Report by Aisha Wakaso
In a dynamic world where interconnectivity and collaboration are of great importance, the travels of Governor Mohammed Umaru Bago of Niger State should be commended as a proactive step towards attracting partnerships and the much-needed funding to the state as it is no longer news that the state is struggling financially and with how low state’s Internally Generated Revenue is, if funding and collaborations are not sourced from outside the state, the blueprint of His Excellency might not see the light of the day.
While some may criticize his travels as excessive, it’s important to recognize that these journeys are not mere leisure trips but strategic endeavors aimed at securing the economic and developmental future of Niger State.
Governor Bago’s decision to frequently engage with national and international stakeholders is indicative of his commitment to uplifting the living standards of Niger State’s citizens so these trips serve as an avenue for him to establish strong relationships with potential investors, development agencies, and foreign governments who could contribute significantly to the state’s growth and development.
During some of these trips, he has met with different intending investors, partners and officials in different sectors of the economy which includes the visit to service Chiefs to discuss improved security in the state as security of lives and property is topmost on the government’s agenda. He also visited on one of his trips the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu to discuss the security situation of the state and advocate for support to confront the security challenges confronting the state.
One of the visits took him to the China Civil Engineering Construction Company Nigeria Limited (CCECC) to inspect construction facilities to ensure capacity and operational preparedness towards the urban renewal and development plans he has for Minna and other major cities. It is also pertinent to note that there was a meeting with the Director General Nigeria Country office, African Development Bank, Lamin Barrow to establish partnership for irrigation schemes, and renewable energy in Niger.
Bago during one of his trips met with the Director General of the Bureau of Public Procurement, Mamman Ahmadu to discuss terms of providing a road map and training procurement officers in the state to understand the transparent and efficient procurement practices to ensure that Nigerlites receive the best value for their money and public funds are spent prudently. While on another visit to hold a strategic engagement with the French Ambassador to Nigeria Ms. Emmanuelle Blatmann, His Excellency discussed how to improve education, infrastructure, agriculture, job creation, culture, and tourism in the state.
At one point, he visited the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Medical Services in Abuja on a facility tour, a facility he intends to replicate in Minna and Suleja, especially in the area of expertise and competence. Bago has also visited the Morrocan Embassy for collaboration in the agriculture sector going by the vast arable land we have in Niger to improve productivity, promote sustainable farming methods, and enhance food security.
It is glaring that his commitment to personally engaging in these discussions demonstrates sincerity to the welfare of his constituents, which is a commendable leadership trait.
Moreover, these travels enable Governor Bago to tap into a broader pool of expertise and experience, allowing him to gain insights into innovative approaches that can be applied to address the state’s challenges. This will also afford him room to acquire more knowledge from the successes of other technocrats and diplomats and to adapt and implement best practices that can foster development and progress within Niger State.
We are aware that attracting funding to any state, particularly in a developing country like Nigeria, requires proactive efforts to showcase opportunities, address concerns, and build confidence among potential investors. Governor Bago’s hands-on approach to these conversations demonstrates his determination to create an environment conducive to invest in.
His travels serve as an advocacy tool, allowing him to showcase Niger State as an attractive destination open for business, collaborations, and developmental projects.
Political pundits may argue that modern technology could replace the need for physical travel, but the reality remains that face-to-face interactions hold a unique significance in building trust, and rapport and proving how serious the Governor is in his aim of changing the fortune of the state.
His proactive engagement with various stakeholders demonstrates his commitment to a prosperous future for the state and its people as Niger State will begin to reap the benefits of these partnerships in the coming years, Bago’s vision and determination will undoubtedly be seen as a pivotal factor in the state’s progress.
For someone who inherited a bankrupted state please give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him a short while to run kata and kiti to find solutions to the numerous financial problems that are preventing the poor from breathing in the state.
In conclusion, we understand that the concerns raised by Nigerlites are genuine and out of the thirst for a more developed and prosperous state but rest assured that Bago is not resting on his oars to ensure a greater Niger as his strategic trips to engage with investors are already yielding fruits, promising and substantial benefits for the state’s future. These interactions have already sparked positive outcomes, fostering new investments and partnerships that are poised to drive economic growth, create job opportunities, and enhance the overall development trajectory of the state. Some of these outcomes include relative peace in the state, a large number of farmers currently benefiting high quality farm inputs and the two ministerial slots the state got. Aisha Wakaso is Special Adviser to the Niger State Governor on Print Media