On August 1, 2017, eminent Nigerians across political parties under the banner of Inter-party Advisory Council (IPAC) gathered at the Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre in Abuja and honoured Governor Muhammad Abdullahi Abubakar of Bauchi state. The occasion was chaired by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
The award was in recognition of the governor’s political tolerance and conduct of Local Government polls. It was the second within two weeks. Sometime in July, there was another garland for Abubakar at the 11th Abuja International Housing Show. The award was in recognition of his outstanding commitment to urban renewal. Under his watch, the metropolis and beyond had become a huge construction yard with roads and drainages being constructed frenetically.
Governor Abubakar is no stranger to being recognized for distinction. A brilliant lawyer and consummate administrator, his reformist agenda is hugely successfully but also hugely misunderstood by those who chose to view these reforms through the narrow prism of politics of resource allocation.
Before these two awards that have secured him a conspicuous place in the annals of the state, he had similarly earned a distinction award early in 2016, from the Political Observers Organizations, this time for being “the best performing chief executive prudent in the management of resources”.
The association confirmed what has, for long, been in the market square, that “the governor has been prudent in the management of the meager resources of the state, producing results that bring promise of prosperity to the citizens of Bauchi State’’.
The Association isolated for commendation the “payment of four months outstanding salaries before the federal government bailout funds” by the governor as particularly exemplary.
“His penchant for transparency, accountability, people-oriented programmes in fulfillment of his campaign promises” was some of the key considerations for the coveted award as stated by the national Chairman of the organization, Umar Sharif.
“The ICPC had monitored the expending of the funds and has scored Bauchi as one of the best performers. There was also the treatment of 10, 000 eye patients and provision of glasses with 500 surgeries performed on the needy indigenes of the state,” it concluded.
Penultimate week’s award by IPAC, the umbrella body of all political parties registered by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) didn’t come as a surprise to many familiar with Abubakar’s pedigree. He is an accomplished lawyer for starters. An excellent manager of men and materials, he demonstrated early in his career that he was destined for the top. Soon after his youth service inn1980, he joined the Bauchi state civil service as a Pupil State Counsel in the Ministry of Justice. He rose through the ranks to the position of Senior Parliamentary Counsel and Head of Legal Drafting Department of Bauchi State House of Assembly in 1983.
By 1990, he had become Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice. He was elected Chairman, Bauchi branch of Nigeria Bar Association in 1996. Between 1999 and 2003 he served as Resident Electoral Commissioner in several states. In 2003, he was promoted to National Electoral Commissioner in charge of Legal Services and supervisor of Borno, Jigawa, and Yobe states. He retired from INEC in 2008 and went back to legal practice as Managing Partner of MA Abubakar & Co. (Fortuna Chambers). This law firm has offices in Abuja, Port Harcourt and Bauchi State.
In matters of jurisprudence, MA Abubakar is rigid. He doesn’t compromise. This principle is both a blessing and a curse. As a curse, it comes with a heavy price. When he stuck his neck out, for example, in support of the Supreme Court verdict that affirmed that INEC lacks the power to disqualify candidates to run for any elective office, he paid a huge price including harassment and intimidation by the powers that were at the time. As a blessing, the reward is unquantifiable. Being the Bauchi state chief executive is one such. A testimony to his firmness and trustworthiness as a leader.
At the IPAC award ceremony, the chairman of the occasion, Atiku Abubakar who was at the receiving end of the INEC’s illegal disqualification hammer, paid tribute to the Bauchi state governor for standing firm in support of the right of political parties to field candidates. Organizers of the 11th Abuja International Housing Show were impressed by the governor’s prioritising of of urban renewal statewide.
According to them, Bauchi government’s effort to improve the infrastructure of the three major urban centres of Bauchi, Azare and Misau prompted them to inspect the state. A major criterion for selecting the winner of this prestigious award was a surprise visit to the state without the knowledge of the government, by a team of Housing and Urban professionals. Bauchi received the highest mark for rapid urbanization hence the award.
Despite limited funds, Bauchi state has continued to implement both human and infrastructural development projects. Projects like the dualization, rehabilitation or upgrades of Awalah roundabout – Kano road, Ran road, Bauchi – Gombe road, ATBU link road, Udubo – Gamawa road, Darazo – Gabchiyari road, Jama’are road, Sule Katagum road to mention a few are in various stages of completion. All these Gov. Abubakar has been able to achieve in just two years in office.
Clearly MA Abubakar is on a mission. In two years he has achieved what others only dream about. His frugality in the management of limited resources and service delivery will continue to earn him laurels and garlands.
Mr Ali is aide to MA Abubakar.