1st November, 2013
Exhibiting sound administrative competence, Governor Aliyu Magatarda Wamakko adds uncommon value to the provision of basic infrastructure in Sokoto State
Some leaders mount the saddle, do their bit and take their exit unsung without eliciting any measure of adoration. Others come, they see, and discharge their duties in a way that touch the people profoundly. And, the result is, such leaders worm their way into the people’s heart and enjoy universal adoration.
Aliyu Magatarda Wamakko is one of such leaders. Since he mounted the stage in 2007, as the Governor of Sokoto State, Wamakko has continued to charm all and sundry through several administrative policies and his enchanting leadership qualities. In a land where dross seems to be the rule rather than the exception, the Governor stands out as a veritable diamond.
He has, in six years, been able to transform every facet and segment of society to meet the challenges and growing demands of the 21st century. From education to health, the environment, poverty alleviation, agriculture, housing, potable water supply, electricity, roads, public transport among others, the Wamakko administration has pumped billions of naira of public funds into making life better for the residents of the state.
Right from when he came into office in 2007, the Sarkin Yanman Sokoto realised that only aggressive and consistent efforts in human capital and infrastructural developments will transform Sokoto into a sleepy state bubbling with the socio-economic activities. This has motivated Wamakko to embark on a quiet revolution that has in the past six years manifested in vast infrastructural development and provision of social amenities. With this, it is not a surprise that under Wamakko administration, Sokoto has become one of the fastest developing states in the country.
Infrastructure (Roads and Bridges)
Wamakko’s six years’ infrastructural transformational stride can be seen in the changes that have been witnessed in the state of roads across Sokoto State in the past six years. Major roads connecting Tamaje and Arkilla areas of the state capital and the Dandima-University main gate road have been dualised. Also, Runjin Sambo, Gidan Dare, Gidan Igwai areas have become accessible to commuters and residents as a result of dualisation leading to the spread of business centres and shops along the roads. Other roads that have witnessed transformation include Mainiyo-Kofar-Kware road, Tsafe, Anka, Gwadabawa, Talata-Mafara among others. Also, in tune with his humanitarian nature, owners of houses affected by the dualisation projects were dully compensated.
Wamakko believes that whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. As a result, no project has been left uncompleted and even the long abandoned ones are either completed or at various stages of completion. The Silame bridge and its 7km access road is one of such projects which took off over a decade ago but never saw the green light until the incumbent administration made the sum of N709,820,043.50 available for its completion. Today, this bridge has provided a vital linkage to villages in neighbouring Kebbi State through the Argungu Emirate axis, and several local government areas within Sokoto State are now enjoying free flow of goods and services. This is replicated on the bridge linking Wurno, Gwadabawa, and Goronyo LGAs for which N1.3 billion was expended; the Isa-Bafafawa bridge which was washed away by floods was also rehabilitated swiftly. Other bridges ravaged by flood which the determined administration of Sakin Yanman Sokoto repaired are the Wamakko bridge which links Silame, Wamakko, and Binji LGAs; the Tambuwal- kebbe bridge and the Sabon Birnin bridge at the cost of N1.5b, traversing dozens of towns and villages, thereby facilitating easier transportation of goods and services.
For many years, the 85-km Sokoto-Illela road was a major source of anguish to motorists and commuters alike. Though it is a federal road that links countless villages and towns, and a major gateway to the neighbouring Niger Republic, the Wamakko government undertook to salvage the situation by awarding the contract for its complete rehabilitation at the cost of N1.9b.
Wamakko’s transformation stride is also very visible in the changes that have taken place in the state educational sector in the past six years. Aware that Sokoto was regarded as one of the educationally backward states in the nation before he mounted the saddle, Governor Wamakko began by initiating a well focussed educational policy deliberately aimed at reversing the unenviable situation with focus on harnessing the human capacity of the state to meet the challenges. According to him: “The only way to turn today’s street kids into tomorrow’s shining stars is to take them off the street; because the future counts.” The Governor went forth to declare his personal conviction thus: “Human resources are the greatest assets of any people. No nation can attain greatness on the platform of ignorance. That is why our founding fathers, led by the late Sardauna of Sokoto (Sir Ahmadu Bello) made the empowerment of our young ones through education and training, their priority. But today, many of our children who are the leaders of tomorrow are roaming the streets. We cannot let this continue…we have initiated the Almajiri Education programme, the Girl Child Education Scheme and several other programmes that will ensure the greatness of the future of Sokoto State…’’
To match word with action, the Wamakko government, at inception, declared a state of emergency in education. It also announced that 22 per cent of its annual budgets will be devoted to revitalisation and repositioning of the state’s education sector. The administration also embarked on massive rehabilitation and expansion of some selected secondary schools, purchase and distribution of science and technical equipment to all secondary schools; purchase and distribution of relevant textbooks for all subjects; purchase and distribution of computers and accessories to selected school; recruitment of teachers and provision of vehicles for monitoring and inspection as well as equipping classrooms and hotels with furniture. The Wamakko administration has also placed emphasis on the recruitment of qualified teachers and the provision of teaching and learning materials.
Alhaji Bello Yusuf Danchadi, the state Commissioner of Education, told TheNEWS that aggressive campaigns have been embarked upon for increased girl-child school enrolment in the state, in an effort aimed at ensuring that no child is left behind. The girl-child education, according to him, is accorded premium with added bait of scholarship and automatic employment on graduation, especially for those with NCE qualifications. “As a matter of policy, the government guarantees employment to every indigenous girl-child in her locality or community. This is meant to encourage other women to enrol,’’ said he. Furthermore, in view of the fact that many women got married without completing their secondary education, Wamakko’s administration delved into the construction of Women Centres in each of the Senatorial Districts of the State. The Centres were made comfortable for married women to enrol for the completion of their secondary education that would qualify them to go for tertiary education. Other incentives introduced by the Wamakko administration to encourage school attendance includes doubling the feeding allowances for all the students in all the boarding schools in the State; encouraging indigenes of the state to pursue higher education through initiatives like the purchase of JAMB forms, organisation of extra-mural classes to make up for deficiencies in secondary school results, payment of NECO and WAEC registration fees etc. Over N1 billion has been expended on these efforts.
The initiatives have led to huge increase in the overall school enrolment of boys and girls in the state.
The Wamakko administration has also taken head on the vexed issue of Al’majiri phenomenon with the introduction unique curriculum that encompasses western and Islamic education to attract children who were formerly begging on the streets into the formal school system. Over N70 million has already been committed to this effort with the construction of the first such schools at Dange/Shuni local government area of the State. Over 800 children who are being fed, clothed and given their other needs by the state government through the Ministry of Religious Affairs have been enrolled in the school. Similar schools have also been built across the State. As a result, all school age pupils are off the streets throughout the state. Also, the Wamakko administration has succeeded in ridding Sokoto State of street beggars with the introduction of a unique scheme in which vulnerable individuals who before now were engaged in begging such as the aged, widows, orphans and the needy across the 23 LGCs are paid monthly allowance of N6, 500.
The Wamakko administration has vigorously pursued the drive to secure admission for indigenes of the State in various higher institutions in the country. Through concerted efforts of Sokoto State Department of Education, 865 state indigenes have been admitted into the School of Matriculation Studies of Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto to pursue science courses. Other 81 students have been admitted into the School of Preliminary and Extra Mural Studies, FUT, Minna while 43 others are in School of Basic and Remedial Studies, ABU, Zaria.
The Wamakko administration, in 2013, purchased 16,200,000 UTME forms for onward distribution to state indigenes and private NECO forms for candidates to make up for the deficiencies of their O/level results enhance their chances of gaining admission into high institutions. In like manner, 17 degree programmes in education are being run by Shehu Shagari College of Education, Sokoto. Furthermore, the department has embarked on sensitisation visits to the 23 local governments to increase higher education college enrolments to boost education in the state through advocacy and physical and financial assistance to the youth of the state. The department has recorded an unprecedented landmark with its sponsorship of 25 indigenes to UK and Malayisa who are expected to be Consultants after their graduation.
Another area in which the Wamakko administration has also excelled is health care delivery. In its six years in the saddle, the Wamakko administration has turned the health system in the state around by renovating, expanding and re-equipping all existing general hospitals it inherited in 2007. With the conviction that a healthy person is a wealthy person, the government has committed over N4billion to the health sector since inception, thus taking health care delivery to the nooks and crannies of the state. For instance, over 30 mobile (motorised) well-equipped clinics, adequately supplied with drugs and manned by qualified doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, have been routinely deployed all over the state, penetrating every local government areas to treat patients free, under the government free medical care programme.
One of the advantages of this routine rural medical outreach is that, medical personnel in the programme easily detect outbreak of diseases for quick medical attention. Difficult cases are promptly referred to the teaching and specialist hospitals in Sokoto, for advanced and proper management. Also, the Wamakko administration has upgraded primary health centres in Sabon Birni, Gwadabawa and Balle to general hospitals, while additional primary health centres have been constructed in Araba, Umaruma, Salame, Tsamiya, Sabon Gari Dole and Wamakko.
All government hospitals have had major modern equipment installed and their pharmacies stocked with adequate drugs. The hospitals have equally been well-furnished and accommodation provided for medical personnel. No fewer than 17 Peugeot ambulances and six utility vehicles have been distributed to government hospitals for effective delivery of medical services. The long-abandoned Murtala Muhammed Specialist Hospital in Sokoto, on which no less than N783,764,299.50 had been expended for resuscitation by the Wamakko administration, is scheduled for commissioning in December this year. In the same vein, the general hospitals at Tangaza, Illela, Yabo and Gada have all been rehabilitated. Similarly, the Specialist Hospital, Sokoto had been given various uplifts in terms of renovation of structures, provision of staff quarters, installation of modern equipment, supply of drugs and furniture, same for the Women and Children Welfare Clinic, WCWC, and the Maryam Abacha VVF Hospital. The Wamakko administration has also made history with the establishment of the first-of-its-kind orthopaedic hospital which is also catering for residents of other North-West states of Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara.
Training of medical personnel has also received a boost under Wamakko administration. The state government has improved structures and facilities for training of medical personnel in the State school of Nursing and Midwife, Sokoto as well as Sultan Abdurrahman School of Health Technology, Gwadabawa. Government has also sponsored more indigenes of the state for training as doctors and in other related medical fields in Nigeria and abroad to increase the pool of needed manpower for medical delivery services now being vigorously improved all over the state. Counterpart funding for World Bank and United Nations programmes such as Sokoto Health System Development Project II, Eye Care Support, HIV/AIDS Project, Roll Back Malaria Project and Reproductive Health Project has been promptly released by the government. And such is the degree of success recorded in the fight against Polio by the government that today, Sokoto is Polio-free as a result of total involvement of politicians and traditional rulers that mobilised for effective immunisation of children. Maternal mortality has greatly decreased as government offers free medical care to pregnant women and children between ages one and five.
Sokoto is essentially an agrarian society where farming activities thrive. Aware of the fact that the first need of man is food, and that the North is known as the food basket of the nation, the Wamakko administration, at inception initiated a programme where fertilisers were given to farmers on credit basis, payable after harvest. This made the commodity available and at no pain to rural farmers. Accordingly, the government has committed about N5 billion for procurement of 24,610 metric tonnes of assorted fertiliser. The commodity was distributed to farmers at subsidised rates during the rainy season and is now being distributed annually for dry season farming. In addition, Government had also procured 238 Massey Ferguson tractors, complete with implements, at a total cost of N1.7 billion which have been given out to local governments to lease out to farmers.
In order to utilise more hectares of land, especially during the dry season, government rehabilitated irrigation schemes at Wurno Kware, Wamakko, Kalmalo and Taloka. In particular, the Wurno irrigation scheme is not only producing for local consumption, but also for export. In a bold move to combat the dearth of extension workers and agriculturalists in the state, the government has spent about N1 billion on the construction of Wurno College of Agriculture and Animal Sciences. It also procured 30,000 irrigation pumps at a total cost of N264 million, sold to farmers at subsidised rates. In addition, the Government disbursed N40,899,000 loans to about 382 rice farmers and 232 tractors for animal traction. Similarly, 20 rice-threshing machines were given to farmers.
The Wamakko administration has also procured and stored 6,570 metric tonnes of assorted grains at a cost of N1.5 billion under its strategic grains reserve plans. Government also purchased at the total cost of N21 million, aerial spray materials, 500 litres of pesticides and agro-chemical materials for control of Quella birds and various crop pests in the state. It also undertook aerial spray in the state at the cost of N48 million. The administration further procured and sold at subsidized rate 1,350 tonnes of fertiliser to dry season farmers. It also disbursed 2,400 bags of 50 kg of assorted grains as assistance to the destitute at the cost of N3.5 million. Through its irrigation schemes, the Wamakko administration has also embarked on aggressive drive to empower the rural farmers for greater food production. The results of these efforts have been manifested in the sale of produce from Sokoto State in markets across Nigeria.
Sokoto State is noted for large herds of cattle, sheep and goats. Government has committed millions of naira in this sector to revitalise this sector since 2006. In the 2009 fiscal year for instance, N414, 039,693.48 was injected into the sector, which led to increased production of beef, hides and skin. An additional N100 million had also been injected. Government has also ensured routine vaccination of different animals against diseases in all parts of the state. It developed LIBC in Dogon Daji and Kebbe Cattle Ranch by way of increasing their stock and provision of livestock feeds, drugs and equipment; earth dams were constructed in Tureta and Kware local governments. It further equipped eight newly created veterinary clinics at Wamakko, Wurno, Kware, Illela, S/Birni, Tureta and Bodinga as well as procured public health equipment for control and eradication of zoometric diseases throughout the state.
Government also provided modernised fish farms and established modern hatchery in the State. Also in 2009, government developed grazing reserves for pasture, provision of adequate livestock, drinking water and procurement of livestock feeds. Construction of modern abattoir around the Eastern Bye-Pass has reached advanced state of completion. Government has also constructed four livestock centres in the state. Interestingly, a special livestock programme, for large scale livestock rearing and dairy products, in conjunction with the government of Argentina, is also about to commence.
From 2009 to date, the administration has spent N2 million on anti-rabies campaign. It spent N5,790,000.00 on developing 50 hectares of grazing reserves. Furthermore, the administration spent a total of N658,000.00 for complete overhaul of LIBC Dogon Daji and rehabilitation of borehole and Lister generator at Kebbe cattle ranch for adequate water supply.
The administration has also awarded contracts for construction of five earth dams at the total cost of N38,515,000.00 in each grazing reserve in Kyaunsuna, Gada Local Government and Dogodaji in Tambuwal Local Government Area. Also the pilot fish farm at Wamakko was granted N10,000,000.00.
Apart from these projects executed, the Wamakko administration constructed and commissioned the all-important N2.6b Asare 20 million-gallon water scheme at the confluence of River Sokoto and Rima River in Asare village of Wamakko Local Government Area. The water project contracted to a Chinese firm was designed to complement the existing 32 million gallons of water already in use and expand water supply in the metropolis and environs. The state government has also embarked on the massive provision of potable water to the rural areas. This is especially in view of the fact that over 70 per cent of the population lives in the rural areas, majority of who own large herds of livestock that need water. Therefore, government decided to attach more priority to the water schemes in the rural areas aimed at alleviating the problem of water supply in the state. This is done through solar-powered boreholes in all the LGAs. Before the advent of the Governor Wamakko administration, Sokoto city had been experiencing acute shortage of potable water, but today water runs 24 hours in the state capital, which guarantees clean water supply to the people.
The PHCN allocates about eight megawatts of electricity to Sokoto State and in view of the low power supply, Governor Wamakko’s administration embarked on the provision of 30 megawatts of electricity through the Independent Power Project at a cost of N3.8 billion to boost power supply in the state and has spent over N200 million on solar power projects for the state capital. The projects, to be commissioned soon, shall ensure steady power supply needed by the industries that would utilise the abundant raw materials in the state. It is expected also to boost commercial activities in the state and thus, generate employment for the youths.
And to ease the transport problem being experienced by civil servants in the state, the government is in the process of distributing over 1,000 cars to those in the senior cadre, while those in the lower cadre shall receive loans ranging between N500,000 and N800,000 each that would enable them acquire vehicles befitting their status. The state is at the Sahel region, which makes it prone to desert encroachment that resulted into colossal loss of farmlands. Government has stepped up environmental and massive tree planting campaigns to protect entire ecosystems in tandem with United Nations policy. Sokoto State is rich in garlic, gum Arabic, groundnut, chilli, onion, sesame seed, limestone, phosphate, kaolin, gypsum, hides and skin and a host of others resources.
As a policy, the Sokoto State Government does not indulge in gigantic profit making companies and corporations but instead encourages a private sector-driven economy in consonance with the modern trend by making the environment for commercial and industrial activities conducive for business. Therefore, investors are being encouraged to come and utilise the abundant raw materials in the state into production of finished goods while government strives very hard to provide the necessary infrastructure that facilitates industrial investment by the private sector.
As part of the industrialisation drive, one of the major achievements of Alu, as Wamakko is fondly called, is the Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, recently signed between the state government and Brewtech Nigeria Limited, to jointly establish a mini-cement company in the state. But the most phenomenal achievements in terms of size and scope in attracting investments to the state is the recent announcement by the foremost industrialist, businessman and Africa’s richest man, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, to establish four sugar factories in Sokoto and Kebbi states at a total cost N180 billion within the next four years. Also, to boost commercial activities in the state, the Wamakko administration has disbursed over N2 billion as loans to traders as a way of empowering them to open up commercial activities in the state.
For Alu, A Galore Of Commendations
Former president, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, who also holds the title Yallaban Sokoto, during a visit on the 29th of August, 2013 witnessed the remarkable achievements of Wamakko administration built around the spheres of education, health, water supply, administrative edifice, roads among others. The former president commissioned the N2.6billion Asare 20 million gallons water scheme and also inspected the Orthopaedic Hospital, the NYSC permanent orientation camp, and laid a foundation stone for the construction of additional blocks of offices at the Usman Farouk Secretariat among others. At the end of the exercise, the former president commended Governor Wamakko’s visionary style of governance, describing him as a “listening governor” and an “ordained leader”.
Not too long after President Obasanjo, another former Nigeria president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (retd) landed in Sokoto and at the end of his visit on Tuesday September 17, left no one in doubt that Governor Wamakko is on course to taking Sokoto State to a higher level.
A man of few words, Babangida, impressed by Wamakko’s performance, spoke in Hausa to praise Alu for a job well done and drummed up support for the governor. Former President Shehu Shagari and Governor Sule Lamido have, at various times, commended Alu.