Without understanding that Governor Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe State said in English language as he delivered his inaugural address in Damaturu on May 29, Bukar Shettima and Lawan Modu, nonetheless, clapped and danced in excitement at every word from the speaker.
Their moods truly reflected that of several thousands supporters and well-wishers, who had converged on the Damaturu Stadium, to celebrate the victory of Gaidam as the re-elected governor of the state.
As in every human endeavour, there is always a beginning, which usually offers hope and expectations.
The May 29 inaugurations of the nation’s President and other state governors marked such beginnings, which were eagerly embraced by the generality of Nigerians in expectation of many dividends in the next four years.
Without any gainsaying, the conduct of the last general elections marked a watershed in the nation’s democratic march, and the international community aptly acknowledged the polls as the freest and fairest so far, in the nation’s political history.
Mr Dike Omodu, a Calabar-based public affairs analyst, described the zeal of the citizens during the elections as remarkable and unprecedented in spite of some initial hitches witnessed during the exercise across the federation.
“Since the political evolution of Nigeria, I saw for the first time, Nigerians of all shades of opinion, coming out to vote in an election to choose their President. From the north, east, west and south, people came out, much eager to cast their votes,” he recalled.
Omodu said that Nigerians largely rose above primordial sentiments to exercise their franchise as they yearned for a new dawn in governance, where the people would witness genuine change and progress.
Against such a backdrop, therefore, Mr Bassey Efiong, an executive official of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in Edem Park, Calabar, said that “compensatory change is what Nigerians now need from the elected leaders.
“Our expectations are very high because we need a change in Cross River, in the Niger Delta and in Nigeria in general. Things have not been easy for the masses of this country,” Effiong said.
On his part, Mr Utum Iteng, a lawyer, stressed the need to have a blend of technocrats and politicians in the new cabinets, so as to get the best quality of people who would be able to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people in the next four years.
“The cabinet should be a blend of technocrats and politicians; he President should not make the appointments a PDP affair because Nigerians voted for him not because of PDP but because the citizens wanted a change”, Iteng said.
No doubt, President Goodluck Jonathan appears to be aware of this imperative, as he gave the hint recently in Ilorin, Kwara State, when he said that “politicians should scramble for service much as they scramble for political appointments”.
As the new elected leaders, therefore, attempt to settle down for business, the citizens continue to challenge them to engage the services of experts and technocrats, who would evolve and implement purposeful policies and programmes for the governments.
In Yobe, for instance, the people’s expectations are no different from those of other Nigerians and Gaidam has pledged to run a merit-driven government that would be guided by the principles of good governance, accountability and fair distribution of socio-economic projects.
“Let our people know that our inauguration today is truly time for a new beginning and ‘Insha Allah’, we shall put Yobe State on an enviable track, to enable it to take its rightful place among its peers in the federation.
“We will do it by choosing what is difficult but right, over what is easy but wrong,” he stressed. On his agricultural policy, the governor said that he would ensure food security and reduce poverty by supporting subsidy on agricultural inputs.
“We will establish linkages with agricultural research institutes, while infrastructural development, youth empowerment and employments will receive utmost government attention”, he said.
Observers in Yobe, however, stress that the wide educational gap between Yobe and other states; the challenges of child and material mortality, dearth of infrastructural facilities, poverty and unemployment are some of challenges which Gaidam must tackle.
Malam Manu Sale, a civil servant in the state, said that the tempo of development in the state, witnessed in the last four years, out to be sustained and improved upon, so as to impact positively on the people’s lives.
“The road networks constructed in both rural and urban areas in the state in the last four years have opened up avenues to exploit the enormous economic potential of the state” he said.
For Aminu Usman and Ramatu Suleman, however, it is time for the state government to economically empower the people, having done so much in the infrastructural development of the education, health, housing and education sectors.
It is on record that Gaidam once publicly berated some of his commissioners and public officers for failing to meet the expectations of their people by their dismal performances in office.
“You have failed to use the opportunities of your office to assist your people; to solve their immediate and other personal problems.
“Rather, you misled them that government is not empowering you to help them”, he charged angrily, when he inaugurated the sales of fertilizers in Dapchi recently.
However, the governor has hinted in his inaugural address that “only those with the zeal to assist their people will be appointed into public offices.
“We shall have on board people with the heart to share the little they get with their people. People who are interested in developing their people and not just those, who only advance their personal and selfish interests,” he said.
No doubt, the electorate has spoken via their votes which brought in the present crop of political leaders but the leaders owe it as an obligation to the citizens, to strive conscientiously to deliver true dividends of democracy in terms of meaningful development.
Mohammed and Ezugwu write for NAN.
Mamman Mohammed & Benson Ezugwu