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*Nigeria: Governor Aliyu Magatakarda - The Journey So Far
By Amiru Adamu
To many admirers, governor Aliyu wamakko is an exemplary leader and a rare breed of excellence whose quality of character and sincerity of purpose endears him to the administration and respect of the people of sokoto state. His immense contributions in the society and his concern for the wellbeing of the common man will forever remain indelible in the political history of Sokoto State. When Aliyu magatakarda wamakko took the reigns of government in may 2007, it was clear to us that the task before him was not an easy one, considering the enormity of the development were complex and had been compounded by the lack of seriousness and courage to grapple with them by his predecessors.
Impressively, with greater enthusiasm and utter determination not to fail the people who gave him their mandate, governor wamakko resolved to sacrifice his time, energy and acumen the almighty Allah bestowed on him to make sokoto great, socially, economically politically, and to be at par with other states of the federation. It is worthy of note, that within three and half years of his four year term, it is encouraging to note that the policy objectives of the administration are not only being pursued but that significant progress has been made in implementing these policies. In every nook and cranny of sokoto state today, are scores of projects touching on all facets of human endeavours representing an integral part of the developmental influence of governor Aliyu magatakarda wamakko. Name them: from housing development, through education, water supply, youth empowerment, healthcare delivery, poverty eradication, transportation, rural electrification and roads. All these and many more are today practically transparent in every nook and cranny of sokoto state. The ever increasing focus on education as the most decisive factor in the progress and development of modern societies and as a tool for fighting ignorance and disease, explains the high rating accorded to education in sokoto state. At its inception the administration declared a state of emergency in the educational sector and committed 22% of its budget to it. The administration has so far renovated most primary schools, expanded over 30 secondary schools including classrooms, hostels libraries workshops and staff residential quarters.
It went further to provide model libraries in some selected post primary schools, purchased and distributed relevant textbooks for all subjects as well as equipping classrooms and hostels with furniture’s and generators. The administration also increased the students feeding allowances by 100% and abolished examination fees, school fees and other miscellaneous expenses for all students’ non indigenes inclusive. These policies have increased students enrollment to about 40%. In order to back its policies with enough manpower, the administration recruited additional 700, primary school teachers, 1000, secondary school teachers190, teachers for Arabic and Islamic board and 172, for Shehu Shagari College of education. Other efforts by the administration in the educational sector include: establishment of additional normadic schools, establishment of Almajirci integrated school, purchase and distribution of free JAMB/DE forms on a yearly basis, extra mural lessons for students with deficiencies in o/level, scholarships and study grants etc. The first phase of the sokoto state university is in its completion stage. Health care delivery, has also received attention from the administration. With clear understanding of the need for improvement and expansion of healthcare delivery services in the state to correspond with the rapid population growth, increase in the sophistication of the pattern of life of the people and demand for better health services. The administration immediately swung into action, by putting in place articulated strategies to deal with these inadequacies. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko of Sokoto State
It ensured the completion of all inherited projects, constructed six general hospitals, 15 primary healthcare centers, ongoing construction of an orthopedic hospital, constant supply of drugs and medical equipments, supply of ambulances, training and retaining of all cadres of health personnel etc. to ensure accessibility to medical care, the administration procured 30 mobile clinics and utility vehicles. It also supports immunization against child killer diseases, resulting to ranking of sokoto state 2nd lowest in infection North West zone. The administration also established a drugs revolving fund, and procured drugs worth 100 million under the scheme to ensure hospitals do not lack drugs, it also provided logistics for aggressive campaign against drug abuse, HIV/AIDS and STI’S. The administration is also providing free medical care to pregnant women and children under five years in its FREMCARE programme in which customized drugs and diagnostics services are provided free of charge in all general hospitals and primary health care centers. The overall health policies have been geared towards the attainment of state economic empowerment development strategies (SEEDS) and millennium development goals (MDG’S).
The administration has boosted the agricultural sector, through increased participation and funding. The fact that Fertilizer is the most important commodity to a farmer prompted the administration to commit a lot of money into procurement of assorted fertilizer which it distributes to farmers yearly at a subsidized rate. It has also procured and distributed over 300 tractors,50.000 irrigation pumps,200 rice threshing machines and over 1.5 Billion Naira worth of aerial spray materials, pesticides and agrochemical materials for control of Quella birds and other crop pests in the state. To boost dry season farming the administration rehabilitated over 10 irrigation schemes and disbursed over 100 million Naira loan to farmers for dry season farming and animal tractions. Animal health was not neglected as sokoto state is noted for its large herds of cattle, sheep and goats.
The administration embarked on the vaccination of different animals against diseases in all parts of the state. Shelter as a key necessity of life was not left out of the administrations’ development agenda. Wamakko’s administration took a giant leap in the housing sector when it went all out to construct a total of 2000 housing units within the state capital and 30 units in each of the 23 local governments of the state. Most of these houses have been completed and allocated to civil servants on owner/occupier basis. The state’s NYSC permanent camp is presently under construction, to provide a befitting accommodation to Youth corps members posted to sokoto state. Economically stable electricity supply brings a lot of development and a considerable decline in the number of the unemployed, due to increase of economic activities. These foreseen prospects prompted the administration to embark on a 3.8 Billion Naira state independent power project, to provide 30 mega watts in addition to the PHCN supply. The promise of rural electrification is also being fulfilled.
The administration has so far connected over 300 towns and villages to the national grid. This step has encouraged the establishment of cottage industries and other commercial activities of the people living in the rural areas. It has also triggered a decline in the migration of people from rural to urban areas, most especially the youth whose absence affects agriculture, which is the dominant occupation in the rural areas. The provision of portable and clean water supply should be a top priority issue to every responsible government. Clean and properly treated water prevents the populace from being infected with various water borne diseases. At its inception the administration took a step to arrest the perennial water shortage in the state by setting up a committee to ensure adequate water supply in the state within the shortest time possible. ( Continues below..... )
Photo Above: Map of Nigeria showing its 36 states, including Sokoto State and Federal capital (Abuja or FCT)
The committee immediately after its inauguration embarked on the replacement of old pipes and refurbishment of tank reservoirs, a step that alleviated the acute shortage of water within the metropolis dramatically. The administration has so far converted 35 motorized water schemes to solar water schemes, rehabilitated more than 200 semi urban water schemes, the work on the diversion of kware main line to Achida and rehabilitation of the impressit water supply extension for Sokoto Township among others. The government through its department for rural water supply embarked on special projects to supply the rural areas with water. Some of these projects include 90 motorized water schemes,40 solar powered motorized water schemes, reactivation of 200 hand pumps,50 overhead tanks,100 boreholes and the rehabilitation of Binga, Yaka, Yar abba and Tungar malam Rashidu rural water schemes among others. The administration further drilled 50 additional boreholes in guinea- worm infested communities of Binji, Gada, Rabah, Silame, Tangaza, Tureta and Tambuwal local government areas. The construction is also on, for a water station at Asare capable of providing 45 million litres of water per day.
These calculated and people oriented projects, have brought succor to the people of sokoto state in the area of water supply. The youth as the leaders of tomorrow, are given a high priority by the administration. The youth empowerment programme of the administration picked up on a sound footing. By design the programme is aimed at providing succor to the vibrant youth and other unemployed persons in the state. The administration established a skills acquisition mega center in each of the three senatorial districts; two skills acquisition centers in each of the 23 local government areas to cater for male and female training. The scheme has so far trained more than 30.000 youths in various skills and tools of the trades provided for the graduates. The administration has so far provided 300 buses, 200 taxis and over 1000 tricycles which were distributed on loan to individuals. The administration also secured a 2 billion Naira loan, on behalf of the traders in the state. An arrangement was reached between the state government and the banks, with interest being remitted to the banks by the state government on behalf of the traders. Women form the larger segment of the society.
It is in line with this fact that the administration gives top priority attention to the development of women in the state. The women development center in sokoto was provided with working materials, computer center, fitness center and a daycare center. Centers in all the 23 local governments of the state were also provided with equipment and materials worth millions of Naira. Over 30, million, Naira, assistance was given to distressed women and petty traders across the state, while cooperative groups got loans. Good roads are essential for the development of trade and tourism. It also makes movement of people and goods from one place to another safer and easier. As a mark of commitment towards structural transformation, the administration has within the period under review, constructed, dualised and upgraded more than 600 standard and feeder roads within sokoto and its 23 local governments. A contract was recently awarded, for the fitting of all major roads within sokoto metropolis with solar powered street lights; an overhead bridge that runs through the town centre has been constructed.
The administration takes the welfare of its less privileged very seriously. The government through its ministry of social welfare pays minimum wage to every disabled person in sokoto state. The ministry has so far achieved a great success in its field of operation some of which include: clearing of mentally challenged people from the streets of sokoto and facilitating their treatment at psychiatric hospital, renovation and increased funding for the state orphanage homes, payment of hospital bills for the less privileged with critical and expensive medical conditions. The Ramadan feeding programme being carried out by the administration is also another landmark achievement. Sokoto state being the seat of the caliphate is a predominant Muslim state, hence the administration’s commitment to the development of religious affairs. At its inception the present administration established a ministry of religious affairs that is in charge of overseeing all religious matters in the state. The ministry has so far constructed 4 type “A” Jumu’at mosques, 33 type “B” Jumu’at mosques and Islamiyya schools.
It also provided motorcycles to its recruited Islamic teachers, for easy access to the rural areas. The ministry is participating fully in the collection and distribution of zakat within the The administration took a giant step to curb the problems associated with “Almajirci” in the state, by establishing the Almajirci model school, a first of its kind in Nigeria. Indeed the journey so far did not come without some pains and deprivations. It is rather impossible to have attained the level of achievement recorded with so little resources. The state’s finances are not all that encouraging especially with the bulk of civil workforce on its payroll consuming a substantial slice of the monthly cash allocation from the federal government. The minimum wage saga inherited by the administration at its inception is also history. Without reservation Governor wamakko has justified himself as an exemplary leader, whose personal qualities and proficiency as demonstrated in the past 4 years of his stewardship, has restored a new lease of life to the people of sokoto state in terms of belonging and hope for the future.
Amiru Adamu is the publisher of Northern Wind Magazine.
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