By Modibbo Halliru Ahmadu
The federal road from Gombe to Yola is a stretch of 245 kilometers and a drive of about a maximum of three hours when driving to Yola. The road has a very high economic value as a major artery linking people to Adamawa and Taraba states.
Despite its economic importance, however, the road has been in complete bad shape for more than 30 years that I know and used it. Successive administrations have abandoned the road to its fate.
A short sigh of relief came to the road in 2011 when a contract was awarded by the federal government for its rehabilitation. The fortune of the Gombe-Numan-Yola road didn’t change after the contract was awarded because there was no mobilization for contractors to commence work.
It was in 2016 that the Gombe – Numan federal road rehabilitation project was awarded afresh by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. Unlike the contract award of 2011, this time around the contact was fully funded and contractors began work in earnest.
The Federal Government awarded the contract for the completion of the rehabilitation of the Gombe-Numan-Yola road to Triacta Nigerian Limited and Chinese Geo-engineering Company (CGC).
I was actually appalled when I read in the social media a group had given the federal government a 10-day ultimatum to fix the road else they would occupy Yola airports and other essential public facilities.
The citizens’ concern on the state of the road is indeed genuine particularly bearing in mind the slow pace of the rehabilitation project. Apparently, the group didn’t have the requisite information about the project hence its hasty decision to issue an ultimatum. It is an open secret that Nigerian government agencies are slow with dissemination of information.
It is therefore delighting when I read on Thursday a statement by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing under the leadership of Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, providing insight into the actual reasons why the pace of the rehabilitation works slowed and I really appreciate it.
The ministry said Mr Fashola is aware of the condition of the road and committed to repairs of the damaged portion, and also assured the completion of all the ongoing federal road projects across the federation.
The statement also quoted the Minister of State for Works and Housing, Engineer Abubakar D. Aliyu, as saying that the problematic portion had been adequately assessed, redesigned and procurement process completed as an additional work to the subsisting contract for the rehabilitation of the road and FEC has approved.
“The bad portion which is about 11km sits on clay soil called black cotton soil which cannot support traffic. The removal and replacement of this black cotton soil was not part of the original contract, but approval has been given by FEC to augment the contract to include the removal of the black cotton soil and replacement with stones and laterite.
“However, the contractor cannot embark on the removal of this clay until after the raining season. In the interim, the contractor is carrying out palliative works to keep the road motorable. The contractor is on site working even now.
“The contract awarded involves massive excavation of the soil and replacement with stones to make the road last long. We therefore appeal for patience and understanding of the citizens and other road users. Full reconstruction of the bad section on the road will commence as soon as the rains subsides.
“It needs no restating that President Muhammadu Buhari is committed to alleviating the pains of Nigerians wherever they reside.”
The minister’s statement was earlier confirmed by Mr Auwal Suleiman, Triacta Nigeria Limited’s quality control manager for the Gombe-Yola project, recently in an interview with Tribune newspapers.
The manager said “This (Buhari) government is really trying because they have not been defaulting in terms of payment. Each time we raise certificate for part completion, they pay promptly. That is why you see us working on the road.”
Earlier in February, the Minister of State Engineer Aliyu personally paid an inspection visit to the project site to see for himself the level of work being executed.
My understanding is that if the Federal Government wanted to play politics with the project, it would have rushed to complete it even though it will later collapse. But President Buhari is not known for executing shoddy jobs, that is why he insisted in delivering qualitative jobs that would stand the test of time for all of us.
It is clear that the Buhari administration is genuinely committed to not only the completion of the road but ensuring that quality job is done to fix the road once and for all.
While we appreciate the Federal Government effort, it is not out of place to also advocate for timely release of critical information to the public so as to not leave them with fake news, conjectures and guess work. Without genuine information flow, the citizens won’t be able to gauge the pulse of government no matter its honesty, commitment and hard work.
We hope and pray that after the rain recedes, work would resume at the site as the minister said.
Ahmadu wrote in from Jimeta, Adamawa State
The Untold story of ‘ No- Sweat ‘ By Yakubu Abdullahi Yakubu
By Yakubu Abdullahi Yakubu
Simply known as No Sweat, he was a man of many parts. This is him in India performing in a film cast. He told me many stories of his globetrotting in the 1970s and 1980s. He could count only the few countries he didn’t see in this world. He spoke many Nigerian and foreign languages, at least twelve. I don’t have the exact number.
He was a darling of the media when he came back to Nigeria in 1982. He said my father was in the presidential entourage of Shehu Shagari when he was in Pakistan and his ADC Col Usman Isa Garkida forced his return home. He even wrote a book in advanced age.
A few weeks to his death he called me :”Kai, yaron nan. Ba ka jin magana har yanzu ko?” I replied, “e mana”. He said he wanted me to edit and complete his book. Sahabo Mahdi who was doing it had died. He said he knew I was busy with my own book on Fombina Emirate but he would still ask.
As a young journalist in the early 90s, I reported for The Democrat newspaper and No Sweat was with the The Reporter, both based in Kaduna. I was his younger brother, friend and foe. We were always together laughing and fighting.
When his sight began to fail him, he would ask me to identify any person greeting him. But on the contrary, whenever I met him at NTA Yola under that tree, I wouldn’t speak but just give him a handshake. He would ask those around, “wa ye ne?” I would beg them to keep quiet. Then I will extend my hand again. He would again ask who was it. Give him a minute, he would say, “Yakubu Yakubu, kaniyan ka. Yaron nan ba ka jin magana”. Everybody would burst out in laughter. He usually dozed off in his favorite seat in the press gallery of the old Government House, Yola, for at least two hours every day. I would gather his papers and hide them. When he woke up and didn’t see them, he would shout my name.
We attended many press conferences together and I learned to be fearless from many of his encounters with people in power, be you a governor, deputy governor, commissioner, permanent secretary, etc. He talked to power. I also talked to power. More stories for another day.
Abdullahi Isa No Sweat died but his stories are still as amazing as four decades ago. I wish the book is still alive and will be born soon.
Adieu, Pappy. May Allah forgive you and reward you with paradise.
Yakubu Abdullahi Yakubu was the former General Manager and Editor- In- Chief of The Scope newspaper owned by Adamawa State government.
Like El-Rufa’i, like Adamawa SSG, Bashiru Ahmad
By Aminu Kwalli Jimeta
Mallam Nasiru El-Rufa’i, the governor of Kaduna state is one of the most maligned public officers in the country. He is hated for the wrong reasons by those who feed fat on public till and the governor has yanked their sticky fingers from the kooky jar.
Ironically, El-Rufa’i is doing a wonderful job in Kaduna according to stories I read everyday. The man may be arrogant, egoistic and brash, but hate him to your heart’s content, one thing you cannot take away from him is his performance as a public officer – accidental or otherwise.
Wherever he served, he left indelible marks that no matter how negative he is portrayed by those who felt they didn’t get their “dues”. Performers are by nature arrogant and distant but only to those whose sense of right and wrong are inverted. Performers are always considered to be arrogant and snobs by those who feel threatened by the actions of these solution-driven men.
Mallam Nasiru El-Rufa’i is a performer and so is the Adamawa state Secretary to the State Government, Bashiru Ahmad.
There is a recent upsurge by people who couldn’t get their way in the government with Bashiru Ahmad as the Secretary to the Government.
The SSG has proved to be a bulwark for the government and governor against political jobbers and rent seeking civil and public servants. This has irked many, particularly those who believe they are closer to the governor than his SSG.
The recent media lynching by this mob, in my view lacks any factual basis beyond venting pent-up frustrations by very few individuals hiding behind a masquerade with access to yellow journalism. We have seen them use the Desert Herald in the past with no success.
After this failed project, they have now turned The Finder, a barely known online news platform to pour their poisonous tales about the unsuitability of the SSG to hold the office. But they only succeeded in poisoning themselves because the wind has blown, and we have seen the fowl’s nyash.
I want to make crystal clear that Bashiru Ahmad is no political orphan in Adamawa politics therefore, much as we won’t like to join issues with crowds for rent, we are compelled to please beg the men behind the masquerades to come out, if they truly have the courage of their conviction. Toothless men hiding behind pseudonyms have the gumption to give the governor fourteen days to replace the SSG or face their wrath? Isn’t that laughable. This is the tragic scenario we are faced with as a people.
I am not asking the group to like Bashiru Ahmad as a man – far from it. But credit must be given where it is due. I have been among those lucky to be associated with him during this political dispensation. We have gone to all the nooks and crannies of Adamawa state with Bashiru Ahmad during the campaigns and I got close to him since then.
I cannot remember seeing any Fintiri Supporters’ Group in all the communities we visited, so it is fraudulent for such a group to emerge from the blues. Everyone who campaigned for Fintiri is his supporter, so nobody has any patent or trademark to “Fintiri Supporter”. I have interacted with him in his capacity as the SSG on several occasions and I am therefore qualified to talk about the little I know of him. I feel degraded writing this response to such a “group” but allowing it to pass will be worse. Responding to unequal is injustice and I pride myself for standing for justice whatever situation I find myself.
Any supporter of his excellency, Rt. Hon. Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri will not denigrate his appointee, particularly a high ranking one on the pages of newspapers or airwaves. Whatever the appointee’s shortcomings, a sincere critic may rather take him/ her on, no matter the “arrogance” of the public official. They will be well advised to sheath their swords or risk being disrobed in public. We are yet to expose them because of the benevolence of the SSG and our moral rectitude and not because we do not know them. But they seem to be forcing our hands. If the chips are down, we will surely do so. As the old cliché goes, a word is enough for the wise.
Aminu Kwalli Jimeta is a Jimeta based public commentator .
Adamawa SSG, Mal. Bashiru Ahmad, pillar of Adamawa Govt
By Phillip Ishaya
Greatness is achieved not through selfish promotion of oneself or cheap publicity but through selfless services that benefits mankind especially the down trodden, Mal. Bashiru Ahmad epitomizes greatness in all ramifications. Never has Adamawa State been blessed with a philanthropist like the Secretary to the Adamawa State Government, a man that genuinely cares for the well-being of Adamawa Masses
For the benefit of the people that do not know Mal. Bashiru Ahmad is a political iroko, over qualified on his own rights. God has given Adamawa a man of outstanding quality, vision and class, God so much love Adamawa State, otherwise how could we have discovered the talents, energy, kindness, passion and selflessness endowed in one person.
I was involved in a discussion with some of our people and everyone has the same view, Mal. Bashiru Ahmad is a God sent first class brain, mentor and determined man that is passionate about his people. He is well prepared to make a difference in the lives of Adamawa people.
I saw diamond in the heart of this gentleman this man posses and the passion he has in making sure that he supports his people to achieve maximally.
Adamawa SSG is a great intellect that holds his ground in terms of quality and logical discussions, he spends time researching into any subject of his interest, he realises that being informed puts one ahead of others and gives him benefits especially when he is in such a position where some people may want to take advantage of him.
This his attitude to work is not an overnight wonder but an attitude and approach that has been well established over the years due to his professional background and exposure. In all that he is involved in, he has proper understanding of the process and expected end results. His ability to understand issues that catch his interest puts him on a different operational pedestal than others.
Mal. Bashiru Ahmad understands that he is the beacon of HOPE for the hopeless, it is the reason why anytime he is out there, he is packaging and presenting one project or the other for the common good of Adamawa people.
He is educating the children of the widows, he is feeding them and providing them with lifelong opportunities enabling them to turn out good for self and the society.
In so many ways, he has laid down his life for others not as a fool but simply to demonstrate his acquired qualities of a good leader and by extension, acting upon the old adage which says “teach one how to fish rather than giving out a fish for free all the time.”
Mal. Ahmad is a man that does not have the word impossible in his books, he is always restless, searching for opportunities that can enable him do more, has never relented in seeking opportunities locally and internationally that would enable him do more.
He has out of his volition committed himself to humanity project by propagating the gospel of kindness within and outside his domain through the veritable tools of love, peace and unity to mentioned but a few.
Mal. Bashiru Ahmad is a rare gift to Adamawa People, history that you have started will be very kind to you as your good deeds will always speak for you, the journey is far, yet you have done so much, we are excited about the possibilities ahead, you are truly a leader.
Adamawa SSG belongs to me, He belongs to you, and he belongs to everyone. His ideology, belief and Association can be publicly identified. He is an open book as far as leadership is concerned. Yet, he is independent chapter of a voluminous epistle of life.
Ishaya sent in the piece from Yola