Bala Mohammed: An Apostle of Change

Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed, Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, is a child of fate. He is the proverbial prepared mind which fortune favours. A combination of long preparation, competence and providence always puts him on the right side of history when it counts. Nigerians remember him as a vibrant senator representing Bauchi South in the Sixth Senate where he deployed his oratorical gift and sound mind to good use. He made history in the Senate when he moved the motion for the Doctrine of Necessity, which made then vice president, Goodluck Jonathan, acting president and solved the constitutional logjam caused by the serious ill health of late President Umaru Yar’Adua.

In those uncertain days of a national deadlock and intense sectional prevarications, he stood up to be counted on the side of a united Nigeria. It was quite a great risk which Nigeria will continue to remember him for. A technocrat with about 30 years public service experience behind him, his political career has been defined by such calculated acts of courage, which stabilised Nigeria at very trying time.

Born on October 5, 1958, at Duguri Town in Alkaleri Local Government area of Bauchi State, Mohammed attended Duguri Primary School, Bauchi from 1965 to 1971. He attended Government Secondary School, Bauchi, from 1972 to 1976 where he passed his WASCE. After that he attended North-East College of Arts and Science from 1977 to 1979 for his Advanced Level Certificate. In1979, he gained admission to the University of Maiduguri from where he graduated in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Language. He attended the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria, ASCON, in 1988 for a general management course. And attended a capacity building training in Lagos and was given a certificate of the Institute of Purchase and Supplies.

Mohammed’s confidence in the parliament and poise before the media may be a product of his early training as a journalist, a heritage he is so proud of. He began his career as a journalist in the early 80s and rose to become the news editor of the Mirage Newspaper, Jos, between 1982 and 1983. He also had a stint as a reporter with the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN. After NAN, he worked in Democrat Newspaper as state editor in charge of Benue from 1983 to 1984. Those who worked with him during that period remember him as a highly committed and principled journalist who stuck to the ethics of the profession.

In 1984, Mohammed left his flourishing journalism career for the civil service when he joined the Federal Ministry of Internal Affairs, Abuja. In 1994, he was promoted and redeployed as Principal Administrative Officer in the Cabinet Secretariat of the Presidency. He was Chief Supplies Officer, Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals, from 1995 to 1997. He rose to the position of Assistant Director in the Federal Ministry of Power and Steel in 1997. In 1999 he was promoted Deputy Director/Special Assistant to the Minister, Federal Ministry of Transport, till 2003.  He was promoted Director of Administration, Nigerian Railway Corporations, in 2003 and later in September same year, he became Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation. In January 2004 he became Director of Administration and Supplies, Nigerian Meteorological Agency.

Then politics called. And on April 21, 2007, he was elected senator representing Bauchi South at the National Assembly under the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP. However, he later defected to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. But his days in the Red Chamber, as the Senate is known, was cut short when President Jonathan nominated him Minister of FCT in 2010. Since he assumed duty as Minister on April 8, 2010, Mohammed has grown in political stature to become one of the key drivers of Federal Government’s Transformation Agenda. President Jonathan reappointed him FCT Minister on July 2, 2011

A man of few words, he acts decisively and is a great manager of men and resources. These qualities came to count during the just concluded Nigeria Centenary celebration which he chaired.

Under him, Abuja is fast developing into a mega city. The city’s skyline is changing. The light rail project is shaping up and the necessary infrastructure backbone is being built. His innovative Land Swap Initiative and robust marketing mix is seeing greater inflow of private sector funds and foreign direct investments into Abuja. According to his projections, soon the nation’s capital can generate over N500 billion in internal revenue and fund its budget even when there is a delay in federal allocations.

According to him, his mission is: “To build and administer the Federal Capital Territory in compliance with the Master Plan through the establishment of an effective and enduring service oriented administration that can respond to the needs of all residents and other stakeholders” Mohammed is guided by his core values of patriotism and dedication to duty; integrity and trust through transparency and accountability; respect for due process and rule of law; Equal opportunity regardless of gender, age, religion and commitment to highest ethical standards and professionalism.

A very composite man, Mohammed’s success in life and politics has not made him arrogant. Some people refer to him “Bala, the Compassionate” because of his patience and love for ordinary folks. Much as he is bent on reforming the Federal Capital City, it must be with a human face. According to his team, he advised them “not to criminalise poverty.” This compassion perhaps drives his health policy to give affordable good healthcare to the masses. He is perhaps the only one of his kind who channels his security votes to augment shortfall in healthcare budget.  Members of his team described him variously in effusive terms: “workaholic, proactive, open minded, team player, transparent, hides nothing from team members, appreciates the truth, use cumulative experience through association, not a member you can fumble with, a driver, very energetic, a straight thinker, a goal getter, doesn’t believe in failure, appreciates his workers, detribalised and a Godsend boss.” Little wonder he has a team of dedicated men and women, who not only share his dream of a better federal capital city to be proud of, but are prepared to continue to translate the dream to reality.

With this committed team, Mohammed says he is upgrading Abuja to a smart city, a knowledge driven megapolis where everything works; where everything has a place and stays in its place!

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