Hassan Ibrahim Saidu
The country woke up to the morning of October 1, 1996, with the usual buzz that surrounds the celebration of the nation’s independence but this was to be marked by an unprecedented event. Former head of state, Late (Gen) Sani Abacha shocked the nation with the announcement of the creation of new states amongst which was Zamfara.
The struggle for autonomy had been a long time coming but the people of the region finally got their wish as the new state was carved out of the old Sokoto State. With 14 Local Government Areas and Gusau as its capital, agriculture has been the mainstay of the state’s economy owing to the vast cultivatable land.
Upon creation of the state, Lt. Colonel Jibril Bala Yakubu (rtd) was appointed military administrator and he handed over power to Alhaji Ahmad Sani Yerima, the first democratically elected governor of the state on May 29, 1999. Yerima ran two terms as governor before handing the reins of power to Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi. Shinkafi was a one-term governor as he lost his bid for re-election to the incumbent governor, Alhaji (Dr.) Abdul’aziz Abubakar Yari.
Under Zamfara has hit milestones in several sectors of the state. Gild child education has been one of the biggest focus of this present governor and it has indeed yielded some amazing results.
Specifically, the education sector took a good shape since the coming on board of Governor Abubakar in 2011.More than 300 new blocks of classrooms were constructed and commissioned in the first year alone. A 7,000 capacity teachers training centre was built in Gusau fully equipped with ICT facilities to prepare teachers for the latest demand in the teaching profession.
The sum of N1.7 billion was released for 2014/2015 counterpart funding to the State universal Basic Education Board. In tune with this, 1,300 teachers undergone retraining process to ensure all children in the state receive quality education. Just recently the state government and UNICEF signed the 2016 joint Annual Work Plan (AWP) worth N2.3 billion for intervention in the education and health sectors.
So far, 400 schools have been rehabilitated in different parts of the state with new sets of furniture, books for the libraries; 4,000 classrooms have been constructed across the state for primary learning. One other good thing in the sector is the renovation of Arabic schools to encourage parents who preferred to send their children to faith-based schools have options.
The administration of Governor Yari Abubakar, since his coming on board in 2011, has exhibited admirable trait of making a difference in the Northern region by paying a lot of attention and resources to girl-child education by renovating three Girls Secondary Schools in Gusau and Talata Marafa local government areas. There are now more girls than boys in primary schools (public and private) in five out of the 14 local government areas in Zamfara State. Also, numbers of girls who enrol in school and complete their education have increased in the last three years.
Statistics have shown that Zamfara has the highest enrolment figure for girls in primary and secondary school in the North West, and third highest in North West and North East combined. The state also doubles as the only state in the North West and North East to have more girls than boys in secondary school in the last two years. The number of girls who enrol in school and complete their education up to WAEC has also increased by 40% in the last three years. This steady and enviable rise is by no means accidental and anyone who has followed this government closely since its inception can testify to this fact.
The government has also touched on the health sector of the state with child immunisation as the spread head of its campaign. Huge finances have been devoted to ensuring that adequate and affordable health care services are provided for the people of the state.
These concerted effort has seen a drive down in the infant mortality rates in the state. The Zamfara Government procured malaria drugs worth of N120 million as part of its commitments to improve healthcare delivery in the state.
Prior to his emergence as Executive Governor of the state, only some parts of the capital, Gusau, and some few towns had access to water. Women trekked long distances to fetch water for their households, what they sometimes get is not to safe for consumption use. It was a season of untold hardship.
Governor Abubakar swiftly swung into action by devoting resources to the issue of water supply in Zamfara state. He personally supervised the speedy completion of the N636million Kaura-Namoda water treatment plant. The completion of this project put a long lasting solution to water scarcity in Kaura-Namoda local government.
It would be recalled that during the month of Ramadan, Governor Yari Abubakar established 251 feeding centres across the 14 local governments in the state to help people cope with the economic hardship. Balanced diet and good drinking water were provided at these centres for the 30-day fasting period. More than 27,000 persons benefitted from this landmark initiative.
Governor Abubakar in his characteristic prompt response to issues bothering on citizen’s welfare has risen to the occasion. The health sector is now revamped paving way for the government to promote and protect the people’s healthcare.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing all the way for this administration as the decline in monthly revenue occasioned by the plummeting global price of crude has put a strain on the state’s finances and slowed down government’s pace. However, with the nation looking to shift from its over-reliance on oil and focus on agriculture, Zamfara is poised to play a key role in that regard.
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture recorded that the total number of farmers that redeemed their fertiliser in Zamfara in 2012 were 28,000 while that figure rose to 121,000 in 2013, representing an increase of 335 percent. The figure has continued to rise and as at 2015, it stood at about 375,000.
This increase in farming activities on doubt owes to the fact that the state government has been actively involved with the farmer with various kinds of interventions to make life better for rural farmers. Finally, we can look to Zamfara to come into its own with a slogan that says “farming is our pride”.
With steady investment in road infrastructure and irrigation agriculture, this present administration has put the state in pole position to rescue the country in these times.
The noble gesture and the delivery of Governor Abubakar’s constitutional mandate cannot be ignored. His giant strides in Zamfara state has helped pulled many people out of the ignoble pit of poverty. This new paradigm approach taken by the administration has oiled the government machinery for greater productivity and efficiency.
One can rightly assert that Governor Abubakar’s administration has mostly benefited the people of Zamfara State and he has put the state on the pedestal of sustainable development for the years ahead.
Long Live Zamfara; Happy Zamfara at 20!
*Seidu is of Zamfara Govt House Press Unit