Niger Prioritises Education, Health

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BY Abubakar Bello

Abu Nmodu in his mid-term assessment of governance in Niger State, gives Governor Abubakar Bello thumbs up for doing what is remarkable in the educational and health sectors.

When Governor Abubukar Sani Bello popularly called Abu Lolo started in Niger State in May 29, 2015, most of his adversaries never gave him a chance; but as time rolled by, his steps towards the people’s heart gradually won him a great deal of support.
He took giant steps amidst paucity of funds to make a mark in the areas of schools renovation, road construction, provision of health facilities, youth empowerment and robust approach to boost agriculture.
Those who were doubtful of his ability to deliver because he is indeed slow began to understand that the governor only wanted to be prudent with public resources.
He has been able to within two years make desired changes in the state through his Restoration Agenda.
The governor before his election identified decayed infrastructure in public schools in the state and promised to  reverse the situation if elected, and true his words when he assumed office he adopted a policy of “Whole Schools Renovation Approach,” where run down schools were given a total infrastructure upgrade.
At the inception of the “Whole School Approach” he picked two schools from each of the three senatorial districts and gave them total facelift including provision of libraries and laboratories.
Governor Bello  went further by inviting experts from foreign universities to train 100 school mangers and teachers on train-the-trainers  approach to improve  teaching in schools.
Recently, the government announced the setting up of Teacher Service Board, that will oversee the grooming of teachers right from secondary schools. This will enable the young people in secondary schools pick interest in teaching.
In doing this the governor has approved the establishment of a teachers college in each of three senatorial districts in the state for the training teachers from the junior and senior secondary levels.
On the health sector the governor has on assumption come out with an action plan of renovating at least a primary healthcare centre in each of the wards in the state to an acceptable standard and this he has been pursuing dedicatedly to enhance health care service delivery in the state.
Similarly Bello has commenced the renovation of some general hospitals in the state while providing local government areas with general hospitals to complete his overhaul of the health care system.
The governor has also given approval for the recruitment of health personnel who are in short supply in the government hospitals in the state. To improve the working condition of health workers in the state,  he last year announced the full implementation of 100 per cent salary structures of medical personnel in the state civil service.
In agriculture the state government has driven his agricultural policy to the extent that farmers in the state now access the CBN credit facilities for agriculture.
The government has steadily increased the supply  of fertilizers to farmers regularly and has  made other farm implements available. For instance this farming   season alone the government purchased 30,000 tonnes of fertilizer worth N3 billion, the highest so far availed farmers in the state
The government also through credit facilities purchased grains and other farm produces through a loan of N2.5 billion to shield the farmers in the state from exploitation of middle men.
In the area of youth empowerment the government is also implementing an action plan that will attract youths to agriculture. The government has also sponsored many youths to undergo various trades to be self-reliant.  In this direction, some youths were recently trained in interlocking, block-making as well as exposed to the opportunity afforded by the state training school to learn trade.
According to Commissioner of Information, Mr. Jonathan Vatsa, “Abu Lolo government is working despite that we are not enjoying the luxury of having enough funds like the previous governments in the state. He is indeed delivering on his restoration agenda to the people of the state.”
Despite the position of Vatsa, those who criticize Bello’s government say that his government is not giving consideration to grassroots development of the state.
Based on this criticism, the governor tailored his mid-term assessment tour of the 25 local government areas of the state towards ascertaining the level of developments in the rural areas and engaged the people at the grassroots and politicians on what needs to be done.