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The Kwankwaso Education Agenda

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In one year, the new Kano State government with Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso as governor, has changed the face of Kano, especially in education which has enjoyed a good measure of attention and funding

Kano State which prides itself as “Home of Commerce” is in need of rapid development and Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, the incumbent governor, is determined to make this happen. Since the past one year when he has been at the helm of affairs as the chief executive of the state, he has been unwavering in his drive to actualise his vision of developing the state for the greater good of the people.

Although Kwankwaso had met an empty treasury, a debt burden of N77 billion and an additional $203 million in form of foreign loan on assumption of office, he has through prudent management of resources put Kano State on the path of accelerated development.

The results of his efforts are very visible in the critical areas of educational advancement, provision of the necessary infrastructure for economic growth, health care delivery, poverty alleviation and his ability to confront the security challenge posed by Boko Haram, the Islamic fundamentalist sect.

In pursuant of his vision for Kano State, Kwankwaso has identified education as a sector that should be accorded priority because he believes that no meaningful development can thrive in an illiterate society. He said education should not only be accorded priority in Kano State but the entire North because without it, the region will continue to lag behind.  “If you are educated, you can cater for yourself either in this country or elsewhere. So, it is very important. And not only that, we believe that it is in the collective interest of this country. A situation where you have two countries in one, one very educated, one uneducated, portends danger. So, that is why we should narrow the gap, create opportunities so that we can move on together,” Kwankwaso said.

 He explained that he adopted this education agenda in Kano because it is not only the commercial capital of the old Northern region but the home of peace. To accomplish this goal, the Kwakwanso administration brought innovations and embarked on laudable projects in the educational sector. One of such gigantic projects is the establishment of a new institution of higher learning known as the North West University. The university is to serve not only the interest of Kano State indigenes but other states in the North-West geopolitical zone whose indigenes have hitherto been facing the challenges of securing admission into the Bayero University Kano, BUK, and Kano State University of Technology, Wudil. To reposition Kano State University to give student high quality education, Kwakwanso who had established the university during his first tenure between 1999 and 2003,   recently gave a facelift to the institution.

Kwankwaso also believes that a sound primary education is a prerequisite for academic excellence. Against this background, he has done a lot to improve the quality of learning in the primary schools in the state.  For instance, in the past one year, more than 800 classrooms and 400 offices have been constructed in the primary schools across the state. The classes which are usually in a one - storey building with offices and toilets are popularly referred to in the state as Kwankwasiyya classes”. Before the inception of the present administration, primary school pupils were faced with the challenges of overcrowded classes which lacked desks, tables and other essential teaching materials. But today, both the teachers and the pupils have cause to be happy as the government has provided all these necessities to the schools. “Education, to us, is critical and during our first term from 1999-2003, we did our best in terms of primary education, we, by the grace of God, were able to build thousands of classrooms in Kano, we were able to feed our primary school pupils five days a week. We were able to give them two sets of uniforms and we are still maintaining those important programmes. Therefore, we are making sure that at the end of our tenure, Kano will not only be the leading state in commerce but also become the centre of knowledge.”

 The improvement in the environmental conditions of the schools is not limited to the primary schools but also the secondary schools and this has not only enhanced the learning but led to an increase in school enrolment. Before Kwankwaso assumed office in 2011, the enrolment of girls into secondary schools was very low. Many young girls who ordinarily are supposed to be in school either dropped out of schools due to their parents’ inability to pay their school fees or never attended school at all. Worried by the ugly development, the state government introduced a free transport service to convey primary and secondary school girls to and from schools. The scheme named Kwankwasiiyya girl- child Initiative was launched by Kwankwaso last year.

 This initiative has greatly reduced the number of young girls of school age who were given out in marriage at tender age when their mates in other states were in school. Already, the state government has acquired 65 buses from the Urban Development Bank under the Federal Mass Transit Programme and 20 high capacity buses which were distributed to public schools in the state under Kwankwasiyya Girl Child Initiative. This is in addition to government’s previous approval for the purchase of an additional 30 buses meant for some metropolitan girls’ public schools.

 Kwankwaso said the move was part of deliberate efforts of his administration to ease the transportation problems of the students and enhance school attendance. His government has decided to accord priority attention to the education of the girl–child to uplift the status of women in the society. The governor advised parents to support government to ensure the success of the transportation scheme for the girl–child while also cautioning school principals to maintain the vehicles for transporting the students rather than use them for personal purposes.

Rabi’u Suleiman Bichi, the secretary to the state government,  told Newswatch that the initiative has yielded  the desired result as more girls who, before the programme started were out of school have gone back to school. According to him, many of the girls who had difficulties attending school because of distance are today elated over the free bus transport. Besides, Bichi explained that the free bus service has afforded parents and the school authorities the opportunity  to monitor their children and ensure that they don’t engage in anti -social behaviour as the buses take them from home to school and bring them after school.

The introduction of free meals during school hours, free uniforms and free books have encouraged children of the less privileged in the state to go to school. “A child whose parents cannot give him three square meals can now go to school because he knows that there would be food for him to eat in school,” Bichi said.

The SSG noted that the percentage of girl child enrolment into secondary schools has risen tremendously compared to what it was before the inception of the Kwankwaso administration. “As at the time we came on board, the head count of primary school pupils was about one million, today with the free transport service and other attractive policy, the enrolment is at about 1.5 million,” he said.

Mukhtar Ishaq Yakasai, special adviser to the governor on private schools and vocational education told Newswatch that the free bus service was part of the government’s reforms in the education sector. The governor purchased high capacity buses so that the students can go to classes on time and immediately after school all of them can go back home on time. In a bid to motivate teachers to put in their best, a new welfare package has equally been approved for them.

While the Kwankwaso administration is effectively implementing its innovative education programme, the governor is equally providing the infrastructure required to put Kano State on the fast lane of socio-economic development. During his electioneering campaign in 2011 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Kwankwaso had promised to solve the infrastructural problems facing the people if elected. In fulfilment of his promise, the governor within the past one year rehabilitated and constructed most of the major roads and streets in the metropolis as well as the rural areas.

Abba Kabir Yusuf, the state commissioner for works, housing and transport, explained that at the inception of the present administration, what government met on ground was deplorable in the sense that Kano people were denied a lot of basic infrastructure. “Before we came in, Kano was in total darkness. There was no provision of light for the people be it in their homes, on the streets, or at junctions, anywhere. Everywhere was in darkness, and that constituted a lot of inconveniences to the good people of the state.”

But on assumption of office, the first thing the governor did was to direct the works ministry to restore the street lights in the metropolis. The ministry promptly complied with the governor’s directive.  The commissioner was glad that till date, all the street lights in Kano have remained illuminated at nights and this has helped to address the current security challenges.

The Kwankwaso administration also realises the role of good road networks in the lives of the people.  Against this background, the administration has reconstructed many bad roads across the state.  Kwankwaso, shortly after taking over as governor, started the rehabilitation of roads across the state.  He has made a firm promise to ensure that all roads in bad condition in the state were given desired attention before the end of his administration in 2015.

Within one year in office, his administration has completed many abandoned projects while new ones are at various stages of completion.  So far, more than 40 metropolitan roads have been constructed while others are at their various stages of completion. This includes the rehabilitation of three pedestrian bridges, construction of Sa’adatu Rimi overhead pedestrian bridge, repairs of eroded section at Rano-Garko road, rehabilitation of box culvert along Bichi –Gwarzo road and construction of Karayu box culvert at Rano. The state government has also constructed the abandoned Medile-Gurungawa- bypass road and also the construction of asphaltic concrete at Kiyashi Avenue Hotoro.

 In order to provide access roads for the rural communities, the present administration has concluded arrangement for the construction of a five- kilometre road in the headquarters of each of the 44 local government areas of the state. 

Other  projects which are also receiving the attention of the present administration are the construction of the Challawa Bridge, expansion of Zaria road starting from the Silver Jubilee roundabout to Dantata and Sawoe yard, construction of Gagarame-Tsangaya-Daho-Albasu-Panda roads and rehabilitation of Kano-Madobi-Yako road. Another road is the Yakasai-Badume-Damargu road including two span bridges and construction of Government House perimetre road.

The governor has also awarded contract for the dualisation of the Kabuga-BUK new site road at the cost of N3.03 billion and the Sheik Jafar road estimated to cost N2.24 billion. The governor, while flagging of the road projects, said when completed, they would help to fast-track the economic development and modernisation of Kano city. Kwankwaso noted that similar projects would be executed on Hadeja and Zaria roads and would be of high quality.

The Kwankwaso administration recognises that shelter is one of the basic necessities of life and has been unwavering in its determination to build houses for the people. The administration has come up with programmes aimed at providing housing for all citizens of Kano State at an affordable rate. Presently, the state Housing Corporation has designed five categories of houses of five and four bedrooms duplexes, three bedrooms flats and two and three bedrooms semi-detached bungalows sited at Jido layout along Wudil/Maiduguri road. The houses will be for outright sale to the general public after completion.

One of the major challenges facing the people of Kano State before the present administration came to power was the lack of potable water supply.  To address this problem, the Kwankwaso administration has done a lot to tackle water problem  in the state.  Shortly after he was sworn in, the governor went straight to the water works at Challawa, and saw it in a dilapidated condition. He immediately instructed that the water works must be rehabilitated.  And within the first six months, so much improvement was recorded. Water supply rose from the meagre 40 million litres per day that was being pumped into the city to 150 million litres. It is now in the region of 190 to 200 million litres per day. The Kusela Water Works which is one of the biggest outside the metropolis and the Tambrawa Water Works are also receiving government’s attention because Kwakwanso wants to ensure that regular supply of water was maintained and sustained.

Health is another key sector the Kwankwaso administration has transformed. The governor believes strongly in the aphorism – health is wealth. He matched words with action through the re-equipping of all the general hospitals in the state with modern health facilities. Within the past one year, the state government has procured the requisite facilities for the School of Post Basic Anaesthesia at Murtala Mohammed Specialist Hospital in order to meet up the accreditation standard. Four Haemodialysis and one reserve osmo machines have been procured for the Abubakar Imam Urology Centre while the Kwankwaso Primary Health Centre has been upgraded to a cottage hospital. New administrative blocks and laboratories have been constructed at the new School of Health Technology in Bebeji. The Dental Unit of the School of Health Technology in Kano has equally been renovated and provided with modern equipment.

For the first time, the state government established the primary health care development board and the state agency for the control of AIDS.

In the area of primary and public health, the present administration has also made a huge impact. Following intensive sensitisation and mobilisation of the people, the routine immunisation against polio and other child killer diseases have improved tremendously. Abubakar Labaran Yusuf, commissioner of health said that the governor has mandated all the primary health centres and the hospitals  to make immunisation a daily affair with a view to eradicating polio in the state. This, of course, has been made possible with the assistance of international agencies like the United Nations, UN, the World Health Organisation, WHO, and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF.

Before now, patients with kidney problems usually travelled to neighbouring states or abroad for treatment of their ailments. However, such problems are over as the governor has procured dialysis machines and other sophisticated medical equipment aimed at addressing the health needs of the people of Kano State.

As part of its preparedness to uplift the health sector in the state, the Kwankwaso administration has renovated and equipped the intensive care unit of MAWS hospital. It has also in the past 12 months lived up to its counterpart funding obligation to donor agencies to enhance health care delivery in the state.

Kano State is blessed with arable land and an army of able bodied youths, and this has made it a national food basket. Bearing this in mind, Kwankwaso has adopted a pragmatic approach in its efforts to harness the agricultural potentials of the state and boost food production. As an experienced administrator who had been in the saddle before now, the governor has effectively utislised the lessons he learnt during his first tenure to improve on his agricultural programmes in his second term. For instance, during his first tenure, he had a policy through which he empowered 100 women per local government in agriculture.

However, during his second tenure, the governor decided that instead of empowering 100 women in each local government, it should be increased to 1000 for each local government and they are trained in various trades. The programme received a boost from Aliko Dangote,  a prominent Kano-born industrialist  who was impressed with the level of transparency and dedication that was attached to the programme. Dangote supported the government with N460 million to give each woman N10, 000.

Baraka Sani, commissioner of agriculture told Newswatch that the state government has also empowered the youths in the rural areas to embrace farming.  Under the government agricultural development scheme, 500 youths in the rural areas were selected and trained on how to use the plough for farming. At the end of their training, each of them was given a loan of N140, 000 at a subsidised rate of 20 percent to be paid in three years. So far, 1,700 have been trained and empowered.

As part of its strategy to further boost agriculture in the state, the administration of Kwankwaso established six institutes for agriculture. The Farm Mechanisation Institute, and Poultry Institute which is training women on poultry management and operations. The Livestock Institute is billed to take off next month. And the objective is to train the youths on livestock management and operation. In addition, plans have been concluded for the effective take off of the Fishery Institute in Bagalda as well as the Horticulture Forestry Institute.

Umar Farouk Jibril, commissioner for information, told Newswatch that government’s decision to establish more institutes in the agricultural sector was a reflection of the nature of Kano’s profile as a typical agricultural state.

To ensure that fertiliser is provided for farmers, the Kano State Fertiliser Blending Plant which was abandoned by the immediate past administration has been reactivated and it is currently producing at full capacity. The state government has engaged the services of five companies to supply the state with hybrid groundnut seeds as part of measures to revamp groundnut production in the state. These seeds would be distributed to farmers during this year’s cropping season. Indeed, during the First Republic, Kano was well known for its groundnut pyramids. The Kwankwaso administration believes that if the pragmatic approach adopted by his government in groundnut production was religiously implemented, the glorious era of the groundnut pyramids would be restored.

The transportation sector has not been left out in the agenda of the Kwankwaso administration. In a bid to enhance free movement of people in the state, the government has purchased 1,000 taxi cabs and 500 buses to help in empowering the teeming unemployed youths.

Before the coming of this administration, the Kano State Transport Authority had only 20 vehicles secured through Public Private Partnership with Bank PHB in 2009. Since his second term, the Kwankwaso administration has added another 15 buses to improve the fleet to continue the provision of subsidised public transport services to the populace. The Kano State Ministry of Works has employed a total of 750 road traffic assistants to complement the efforts of the police and other traffic wardens in order to help decongest the metropolitan roads and restore law and order.

 In recognition of the fact that the civil service is the engine room of every government, the Kwankwaso administration has placed civil servants in the state under the N18, 000 minimum wage and salaries are paid promptly on the 25th of every month. Besides, more than 400 civil servants have received car loans while more of them will benefit from the scheme very soon.  The administration uncovered about 8,000 ghost workers on the payroll of the state civil service after a thorough screening of all the civil servants in the state was carried out.

In terms of security, the governor sacrificed his security vote for the development of the state and ensuring there was peace and tranquility in all parts of the state. In order to check the activities of Boko Haram, the government has put in place adequate security measures. Kwankwaso considers his second coming to the Kano State Government House as a reflection of the overwhelming confidence the good people of Kano State in him. And to maintain that confidence, he has, within one year of his administration put Kano State on the fast lane of socio-economic development to the bewilderment of his critics who thought it was going to be business as usual. Based on the Kwankwassiyya, the governor’s ideology for transforming the state, he has brought a new spirit of service to public administration in the state. In a conscious effort to reduce the cost of projects, the governor created the Ministry for Project Monitoring and Evaluation.

Aminu Abdulsalam, commissioner for project monitoring and evaluation told Newswatch  that in line with the governor’s emphasis on prudent management of resources,  due process was always  applied in the execution of all government contracts. “Due process is the watchword and it is what the governor has been emphasising since his assumption in office. That is precisely why he decided to maintain my ministry as a ministry because if you look at it, project monitoring ministry, it’s an innovation.  Not in all the states that you can find this kind of ministry,” he said.

Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, deputy governor who doubles as the commissioner for local governments, said that the present administration was aware that for any meaningful development to take place in the state, the local governments must play their own role. To this end, the state government created the joint local government/state government projects. This is a situation whereby both the state and local governments identify some capital projects and then contribute funds to execute them.

The Kwankwaso administration has been receiving accolades locally and internationally for the people-oriented programmes it has executed in the past one year. Rabiu Ishaku Rabiu, a wealthy businessman and an indigene of Kano State, said the performance of the governor in one year is very encouraging. According to him, the governor is focused and his projects have impacted positively on the lives of the people.

Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, minister of finance who visited Kano recently, said she was impressed by the  progress being made by the Kwankwaso administration in terms of poverty alleviation, job creation and empowerment of women. “I really commend that effort and I will strongly urge them to continue, especially on the job creation initiative and the federal government is ready to partner with them,” Okonjo-Iweala said.

Bichi, Secretary to the State Government, said the achievements so far recorded could be attributed to the fact that before the Kwankwaso administration came into office, they had set a target. “What we did was to make a strategic plan, to determine where we were, where were we going, how to get there. We want to make sure that by the time we are leaving by 2015, we would have solved all the problems of education that we are currently experiencing. We want to make Kano the hub of education not only in the country but in the African region,” Bichi told Newswatch.

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