Since his first term as the governor of Jigawa State between 2015 and 2019, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, has been known in the state as “calculator governor.”
But on Friday, the governor explained why his people call him so, saying his commitment to setting priorities right and getting value for money earned him the sobriquet.
Mr Abubakar spoke while hosting the immediate past comptroller-general of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Mohammed Babandede.
Mr Babandede, an indigene of Hadejia in Jigawa State, recently retired from the service after serving as the comptroller-general for five years.
The governor, who said he was in private business for many years before venturing into politics, said the responsibility of a leader is to always consider the lives to be impacted by their decisions.
He said if as a businessman he could not be wasteful with his resources, he did not see reasons that should change as a public servant.
He, however, said many people have refused to understand the meaning of his nickname, and that they have continued to erroneously interpret it to mean that he is stingy.
“People refuse to understand the meaning of calculator; it is just value for money, that is, getting your priorities right at the right cost.
“It is for a leader to judge between building a luxury house for himself and to provide basic services for the benefit of the people. You have to weigh the options for every expenditure, how many lives will be touched? That is the meaning of what we do, myself and Babandede.
“Being a calculator is not about keeping money, calculating money or being stingy but it is about putting the priorities right and doing it well. And fortunately, I have been on the business side for a very long time. So I know the prices for almost everything and I have contacts that know prices who can support. So we try to direct expenditure correctly.”
The governor said no one can give him a price of N40,000 for what can be done for N20,000. “That is the calculator.”
“Once you are in public life and in politics, your thinking must change. Your primary concern should be the people that voted for you,” Mr Abubakar added.
Meanwhile, the former comptroller-general thanked the governor for his support and encouragement during his service years.
He said at his pulling out ceremony, the governor was already on the seat before 9 a.m for a programme slated for 10 a.m.
Mr Babandede said: “We have come to thank you for your support when I was the CG and even when I was leaving the service. You were the first person to arrive the pulling out ceremony. The programme was scheduled for 10 a.m but before 9 a.m you were already in your seat. That is a huge honour. If you were not there, the ceremony would have been different but when your own governor is on a seat, and my own emir was also on seat, then there was nothing left.
“I have also come to tell you that the emir of my home town is organising dinner for me and the emir of Ringim is organising lunch for me on Sunday. They said they appreciate our modest contributions to our community, even though I have given them clear warning that there should be no political rallies because I have just retired and I have not indicated any intention to do anything.”
The former CGI said it would have been wrong of him to enter the state without first meeting the governor whom he said gave him so much honour and support.
Mr Babandede said he has no political ambition yet except that he wants to rest to think of the next chapter in his life.
“One needs to rest, sit down properly before one decides on what to do. This clarification is important because social media could be terrible. Before you know it, stories will be flying around.
“So I said I cannot enter Hadejia or visit Ringim without visiting the governor, that is the protocol. That is why I have come here. The intention is nothing. I didn’t organise it but the people are doing so. It is simply to answer their call and thank them in return. They feel that one has done something for them and that is why they want to show respect. But the biggest respect for me is the one for my governor,” he added.
He thanked the governor for what he described as changing the narratives in Jigawa State, saying unlike the culture of giving money to individuals in the past, the state could now boast of infrastructure and basic amenities.
“My greatest anger with our political system is wasteful spending. Many people in our land believe that politics is about giving out money. So I must thank you for tightening the expenditure in Jigawa. We no longer hear of such wasteful spending in Jigawa again. To deal with my governor, you must be able to calculate properly. That is sanity. He brought sanity into public spending.
“A lot of people have come and gone since independence and they were only known for giving individuals money. So when you ask them what they have done, it is nothing. I don’t want to talk much because I just retired as a public servant.”
In his reaction, the governor said Mr Babandede deserves all receptions that may have been planned in his honour, saying the people of his home town were only faster than the state government.
The governor said: “Well, we have to thank you very much because we had a worthy ambassador out there. I have seen and I know that the Nigeria Immigration Service never had it so well. It is not me that said it but the minister (Minister of interior, Rauf Aregbesola). It was a testimony for those who were there at the pulling out ceremony.
“So Jigawa sons and daughters will always be proud of you for being a good ambassador. And I’m sure that you are not tired. The time will come when we will need your service. I am very sure of that. The same passion that you have for the development of the country and the state we will demonstrate the same to support you. So I congratulate you for a very wonderful exit from civil service and a toast to a promising new beginning because the records are there.”