The victory of General Muhammadu Buhari as President-Elect of Nigeria has scored many firsts in the history of Nigeria.
When it became evident that his lead in the polls was unassailable, even before Professor Jega, INEC Chairman, was ready to announce a winner, people in their thousands, in an unprecedented show of emotion, reminiscent of those unexpectedly released from a maximum security prison, poured into the streets of virtually all the cities, towns and villages in all parts of the country. They were singing, dancing and sweeping the streets.
Unfortunately, too many of them drove their cars, motorcycles and bicycles too fast, which resulted in scores of fatal accidents.
The President-Elect acknowledged the sad development in his acceptance speech when he stated that “—it is with a very heavy heart that I report many deaths and injuries amidst the jubilations yesterday. We send our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives; and wish speedy recovery to those who suffered injuries. I appeal to all our supporters to celebrate this victory with prayers and reflection instead of wild jubilation.”
In Minna and virtually all other cities and towns in Niger State there was as much visible signs of relief that GMB had won the election as anger with Niger State Government for its catalogue of failed promises and the seeming arrogance and boisterousness of the Governor. As a consequence, curfew, from 6.00pm to 8.00am was imposed on the residents of Minna, Bida, Kontagora, Suleja and Borgu for three days.
The euphoria of the victory of General Buhari must quickly give way to the mountain of challenges the outgoing PDP government of Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu is bequeathing to the incoming government. The circumstances surrounding his emergence as Governor of Niger State eight years ago notwithstanding, it is fair to say that most Nigerlites gave him the benefit of the doubt due, perhaps, to his educational background and experience in the federal civil service, where he served as Permanent Secretary in a few large ministries.
Within weeks of his swearing-in he appointed a novice, without administrative experience and requisite knowledge, as the Secretary to the Government of the State. Nigerlites watched with horror how both of them setup a parallel administration, operating from the residence of the SSG, where all key government decisions, contract awards, memoranda on virtually all the activities of the MDAs were produced. Poor Commissioners became mere “rubberstamps”.
Numerous other white elephant projects, with doubtful technical feasibility, financial viability and social desirability, were initiated and promoted as crucial to the attainment of the Chief Servant’s Vision of turning the state into the third most developed in Nigeria by the year 2020. These include: 3-Arms Zone project; Niger-American Medical City ; Millennium Shopping Plaza; a five-star hotel; Minna Airport City project; MOU with SNECOU Group of Companies; and Minna City Centre project. According to the government these projects were to be implemented in partnership with the private sector.
So far billions of Naira and hundreds of US Dollars have been spent by government, however, there’s no evidence of any expenditure by the private partners; and work which started on only three of the projects have since been abandoned.
Other pet projects of the Governor include the Vision 3:2020 and Directorate of Ward Projects, which in reality have been nothing but bottomless pits designed to hide the diversion of common resources into private pockets. The consequences are manifest for all to see. The tragic legacy of the eight-year rule of Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu include the following: that he collected, on our behalf, from the Federation Account, SURE-P and related sources an average of N 800 billion; he is leaving behind a debt of about N 50 billion (equivalent to debt of N15,000 for every Nigerlite-young, old, male and female); catalogue of abandoned projects; a bloated civil service with over 60 Permanent Secretaries. He’s also leaving a disillusioned and the least paid civil service in the country. Further, he’s leaving us a state with one of the highest percentage of poor people in the country.