By Abubakar Salisu
Politics is about development and not shouting on pages of newspapers.” This was the declaration of the highly-elated President Goodluck Jonathan during his two-day official visit to Katsina state recently. One can easily deduce two things from this statement.The first impression from the statement is that despite all the propaganda against Governor Ibrahim Shema-led administration of Katsina State, without reaction of any form from the state governor, the president saw many things on ground to disprove all the mountain of allegations against Barrister Shema. The adage which says ‘seeing is believing,’has been proved in Katsina. The second interpretation of the President’s statement is that, ‘it is the empty drum that makes the loudest noise.’
There is no doubt about the fact that President Jonathan spoke from experience. He has been to virtually all the states in the country. His assessment of developments in those states may be that the achievements of most state governors only appear on pages of newspapers, with nothing on the ground to justify the revenue allocated to them. Apart from this, most governors are bequeathing the legacy of huge debts on their predecessors, debts that could hinder the future development of those states.
Within seven years of Governor Shema’s administration, more than 200 new secondary schools were built across the state. This is also in addition to 34 newly established girl-child secondary schools across the state. Similarly, special foreign scholarship fund scheme was introduced for the students. Through this scheme over 700 students have been sent to foreign nations to study in critical areas of the need of the state – Pharmacy, Medicine, Computer Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Marine Engineering, Physiotherapy, Dentistry and Geology.
All these areas were chosen specifically because of the critical needs of the state. The record shows that every student that is being sponsored to study abroad, the state government pay up front to the University the entire course fee for the duration of the programme. Apart from these, the government pay stipends, accommodation, book allowances to all these students so that they will not have reason to bother about any fees or feeding.
The process of picking the students was transparent. Findings revealed that there is no local government in Katsina state today that does not have a medical doctor, a pharmacist, marine engineer, environmental engineer, physiotherapist, and radiologist. Not less than five were trained from each of the local government.
Also, Barrister Shema-led administration embarked on massive construction of projects.The roads leading to eight local government headquarters have been dualizedand fitted street lights; Katsina, the capital city has a ring road around it; some internal roads have been constructed and are still being constructed. The government has also embarkedon putting an ICT Institute in place because information technology is the way of the world today. In this direction, the government is partnering with an institute in Singapore, in which the government has signed an MOU with them, and they are going to help in running the school.
The government also built 250-bed orthopaedic hospital and hostel, also signed an MOU with a centre in Egypt to run the hospital for the state and they are installing equipment in the hospital presently.
The government have built about 80 primary health centres in collaboration with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in most of the local governments. Within this period, the state government has established 361 clinics in 361 Wards. It also built 30 major primary health care centres in some local governments.
Medicare is free for malaria patients, for people who need constant dialysis, for children from date of birth to age five. Governor Shema’s administration also introduced the rural-urban ambulance scheme because there are some hard-to-reach rural areas, such that some medical personnel would have to be taken there to attend to patients.
The state government also provided ambulance and equipped it with medicines and medical staff and they go from village to village providing free medicare to people. They even handle delivery of babies. If there is any medical condition that is beyond their capacity to handle, the ambulance will be used to convey the patient to the nearest hospital.
Agriculture is on the state’s priority. As a means to boost food production and supply, 27 irrigation schemes were expanded and developed. Also the state government provides for the farmers, seeds, fertilizers, mechanized inputs. About 340 tractors were purchased and sold to the farmers, with each local government getting 10 tractors. The administration also slashed the cost of the tractors by half. Livestock development is also not left behind.
Governor Shema constructed 48 new roads of about 2300 km at the cost of about #74 billion, apart from several rural feeder roads that have impacted greatly on the socio economic status of the people. So far, Governor Shema led administration has built 2000 housing units. For the past six years of the administration, no child going to public school in katsina state pays school fees. Primary and secondary education is free. Similarly, the state government has been paying the WAEC fees for all the students in public secondary schools.
As a testimony to this great achievement, Shema led administration won the Central Bank of Nigeria award for the best state in implementation of Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS) in year 2008. It won the African Independent Television (AIT) award for the fastest growing state capital in Nigeria.
It also bagged the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) award for the best performing state in the implementation of UBE projects, with a cash reward of #700 million. All these are just tip of icebergs among the numerous awards and honor received by Governor Shema led administration for institutionalize good governance and promoting best practices in public administration.
Shema is one governor that does not believe in subterfuge aimed at deceiving the public and creating a false impression where there is none. His own doctrine of good governance is all about talking less and doing more while allowing the volume of achievements in virtually all areas of governance to speak for him. Today, the testimonies of his achievements are the people of the state who benefitted immensely from the projects which have direct impact on their lives.
At the cost of almost a billion naira, over 10,000 families across the state have benefitted from the Katsina state government Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme aimed at providing cash support to poor households on the condition that those households enroll and support their children’s education. Similarly, to support the Almajiri education, Governor Shema has built over 70 ALLO Model Schools across the 34 local government areas in the state with total students’ population of 17,091. In this ALLO model schools, everything is free for the pupils including feeding and school uniform. This ALLO model schools are established to address the menace of almanjiri system.
Malam Sanusi wrote from Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida Way, Katsina.