“…It is with great delight that I announce the tremendous improvement in performance of the Bauchi State in WAEC under the administration of His Excellency, Senator Bala Mohammed.” – Dr. Aliyu Tilde, former Commissioner for Education, Bauchi State.
In a disingenuous effort to explain its endorsement of Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress in Bauchi State, a group that goes by the name: Amalgamated Union of Bauchi State Students Union of the All Progressive Congress, claimed that “the present administration in the state does not have concern for the plight of the students due to its failure to pay scholarships, JAMB, WAEC and NECO fees for the students”.
It would not have been necessary to dignify the students with a reply if their spokesperson, one Comrade Farouk Saleh Toro, had limited his statement to the claim, to quote him, that “the students…endorse the candidacy of…Ambassador Sadique Baba Abubakar, because of the good intention he has towards the educational development Bauchi State”. Of course, that would have been within their rights to choose who to vote for. By extrapolation, the electorate would have expected Toro to elaborate on the “good intention” his candidate has towards the educational development of Bauchi State. That he never mentioned what constitutes that good intention further proves the shallowness of the programme of the APC campaign.
In the absence of a convincing campaign message, it is not surprising that the so-called “APC students” resorted to blatant falsehood even in the face of mounting evidence of the achievements of the transformational administration of Governor Bala Mohammed, not only in education but in every sector of life. We owe it a duty to the Bauchi electorate and indeed the wider public to repudiate their falsehood by highlighting the tremendous achievements of the Bala Mohammed Administration in education.
There is no better take off point than to recall that contrary to Toro’s claim, as far back as September 2022, through its President, Comrade Salim Adamu Mohammed, the National Union of Bauchi State Students had acknowledged that the students of the state were benefitting from an uninterrupted scholarship scheme through the introduction of an e-payment system that addressed fraudulent tendencies while promoting transparency.
It is also pertinent to draw the attention of Toro and his paymasters that no less a foremost educationist than the immediate past Commissioner for Education in Bauchi State, Dr. Aliyu Tilde, probably in anticipation of the “amalgamated lies” of the APC students had, on August 31, 2022, just before he left, unequivocally and authoritatively underscored the achievements of the Bala Mohammed Administration in the education sector: Quoting data from the West African Examinations Council, Dr. Tilde wrote: “…It is with great delight that I announce the tremendous improvement in performance of Bauchi State in WAEC under the administration of His Excellency, Senator Bala Mohammed. The result shows a remarkable increase in the percentage of candidates with five credits and above from 37.4 percent in 2019 when His Excellency took the mantle of leadership to 65.5 percent and 68 percent in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Simply put, the reform measures that the Administration introduced are hitting the target.”
Note Dr. Tilde’s choice of words: “remendous improvement in performance”, “remarkable increase in percentage” and “measures…hitting the target.” Those are words on marble from someone who is eminently qualified to judge, by a participant who played a very important role in the process, and not a group of political jobbers who lack the pedigree to evaluate themselves let alone a focused administration that is delivering the dividends of democracy to the people of Bauchi State.
As the lawyers would put it, if you stand something on nothing, it will fall. The performance that was applauded by Dr. Tilde did not stand on nothing. As the eminent educationist stated, it happened because, to quote him again: “the reform measures that the Administration introduced are hitting the target”. What are these reform measures?
PAYMENT FOR WAEC, NECO, ETC
Let us start from the false allegations of the “APC students”. Bauchi State was in arrears of WAEC and National Examinations Council fees when Bala Mohammed took over in 2019. So one of his first tasks was to offset the backlog of examination fees in order to enroll new students for those exams. According to the state Commissioner for Education, Dr. Jamila Mohammed Dahiru, only recently Mohammed approved the release of a total of N315 million to pay for NECO examination for 12, 999 senior secondary school (SS3) index students in public secondary schools in the state and N15 million as Joint Admission and Matriculation Board examination fees for 2365 candidates who passed the recently conducted mock examination in the state. The “APC students”, like their paymasters, are lying.
The deplorable state of infrastructure when the Peoples Democratic Party-led government of Bala Mohammed took office in 2019 was common knowledge. So bad was the situation that the majority of the students studied either under leaking roofs or open spaces, in very unhygienic environments. All that has changed. Government’s first task was to aggressively ramp up critical infrastructure in the schools. In the process, the Government has renovated over 400 schools, drilled and installed hand-pumped boreholes and provided VIP toilets in many of the schools. The reality is that many parents and guardians not only attest to but indeed applaud the Administration for the over 5,000 either newly built or fully renovated classrooms without which their children would either continue to learn under trees, on the floor or be out-of-school completely.
To upgrade the learning environment, the Bala Mohammed Administration had supplied furniture worth about N5 Billion to the schools in the state. Also, the Administration ensured that schools such as the Government Secondary School Katagum in Zaki Local Government Area and the Special School in Kafin-Madaki in Ganjuwa Local Government Area, that were abandoned by both teachers and pupils due to decayed infrastructure have since reopened. That Toro, his ‘APC students and their sponsors are not aware of these laudable developments can only be explained away by the fact that they are strangers to the state.
The Bala Mohammed Administration has recorded major breakthroughs in tackling the out-of-school scourge that has afflicted the nation over the years. First, by tackling the problem of infrastructure and insecurity, more parents have been encouraged to send their children back to school. Secondly, measures such as the biometric capture of attendance, incentives to teachers and prosecution of the school feeding programme have equally stimulated the interest of both teachers and parents. Hence, whereas more children are being sent to school, in aggregate terms, it will appear that not much has been achieved for the simple fact that the population is not stagnant.
We must also recognize that the period under discussion coincides substantially with the COVID-19 era during which school attendance was disrupted. It is to the credit of the Government that the severity of the pandemic was substantially ameliorated by the innovative policies alluded to by Dr. Tilde when he remarked, quite correctly, that “the reform measures that the Administration introduced are hitting the target”. The ‘APC students’ should convey that message to their paymasters, that the Bauchi electorate will not be deceived by their false propaganda.
Any discussion of the transformation of the educational sector in Bauchi State that does not reckon with the robust stakeholder engagement strategy of the Bala Mohammed Administration will be incomplete. With a rich civil service background, on assumption of office, the governor swung into action to strengthen links with agencies such as Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the Tertiary Education Fund (TETFUND), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), etc.
For instance, on assumption of office, the state government promptly settled its unpaid counterpart fund to the UBEC for 2018 and 2019. That decisive step helped the state to access about N3 billion that was held up due to the cluelessness of the preceding APC-led administration in the state. Armed with the recovered fund, the Administration wasted no time in rehabilitating educational infrastructure all over the state. That the ‘APC students’ and their cohorts do not appreciate this is a despicable illustration of the desperation of those who claim to possess the magic wand to significantly alter Dr. Tilde’s assertion that “the reform measures that the Administration introduced are hitting the target”.
BAUCHI EMIRATE COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION
I want to end this piece by commending Governor Bala Mohammed over his recent approval for the establishment of the Bauchi Emirate Council Committee on Education. Announcing the approval recently, Dr. Jamila Mohammed Dahiru said it was as part of a new grand strategy for reducing the rate of out-of-school children across the state. According to Dr. Dahiru, the committee is expected to work in active synergy with critical stakeholders in the education sector to create awareness on improving and advancing enrolment to schools for educational development of the state. It is instructive that this formal co-option of the highly revered traditional rulers is coming after Governor Bala Mohammed had gone to great length in according the institution the greatest recognition. Hence, from their dignified positions and in their wisdom, the royal fathers who are closest to the grassroots would collaborate with the government to ensure that the problem of out-of-school children will be redressed.
In Governor Bala Mohammed, it is easy to see the benefits of a strategic leadership position such as that of Governor being occupied by a person with diverse and rich inter-disciplinary backgrounds. No matter how hard they labour, opponents of the administration who exaggerate the out-of-school challenge for political advantage cannot wipe away the breath-taking achievements in infrastructure, particularly roads, water, health and housing. Nor would they convince the 1000 youth and 350 transporters who benefitted from the tricycle and vehicle empowerment, not to talk of the thousands across the 20 local governments of the state who have benefitted from the Kauran Economic Empowerment Programme, that the Bala Mohammed Administration does not have the interest of the people as falsely claimed by the ‘APC students’.
Finally, Bala Mohammed should not be distracted by the few impostors who, despite lacking the locus to speak for Bauchi students, shamelessly claim that they have now shifted their loyalty to another candidate. He should take consolation in the fact that as far back as last September, the majority of Bauchi students through their umbrella body, the National Union of Bauchi State Students had endorsed his re-election bid.
. Gaskiya writes from Bauchi, the Bauchi State capital.