sule-lamido

By Mansur Ahmad

In order to close up the disparity between male and female education ratios in the state, education is free for all females from primary to university level.

Before now, we used to be so ashamed to declare publicly that we are from Jigawa State. But things are changing fast and the environment is becoming neater

In those days, Dutse, considerably dotted with igneous rock and basalt used to be a speck on the chart of history rich Kano State. Not until 1991, when it became the capital of Jigawa State. A barren capital it was! Of late, lofty multistory edifices have started springing up in several corners of the capital, laying away mud houses and straw roofs. To a great extent, rocky Dutse is now wearing a bold look of a new world, such that even the visually impaired ?mai-bara? can see.

The formerly regarded least developed state capital in the country with no basic structure or facility that makes a state capital now possesses well-constructed dual carriage township road well lit at night with accompanying street lights, giving Dutse the aesthetic appeal of a state capital. The World Bank Group which once declared Jigawa the poorest state in the federation is waxing another tune in a little more than two years; clearly stating that this far northern state is a toast for investors ? foreign and indigenous.

Infrastructural development in Dutse has facilitated the establishment of commerce, ultra-modern bakeries by some Chinese nationals, and the popular Payless Sahaad Stores attest to this fact, including the presence of many of the leading banks.

?Our programmes, pronouncements and actions will bear the unmistakable stamp of the moral and ideological character of the political background we come from,? said Governor Sule Lamido, while delivering his inaugural speech on May 29, 2007. Though sounding like the usual political rhyme often dished out in overdose by many elected officials, the people of Jigawa, confessedly, are of the opinion that actions are somewhat speaking to the tone of change.

?Before now, we used to be so ashamed to declare publicly that we are from Jigawa State. But things are changing fast and the environment is becoming neater,? said a civil servant who wished not be named.

Rasheed Sekoni Specialist Hospital used to be a rodent haven with a leaky roof. Today, it has been transformed to a modern and well-equipped. In fact, the hospital is celebrated by state officials as the only one of its kind by any state government in the whole of the country. It is said that it is only Stella Obasanjo Women and Children Hospital, Benin City that can be compared with it. One of the jokes making rounds in Dutse, Jigawa state capital, is ?If you like, you can have a heart attack; we have a hospital that can revive you?.

Some of the government?s achievement and innovations especially in education and technology sound exaggerated, but they are genuine. The award of the Best Performing Governor on Education by the Nigeria Union of Teachers in 2010, speaks of the substantial achievement in the educational sector, where thousands of classrooms have been constructed across the state. In order to close up the disparity between male and female education ratios in the state, education is free for all females from primary to university level.

The highly equipped Institute of Information Technology popularly known as Informatics Institute in Kazaure is a staggering novelty and till date the first of its kind. The informatics institute is known for delivering world-class training in areas of information and communication technology to the indigenes of the state, Nigerians generally and also to international students from neighboring countries. ?Between inception in 2000 till date the institute has successfully trained over 6,000 students at the level of international and advanced diploma from Nigeria and the neighboring countries despite our strict admission regulation so as to ensure that we don?t go beyond our capacity,? Yunusa Ibrahim Hadejia, the director of studies for the institute, explained.

He also made it clear that the diploma programs are structured such that students can bridge their studies with partnering institution in Malaysia, Portsmouth, Ghana, Dubai and other international university to acquire a degree via scholarship. With the well-grounded arrangement with Informatics Education Ltd. Singapore, over 200 students have benefited from this scholarship.

?Before now, the agricultural sector which employs over 90 per cent of the population was in a state of collapse and with the new administration, a lot of schemes and programs have been introduced to see that we move the state of agriculture forward,? submitted the state?s commissioner for agriculture, Alhaji Mukhtari Muhammad. He also added that the agricultural advancement in the state was greatly achieved through active participation and contribution from all involved parties. ?We do things in the interest of our farmers, we do not just bring new ideas just because they sound nice, what we do is to consult them and get information from them on what they want. Then we base our plans and programs on their interest because if they aren?t willing and we bring up innovations they don?t like, farmers will turn them down and it would be a colossal waste of money.?

?Implementation of mechanised farming commenced with the involvement of state government highly subsidizing work bulls and fertilizers for poor farmers, which in practical terms has increased farm produce in the state. Tractors are made available to medium and large scale farmers at affordable prices in partnership with the federal government. The federal government subsidises tractors by 25 per cent while state governments further subsidises by 15 per cent, we further subsidise at the same rate with the federal government so our farmers can purchase them at a subsidised rate of 50 per cent?, the commissioner further explained.

The present administration is synonymously known as the regime that successfully introduced social security, with a plan which ensures that beggars and most physically-challenged persons are given a basic monthly stipend of N7, 000 so as to keep them off the streets. ?What informed our decision is to first, save the weakest and the most periled amongst us otherwise called the disabled, who physical disabilities and other afflictions have consigned into objects of repugnance in our midst,? Governor Lamido posited. Thus, Jigawa state became the first state in the entire history of Nigeria to formally and democratically operate a social security system.

The ability of the present administration to power major project in the state simultaneously, yet pay a monthly stipend of N7, 000 to the indigent physically-challenged isn?t just surprising but fundamentally mysterious considering that the state ranks in the bottom five in federal monthly allocation from the federal treasury. However, the state opposition politicians are of the estimation that Lamido?s administration, in spite of some of its notable achievements is biting off much more than it can actually chew.

Members of opposition party, Governor Lamido is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also feel that the billions of Naira been spent on construction of new offices and official residence, like that of the deputy governor and chief judge, could have gone a long way in providing more basic needs that will directly better the lives of the people.

According to Governor Sule Lamido, poverty alleviation of the people can?t be achieved without the transformation of road network for enhanced economic activities. To this effect over 75 per cent of the roads in the state have been developed. ?One may not be far from the truth if one says Jigawa State has the best road network in Nigeria today as our roads are comparable to roads anywhere in the world,? the governor boastfully said at his second term swearing-in ceremony.

Plans to commence Dutse Airport Project have been clearly stated in the 2012 state budget, as the sum of N3 billion Naira has been earmarked for the project. By whatever criteria, Governor Sule Lamido feels Jigawa needs an airport to open up the state to industrial development. In spite of that, Lamido?s political critics are of the opinion that an airport, for a state like Jigawa, undergoing rural transformation is nothing but a great misplacement of priority, considering the volume of money such a project will gulp to construct and maintain. Moreover, they assert, Jigawa is not left out in the challenge of low internal generated income facing many northern states and this should be the priority of the state government.

Tourism is a well-known means for generating internal revenue all over the world. Therefore there aren?t many reasons why Jigawa State shouldn?t improve on its internal generated revenue estimated to be N1bn in 2011. The state has quite a number of tourist potentials that if well?developed, can provide great revenue most especially via foreign exchange. One of such tourist attraction is the largest tract of undisturbed wetland in the country, which is the Baturiya Game Reserve and the Baturiya Birds Santuary which was nominated by the United Nations as a world heritage site. The bird sanctuary hosts over 3,000 different species of migratory bird from Europe and all other parts of the world especially during winter.

Though a lot still has to be done to actively engage the youths, especially the almanjiris that still roam the streets, the organized concept of government demonstrated in Jigawa are clear signs that poverty can be seriously attacked.

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