GOV BELLO 2Dr Abubakar Sani Bello, Executive Governor of Niger State, turned 52, yesterday. Holder of bachelor’s degree in Economics, from University of Maiduguri, he brings tomes of invaluable experience from the private sector into governance, spanning marketing, banking and finance, airline and travels, hospitality industry, and mobile telecoms. The scion of the family, he is the son of accomplished state military governor and statesman, Col Sani Bello, who later became Nigeria’s ambassador to Zimbabwe and one of West Africa’s richest men.  In spite of his gilded background and his own stupendous personal success in business and life, the governor is simple, humble, self-effacing, and straightforward. He often makes unplanned stops during his car journeys to interact with villagers and address their felt needs. Inheriting a destitute purse from his predecessor, exacted by FAC deductions to offset multiple bonds and loans, the governor, at the inception of his administration, instituted Spartan measures, cutting down spending, rationalizing the ministries, and reducing the size of government, which helped to forestall a shutdown of government in 2015. To date, he has continued to pay monthly salaries and pensions, including meeting the counterpart funding of partnership programmes with RAMP, UNICEF, etc. In spite of the daunting challenges of paying wages and salaries, the governor in 2018 signed N10b contract to provide direly needed infrastructures in the state, such as roads and electricity.

The governor’s tenure so far has been defined by bold actions: the completion of intracity roads in Minna and Bida; screening of staff of the state civil service, audit of the state salary system riddled with corrupt practices, the resolution of the conflict with Labour unions over the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), leading to CPS refunds to staff he exempted from it; 25 percent wage increase to workers ahead of a national consensus on the new minimum wage; improvement of salary to health workers, teachers, firemen, etc. No wonder, it has been exclaimed in several quarters that he has established a workers’ government, although this view cruelly suffers from myopia and discounts the revolutionary transformation in several areas, such as education where, under the Whole School Development Approach, many post-primary schools in the state have witnessed a 100 per cent turn-around in their infrastructures and facilities, with feeding restored in all of them. Similar treatment had been given to the judiciary, where over 20 magistrate courts in different parts of the state were renovated and seven SUV vehicles purchased for senior high court judges. Under him, the Niger State Civil Service Commission has employed over 2,000 workers to bolster the health sector, fire service, etc. This year, the government rolled out Niger State Contributory Health Insurance Scheme to improve the well being of civil servants in the state.

In 2019, he won a landslide victory to govern the state for a second term in office.