By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
Constitutionally, the local government is charged with the responsibility of delivering good governance at the grassroots. Being the administration that is closest to the people, local government areas in the country have been saddled with the responsibility, albeit daunting, of bringing much desired development to the country’s rural communities where the majority of the population reside.
The situation at the third tier of governance in the country, has been a tale of mixed feelings, especially against the backdrop of dwindling economic fortunes mostly occasioned by the fall in oil prices following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to that, the councils, numbering 776 in all, have been characterized by allegations of gross mismanagement and crass incompetence, leading to the near total erosion of the noble objective of establishing the councils.
In Nasarawa State, the story is not too different, especially in the wake of continuous agitation and lamentation by council workers, who are frequently denied their monthly wages for months on end, leading to untold hardship and suffering in communities making up the councils.
Though a lot of sanity has been introduced to curb unbridled corruption and flagrant abuse of public trust at the local government level, the same age old issues constituting a challenge against the smooth running of the councils, continue to bear their ugly heads. Now that there is obviously less corruption in the system, when compared to what obtained the past, the most pressing challenge confronting the local government in Nasarawa State, is the effective and efficient utilization of the scarce resources accruing to the councils.
This has become truly Herculean, considering the mostly overbloated workforce at the councils, which is making it tough for the council chairmen to effectively and efficiently discharge their responsibilities. The typical situation presently defining most local government councils, is that the monthly subvention is barely sufficient to pay salaries of workers, with nothing left for critical infrastructural development.
This unpalatable situation has created the need to have persons at the helm of affairs at the councils, who are not only sauvy with the present economic situation but who are willing to think outside the box in order to make administration at the grassroots effective and people centred.
In Nasarawa Local Government Council, of Nasarawa State, Hon. Mohammed Sani Otto, a young man with vision and determination to positively impact on the lives of the people, continued from where his predecessor, Hon. Ayuba Usman Wandai, stopped. Hon. Wandai after heading the council severally as elected chairman and appointed administrator, left a big shoe for whoever was coming to lead the local government, both in terms of astute management of resources and delivering on critical infrastructure that will uplift the standards of living of the people. Hon. Otto came in to not only fit in those shoes but even surpass the development strides of previous chairmen.
Hon. Otto was sworn-in as executive chairman precisely on May 28, 2018 and without too much ado, picked the gauntlet where Hon. Wandai dropped it.
With a precedence for purposeful leadership already set in place by his predecessor, Chairman Otto quickly move into action, effectively and efficiently utilizing both human and capital resources at his disposal, to move Nasarawa Local Government Council to the next level of development.
As already mentioned, and coupled with the pressing economic challenges occasioned by the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with its dilapidating consequences on the economic fortunes of the council, in terms of shortfalls in both the monthly subvention and internally generated revenue, it took pragmatism and prudent management of resources, for Hon. Ottoz to continue to deliver dividends of democracy for his people.
With his first tenure expected to finish few months from now, Hon. Otto’s giant strides so far recorded, are evidently clear for all to see. Most importantly, his sterling leadership qualities, demonstrated by his all accommodating ambiance, his deference for the traditional institutions and his open door policy, endeared him to the people and stands him out as a young leader making his marks in the anals of the history of Nasarawa Local Government Council.
Upon declaring his intention to run for office following vlarion calls by the people of Nasarawa Local Government Council, many a persons were particularly concerned about his youthfulness. This was so because they were skeptical of the inexperience mostly associated with youth, especially because running a local government, being the closest to the grassroot, has proved to be tasking over the years.
Notwithstanding, his antecedents as a youth whose uncommon passion for greater Nasarawa Local Government remain unparallel, provided the basis upon which people relied on him. They felt he was worth their trust and therefore gave him their mandate.
Determined not to let this trust by his people down, Hon. Mohammed Sani Otto, the Dan-Amanan Nasarawa, evolved a workable blue print encapsulating his vision in the areas of security, agriculture, education, healthcare, education, rural/urban development, job creation, among others.
Within his first three months, his insatiable quest for a clean and healthy environment, as well as a secured Nasarawa Local Government Area, became manifest. His administration showed key interest in the evaluation of refuse dumps, giving regular attention to drainages and other relevant areas.
Bakin Kogi, Nasarawa Central Park and Nasarawa Central Market were regularly supervised by him to ensure strict compliance with regulations stipulated by the health department. His active intervention which translated in addressing Farmer/Herder crises in Agatu Community barely two months into his administration, the many arrests of notorious kidnappers (Musa Duwala and his cohorts), disrupting of free drugs peddling at Kasuwan Tsaye and elsewhere further signalled his poise to deal with crime and drugs addiction in the area.
Recall his prompt intervention in the Kenyang Mining Company Limited disputes, with concerned youths of Udege-Mbeki community and his recent personal visit to the Nasarawa Tall Gate, by NNPC Mega Station upon receiving intelligence report on a said Gidan Mata where prostitutes and criminals go about showcasing nudity and other immorality, leading to the arrest of the operators, following which he directed for the immediate closure of the place.
The roads, bridges, drainages, culverts, boreholes and cold room for the Primary Heaktg Care unit, among other critical infrastructure constructed by his administration across Nasarawa Local Government Area, remain a pointer to his determination to put enduring smiles on the faces of his people. The Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule Abattoir in Laminga, the 2000 metres Solar Power Street Lights, the Remodelling of Nasarawa Local Government Council Legislative Block, the renovation of Nasarawa Local Government Council Administrative Block, the Youths/Women Empowerment Programme and many other people-driven projects and programmes also initiated by his administration further confirm that the Osu-Etto of Keri Community in Odu is a leader whose affection for his people has continued to wax stronger hence, endearing him to them.
Recall also, when Hon. Ottoz requested His Excellency, Governor Abdullahi A. Sule to extend the road construction project the governor awarded during the official flagging-off of the Mararaban Udege – Udege-Mbeki Road, his people didn’t hide their profound appreciation to him. Thankfully, Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule has graciously approved the extension of the work to Agwada.
Thus, it was not surprising and as a mark of respect for his leadership qualities, when the Apawu Community gave him an Award of Excellence as the Most Performing Chairman in Nasarawa State and the Arewa Youths Council appointed him as Member of Nasarawa State Advisory Committee.
Also, the Chairman of Pensioners, Nasarawa Local Government Area, Alhaji Kasimu Barde, described Hon. Mohammed Sani Otto as “the most friendly Chairman Nasarawa Local Government Area pensioners have had”.
In one of the executive meetings at the council chamber, Hon. Mohammed Sani Otto reaffirmed his unflinching determination to touch the life of every single citizen of Nasarawa Local Government Area positively and carry-on with is open door policy while stressing that ” our legacies shall speak for us long after we have left office.”
In his resolve to enhance work efficiency by Nasarawa Local Government staffs, the Executive Chairman made solemn commitment to put in place a conducive working environment. To this end, he earlier on renovated to a befitting standard, office of the Chairman, its reception area and the executive chamber.
Hon. Ottoz also constructed two blocks of well equipped toilet facilities of four compartments each that are connected to water systems.
Equally, he constructed an ultra-modern motorized borehole in the decretariat to make water available for use to all dtaffs, with the borehole connecting the toilets, mosque, offices and all other relevant parts of the decretariat.
Similarly, the renovation/remodelling of the Council Legislative Block wherein offices and requisite facilities are contained has been completed, with the general renovation work at the Secretariat; inside-out still ongoing.
These and many more have given the Nasarawa Local Government Council secretariat a new face. However, what is even more interesting, is the willing devotion of the Chairman not to relent, until a near eldorado is birthed and sustained in all parts of the Local Government Area.
In the area of women and youth empowerment, Hon. Otto has made sure he carried women and youths across the council and to bring succor to them with a view to uplifting their standards of living.
In this respect therefore, Nasarawa Local Government Area has since May, 28, 2018 marked the beginning of transition into government of inclusive participation where the views and opinions of every citizen, regardless of his social and economic status, religion, tribe or party affiliation is heard, respected and given due consideration.
Based on the commitment of his administration towards ushering in and sustaining people friendly and responsive government, buoyed by a devotion for engaging youths and women in economic development of the council, Hon. Mohammed Sani Otto carefully selected over 30 women from across the 15 electoral wards and subsequently empowered each with N20,000 as capital for the beneficiaries to venture into business, aimed at improving their economic welbeing. This has, ever since, continued on irregular basis.
Just recently, the council chairman empowered additional 10 women with 5 sewing machines and 5 grinding machines, with a view to supporting them attain self-reliance, create indirect jobs and have them make the desired social and economic impact.
In fact, within the span of two years, Hon. Mohammed Sani Otto has presented no less than 5 motorcycles, commercial and private, to Nasarawa Local Government Area citizens. The legendary Alhaji Omenge, Alhaji Malam Kawo from Laminga Ward, the All Progressives Congress Chairmen of Onda and LamBeena all benefited from this largess. Also, religious festivities were marked with free gifts of food items, cash and cows to celebrants across faiths. The last Christmas that is still being celebrated was no exception.
These of course, is aside several number of students who received support in cash to pay for their WAEC, NECO, NABTEB, and A level examinations. Physically challenged folks too are not left out in the Chairman’s humanitarian scheme. Members and officials of the All Progressives Congress and the general citizenry have continued to be supported by the Dan-Amanan Nasarawa’s empowerment scheme.
All these and many more are targeted at bringing succour to the people, improving their general wellbeing and raising the bar of governance, which have been achieved to a very large extent. What is more, the multiple awards winning Chairman and holder of many traditional titles in recognition of his outstanding performance, has vowed not to relent in his unwavering determination to register democratic gains in all the nooks and crannies of Nasarawa Local Government Area and touch all lives. Little wonder, the Dan-Amanan Nasarawa enjoys uncommon love, support and veneration of his people and beyond hence the call for his second term bid by all and sundry.
Thus, under the policy of inclusive governance, Hon. Otto has continued to engage his people in decision making process on matters affecting them, which endears him to many. It is on record that the Chairman dutifully interfaces with all institutions, traditional, religious, security, trade unions – NULGE, NUT, NURTW, NARTO, motorcycle transport union, Nasarawa market unions, youth/women organizations, and indeed, all avenues available to him, with a view to bringing government closer to the people. Little wonder the understanding, love, respect, admiration and support the Dan-Amanan Nasarawan enjoys from his people is second to none.
No wonder, the people of the area, who are the beneficiaries of the purposeful leadership being demonstrated by Hon. Otto, are vociferous in their commendations, almost to a point of adoration.
Hon. Mohammed Yarima Al-Basheer, 2015 House of Representatives aspirant (Nasarawa/Toto Federal Constituency), expressed satisfaction with the leadership style of Hon. Mohammed Sani Otto, describing him as a pace setter. Al-Basheer noted that the Nasarawa Local Government Council boss has been operating an all inclusive government where people are being carried along in the running of government. He recollected instances where stakeholders, regardless of their political affiliation, traditional and religious institutions, security agencies, trade unions and members of the general public were practically involved in decision making processes on all matters of interest. ” This singular action has given the people a sense of belonging and fostered unity and peace in the Area ” he stated.
Also, Hon. Patrick Ebini, former member of the Nasarawa House of Assembly, while commending the Nasarawa Local Government Council Chairman for giving security of lives and property the attention it deserves, equally appreciated him for empowering youth/women to attain self-reliance and further contribute to the socioeconomic growth of Nasarawa Local Government Area. He pointed out to regular dishing out of start-up capital to youth/women across the 15 electoral wards of the area, presentation of sewing and grinding machines to women, purchase of brand new private and commercial motorcycles to citizens, support (in the form of cash and food ) to the less privileged during festivities (Sallah, Christmas, New year etc.), and during lockdown, following outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic. The former lawmaker stated that the passion of the Chairman to revolutionize the area has giving him hope that with him at the helm of affairs, Nasarawa Local Government Area will only get better.
For Alhaji Isa Adanu Ewa Ekpa, former Nasarawa Local Government Area Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, politics is about development. ” It is in view of the developmental strides of the Hon. Mohammed Sani Otto led administration in all facets of human endeavors that I, along with many others decamped to the All Progressives Congress in order to support him entrench democratic principles and ideals ” – he said.
Alhaji Isa added that he is particularly happy with the Chairman because he has been able to register government presence in all the electoral wards of Nasarawa Local Government Area.
On his part, Hon. Isiah Agah, State Welfare Secretary of the All Progressives Congress stressed that Hon. Mohammed Sani Otto’s regard for the officials and members of the party, is unmatched. It is in this regard that he saw to it that 5% of salaries of elected and appointed officials is freely given to the party to support its smooth running. More so, the Chairman has appointed party officials into his administration, he has continued to render untiring support to the party at all times.
” We are proud of the Chairman because he has led the All Progressives Congress to victory in the 2019 general elections when he led the All Progressives Congress Campaign Council and also at the last State Assembly Bye-election,” Hon. Isa said.
Hajiya Halima Musa Ojoko, one of the beneficiaries of the Chairman’s empowerment programme who got a grinding machine believes Nasarawa Local Government Area has witnessed enormous development under the watch of Hon. Mohammed Sani Otto, the Dan-Amanan Nasarawa. She is therefore confident that his return to office will ensure sustainability of good governance.
Asked whether he has the chances of winning, she said as far as she is concerned, Nasarawa Local Government Area is for the Dan-Amanan Nasarawa.
” He won our trust and confidence through compassion and tireless devotion to our course, we can’t risk losing him ” she said.
Also commenting, Alhaji Zakari Garba popularly known as Alhaji Malam Kawo, a resident of Kawo in Laminga Ward who received a brand new Bajaj motorcycle, revealed that people are willing to institute legal action against the Chairman should he fail to present himself for contest as they are fully set to vote him in order to bring sanity to the area. He recalled the Chairman’s fierce fight against drug abuse, child abuse and his support for the girl child education. ” A man of Otto’s standing deserve a second term” – he added.
Indeed, his legacies, are speaking for him already. This is why Nasarawa Local Government Council staffs and indeed, Nasarawa Local Government Area citizens keep commending him and wishing for his return on yet another term, so that he consolidate on his track record of achievement, consequent upon which Nasarawa Local Government Area shall continue to witness progress in all spheres of human endeavour so much so that it serves as model for future Local Government Area administration in Nigeria.