Governor Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu (CON), the powerful helmsman of the 'power state' and Chief Servant of his people is 57 today. When, in May 2007, Dr Aliyu mounted the saddle, he promised in his inaugural address that he was going to be a courageous leader, more resolute than any we have seen before. He said, he would provide "courageous and quality leadership," since the destiny of any people is inextricably tied to the quality of its leadership.
Five years on, no Nigerlite, I am sure, would dispute the fact that the Chief Servant has kept his word. As I said in my previous tributes to the man, there is hardly any leader of the state who has made as much efforts to change the face of the state's politics and socio-economy to the fullest like Governor Aliyu. Indeed, like I have always maintained, his first term of four years has come to represent a defining period of our state's history.
For those who know Dr Aliyu, the successes recorded so far do not come as a surprise - the man came well-groomed for the job of transforming Niger State. Between November 12, 1955 when he was born in Minna and today (November 12, 2012) when he turns 57, Governor Aliyu's life can best be described as a lesson in resilience, hard work, diligence and steadfastness.
The Talban Minna was born into a humble, even though culturally rich background and had to toil to survive from tending horses, packing the dung, going to Arabic /Islamic school and attending public schools from primary school level up to his degree education. Therefore, like William Shakespeare would say, Aliyu was not born great; rather he achieved greatness on his own
As he celebrates his birthday, it is not just the interesting narrative of his 57 year sojourn on earth that should resonate. What should fascinate Nigerians is how wide exposure and educational sophistication has made Dr. Babangida Aliyu one of the most modern-minded statesmen in the country, especially with his good education in Nigeria and some of the best universities in the United States.
The Niger State governor has in the last five years shown that he has knowledge, capacity, wisdom, experience and proven fair-minded to preside over a multi-ethnic and multi-religious national community.
For his administration in Niger State, everybody resident here is a Nigerlite and enjoys every amenity or provision of the government without discrimination. The concept of state of origin does not exist.
Every school child in the primary school and students in the secondary school in the state enjoy free education without discrimination; every child up to the age of five, as well as all pregnant women and the aged are entitled to free and quality medicare without discrimination.
Also, in the last five years, the Chief Servant has stamped his seal of excellence in all the sectors of the state's economy. His chosen areas of priority, namely education, health, agriculture, infrastructural development and social security have seen progressive achievements. His accomplishments have been attributed largely to prudent and judicious application of funds, visionary planning and consistency in policy implementation.
Dr Aliyu has introduced initiatives that are novel in the history of political leadership in Nigeria. An instant revelation is the Ward Development Projects which ensure that development reaches the grassroots.
The initiative which ensures that each of the 274 wards in the state receives N1million monthly is a huge success story. Under the initiative, each ward takes full responsibility for proposing to the state government development projects that the ward consultative forum feels deserves priority attention. The implementation of projects is carried out by the people, who participate fully at all levels.
The Jama'a Forum, a meet-the-people-tour, initiated and embarked upon by Governor Aliyu to meet and interact with the people one-on-one in their communities and villages has not only gained significant support, but has served as instrument through which the governor relates directly with the common man. The tour is aimed at getting to know the people, their areas of need and how to address their problems as well as giving the people an opportunity to interact freely with their governor on issues bordering them. Dr. Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State, who thinks right and acts right is a man of today in Niger State but should be elevated to act right and think right for the entire country. Let his deeds of today be his judge for the future.
Here's Happy Birthday to the Chief Servant of the people.
-Ndayebo is the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Mu'azu Babangida Aliyu of Niger State