By Muhammad Garba
In the last five years of democratic governance, Kano has gone from being a pictogram of urban malady to a widely alluded specimen of effective leadership and a reference point for infrastructure development in the country. Under Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, the state has flourished in multiplying its tax revenues and using part of these resources to initiate or renew basic infrastructure and inflate public services for the benefit of the common man.
Even in the face of the prevailing pandemic that is ravaging the global community and nearly pushing the economy to yet another recession, the administration has kept with the people of the state with its clear vision and commitment to the policy of pioneering in all facets of development. While battling with the plague, the Ganduje administration, which completed its four-year first term in office and now in the first year of the second term, has not dithered in its determination to continue pursuing policies and programs to deal with the septicity.
It mapped out three-point agenda for fighting the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic which are Preventive, Curative and Palliative agenda, all of which is being pursued with vigour. And since the official index COVID-19 case appeared, the measures translate to setting up of a State Taskforce on COVID-19, Fund Raising Committee for Palliatives Kano State Governor, (first phase of the distribution of palliatives to 50,000 households of poorest of the poor across the 44 Local Government Areas of the state has been concluded while second phase is ongoing), provision of Isolation Centers.
The isolation centers include Kwanar Dawaki Isolation Center for patients with critical condition, such as those in need of ventilators; Mohammad Buhari Specialist Hospital Giginyu, Abubakar Imam Urology Centre set up by the state government in collaboration with Aliko Dangote Foundation and the isolation center at Daula Hotel. Isolation centers that are currently being constructed are 231- bed capacity at Sani Abacha Stadium Isolation Center, capacity at Karfi Sports Institute Isolation Centre which has 200 bed, Tofa Cottage Hospital Isolation Centre) and community mobilization through the media to challenge attitudinal and behavioural changes that need to be overcome in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
Other measures include mobilization of 5,000 volunteers, including retired doctors, training of 300 health workers on how to get involved in the push to curb the rampaging virus and 100 working journalists as frontline workers in the fight against the scourge.
No doubt, the fight against the novel COVID-19 is impacting negatively on the state approved estimated budget of N206.2billion for the 2020 fiscal year, considering that the outbreak of corona virus was reported just few weeks to the signing the annual estimates by the governor after it was passed by the state House of Assembly. The new challenge posed by the noble disease is compelling spending outside the appropriation, while the economy has been shut down due to the lockdown imposed on the state with near zero revenue generation except the federal government allocation which has also been shrinking.
While in the last five years, the administration, faced with the numerous challenges from the onset, especially with regard to dearth of funds, occasioned by the downturn in economic fortune of the country, managed to make significant gaits towards implementing its development agenda, via its sweeping reforms on tax administration in the state which has given rise to in an increase in the revenue generation profile within the span of three years (2016-March 2019) from N36, 430, 164, 351 in 2015, N40, 360, 209, 904.24 in 2016, N42, 419, 811, 470.65 in 2017 and N44, 107, 375, 284. 25 in 2018 with percentage increase of 10.8%, 0.05% and 0.05% for 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively. Some of the gigantic infrastructure development being undertaken by the administration are from the proceeds of its sound tax policy.
Though the Ganduje administration is not contemplating on initiating new infrastructure development projects in view of the prevailing situation, it is however committed to a deliberate policy on the completion of all ongoing projects in both urban and rural areas of the state. This include hospitals, water supply, roads, flyovers, underpasses, bridges as part of noble futuristic moves to decongest the roads to pave way for efficient traffic flow for enhanced business and economic activities, conducive ambience for local and foreign investment in the state with its teeming population and make the state a 24-hour economy.
Already some of these projects have been completed this year to include Aminu Alhassan Dantata flyover, the longest in northern Nigeria; Tijjani Hashim Underpass at Kofar Ruwa/Bukavu Barracks Junction; Karfi – Rano – Kibiya – Kwanar Sumaila Road and the nearly completed Dangi/Umar Bin Khattab Interchange Sheik Karibullah Sheik Nasiru Kabara Flyover.
Projects involving the expansion and development of the state over-stretched health facilities will also continue including ongoing construction of the state-of-the-art cancer center at Muhammad Buhari Specialist Hospital, while consolidating on its strategies that engender sustainable food production by creating enabling environment, adequate and timely supply of fertilizer to farmers at government’s approved prize, ground for easy access to credit facility for farmers especially rice and wheat farmers.
Another ground-breaking achievement of the Ganduje administration in the last one year is tackling the issue of herdsmen/Fulani has been a challenge that has mitigated the efforts of our security systems. The Ruga settlement project entails settlement of cattle breeders in a single location, lessening the clashes between them and farmers, government has allocated thousands of hectares from the Falgore Forests as grazing reserves and settlements to cattle breeders to run their businesses of the cattle industry and at the same time provides a ready location for herders that stations them in one location.
The state government has also secured a facility of 64.5 million Euros from a French Development Agency which has already take off this year. Approval has been given under the Integrated Water and Agriculture Development Project for the Islamic Development Bank’s water component facility of $200 million for water supply project in the state.
While all schools remain closed due the pandemic, the Ganduje administration introduces Radio and Television lesson programs for pupils and students especially those who are going to sit for WAEC/SSCE examinations. It is also delivering its promise of providing free and compulsory education for primary and secondary school pupils and students, while it has recruited of 1,536 female teachers for primary schools across the state; 3,000 teachers to teach in Primary Schools across the 44 Local Governments of the State.
The Almajiri system of education, which to some extent has been politicized, is now formally abolished in the state as arrangements have been completed to enroll all repatriated almajirai to Kano from other states into conventional educational system designed to take the Almajiris off the street as beggars and also give them sound and adequate education that can equal them to other school children in terms of access to qualitative education.
Other feats recorded include establishment of College of Medical Science at Yusuf Maitama Sule University (YUMSUK); introduction of 16 new faculties at Kano University of Science and Technology, Wudil (KUST); accreditation of over 51 new causes at Kano State Polytechnic and other Colleges of education; construction of 300 capacity theatre hall and students Common Room at Aminu Kano College of Legal and Islamic Studies (AKCILS); establishment of ICT Centre and renovation of Annex at Kano state College of Education and Preliminary Studies (KASCEPS).
Just as Ganduje continues to institute measure to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, he is sustaining tangible development in the state.
Garba is the commissioner for Information, Kano state