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Umar Namadi: Breaking the ‘Jinx’ of Poverty in Jigawa State

by Isiyaku Ahmed
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By Hamisu Gumel

In a recent interview with Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, the Jigawa State Governor-elect, Mallam Umar Namadi, revealed that he has plans to reduce the level of poverty in the state to the barest minimum when he assumes office as the executive governor of the state.

Explaining the line-up of developmental programs he’s putting up for the state, Namadi remarked that “Definitely, with these programs we have on the ground and our intention to upscale them, we feel that by the end of the first term, we should be able to reduce the level of poverty in Jigawa state to at least 50 to 60 percent.” Well, this could sound impossible to many who are familiar with the situation on the ground in the state.

The name Jigawa State has for long been synonymous with poverty and backwardness in Nigeria, something that is, unfortunately, denting the image of the state in the eyes of outsiders. Literally, the state swims in abject poverty. Located in the extreme northern part of the country, the state, which is number eight in terms of population in the entire federation, consistently features in the infamy list of the poorest states year in and year out, with no hope of escaping from it.

For instance, in the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report released by the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics in November 2022, Jigawa was listed alongside nine other states, which the report says have the highest number of poor people, with the state having a 74.1 percent poverty rate.

Successive governments in the state have applied various methods and techniques through different policies that were aimed at eradicating this cankerworm, yet the problem still stuck like a jinx. Could it be that something has been missing or that there was a misplacement of priorities by the past governments in addressing the drivers of poverty in the state? According to NBS, the indicators used to arrive at that MPI report include levels of nutrition, food insecurity, access to healthcare, school attendance, and unemployment.

However, hope is on the horizon as Mallam Umar Namadi, who comes as an inspiring leader, steps forward with a vision to break this seeming jinx of poverty in Jigawa State. With a strategic plan and a commitment to sustainable development, the governor-elect aims to transform the state’s economic landscape, uplift its people, and create a prosperous future. These he intends to do through the transformative initiatives he put forth in the form of a 12-point agenda blueprint that is poised to bring about positive change and uplift the lives of the people of Jigawa State.

Mallam Namadi, an astute administrator with vast, practical experience spanning over 30 years working in both the public and private sectors, including top-notch organizations and manufacturing industries such as Kaduna Textiles and the Dangote Group of Companies, has all the qualifications necessary to turn around the situation in the state.

Probably designed with the above MPI indicators in mind, the Umar Namadi blueprint captures exactly all the priority sectors that are sine qua non for eradicating poverty and economic development in the state. In the next few paragraphs, I will try to give a run-down on some of the key items in the blueprint.

One of the main concerns of the Umar Namadi blueprint for Jigawa State is agricultural transformation. Of course, being the major driver of the state’s economy, it’s no surprise that agriculture is among those sectors at the forefront of this development plan.

True to its status as an agrarian state, Jigawa is said to be the second-largest producer of rice in the whole of Nigeria. But then, the irony of it is that this is happening in a state where poverty and food insecurity are rampant among the hapless peasants.

Recognizing the agricultural potential of Jigawa State, Mallam Namadi has prioritized the development of the agricultural sector as a key driver of economic growth. His administration will work on providing farmers with access to modern farming techniques, improved seeds, fertilizers, and irrigation facilities.

Through investing in agricultural infrastructure and promoting agribusiness, Mallam aims to increase productivity, enhance food security, and create employment opportunities. This will do good to encourage value addition by supporting processing industries, thereby increasing farmers’ income and reducing post-harvest losses. After all, this sector has been familiar terrain for him as he has been a successful farmer in his personal capacity.

He was also the first to introduce the out-grower branding scheme, which has so far been a very successful venture in the state.

Another area of concern is education and skill development. Umar Namadi understands that education is the cornerstone of progress and social mobility. To break the cycle of poverty, his administration will strive to improve the quality of education in Jigawa State. Initiatives such as employing additional teaching staff, building new educational institutions, providing adequate working tools and materials, and frequent training of teachers are going to bring about positive change in this very important and critical sector.

Moreover, the incoming governor recognizes the importance of skill development in tackling unemployment. Through collaboration with vocational training institutes and the private sector, he aims to equip the youth with relevant skills and knowledge, thereby enhancing employability and fostering entrepreneurship.

Talking of skills and entrepreneurship, the idea is important and more so now that most of the issues around the lack of employability of our teaming youths in the state are those of skills and required competencies.

Next in line is enhancing healthcare services across the width and breadth of this state under the Healthcare for All program. Improving access to quality healthcare is a crucial aspect of poverty alleviation. The blueprint has therefore placed a strong emphasis on healthcare infrastructure development, upgrading existing facilities, and ensuring the availability of essential medicines.

His administration will also work towards strengthening primary healthcare services, especially in rural areas, to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to all. This will be done through the equitable distribution of materials and healthcare personnel across all the healthcare centers, plus an adequate supply of medicine to such places.

In addition, the blueprint has pledged to increase the budgetary funding of the health sector to be above the 15% benchmark set by the Abuja Declaration, as well as reviewing the JICHMA law to capture employer contribution in the state’s healthcare contributory scheme and expand the scheme so as to address the healthcare needs of vulnerable populations and reduce the financial burden associated with medical expenses. Incidentally, the governor-elect had once held a position as a director with the National Health Insurance Authority.

In order to attract investment and spur economic growth, which will translate into poverty reduction or eradication, it is necessary to recognize the need for robust infrastructure and connectivity. His administration is poised to prioritize the development of road networks, power supplies, and access to clean water, especially in rural areas. Umar Namadi’s incoming administration aims to attract investors and create employment opportunities through the creation of an enabling environment. Improved infrastructure will also facilitate the movement of goods and services, enhancing trade and stimulating economic activity across the state.

However, as much as the government is intent on applying the above-mentioned policy formulations, that cannot be feasible without fostering good governance and accountability. This is indeed the crux of the matter. Mallam Umar Namadi, therefore, understands that sustainable development can only be achieved through transparent and accountable governance.

His administration is ready to demonstrate commitment to good governance through the promotion of transparency, curbing corruption, and engaging citizens in decision-making processes.

His government will apply measures that will ensure the efficient and effective utilization of resources, thereby maximizing the impact of developmental initiatives. By fostering an environment of trust and accountability, he aims to create a conducive atmosphere for growth and prosperity in Jigawa State.

Finally, Umar Namadi’s vision and commitment to breaking the jinx of poverty in Jigawa State provide a ray of hope for its residents. Through strategic interventions in agriculture, education, healthcare, infrastructure, and governance, he aims to uplift the lives of the people and transform the state’s economic landscape.

The success of his initiatives will not only alleviate poverty but also pave the way for sustainable development, improved living standards, and a prosperous future for the people of Jigawa State.

Gumel wrote this piece from No. 50 Yakubu Gowon Crescent, Asokoro, Abuja.


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