BY ANDY ASEMOTA
The governor, Aminu Bello Masari’s administration in line with the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC), prioritised education, agriculture, security and empowerment of the people of Katsina State. Despite the lean funds available to all tiers of government in the country, the governor has from all indications, done a lot in these priority sectors and others alike. ANDY ASEMOTA, reports.
Since the inception of governor Aminu Bello Masari – led administration on May 29, 2015, in Katsina State, education sector has emerged the first, the second and the third priority as a deliberate policy put in place by him.
Many residents of Katsina State believe that Masari has demonstrated the depth, character and administrative capacity to deal with developmental challenges facing the state.
“The significance of the vision and the initiatives of Masari cannot be lost, not by any person who has seen the primary and secondary schools benefiting from the government’s restoration agenda,” said Lawal Shehu, Katsina- based retired civil servant.
In the estimation of many, Masari has achieved a lot in terms of infrastructural development. There are several projects to buttress this. Not a few are equally of the opinion that optimal academic performance depends to a greater extent, on availability of high quality teachers.
The huge deficit of teachers which has not been reversed in the state, keen observers argued, is still the basis for the plight of the education sector. This has made public schools the exclusive preserve of the children of the poor and the less privileged.
Bearing that in mind, Masari has set in motion, machinery to recruit about 2,000 primary and secondary school teachers. However, Ahmed Ya’u, a trader in Katsina metropolis, believes that recruitment of twice the number proposed by the government will contribute more to Katsina’s chances of leaving the rank of educationally disadvantaged states in the country.
Virtually, every stake holder in the sector wants the Masari administration to rise up to the challenges of inadequate teachers in the primary and secondary schools in the state.
In the agricultural sector that has been the main-stay of the state’s economy, Agricultural Restoration Project developed by the Masari – led administration is meant to correct the negative sector growth enhancers ranging from low budgetary allocation, poor extension services, lack of infrastructure, weak financial and inputs support to farmers.
Others are, very low mechanisation of farm operations, poor agro-marketing, structure and system and, low staff morale dependency to rain for agricultural production, among others.
A midterm x-ray of the restoration project implementation that aims at transforming the state economy with the agriculture production and industrialisation development frame work shows that priority projects developed to form the basic growth enhancers with a relatively short period of implementation can be improved upon to catalyze growth.
The restoration project gave rise to the ongoing establishment of farmer data and information system; CBN Anchors Borrowers Programme (ABP); farm power machineries and equipment; irrigation development project; smart inputs distribution system as well as Himma project.
Other practical steps towards improved agricultural productivity, include among others, Green House project; organic fertilizer project; IFAD climate change adaption and agri-business support programme; Fadama III additional financing project; groundnut and cowpea up scaling project; the rural finance institution building programme; agriculture extension development; agro-metrology; agro-allied industries; and partnerships with international, public and private sector.
In the area of health, the Masari administration attributes its performance since it came on board to the state government established health committee that developed the “Katsina State Health Sector Restoration Plan” designed to address the problems caused by years of neglect.
The plan which aims to create an enabling environment for delivery of quality healthcare services to the people is focused on the following components: Infrastructure and equipment, human resource for health, essential drugs and commodities as well as service delivery.
Suffice to say that the general hospitals at Katsina, Funtua, Daura and kankia are currently undergoing renovation, remodeling and upgrading to create an enabling environment for optimal service delivery. About N900 million was expended in 2016 for this project while N1 billion has been provided in this year’s budget to complete the ongoing works and also renovate three other general hospitals at Musawa, Baure and Jibia.
The restoration of the hospitals’ lost glory is a dream many people want to see come true. This is considering the wear and tear of the facilities and the planned deployment of modern equipment for treatment and diagnosis.
Masari takes personal interest in realising the hospitals’ restoration project, aside the N700 million released for the procurement of equipment to be installed in the general hospitals across the state, this reporter learnt.
Yusuf Kabir, a radiologist in Katsina -based private medical laboratory, hailed the performance of Masari – led administration in the area of health as a historic development which could only be made possible by patriotic zeal of the former number four citizen of Nigeria turned Katsina helms man on May 29, 2015.
Having seen the pride of place that the Masari administration accords projects in education, agriculture, health, water and roads, one is wont to believe that under Governor Masari, change begins with infrastructure.
The administration may have started moving Katsina State forward in the spirit of change that his party (APC) advocates, but the work ahead of it is no doubt arduous in view of the current financial challenges facing the state and others in the country.
Going forward, economic empowerment of youths and women in Katsina State is one sector in which the governor has set out to make serious impact, starting with disbursement of about N2 billion to teeming beneficiaries in ratio 60/40 female to male, respectively.
In the area of security, without mincing words, virtually every stakeholder in Katsina State believes that Governor Masari has delivered on his campaign promise to ensure that people in cattle rustling endemic communities on the state go to bed with their eyes closed.
The growth sapping criminal activities of the bandits have been reduced to their barest minimum. What is however obvious is that criminals should not be allowed to re-invent their atrocities. Masari’s indignation against cattle rustling, armed banditry cannot but be applauded and widely acknowledged.
Fight Against Poverty And Corruption.
After a flurry of activities spanning a couple of months, the Masari administration has put about N19 billion directly in the pockets of Katsina people through payment of outstanding pensions and gratuities to retired civil servants and their next of kin.
But it was not until the Masari administration look a loan of N11, 086,630,000 as bailout funds from federal government, was he able to start settling the pensions and gratuities that accrued to the state and local government staff that retired or died in active service.
The issue of corruption that had plagued the activities of different ministries, departments and agencies of the state and the alleged loss of over N70 billion from 2011 to 2014 in the state has been fought decisively by the Masari administration.
Tempers often go high as the tension over the current administration’s anti corruption fight elicit reactions, mainly along political lines. The former ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has stuck to its guns that political rivalry was at the root of the crusade. On the other hand, APC faithful in the state and beyond, said state resources in few hands could greatly alleviate the poverty in the state. While many people appreciate Masari’s exploits in this regard, not a few find the battle painful or misplaced.
Two years on, the many residents of Katsina State have seen improvement in water supply, health care delivery, primary and secondary schools, security architecture as well as wards as Governor Masari champion restoration agenda in the home state of President Muhammadu Buhari.