Posted by ROTIMI WILLIAMS on
In this interview with ROTIMI WILLIAMS last week, in Lagos, Governor Adamu Muazu of Bauchi State, reacts to a recent allegation that he inflated a contract. He also reveals certain queer, but interesting aspects of his private life.
I go on okada without security back-up. I take my children to school myself at times, because Iím free among my people ĖGov Adamu Muazu of Bauchi State
In this interview with ROTIMI WILLIAMS last week, in Lagos, Governor Adamu Muazu of Bauchi State, reacts to a recent allegation that he inflated a contract. He also reveals certain queer, but interesting aspects of his private life. Excerpts:
There has been negative publicity against you in recent times...?
I do not want to comment. If you think that because you do not like somebodyís face as a result of performance and service delivery and you feel the only thing to do is to malign, discredit, blackmail and go about promoting propaganda, good for you. And if anybody allows himself to be used in this instance, good for him.
Does it mean you are not bothered?
I have told you that I do not want to make any comment on the issue. I want to discuss development-related issues, making life meaningful to the people, making them comfortable, providing them the necessary amenities and above all, striving to properly apply public resources; issues concerning the respect of the mandate and meeting the various needs of the people. Putting up programmes that have been tailored to meet the needs of the people, in addition to undertaking developments in the rural areas; being prudent, accountable and certainly transparent in the running of government. These are issues I want to talk about, that I want to engage the people of this beautiful state and country with.
Without thinking about the kind of image such a campaign could bring to you?
I am proud of Nigerians, they are intelligent and their level of awareness is great. You cannot go and start publishing nasty things about people and you expect the people to believe you one hundred per cent. Nigerians will ask questions. I am not bothered because I have more important things to do for my people in the state than dissipate energy on frivolities, deceit, lies, innuendoes. Paying attention to such things is like giving credibility to such nasty things and those behind them. I remain focused and by the grace of God, we shall not be distracted because at the end of your tenure, you are expected to give your stewardship. Do you now tell the people you are serving that you could not perform because of distraction from some people, who are trying to blackmail you? That will be stupid.
Could there be a connection between what you call campaign of blackmail and speculations about your presidential ambition?
To those who have been saying these things about me according to you, I say thank you because it is even a pride to see people considering you to be qualified enough to become the president of such a large country as Nigeria. But I want to tell you that I have been voted in as the governor of Bauchi State, of which I am at the moment. Though, some people have been showing interest to become either the president or the governor and they have consistently been doing it for long. But, is it proper for any elective officer, especially governor to be diverting attention towards campaigning for elections in 2007?
You are definitely not being fair to the electorate who put you there to better their lives. They did not vote us in to start contesting for other offices while in office. You see, let us wait for the time of the Lord. We should not be in a hurry, when the time comes and God says you are to do something, it will be done automatically. We should be concerned with the delivery of democracy dividends. Potable water is now available for 500 communities, which is a 200 per cent increase from what we met when we came in 1999; we have provided over 200 functional boreholes, and Bauchi State seems to be the only state where sachets of pure water are not hawked on the streets, especially by school-age children, or sold in restaurants or shops. That is what we want to engage ourselves with for now.
We want to continue providing for our people without any distraction. If this record of achievements is intimidating those behind such devilish plans, then sorry for them because they have not seen anything. If road construction is seen as a good performance, then Bauchi is up there. Over 140 roads across the length and breath of Bauchi have been asphalted; we are going several more. That is our concern for now, those are our focus now. Provision of amenities, first class hospitals in almost every part of the state, provision of government-built houses, as most government workers now stay in government built houses on owner-occupier basis. Additional 2,000 units of houses especially in Tambari Housing Estate and other places, are about to be completed. That is what we want to be discussing, giving Bauchi a complete turn around, the transformation is already going on. That is what we want to concentrate on.
Is it true that you received death threats in the past?
I wonít say yes and I wonít say no. But all I want to assure you is that God is in control. I am not worried. Why should I when I know that my God is with me? When I know that my people are with me? I serve them, I place my people first in whatever I do, it is their interests that come first. So, if you plan to harm me, it is not me you have planned against, it is the people. I will never support or continue this ďbusiness as usualĒ thing. If you are not comfortable, sorry, things have changed for the better. I want to be able to stand in front of my people and beat my chest that I have done well. When we came in, the greatest undoing we discovered was in the education sector. Sadly, what we met were just 83 secondary schools with very terrible examination results which showed that only four students had four credits and above, which qualified them for admission. What that meant was that as at that time, only four students from the state were qualified to be admitted into the Nigerian universities. But through the grace of God, as at 2004, we had provided about 7,700 students with five credits and above. The figure this year is staggering, as at the last count, we had 9,800. We pray and hope that by 2007 when we leave office, we would have surpassed the 10,000 target. We have invested and will continue to invest much in education. Many of them have been offered admission in the nationís higher institutions with the state catering for majority of them. That is what we want to engage in. We have electrified over 700 towns and villages now. But our target is 1,000 before we leave office. That is our concern for now. I go about inspecting government projects on motorcycles alone without any security back up. I often drive myself to and from the office. I take my children to school myself at times. So, I am a free man among my people.
Recently, a publication reported that you awarded an N800 million contract for the printing of an almanac and other essential documents. If this is true, donít you see this as a major reason why concerned people may want to cry out for this seeming waste of public funds?
One thing that is certain and which cannot be obliterated is the fact that the people of this country are living witnesses to the phenomenon of our achievements. So, no amount of blackmail, pamphleteering or sponsored writings in the media or distortion of facts can make the people of Bauchi State to turn their back against us because a very high level of trust has been established between us.
I really want to appeal to my media friends to be careful in publishing stories without investigation. Journalists have done a lot in keeping Nigeria together and should not allow themselves to be used by these mischievous people for their selfish ends. Unfortunately, the magazine that ran the propaganda happens to be one that I cherish so much; it is a magazine that I respect a lot. So, for it to have gone ahead to use such a story without conducting thorough independent investigation after collating those fake documents, is worrisome. The media functions like the police station, which receives complaints from people; the doors are always open. But when such reports are received, they are often investigated where the genuineness of such claims are determined upon which suspects, if any, are charged to court. You will agree with me that while some complaints may be genuine, others could be frivolous and false. That is the role the media plays, their doors are often open to all sorts of complaints which are properly looked into to determine truthfulness, sincerity, facts, fairness and objectivity before publishing. If the complaints are genuine and they are published, these assist the society because you would have adequately informed the people about happenings. But if the documents given to you are fake, produced by those who gave them to you and you just publish like that without determining the variety of such papers and the contents therein, then you would have done a disservice to the people you are supposed to educate and inform. So, I appeal that journalists should tarry a while when you receive complaints especially in papers, documents, investigate thoroughly before publishing. By then, you will be convinced that the information you are passing to the public is nothing but the truth.
Are you saying that the allegation of the contract sum is not true?
Precisely, that is what I have been saying and it pains me when these political jobbers, who never see anything good in Nigeria and Nigerians, who do not want progress for Nigeria in general and Bauchi in particular, who do not want any positive change other than to continue doing business as usual, which has unfortunately brought us to where we are today, who continue to drag the name and credibility of innocent journalists, respected writers, into the mud. These ďmen of business as usualĒ have no regard for credibility, dignity or honour, so, they donít mind bringing down anybody in the course of doing their dirty biddings. I am taking the pains to say all these because I respect Nigerian journalists very much, thatís was one of the major reasons why the Bauchi State government decided to host this yearís edition of the Nigerian Media Merit Awards (NMMA), despite our meagre resources. So, if somebody now wants to use these fine gentlemen of the press to blackmail, malign, discredit and carry out campaigns of calumny against top government functionaries, then, it is something we should be worried about.
Now, concerning the contract mentioned, it will interest you to know that the 2004 calendar was produced by the Bauchi State government at the cost of N29,698,500 and not the N800,000 quoted by the publication. The total package included the production of 15,000 copies of 12 pages of calendar; production of 2,000 desk diaries and production of 3,000 pocket size diaries. All the documents given to the publication which published the story were all fake and Iím surprised that the magazine which I respect so much published them like that.
The letter head paper presented as the official correspondence from the governor authorising Ramadan Press Limited to produce the supposed calendar is fake and it contradicts the procedure of contracts award by any government. The procedure is for a company to send its proposal to the governor, who then requests the commissioner in charge of the relevant ministry to forward a memo to the council for deliberation and possible approval. If such a proposal is found desirable; if the council approves such proposal, the council secretariat will then, through the director, cabinet secretariat, convey the conclusions of the Exco to the ministry. After this is done, the company will indicate acceptance of the terms of the government offer, after which a contract agreement will be signed between the government and the company through the Ministry of Justice. When this process is concluded, the secretariat cabinet will then issue a contract number to the company after the payment of necessary fees chargeable for such purpose. With the conclusion of agreement, the ministry will then raise a memo to the governor, informing him of the acceptance of the offer by a company and request for his approval to direct the Ministry of Finance to release the agreed percentage to the company to commence work while the balance will be paid on delivery.
That was exactly what happened. That is the essence of making enquiries. If you didnít ask me this, how would you have known what happened and how contracts are awarded? But look at the complete contradiction as published by the affected medium which completely refused to show the governorís letter to Ramadan, which is the company, why did it refuse to publish the genuine details including my approval? Let me tell you this, a governor never signs a contract approval for any company and there is no file with reference number GH/OFF/401 existing in the Government House. Again, the entire files both secret and open in the Government House since 1976 are not up to 220, not to talk of 401 as quoted by the publication. You can see these terrible mistakes which are avoidable anyway. It is bizarre for a governor to relay to a company, the conclusions of Exco instead of the council secretariat, which serves as the courier of such information on behalf of the council.
The supposed signature of the governor was presented from a different document, which was photocopied and placed in the middle of nowhere, while the same supposed signature of the Commissioner for Finance was inserted in a different matter, just to give credence to this forgery.
They also talked about government projects, especially the Sam Nujoma Road and the Specialist Hospital, Bauchi; engineering experts are welcome to Bauchi; media men are free to visit us here and assess their real value. We retained the construction giant, Julius Berger, based on the fact that we want quality for our people. Bauchi is a testimonial of the workability of democracy in Nigeria, we are proud of this. Go and see for yourself the transformation. Certainly, there exists a wide gulf between truth and falsehood. The publication said I donated a Jeep to a traditional ruler, that is funny, I am a governor who does not believe in that. Muazu has never donated a Jeep to any traditional ruler in the state. We should not inflict pains on our leaders who are toiling very hard to change the fortunes of their people from bad to better.
But why would you build super structures as hospitals even in villages where the people may not patronise them?
The result is contrary to what you are saying. We want quality of life for our people. I am a Nigerian and have no other country I will call mine. What do we see in these other countries that make us envy them and want to be like them? It is the quality that they attach to whatever they do for their people. Do I say because people stay in the villages, they should be treated as second class citizens? They should enjoy the quality of life that the same man in the township enjoys. Do we say because we are Nigerians, it is only ramshackle structures that befit us? No, I do not believe in that and will never be part of that. By doing what I am doing, I am proving to the world that the so-called developed countries were developed by their people. I will continue to contribute positively to bringing up very nice structures and system that will definitely compete with any one available in other parts of the world. How is it possible that all good things are not good for Nigeria? It is not only in hospitals that you have quality in Bauchi. Everything that the government does has the touch of high quality. What is worth doing at all is worth doing well. It is visionary transformation. Is it in human resource development and empowerment, education, poverty alleviation programmes, infrastructural development, roads, water, electricity, economic development, tourism, communication technology, agriculture administration and sustainability, civil service training and capacity building environmental protection, all are done and delivered with utmost quality. We deserve the best, we desire high quality, that is the benefit of democracy. Go round and see every structure put in place by the government, they are solid.
Why should we be wasting the peopleís resources in repairing and renovating every time when you know that you can put up a structure to last several years at the same amount? By the time we leave in 2007, there will be no hamlet that will not have been electrified and connected to the national grid and not powered by generators which can park up anytime. That is the quality we attach to the life of our people. Go and look at the third phase of the state secretariat just being completed. Many of our civil servants who visited the place said itís magnificent. Well, that is our style. And for how much? Quality, quality quality, that is our hallmark. We want to touch the lives of our people with quality. Go round, you will find that Bauchi is the only state in Nigeria where you do not find water being sold anywhere, where nobody sells or buys water. It is a state that has regular supply of water such that you can plan and run your life smoothly.
It is also a state where you hardly find refuse dumps. This is part of the programme aimed at wiping out all these mosquito larvae factories being created in front of peopleís houses, within and outside their homes that add to their hospital curative bills. I went into public life from an extremely rural village. It is a village and because of that, we had been denied all government amenities. The only thing we had then was one market stall and one water well. My father told me that the well was older than he because he met it there. So, I have been wondering for a long time why there was no progress in the village and in others. When we came in, virtually all the local governments had no electricity connection to the national grid. There was no electricity in whatever way and so many other social amenities that could make life meaningful to the people. With this at the background, I became highly motivated and set for work.
And so far, so good, the entire number of government houses I inherited from all the previous governments put together is not up to one of our housing estates. And for Godís sake, where can you get our houses better and cheaper? We are continuing, we have the Jos Road Housing Estate now to be completed and made up of about 500 units, constructed with court yards, asphalted roads to the doorsteps, concrete draws, electricity, water, communication, hospitals, police stations and more importantly, recreational centres for kids and adults alike; that is quality at its best. Despite these amenities, the houses are for the people, the masses, with some of them going for less than N1 million. Can you imagine that? That is the beauty we attach to whatever we do for the people.
God-fatherism in politics, how has it affected you?
God-fatherism? I do not know anything about that especially when you are dealing with the kind of president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo that this country is endowed with. The man wants performance, service delivery, transparency in all your dealings. He treats everybody equally. I feel it is worth moving close to such a man who is detrabalised. If you get closer to him, just for the sake of getting the benefits of such closeness, you will go home discouraged and disappointed. The president treats everybody on merit and on the basis of accountability and hardwork. Any other thing, just forget it.
Why didnít you allow your wives to play the roles of first ladies?
I have two beautiful girl friends, I mean my wives. I told them when I became governor that, look, you are married to Ahmadu Adamu Muazu, who, through the grace of God is the Bauchi State governor. Therefore, they are not to change from Adamu Muazuís wives to those of the governor. What that means is that they are and remain my loyal wives from the background who are to keep my children well-trained and behaved. They are to keep my family intact. That is the major reason why you will never see my children, both male and female, going about associating with the usual powers of office. Same goes with my wives who are their mothers. It is my style, it is a matter of style, how you want to run the government, to effectively and efficiently serve your people. Though, to encourage my wives, each of them has a project. One is engaged with a project on Almajiri and the other on the girl child. Why should I constitute a nuisance to the people I serve? I am entitled to security and siren, should every member of my family also move about with gun wielding security officers with siren blaring? That is nonsense, that is not what I am here to do. I should alleviate the suffering of my people and not to add to it. In fact, I hardly use siren. Why? It is noisy, it causes distraction most times.
SUNDAY PUNCH, November 20, 2005
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