Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (CON), a former helmsman of the Power State, and the Chief Servant of his people is 61 years old today.
When, in May 2007, Dr Aliyu mounted the saddle, he promised in his inaugural address that he was going to be a courageous leader, bolder than all those who have ruled the state before him. He promised to provide “courageous and quality leadership,” since the destiny of any people is inextricably tied to the quality of its leadership.
The Chief Servant kept his word. There is hardly any leader; military or civilian who succeeded in changing the face of the state’s politics and socio-economy in a thoroughgoing manner like former Governor Aliyu. Indeed his two terms of eight years have come to represent a defining period of our state’s history.
And here is why. At a time some state administrations were brawling and stoking fires of hate and violence over the ‘natives’ and ‘indigenes’ phenomenon, Dr. Aliyu obliterated such primordial differences in his state.
He turned Niger State into a monolith of peace in the way he wiped out all forms of divisions in ethnicity and religion. For his administration in Niger State, everybody resident in Niger State was a Nigerlite and enjoyed every amenity or provision of the government without discrimination. The concept of state of origin did not exist.
Every school child in the primary school and students in the secondary school in the state enjoyed free education without discrimination; children between 0 and five years, as well as all pregnant women and the aged were entitled to free and quality medicare without discrimination.
The fear of religious disturbances that still threaten some states in the North could not have a perch in Niger State mainly because Aliyu was proactive. In 2010, he moved quickly to uproot a settlement of a deadly Islamic sect which had settled in Mokwa Local Government Area of the state. He again dislodged a similar group in Lapai Local Government in the twilight of his administration.
As he celebrates his birthday, it is not just the interesting narrative of his 61 year sojourn on earth that should resonate. What should fascinate Nigerians is how wide exposure and educational sophistication has made Dr. Babangida Aliyu one of the most modern minded statesmen in the country, especially with his good education in Nigeria and some of the best universities in the United States.
LESSON: knowledge, capacity, wisdom, experience and proven fair-mindedness to preside over multi-ethnic and multi-religious national communities should be the set of criteria for electing leaders into our public offices and not some primordial sentiments.
Happy birthday to the Chief Servant of his people!
Ndayebo was Commissioner of Information in Aliyu’s cabinet.