“I may have won the votes but you people have won the election.”
You would not be out of place to think that such an eminently quotable statement proceeded from the lips of men such as Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. It would probably surprise you to learn that if any of those names was your guess, then you were wrong. Those words were spoken by a relatively young Nigerian leader, Abubakar Sani Bello at his swearing in ceremony for a second four-year term as Governor of Niger State.
Not a man of many words nor a man given to frivolities, Abubakar Sani Bello is a man who means what he says. He does have his people at heart and is assiduously working to not just leave Niger State better than he met it when he assumed office, but also at par with the top states and cities in the world. Lofty targets, yes especially when considering how little Niger State is given to work with by Nigeria’s central government in comparison to other states in the country. The son of billionaire businessman and a former governor of the old Kano State, Colonel Sani Bello, the courage required to take on difficult challenges and succeed seems to run in his genes. Some say he learned the value of collaborating strategically both from his father and from the being educated at the Nigerian Military School, Zaria. True or not, he is certainly succeeding in uprooting institutional rot in the state and in partnership with some of the world’s best minds, positively altering the state’s socioeconomic landscape.
A few weeks ago, after work done by a consultant to thoroughly audit the State’s staff payroll, it was discovered that there had been over 7,000 ghost workers draining already scarce resources. These ghost workers were found in all 25 of Niger State’s local government councils and some of the names found were those of under-aged children. No doubt, weeding them out will ensure it is no longer business as usual and as the state embraces modern technology to manage payroll and other issues, the people will be better off, as Governor Bello promised.
The world is definitely taking notice of him. This November, he was a prominent participant and dignitary at a High Level Roundtable on Primary Health Care and Human Capital Development held in Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. The conference was collaboratively convened by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Aliko Dangote Foundation and the Nigerian Governor’s Forum. Sources say over the two days the conference lasted, Governor Abubakar Sani Bello gained the peculiar attention of Bill Gates and as they discussed, Gates committed to helping him actualize his vision for Niger State. With friends like Bill Gates and Aliko Dangote in his corner as he punches a path to progress and development, things definitely will augur well for the people of Niger State.