Nigerians should give APC at least 16years – Bauchi Gov
Governor of Bauchi State, Alhaji Mohammed Abubakar, visited the national headquarters of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Abuja recently, and spoke to journalists on a wide range of issues. ISMAILA JIMOH was there for The Abuja Inquirer. Excerpts:
Before the election, you were here and told us many things you are going to do if you emerged as governor. And luckily for you, you won and are in power now. How will you describe the journey so far?
Well, I will say so far so good. I believe everybody is aware of the parlous state of the economy of the country with the dwindling price of oil in the international market. The effect has permeated across the Federal Government, most of the state governments with the possible exception of a few like Lagos, who generate quite a sizable proportion of internally generated revenue.
The situation we found when we took over was a very sorry situation. For example, my state civil servants were owed their four months’ salary and my state is essentially a civil service state. So the very first action we took was to pay one month salary to assuage the situation, because when we came in, it was like a keg of gunpowder ready to explode at the slightest opportunity, but we are able to do that, then the Federal Government intervened via the bailout; the now famous bailout.
What we got from the bailout, as a government we used to pay the entire salary backlog to the extent that today except for the delay in the payment of January salary in respect of teachers of local government, and then the delay in the payment of February salary of the entire workforce of the state, because of an exercise I have embarked on to determine the credibility of the payroll of the state, I am not owing anybody any salary.
Is it of a fact that the exercise has far exposes about twenty-thousand ghost workers?
The entire payroll made up of the state and local governments, slightly above 19, 000 have been discovered. The exercise is ongoing because what the Accountant-General was reporting was the result of the physical verification. I added another aspect to the verification, the BVN, the use of the BVN. I gave an order that starting from February, any person who is an employee of the local government or the state would be paid cash, everybody would be paid through the bank and that person must supply us his BVN number. And I have done that and it is yielding its fruits and people are not even aware that I have not left at that. Right now as I am talking to you, the further verification of the BVN supplied because you know Nigerians are very smart, when we said BVN, somebody sat down and calculated and said BVN is an eleven digit code so let me go and concoct my own BVN and send it to the Bauchi state government, he thought he has scaled through, but what I have done with the entire BVN that have been supplied is to give it to a bank and the bank is using the CBN platform to crosscheck these BVNs. So I am expecting additional revelation to come.
The APC government at the centre is engaged in anti-graft war. We wonder when other APC states like Bauchi would sign up to the fight. Why have you not probed the last administration?
Actually we are probing the last administration and a lot of revelation has so far been made, but what I want to understand is that we are not an investigative outfit; we have not been elected to investigate. Right now, I have a high powered committee that is investigating all contracts from 2007 to 2015.
This is after I have set up a public property recovery committee under a retired Air Commodore that have succeeded in recovering a lot of properties that were carted away. So we are investigating, but our attitude towards investigation is that any revelation we discovered, we will now bring it under the investigative authority that is the EFCC for them to carry on and do thorough investigation and then proceed against these culprits with a view to retrieving the ill-gotten wealth.
So this is what we are doing in Bauchi State.
You were at the Villa recently, where you talked about refund concerning the work the state has done. What was the president’s response to that. Also, it has also been reported that your convoy was attacked on your way from Gombe, what actually happened. Lastly, those found guilty in the ongoing investigation, what do you envisage as their fate?
Don't jump the gun, you will hear from us. One, anything you read about Bauchi state in 24/7 Universal something, don't believe it. They started by saying I gave my son N950million contract, everybody knows in Bauchi state that contract does not exist. They now said I was going to appoint my wife as the commissioner of finance, I am going to appoint my sister as the head of SUBEB, I have appointed all these and that things have not come to pass. They said I am making plans to move to the PDP. In fact, people should wait and see my commissioners; my commissioners are going to come mainly from PDP of the last regime.
I have appointed my commissioners, so there are some people who have not accepted the will of God, people who contested election with me who are sponsoring this kind of publication. I am a Muslim, I am fasting, Walahi Talahi! Nobody pelted me with anything on my way back from Gombe, it is blatant lie. Unfortunately, the way things are in this country I cannot go after 24/7 because they are faceless. If I could, you would have heard of us in court by now with them, but because they are a faceless body, there is nothing I can do.
I assure you that every culprit that is found to have a hand in the sponsorship of ghost workers in the payroll of Bauchi State would face the wrath of the law, this one is a promise.
Well an airport has been built by the state government. The last government that built the airport was able to obtain all the necessary approvals of the Federal Government for refund of the money expended. All I did was to write a reminder to Mr. President to see if he can revalidate the approval of the former president.
The APC came to power on the crest of popular support especially from the downtrodden. It appears that close to ten months after the party came to power a lot of people are now impatient; accusing the party of non-performance. What would is your advice to these set of Nigerians who expected so much and are getting little?
Let me say that it is unfair for the APC government to be judged. People have forgotten that the party that held sway before held sway for sixteen years. If there was any rot, it took sixteen years to build. People should therefore not expect magic from the APC.
You can see from the time we have taken over power even oil, which price has been dwindling, you can see from the effort of the president that oil has started to pick up.
So people should not be impatient. People should give us at least sixteen years and see if we cannot turn around all the rot that the PDP has done, but to judge us in nine or eight months is not fair.
I am assuring Nigerians that we are on course and the APC governments, federal and states, will deliver.