Bala Mohammed: Politics of transition

By Philip Agbese

You can’t build a reputation on what you are going

to do. You build one by doing what is right at the right time,” Senator Bala Mohammed (Kauran Bauchi) wrote on his Facebook wall as far back as September 22, 2011. If this comment were made today, some people would put it down to activism in the run up to the 2015 elections. However, this incumbent minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), made this assertion over a couple of years ago at a time when there was no ongoing political contest.

Ever since the FCT minister has transformed this expression into realities through his track record in running the affairs of the nation’s capital.

Even before he became the FCT Minister, as the Senator for Bauchi Central, he was instrumental to holding Nigeria away from the brink of constitutional disaster when he came up with the concept of Doctrine of Necessity during the political impasse that arose from the ill health of late President Umaru Yar’adua. In the contemporary Nigeria, it takes a true nationalist to think of such solution to a problem that was threatening to tear the country apart, more so when the visible beneficiary is a man of different ethno-geographical extraction and adherent of a different faith. The minister has gone further since then to prove that he is not given to parochial sentiments as he treats people on the basis that they are Nigerians.

Since becoming the FCT minister, Mohammed has built his reputation by doing what is right at the right time and the transformation in the Federal Capital Territory is a testimony to this.

Similar to when he proposed the doctrine of necessity, he has demonstrated his boundless capacity to think out of the box as evident in the revolutionary

approaches he adopts to dealing with problems that would otherwise stump other people. At the core of such visionary thinking is his often repeated conviction that development can be accelerated when the space is opened up to the participation of the private sector. This concept has proven to be great for employment creation while at the same time meeting critical needs.

The land swap programme ranks high among such initiatives to surface under the watch of the present FCT Minister. Granted

that opponents and critics of this laudable programme may have a long shopping

list to justify its demise, this does not however take away from the fine point that it is a programme that is able to simultaneously address the housing deficit in the FCT, create employment, grow the economy and provided needed revenue to the government. This is just one of instances in which the Senator’s cosmopolitan thinking threw up workable solution to a nagging problem. There are several other instances that will take up significant space to analyze so the example given suffices. Beyond physical and infrastructural development, he has proven to be adept in carrying the people along. Policies and projects often have town hall meetings built around them. This is the essence of democracy, people participation in the decision making process.

The moral of the situation is that Mohammed has to walk the talk. He must have at some point nursed the ambition of deploying his wealth of experience for the benefit of his home Bauchi state and the election of 2015 is a good time to go for it. If he can do this much in the FCT while answerable to the president he certainly would be able to do better as a state governor who answers to the people.He must again invoke the Doctrine of Necessity. This time, however, the doctrine he is invoking would be to come to the aid of Bauchi state, which needs the magic he has deftly performed for the FC.

More than the FCT, Bauchi needs visionary thinking to modernize its major towns and cities; the state needs a network of light rail similar to the one the Minister has passionately championed for the nation’s capital; it is waiting with open arms to boost private sector participation in its quest for economic growth and projects in the area could do with his demonstrated capabilities as a relentless fund raiser.

Comrade Philip Agbese is an anti-corruption crusader based in Abuja.

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