The difference that Tambuwal makes is that he has not been heard complaining of paucity of fund to execute projects, or been seen, asking the Sokoto State House of Assembly to approve loans and bonds. He seems to have adopted a different approach in resource management such that workers, and pensioners, in the state do not constantly cry like their counterparts in many states of the country.
Nigeria’s story in good governance, has since 1999, produces persons who would pass as best among equals. Between 1999 and 2007, Nigeria saw a Donald Duke quietly defined leadership in Cross River state. He also worked quietly, and conscientiously, to build the state and lift it from the bottom rungs of the development index. From Duke, Nigeria was gifted a Peter Obi, who in and out of office, has remained a reference in governance and leadership. Obi’s leadership, and governance credentials, is attested to by many Nigerians, and non-Nigerians, who see his footprints in all parts of Anambra state. The accolades Anambra enjoys today as one which has not borrowed for development, or complained of lack of funds for salaries and other tasks, are largely due to the fiscal discipline and prudent resource management, and investment, institutionalized by Obi. In summary, Obi laid the foundation for Anambra’s today. Following them is Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, who as governor of Sokoto state, is not letting up on the task of leading the state up the human development index; and without complaints.
In 2014, when pundits began permutations on where Tambuwal should berth next after his charismatic outing as speaker of the House of Representatives, some had suggested he tried out his hands in governance at the state level before aspiring to the Presidency. Those suggestions became necessary because of the upswing in pundits opinion recommending him as appropriate successor to Goodluck Jonathan. Opinions were varied. But he sure made the best decision on where to be. Those who argued that Tambuwal should test his hands with governorship of Sokoto state, had posited that administering a state is a different game unlike being Speaker of the House of Representatives. And Tambuwal affirms this.
Sokoto is ranked 16th on Nigeria’s development index with a debt profile of $41,946,527.11 as at December 31, 2015 and N2,327,122,322.29 as net earnings from the Federation account for February 2016, and N1,777,213,081.43 in June 2016 according to statistics from the Debt Management office and Federal Ministry of Finance. These suggest that the finances are not friendly for the state. However, Tambuwal has operated like Sokoto is on same financial trajectory with Akwa Ibom which net earnings in February was N8,945,542,072.36.
Tambuwal had used his exposure at the legislature to great advantage in seeking to raise the quality of life in Sokoto. Without fanfare, he introduced a N5000 monthly stipend in Sokoto to encourage mothers to send their kids to school. The stipend was to assist them in buying necessary books and other items needed to enable the kids go to, and be in, school. He also began a training-sponsorship programme, alongside UNICEF, to train, and equip, teachers in the state. The focus on education is strategic. From his public speeches, Tambuwal comes across as someone who deeply understands the role education plays in liberating and restoring the dignity of the human person. A committee set up by the governor to do a need assessment of education in the state found that 9000 more teachers are needed with addition 11,863 classrooms to meet up with the universally recommended ration of one teacher to 40 students/pupils. The committee has stated that: “Not more than 5% have recommended Computer Studies and Technical Trade textbooks. Again, only 11% of the students have relevant textbooks in Mathematics while less than 15% of them have mathematical items such as graph boards, protractors, compasses and geometrical materials (solid figures). Out of the 39 technical/commercial trades identified by the Federal Government as contained in the 2013 NPE, only 9 are being offered in the State’s Senior Secondary Schools”.
Tambuwal had, on receiving the report, said: “We are not shying away from the problem. That is why we are highlighting them with a view to bringing together all stakeholders to find a lasting solution. Yes we have huge problem in this sector, and we are determined to overcome them within a reasonable timeframe”.
This accounts for reason he entered into collaboration with the government of Niger republic to establish a cluster of schools in Gudu local government area, which will operate in both English and French language. Teaching French in Sokoto schools is a strategic development initiative as it taps into advantages present in the relationship between Sokoto and Niger who are neighbours. And in a strategic move to attract graduate teachers, Tambuwal generously increased allowance of youth corpers posted to Sokoto state. Addressing the 2006 Batch a stream II corpers, the governor announced that “graduates of medicine will now be paid N50,000 monthly from the current amount of N36,000. Pharmacists will now N25,000 up from the N19,000 obtainable in the past, while graduates of lab science and other medical technicians like nurses are now entitled to monthly stipend of N15,000, up from the current N9,000 they are getting from the state government. In the same vein, graduates of social science and humanities will now be paid N5,000 monthly, a one thousand addition from the previous N4,000 they received”. So far, he is the only state governor to have made such adjustment in youth corpers’ allowances.
Imam Imam, who is Tambuwal’s special Adviser on media, writing about his efforts to reposition education in the Sokoto state, stated: “Gudu LGA in Sokoto State has suffered the misfortune of having some of the worst statistics in education in the world. Apart from having the ignominy of not having a senior secondary school to cater for its estimated 120,000 residents, a 2013 survey showed that out of 1890 students in Junior Secondary Schools in the LGA, only one of them is a female”. He said the situation is changing as Sokoto State Executive Council had given approval for the establishment of a model boarding secondary school in Balle, the headquarters of the local government area, to which Tambuwal had voted N1billion as disclosed by the Commissioner of Information, Abdulkadir Jeli Abubakar, who also said that “30% mobilization fee has been approved for the contractor to begin construction work”.
Commenting on actions his administration has taken so far in reposition the education sector in Sokoto, Tambuwal said: “We declared a state of emergency in the sector because we felt extreme measures was required to tackle the problems there. In the last one year, we set up a technical committee under the leadership of Professor Risqua Arabu Shehu to analyze all the problems and proffer solution. Few weeks back, we received an interim report and the committee has continued its work. We are determined to turn around the fortunes of the sector for the benefit of our people. In the meantime, we have intervened in various areas including recruitment of teachers, repairs and expansion of schools and provision of critical infrastructure where necessary. The technical committee recommended the employment of almost 10,000 teachers to fill the gap especially in primary schools. That is a huge number and from our estimation, we cannot source for the huge number from Sokoto alone, so we will employ from other states to fill the gap. We will do anything possible in moving our standard of education forward, to maintain better and productive citizens in the state. So state of emergency declared in the education sector will remain in place until all negative statistics are reversed”. This speaks of vision backed by action.
Tambuwal is not resting only on education though he is giving it his best push. He is also focused on agriculture as a way of pushing through the economy of Sokoto state and increasing IGR. He stated his achievements, so far, in this sector reminding the people that while Sokoto may have comparable advantage in the production of rice, wheat, tomato and onions, its target is to be the net exporter of garlic, sesame seed and ginger.
He said: “Our farmers will testify to the fact that this administration has impacted positively in the sector in the last one year. We have purchased about 20,000 metric tonnes of assorted fertilizers worth over N1.2 billion for this year’s cropping season. We did same last year. The State Government has also intervened in the provision of water pumps, seedlings, drilling tube wells and machineries. Similarly, we have procured 1000 units of Tiller Machines for distribution to farmers. We recently visited China to particularly explore areas of cooperation for agricultural development of our dear state. Accordingly, an MOU was signed on Distance Aid Training to essentially train students on Grains Food Security with Henan University Technology via Polytechnic of Sokoto State. Similar agreement is on the construction of Agricultural Science and Technology Park in collaboration with Henan Province. The State Government has also signed an MOU with Camaco China – Africa Machinery Co-op that provide access for State to concessionary Chinese funding on the platform of the China-Africa Development Fund (CADF). Currently, Data Base Census is being conducted for all farmers in the State with a view to identifying real farmers and their categories to enable the State Government empower them correctly, and put in place proper budgeting for long-term planning”.
Indeed, Commissioner for Agriculture in the state, Alhaji Umaru Nagwari, disclosed to newsmen that 9,000 metric tonnes of fertilizers and 16,000 water pumps worth about N 1.7 billion had been made available to farmers. Nagwari also affirmed the purchase of rice seeds worth about N 392 million for distribution free to the farmers. According to him “this gesture is part of the measures put in place by the state government to ensure that only genuine farmers were given the commodities. This is in a bid to make a difference from the previous system where there were complaints of biases in the distribution of the commodities. The present administration in the state is poised to ensuring that all the genuine farmers get these commodities right on time and devoid of any political party, ethnic or religious differences. Food security is next to nothing and the state government will not in any way toy with its sustainable provision to the people of the state”.
Tambuwal also understands the need to improve on power supply to the state. Instead of bemoaning causes of unstable power supply and other factors, the governor sits back to work out solutions. He said during his first anniversary media chat that “rather than wholeheartedly blame the power distribution companies, we looked inward and decided to complete the Independent Power Project embarked upon by the previous administration. It has reached 85 percent completion rate and we are determined to complete it to boost power supply in Sokoto”.
He also said that his administration “attracted investment worth N3.3 billion from the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) to Sokoto and it has resulted in the building of three power substations with a capacity to carry 1500 KVA transformers. The transformer will in turn serve approximately 200 households in Gagi, Tambuwal and Farfaru. This will improve the capacity to receive more allocation distributed to our state”. No excuses, right?
He is also exploring other sources of energy to power Sokoto. He said so: “We are exploring avenue of tapping from renewable energy at our disposal. We have received submissions from various companies and we are doing due diligence to ensure we are not short-changed. As soon as that process is completed, we will roll out our policy in that regard and work to realize set objectives”.
To give fillip to Tambuwal’s vision, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Professor Bashir Garba, disclosed that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the state and a Chinese firm, Kunming Engineering Corporation, for the establishment of 100mw solar-powered electricity plant in the state.
Prof. Garba who said, “We have abundant sun light (in Sokoto) so it is only logical we tap from the natural resource for the benefit of the populace”, also disclosed that Kunming was selected “because of the viability of their proposal and its future impact”. He also stated that “when completed, this project will complement the State Independent Power Project currently in place. We are confident that the two projects will ensure tremendous improvement in power supply in Sokoto”.
Tambuwal has more stories to tell about his leadership of Sokoto state. He has remained pragmatic and focused while not keeping an open ear to the whispered complaints of his people. He understands that leading a state has more hurdles then at the House. So, he tells his people to critic his style. He is not afraid to hear that he is not doing well. In fact, he likes to hear such as it only reminds him of the need for feedback in leadership. He told Sokoto people that “they have the right to question what their leaders do. So you have done nothing wrong if you criticize me. Citizens have the right to air their opinions on the activities of their leaders”.
While he leads, governs and develops Sokoto, he hasn’t taken his legs off the pedal in tackling corrupt practices which blight efforts of governments to deliver on targets. To this extent, Tambuwal said “we have carried out series of verifications to sanitize the payroll and instill financial discipline in both the local government councils and the state civil service. The verification exercise is ongoing and I await the submission of their reports. Many have sent me messages saying we have dismissed them from their jobs. The idea is not to make things difficult for anyone but things cannot continue the way they are. The corruption in the third tier is simply mind-boggling. We have recovered N300 million within the first month of the verification from the LGAs. We have also found out in only one local government in the state, an official has sold 200 appointment letters to a contractor in Zamfara State. This fraud was blown open when the contractor sent an SMS to the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) complaining that his money had not been sent by the local government council. It is unfortunate because all the local governments had their payrolls padded with ghost workers. In the same vein, most of the workers in the local councils were idle and fraudulent. We found out that one staff was collecting salaries in four local governments”.
His recent partnerships with countries in the Middle East, indicates a foresight for the development of the seat of the Caliphate. It can only end well. His decision to create women development centers in several locations in the state indicates an unwillingness to ignore any demographic segment of the Sokoto society.
The difference that Tambuwal makes is that he has not been heard complaining of paucity of fund to execute projects, or been seen, asking the Sokoto State House of Assembly to approve loans and bonds. He seems to have adopted a different approach in resource management such that workers, and pensioners, in the state do not constantly cry like their counterparts in many states of the country. He has also not let off on any project because of funds. And while that is one, he promised not to glow with abandoned projects. In fact, he declared his administration a continuation of his predecessors’ as far as completion of projects initiated before he assumed office are concerned.
Tambuwal gives hope for leadership in Nigeria. He gradually proves pundits, who suggested that he takes a shot at governance, right. He also justifies the confidence in him proving that his charismatic leadership of the House of Representatives was no flash in the pan. He may eventually be the leader that would lead Sokoto up the development ladder and make it another success story in development history of Nigeria.