GOVERNOR ATIKU BAGUDU’S HALF DECADE OF DEVELOPMENT IN KEBBI STATE
As the Kebbi State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu marks his 5th year in office, it is important to reflect on the flurry of glorious achievements of the Captain of Kebbi State in the Herculean task of running the affairs of the state.
Although it will be almost impossible to capture the multitude of the glaring giant strides recorded by Senator Abubakar Atiku in this analytical discourse, efforts will be frugally made to touch and reflect on the major sectors which the governor has made his landmark achievements. These achievements are indeed as tangible, as timely, relevant and efficacious in further uplifting the ‘Land of Equity’ to greater heights. This has been the dream of the political sage, the committed democrat and a sincerely patriotic Number One Citizen of Kebbi, the Indomitable Governor Atiku Bagudu.
The simple, charismatic and hardworking Governor, prefers to interact and discuss with the electorate at the grass root thus demystifying the office of the Executive Governor to that of a servant of the people.
His all-inclusive style of leadership has downplayed the traditional rivalry between the four emirates of the state and provided a common pedestal for all sons and daughters of the state, irrespective of party affiliation, to discuss the common interest of the state. Whoever is who in Kebbi State identifies with the government.
Decisions of the administration are taken in the collective interest of the state rather than on whimsical reasoning. The citing of WACOT rice mill in Argungu and GAFARA Tomato factory at Wara, Ngaski Local Government instead of Birnin Kebbi, where the Governor hails from, are indications of the patriotic zeal of the administration to develop the state. Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has asked civil servants not to obey any unlawful directive which runs contrary to laid down rules and regulations.
Over the five years of this administration in Kebbi State, a lot of positive changes have been brought into the state chiefly among which is the public procurement policy which now vested the responsibility of contract award to MDAs through Ministerial Tender Board and revival of critical sectors of the States economy such as Tourism, Massive Agricultural Production and Investment.
There is no doubt that Bagudu’s re-election for a historic and momentous second term by the people of the state is a clear indication and testimony to the ceaseless and invaluable love people of Kebbi State have for him in view of his tireless efforts to move the state forward in all spheres of human endeavour. Kebbi has remained the unbeatable pacesetter and trailblazer in agriculture, especially rice production with the attendant multiplier effects for the citizens, as well as the economy of the state and that of Nigeria in general.
It is no doubt that governor Bagudu’s giant achievements in agriculture, through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Anchor Borrowers’ Program geared towards improving rice production. Although, the 15 billion Naira scheme is owned and financed by the Federal Government as part of President Buharis economic diversification agenda, to make Nigeria sustainably self-sufficient in food production, especially bolstering the rice value chain.
The Anchor Borrowers Loan Programme (ABP), under the CBN, is a loan Scheme to boost rice production that targeted 70,000 farmers. The scheme which had received the total backing of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, even though a federal government scheme, has greatly assisted President Muhammadu Buhari’s diversification agenda, to reduce over dependence on oil, as well as assisted the country in overcoming the hitherto economic recession and the stoppage of rice importation into the Country.
The scheme which was launched and flagged off by President Buhari himself, in November 2015, in Kebbi, had achieved tremendous successes, with the political support of governor Bagudu. Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu’s administration supported the program by also providing logistics support to the Anchor Borrowers Program committee to go out to all the 21 LGAs, to capture the bio-data of all genuine benefiting farmers, in order to ensure that, the only genuine small holder farmers got the loan.
The Anchor Borrowers programme revolutionised rice farming in Kebbi to the extent that within one and a half year of launching the program, Kebbi recorded the production of almost 2 million tones of rice. It will be recalled that, the state Deputy Governor,Alhaji Samaila Dabai gave the hint when a cross section of Journalists from Nigeria visited Kebbi rice fields in 2016. The state since then, became a Jewel in the Sahara, receiving prominent visitors, ranging from Federal Government officials, to state governments top personnel who wanted to see what Kebbi has achieved in rice production.
The State became the darling of many states in Nigeria who became fascinated by Governor Atiku’s feat in rice production. The state received the first roll call from Mr Godwin Emifile, the CBN Governor and the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, as well as that of information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, all made several visits to Kebbi rice fields, to ascertain the sucess in the rice revolution recorded in the state. The program has also made many youths and civil servants who were hitherto not farmers to go back to the farms.
From 2016 to 2017, most of the pilgrims that registered to travel on holy pilgrimage to Mecca were farmers who got their money through the rice cultivation. The story did not also end here as many Kebbi farmers became instant, jubilant millionaires. The state also witnessed the influx of both foreign and local investors. Rice processors established rice mills, both big and small. Modern rice mills like Labana and Wacot established their bases in Birnin Kebbi and Argungu, respectively. Other mini ones abound in different parts of the state, such as the one in Lolo, Kamba, in Dandi local Government Area, Jega and Bunza, among others. It is on record that Oxfam, an international non-governmental organization came out to openly commend Kebbi State Government for allocating 10% of its budgetary allocation to agriculture, for over two years in a row. In 2016, N12.6 billion was allocated to agriculture and in 2017, a whopping N14 billion was further injected into the agricultural sector by Bagudus government.
Education is another vital sector Bugudu’s administration prioritised, sensing that the sector holds the backbone of development of any society. The educational sector in Kebbi had previously suffered serious neglect by previous administration.
When he came in as governor in 2015, he met the education sector in shambles. It had severally suffered serious neglect by past regimes in the state. However, the change mantra of Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has extended its olive branch to the sector. The story is now a happy one.
The Kebbi State Government undertook massive renovation and reconstruction of new and existing primary, secondary and tertiary institutions across the state. It will be recalled that, even before he was sworn in as the governor of the state, he made numerous unscheduled visits to primary and secondary schools, as well as some tertiary institutions in the state, with a view of having fast hand information and personal assessment of the schools in the state. In his Inaugural speech on the 29th May,2015, he decried, the educational sector of the state is in shambles, schools over stretched without qualified teachers and structural infrastructure like classes, toilets and dormitories are in ruins over the years.”
To demonstrate his determination to overhaul the educational sector in the state, education received the highest allocation in his maiden budget. Governor Bagudu doled out over 5 billion Naira for the renovation of both primary and secondary schools in the state, including setting aside additional funds for the purchase of assorted learning materials in that same year to 2016.
After obtaining the data from schools and physical inspection of facilities, the Governor set the ball rolling in the educational sector by embarking on massive public schools rehabilitation to the tune of billions of naira, with the aim of improving and changing the educational sector, as well as making schools students’ and teachers’ friendly for learning. The Kebbi State government had awarded a contract for the renovation of 25 secondary schools across the state. The schools cut across the six zones; Argungu, Birnin Kebbi, Bunza, Jega, Yauri, and Zuru. To further enhance teaching and learning in 2019, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu also approved the recruitment of three thousand (300) teachers for schools across the state. Girls secondary Schools across the state from each of the 4 senatorial zones were provided with new busses to facilitate their movement, to take part in sports and extracurricular activities, within and outside the state.
Since he assumed the mantle of leadership of the state in 2015, Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has ensured the prompt payment of scholarship to students studying at various institutions of higher learning, within and outside the state, including the payment of WAEC and NECO examination fees for secondary School students of the state. It is also on record that; the Kebbi Government had upgraded three higher institutions which are under the Ministry for Higher Education. The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry for Higher Education in the State, Dr. Isa Muhammad Sama, confirmed the development. The three institutions upgraded are Adamu Augie College of Education, Argungu, the Kebbi State School of Nursing and Midwifery, Birnin Kebbi and the School of Health Technology, Jega.
Under healthcare delivery, the government of Senator Atiku Bagudu was able to prepare a road map for achieving and delivering healthcare to citizens of the state, as well as to bring all health care sections under one roof, by providing an enabling law through the State House of Assembly. A series of medical outreaches were successfully conducted in the state, in collaboration with Moses Lake Medical Foundation from USA. Medical services including surgeries and medication, including feeding of patients were all provided free of charge to thousands of patients in Kebbi and neighboring states. Primary health care centers are being rehabilitated across the 225 wards in the state.
Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu was in Takalau and several other rural areas to commission the renovated primary healthcare centers. In an effort to increase the manpower of the health sector and improve their working conditions, Bagudu approved employment of health personnel, especially Doctors, Pharmacists, Nurses/Midwives and other lower cadre staff such as cleaners, drivers and watchmen among others . Bagudus government also strengthened the free drugs programme for pregnant women and children under the age of 5 years, as well as routine immunization which led to the success of eradicating transmission of wild polio virus in the state. Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital, Birnin Kebbi , one of the oldest General hospitals in the Northwest, is totally reconstructed, with new blocks, to a new befitting modern health institution by the Bagudu administration for greater delivery.
On the Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19), pandemic that is ravaging the world, Bagudu swiftly swung into action by taking plausible measures to contain the disease in the state, including setting up a Taskforce to control the spread of the disease and provide medication to patients. The governor doled out mouthwatering allowances to the Frontline medical health workers and members of the Task force. Isolation center and ICU were set up in Kebbi Medical Center, Kalgo and Sir Yahaya Memorial Hospital , Birnin Kebbi, with adequate beds and ventilators. This is in addition to the massive awareness campaign on Covid -19 specific to personal and environmental hygiene carried out for women groups and associations across the state.
The area of Investment and Infrastructural development are two areas the administration of Bagudu accorded priority with a lot of successes recorded. Government policies and programs in the agricultural sector, especially the success recorded in the Anchor Borrowers Programme, triggered the establishment of private rice mills, hence, big, medium and small ricemills sprang across the state. Notably, Labana Rice mills in Birnin Kebbi, Dangote Rice Mills at Shanga and Wacot in Argungu are glaring examples of big modern ricemills established in the state. Other medium and small ricemills also followed suit in Lolo, Dandi, Bunza, Jega, Suru, Yauri local government areas and even within Birnin Kebbi metropolis.
The establishment of such private ventures has no doubt led to employment of thousands of Youths and even women in the agricultural sector. Other prominent investors like Dangote and other Companies, as well as International Organizations like United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and the partnership between the United States African Development Foundation (USADF), and the Kebbi State Government strategic partnership for $10 Million enterprise investments cooperation in February, this year, were all geared towards industrialisation and opening up more opportunities for investments in the state. The joint memorandum of understanding to promote enterprise development of producer cooperatives in the state had since became effective.
The two parties have agreed to support agricultural producers and enterprises in the state ranging from provision of funds, equipment and capacity building. Each party has provided $5 million, making it a $10m dollars scheme for selected farmers’ cooperative groups across the state. A major Cassava- based Ethanol Programme is being undertaken under the able leadership of an illustrious son of the state, Professor M.A Kaoje. The programme which is being undertaken in partnership with NNPC, shall lead to ethanol production in Zuru Emirate. This project promises to churn out a whooping N388 billion revenue when finalized. Tomato factory at Gafara in Warra, Ngaski local government area of the state has reached an advanced stage. All these developments were sequel to the conducive business environment provided by government, such as tax waiver or reduction, free land allocation, access roads and other incentives necessary for the establishment of any company.
Infrastructural Development :
Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has deployed man and machine to give the pothole riddled Koko-Mahuta-Dabai road a facelift, Commuters now ply the road with ease. The government has also executed various projects that includes construction of bridges, culverts, and erosion control across the state. The completed bridge on the Suru-Giro, Kaoje-Illo and the Shema-Bakoshi roads that allows for free vehicular movement, business and other developments that strive in the areas are some of these projects.
Others are the 2.0 Kilometer completed erosion control project in Bunza, the Kwanar Dabai- Zuru township road awarded has been complete as well as the completed Maga-Ribah road and another 56.8 kilometer Ribah-Bena road projects.
Governor Atiku Bagudus administration has embarked on the rehabilitation of several other township road across the state. These includes the Sultan Abubakar road which runs from First-Bank to Rima round about through the Government House, and the First Bank round about to Sir Yahaya round about as well as Ahmadu Bello way which have been completed with effective drainage system. Other roads projects are the completed access road around Mechanic village, Birnin-Kebbi, the completed 31km Jega township, the rehabilitation of the Koko township, as well as the Tudun Wada Zuru and Birnin-Kebbi roads The abandoned Sabiyel-Kashinzama road inherited from the previous administration has been completed.
To curtail the perennial flooding in some areas of the state capital Birnin Kebbi, the government expanded the Rafin Barau outfall, one of the major drainage in Birnin-Kebbi metropolis, to allow for free flow of water. To elide the re-occurring problems of flood in Birnin Kebbi. The administration discovered that unless the drainage is extended, the problem will persist, thus contract was approved by the state government to extend the outfall down to the Fadama area. Work on the Badariya-Kola Zuguru road which was awarded to the Nigerian Army Corps of Engineers on direct labour.
Construction of access roads at the Adamu Aliero Housing Estate has been completed as well as work on the six access roads at Gwadangaji Quarters in the state capital. People affected by the various infrastructural projects, at Bayan Kara, Makerar Gandu, Tudun Wada in Birnin Kebbi, Zuru, Zauro, Jega, Argungu, Unguwar Nakalgo and Yauri were adequately compensated.
To encourage land and housing ownership, the present administration has allocated 10 hectres of land Gwadangaji to the Federal Government for its Mass Housing Project. 140 applications have been processed for the grant of Statutory Rights of Occupancy, 20 applications for consent for Mortgages and 88 certificates of Occupancy processed.
Government has already secured land for new projects such as New Government House, Deputy Governors House, House of Assembly Quarters, Stadium, Amusement Park, Solar Plants Site and housing Project site.
To give the state capital a face lift, Government has rehabilitated existing and installed new double arm streetlights on major roads such as Murtala Muhammed, Emir Haruna and Gwadangaji roads and embarked on maintenance of drainages and desilting of culverts in Birnin Kebbi, Yauri and Zuru.
The importance of potable water cannot be overemphasized especially considering the adverse effect of unsafe water on the health of the people.
People of Kebbi State have, for long, grappled with problem of inadequate water supply. The State capital and other major towns were having problems with their water works while villages had their hand pumps, boreholes and other schemes not functioning.
In realization of the importance of potable drinking water to the generality of the urban and rural populace, the administration of Governor Bagudu embarked on the expansion and renovation of broken down water supply schemes in various parts of the State. These include motorized, solar operated boreholes as well as hand pumps and the procurement of water treatment chemicals for the supply of clean and healthy water to Birnin Kebbi, Zuru, Argungu and Yauri.
As for electricity supply in the state, the people cannot but thank the present administration for ensuring steady electricity supply, especially in the state capital. The Rural Electricity Board has expended huge sums of money on the repairs of high tension lines, the connection of Equity FM Radio and other communities to the national grid. These include improvement of electricity supply to Gwandu town, supply of electricity to the Adamu Augie College of Education Argungu, Supply of 30 units of assorted transformers in the first phase and 40 supplied in the second phase. The 500KVA capacity of the new transformers have been installed at Hajiya Turai YarAdua General Hospital Zauro/Ambursa, Haliru Abdu Secretariat in Birnin Kebbi and two others to service Jega town.
Other areas that received the transformers are Gamji Gulumbe, Birnin Kebbi Local Government, Zara Birni, Gumbin Kure, Kuberi, Giwa-Tazo, Kalgo as well as in Nakengan and Kwali-Kwali in Dandi Local Government.
They were also installed at Gwabaren Kasawa and Alwasa in Argungu Local Government, General Hospital Bagudo, Jabaka town, and Gudale in Augie Local Government Area, Nasara, Jiga Birni and Gumbin Dari in Aliero Local Government as well as Arewa Local Government Secretariat, Kangiwa.
Similarly, the transformers were installed at Gandun Kaya at Illelar Yari Birnin Kebbi, Adamu Aliero Estate Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State House of Assembly Complex, Birnin Kebbi, Bayan Tasha Model Primary School, Birnin Kebbi behind Prison Club Birnin Kebbi, Tambuwal Quarters Gesse Phase I, Birnin Kebbi, Ministry of Higher Education and Secretariat Birnin Kebbi as well as in Kainji sub-station and Yauri Water Works in Yauri Local Government.
In addition, 300 KVA transformers would be installed in Jaffeji town and Hodi Model Primary School in Arewa Local Government. Bamungade, Unguwar Zaku/Unguwar Gujiya in Argungu Local Government, Amare town and Ganga re in Kalgo Local Government, and also at Kebbi Radio station.
Kebbi is among the states that enjoy 24- hour electricity supply. Bagudu provided a lot of support to the Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company by spending huge amount of money in buying transformers and other necessary equipment amounting to millions of Naira. The State government purchased over 80 transformers out of which 40 were installed, in addition to the monthly financial support to the distribution company. Bagudu also settled outstanding debts/ financial liabilities owed by the previous administration. It is not a hidden fact that prior to 2015, the epileptic power situation in Zuru Emirate was a major source of frustration for all who reside there, but it is now history. The Yauri – Zuru line was also rehabilitated by the state Government which improved power supply all over the Emirate. Over nine hundred damaged lines were replaced between Yauri and Zuru, with the supply and installation of many heavy and light duty electricity transformers. This was a no mean achievement.
Women and Youth development :
In recognition of their vital role as caregivers and home planners, the Kebbi State Government, through the Ministry of Women Affairs has recorded laudable achievements in the promotion and implementation of programmes and activities geared towards the welfare of women and children ranging from health, education and entrepreneurship. Many women and youth organizations have benefited from trainings on skills acquisition, in addition to soft loans given to individuals and organizations, for enhanced businesses. Livestock, fish farmers, handset sellers and even transport unions like the NURTW and NARTO, have benefited from the loans guaranteed by the State Government to enhance their business.
Tourism Development :
Over ten years, the Argungu International Fishing Festival known world wide for its facinating fishing and cultural festival had been inactive. The festival could not hold largely due to security concerns. However, with improved security and huge financial resources released by Bagudu led administration, the festival took place successfully with President Muhammdu Buhari, the Senate President, Ahmad Lawal and many state Governors and Emirs across the country and beyond attended the event. The Kebbi State Government spent millions of Naira to rehabilitate and reconstruct major infrastructure in Argungu like roads, hotels, the fishing village, street lights and other facilities in the town. The Yauri Emirate ‘Rigata’ Festival was also revived with the active financial backing of Bagudu led government. The Uhola festival of Zuru Emirate and the Hutungo Fulani festival in Gwandu Emirate too had been supported by government to ensure their sustainability and boost the tourism sector of the state.
Payment of Salary / Industrial harmony :
While other states grappled with backlog of unpaid salary arrears, Kebbi civil servants are paid as and when due on monthly basis by the state government since Bagudu assumed leadership of the state in 2015. The Kebbi State Government was one of the first few states in Nigeria that implemented the new National Minimum wage of N30,000. Even with the lean resources of the state, Bagudu took the Bull by the horns and approved the new wage ahead of other more buoyant states in the federation, with some states yet to do so. Perhaps, this explains why there is still steady industrial harmony in the state between the state government and the NLC. While pension of retired civil servants is being paid monthly, the government is also gradually defraying the gratuity of retired civil servants. Recently, Bagudu gave approval for the release of 2 billion naira as payment of outstanding gratuities to the retired civil servants in the state.
Peace and Security :
Kebbi State under the leadership of Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu over the years has enjoyed relative peace and stability even with the current security challenges facing the country. The Government routinely supports security agencies in the state especially in the areas of logistics and working materials on monthly basis. The National Bureau of Statistics adjudged the state to be the most peaceful state in Nigeria.
To ensure security of lives and property of all citizens in the State, the Bagudu led administration participated in a joint security operation covering the Kamuku/Kuyambana forest involving seven states of Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara, Kano, Kaduna, Niger and Katsina.
In an operation code name Operation Sharan Daji involving the Nigeria Army, Police, Air-force and other security operatives in a combine operation that ridded the state of cattle rustlers and halted criminal activities like kidnapping. Through operation Sharan Daji a number of cattle and livestock were recovered and returned to the owners with hundreds of suspected criminals arrested and cache of arms and ammunition retrieved.
On the issue of Kidnapping, especially in Kebbi South Senatorial District, the present administration has through the efforts of security operatives in the state tackled the menace. Today farmers in the area go about their normal business without any fear. Realizing the importance of peace to the development and progress of the state, the administration of Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has resolved the age long border dispute between Benin Republic and communities in Kebbi state and also wadded into herdsmen farmer disputes across the state by identifying and institutionalizing the old cattle routes and grazing reserves.
To ensure the traditional rulers played a critical role in the maintenance of peace and security of lives and properties in their domain, a security summit was organized for traditional rulers in the state to intimate them on them as chief security officers of their respective domains.
Driven by the determination to ensure that young graduates are gainfully employed and Kebbi placed in its rightful place, the administration has continued to support aspiring young Kebbians who wish to be recruited into the Nigeria Army, Air Force, Navy, Police and other Para-military outfits in the country.
A lot of pundits look and perceive development to mean building sky scrapers, bridges and other structures forgetting a critical aspect of capacity development. Efforts have been put in the area of human development.
To completely exhaust all the achievements recorded by Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu in five years on the mantle of leadership in Kebbi State in this write-up, is a Herculean task or impossible. The list of projects is indeed endless. It is also pertinent to note that development is not restricted to one sector or section alone. It is all encompassing, even capacity building, skills acquisition or welfare to improve the livelihood of an individual is equally development.
It is termed human development. As no single government can take all the credit for development in the state, likewise no single government should be blamed for the decay and underdevelopment that has accrued in a state over the years. Governments are transitional, they come and go. It is our Civic responsibility to pray and support any government we put in place, so that the leadership will be able to serve us better.