and a sense of despondency afflicting the citizens leading to undying vociferous agitations threatening the corporate existence of the country all caused by years of neglect, mismanagement and political witlessness on the part of particularly political leaders, there is no other time and chance availed Nigerians by destiny to take Nigeria back to its original state of prosperity, cohesion, fairness, justice, peace and progress than the fast approaching 2019 general elections.
The elections which would hold in less than two years from now are very pivotal to the eventual revival of Nigeria. A majority of Nigerians have resigned themselves to fate regarding the current near-comatose state of the country and are only waiting for that time when they would exercise their rights to elect leaders who have proven that they can actually live above the pettiness of cronyism, favouritism, nepotism and such other parochial considerations, which are largely responsible for the looming precipice the country has been dragged to, in pulling our country out of its current state of sordid affairs.
Since the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the party most likely to regain power at the centre at the next elections, has zoned its presidential slot to the north, one man that Nigerians would be looking closely at and urging to make himself available for the presidency is the one that is popularly called “The Bamaina Boy” as a result of his continued connection and record of close affinity to the common people and the grassroots even when he was a two-term governor of Jigawa State. That man is Sule Lamido.
It is common sight to see political leaders embark on deceitful and politically motivated interactions with the downtrodden in the run up to elections but discard the same people once they are elected into offices. In fact, some even go as far as making life unbearable for the same masses on whose back they rode to power by further impoverishing them through draconian policies while building massive barricades around themselves in order to further alienate the people from the corridors of power.
It is not the same with Sule Lamido.
When he first became governor of Jigawa State in 2007, one of the first things “The Bamaina Boy” did was to convene an all-inclusive summit of residents in the state and indigenes alike irrespective of class, gender, trade, profession etc to the extent that the vulcaniser, the carpenter, the fura seller etc all shared same podium with the governor and the elites.
The summit was meant to direct the path of governance based on the needs of the people. In a latter reference to the summit, Lamido had this to say: “…when I became governor, I decided it was an opportunity to prove that what other people now take for granted in other parts of the world we can do it here. I am going to build structure, infrastructure and institutions that will support our collective drive towards achieving human dignity. Our destination is peace and prosperity and a humane decency.
“We started by having a conference of all Jigawa citizens. We called it the Talakawa Summit.
“This summit brought in all artisans, all professionals, from the local midwife in the village to the carpenter, from the woman who makes fura to the vulcaniser and the carpenter. We decided to listen to them first. Then I told them that Jigawa had been a victim of poverty, squalor and destitution. We the elite were here living in comfort and the ordinary people were living in pain. We have switched off from human compassion. We must switch back on and begin to look our people in the face, their clothing, what they eat and how they live. It was time we listened to their stories of agony, ordeal and pain. It should not be like what we always did, discussing about hunger, poverty, refugees and their kwashiorkor in the comfort of seven-star hotels without even listening to the people who were going through these things”.
That summit led to the provision of people oriented policies and projects like the new State Secretariat, the Dutse International Airport, massive housing estates at Fattara, Godiya Miyetti, Dan’masara and the new legislative quarters; the ultra-modern Jigawa Broadcasting Corporation, remodeling and equipping of General Hospitals across the state with modern facilities etc, creating massive job opportunities in the process.
The State whose capital city, Dutse, was once referred to as “the most rural capital city in Nigeria” by a commentator now wears new looks that have since elevated its status among other leading state capitals in the country, thanks to Sule Lamido who took the bull by the horn in ensuring that not even the paucity of funds could stop him from providing the basic amenities needed for a good life by the people.
The remodeling and construction of schools at all levels, including primary and secondary, was to inspire the young ones to aspire higher and achieve their full potentials in life. From the Academy for the Gifted and Talented, Bamaina, College for Remedial and Advanced Studies, Kafin Hausa, Yakubu Gowon NYSC and Sport Centre, the State-owned university et al, Lamido’s ultimate desire has always been to empower the children and youth of the state.
As if that was not enough, in order to close the ever widening gap between boy and girl education ratios in the state, the former governor declared free education for all girls from primary to university level. All these led, expectedly, to the award of the Best Performing Governor on Education by the Nigeria Union of Teachers in 2010 to Lamido. This award is a loud testimony considering that before then, Jigawa State used to be the object of mockery in the nation concerning what used to be its drab educational performances.
Before his assumption of office as governor, a majority of the civil servants in the state were commuting from Kano to their offices in Dutse Jigawa, as a result of the absence of basic facilities like good roads, housing, schools for their children, insecurity etc. But with the coming to power of Lamido, all that changed. Life is now more bearable for them as they now live and work in the state since a good number of the facilities needed have been provided.
This in turn has also increased dramatically the commercial activities in the state leading to the opening of sales outlets, banks, restaurants, markets and greater patronization of artisans leading to the spread of relative prosperity among the people.
That “The Bamaina Boy” could achieve all this despite Jigawa State getting one of the lowest allocations from the federation account shows the prudential financial management capacity of Lamido. In times like this, such a man is needed to make the best use of our resources for the greater good of the people.
(To be continued)
By Jude Ndukwe