By Mumini Abdulkareem
Mrs Josiah Ayinde (pseudonym) has nursed a foot injury that has threatened the amputation of her leg for months and has been running from pillar to post in search of philanthropic avenues to remedy her situation. In pain and strain, she toured many available avenues in the state hoping for succour. But none unfortunately came her way until she was introduced to the Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) Mandate office under the new leadership of Alhaji Musa Abdullahi.
Frustrated by her previous experience, Mrs Ayinde was sceptical, especially coming from Kwara south ordinarily considered an out region to her request. But she kept faith with the assurances she received about Saraki, particularly and the new Sheriff, especially at the helm of affairs at ABS. She was subsequently recruited through her local government in conjunction with the newly appointed legislative aides and their assistants by the Senate President.
While waiting to be called during one of the programmes organised to distribute money and equipment for the needy at Mandate, Mrs Ayinde needed to eat and beckoned on one of the staff to help get some food outside. “You can eat for free here Ma, we now cook daily”, came the response. Mrs Ayinde left the facility a very happy woman with a lasting impression of the prompt response she got for her troubled health and the provision of stomach infrastructure to quench her hunger.
For Hajia Wosilah Raheem, another hidden identity, who has had cause many times to confront and defend her identification with the dynasty, the new wind of change blowing in ABS is soothing as well as reassuring. She was due to be empowered last month but unfortunately couldn’t make it to the ceremony because of a sudden strange illness. It was while in her ruminating state of rueing what has become of her luck that some members of the ABS team stormed her abode in one of the remote areas in Asa Local Government to hand over her due to her. To be mild with words, Hajia Raheem was practically overwhelmed and in tears while trying to comprehend the situation.
The New Mandate
For a regular visitor to the Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) Mandate Constituency office located at Olorunsogo area, Ilorin, something is remarkably different this time around. Apart from the increased tempo of activities at the facility and the new poster of Saraki, the ambience smells a new aura of commitment and dedication that has hitherto been absent. According to findings, the reason has many things to do with the new leadership headed by the former Special Assistant to Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed on Energy, who has brought another dimension and domestication to the traditional activities being handled by the office. As the political capital of the Senate President and leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state, Dr Bukola Saraki, that handles his numerous and massive outreach programmes to the people, the Mandate office re-invigoration can be said to be coming at a better time when the economic and political situation in the state is yearning for more and improved representation.
Why the appointment of Musa Abdullahi in the first place and what value has he been able to bring to the table?
According to many insiders who spoke to National Pilot on the issue anonymously, the change of guard at the summit of the ABS office is not necessarily to do with whether one leadership is bad or another one is a saint. Rather it was all about responding to the need for change which is inevitable in leadership process.
“This is not about whether one person has not done it well or another one is doing more than enough. What has happened goes beyond the need to sack a leadership but the request to respond swiftly to change at a particular time, that is all”.
But what has really changed since the appointment of Musa Abdullahi and is his principal satisfied with his conduct so far.
Away from the argument of comparism between and among past captains of the ABS ship, Musa Abdullahi seems to have understood well the dynamics of his appointment and has risen to the occasion to provoke and promote decisions that has seen him deliver on his mandate for which he was specifically appointed. It took very short time for some of his grand reforms to be noticed and he has reportedly set machinery in place to consolidate the successes so far all to the glory of his employer.
For a political institution, which the ABS office is, and running on a monthly budget of N3m aside its periodic empowerment provisions, activities of the office and its impact should ordinarily have gone beyond the recent narrative. However, with the Midas touch of the new team, the ABS is now a different concept in terms of response and outreach and the people which it was ordinarily established to serve are now the essence of its existence.
It is instructive to note that the Mandate office is a beehive of activities beseeched daily by people with flurry of requests that cut across political appointments, assistance for boreholes to ameliorate water scarcity problems, electricity provisions and various helps in cash and kind. The request list also include tuition fee and free JAMB forms among tertiary students and university education seekers.
In response to providing needed answers to the huge requests daily being received, Musa Abdullahi came in with a new approach that has attracted rare commendation from his principal Bukola Saraki. Unlike the position of many of his supporters and apologists that Saraki’s style of appreciating one for a job well done in any of the assignments he has given was to ordinarily add to that task instead of singing your praise, the leader jettisoned that method of assessment to heap praises on Musa Abdullahi for a job well done since his appointment.
At the stakeholders meeting held at the White House residence of the Sarakis, GRA, Ilorin, the Senate President in the presence of about 200 party members that comprised all the council chairmen, vice chairmen, secretaries, senatorial chairmen and party stalwarts across the sixteen local government councils in the state penultimate Friday, purportedly caught Musa Abdullahi unaware when he called him out to “render his account of stewardship”.
Not only did Musa pass the litmus test from his principal, his account of stewardship dazzled the audience, many of whom heaped additional praises on him.
What has changed?
Now back to the question of what has changed. Not only that a lot has really changed since the coming of Musa Abdullahi as the Director-General of Mandate, the silent revolution is ongoing on daily basis and steadily bringing very positive results.
In the new Mandate, gone are the days when request were being delayed waiting for attention for days or months, there is now prompt and rapid response to the multitudes of requests being received on daily and monthly basis. Additionally, there is now a constant disbursement of monthly financial assistance. From the N3m monthly subvention to the office from Saraki, Abdullahi in his wisdom set up a committee to determine how the funds can really impact those it was originally meant for. Furthermore, the tempo of execution of project that has direct impact on the lives of the people has increased. It is also to his credit that there is now the introduction of a stop-gap approach response for requests that available funds at a particular time may not be able to fund to completion. “That has also helped. For instance, if there is no new transformer on ground for communities that need it, we look at what it will cost to repair the one they complained about and give out the money pending the time new ones will be available. And in contrast with what obtained in the past, we used to cook twice per week but now we cook every day based on the request”, a staff who preferred not to be named added.
Bridging the gap
And for those who are still wondering where the beautiful concept of the 52 constituency office decision that was recently launched by Saraki came from, they need to look towards the direction of Musa Abdullahi, who is the brainchild of such brilliant idea which Saraki expressly reckoned with and subsequently approved. Thanks to that initiative, those who may not have the access to come to mandate but with genuine cases of assistance need not worry as they can now be catered for through the legislative aides appointed from their constituencies. This has helped to check many of the fraudulent cases hitherto being received and moreover it was the new template that Hajia Wosilah Raheem used to access fund even while on her sick bed.
Going forward, ABS is reportedly working on prioritising reaching out to the people that are really in need of assistance and the feedback from them has been very positive. Already being implemented is the distribution of the profit margins that accrued from the various constituency projects where some party stalwarts reportedly got up to three million naira (N3m) and more.
Already there are talks that following the performance of Musa Abdullahi that has cut across the political, religious, ethnic and tribal divides in the state, the opposition is already overwhelmed and mooting the idea to cross over to the leader’s camp. A large portion of the members from that axis across many parties are already reportedly planning massive defection to the APC and Saraki’s dynasty in particular to be held at an elaborate ceremony later in the state. With such far reaching effect at such a short instance, many believed it is already vintage Musa Abdullahi through Saraki’s gesture.
However, is Saraki happy and pleased with the exploit and conduct of his beloved appointee from his Ajikobi ancestral home so far? In the words of Saraki himself at that Friday’s stakeholders meeting “I have seen commitment in Musa Abdullahi because he has turned around everything in that office”.