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YOBE 2011: PERFORMANCE REMAINS GAIDAM SELLING-POINT …THE AL BISHIR FACTOR

By NBF News

Yobe State since the exit of the military in 1999 has been under the control of the All Nigeria Peoples Party, [ANPP]. But its grip on the state is now under threat, no thanks to the defection to the Peoples Democratic Party, [PDP] by one of  its stalwarts, Senator Mamman Al Bishir. Al Bishir will be combining forces with Minister of Police Affairs, Maina Waziri to dislodge the incumbent governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Gaidam.

But  a Daily Sun source disclosed that there would soon be a crack in the PDP team in the state, as Waziri has not really given up on his dream to govern the state—a serial ambition which could polarize the PDP to the advantage of the ruling ANPP.

But a recent visit to the state by Daily Sun as part of the Nigerian Governors` Forum  peer review team to Yobe  has offered an illumination that the governor is not standing on quick sand, as permutations towards 2011 manifest in Yobe.  Gaidam's achievements in office, not frenzied politicking would guarantee him his desired second term.

The NGF team, led by its Director-General, Asishana Okauru, was on inspection and familiarization tour of ongoing/ completed projects in Yobe State .

Daily Sun witnessed enormous commitment of state resources to develop social infrastructures, health, education and affordable, decent housing for the citizenry in Yobe state.

One remarkable drive in the health sector is the free ante- natal scheme for pregnant children up to five years and women.

The Health Commissioner, Alhaji Idris Mai Bukar Machina told journalists that the governor embarked on free  ante -natal treatment for pregnant women and children, up to five years of age, to reduce maternal, neo-natal and infant mortality rates in the state.

According to the commissioner, Nigeria accounts for 10 percent of the world maternal and neo maternal rate.

“Annually, about 52,000 Nigerian women die from pregnancy or its related complications, a woman chance of dying from pregnancy and child birth in Nigeria is one in 13 cases, while in developed nations it is one in 5,000 cases and only about 40 percent of these deliveries are attended to  by skilled birth attendants.

The above scenario equally applies in Yobe being a disadvantaged state in the country, the North- East and North-West zones of the country which have the highest rate of maternal  and neo-natal mortality rate compared to other zones“

State investment in the Yobe health sector has improved, tremendously.

The governor has continued with the construction of the 200-bed capacity ultra-modern hospital started by his predecessor. He has also approved the renovation of and rehabilitation of the four major hospitals in Damaturu, Potiskum, Gashua and Gaidam. The peer review team observed that new equipment, drugs and other hospitable consumables have been supplied.

The face of Damaturu, the state capital has changed for the better with the increasing number of roads constructed within the township.  According to the Commissioner for Works, Alhaji Abdulkadir Jajire, the state governor  has given the needed impetus to road construction by making funds available for the works on roads in Fune, Bade, Potiskum and Jakusko local government areas.

The team was taken round various sites,  of completed and on-going  road projects : Maidugiri-Gashua Inner Ring Road; the Bularafa Bridge, to link Buni - Gari-Gulami;  the Kaliyari- Bayamari-Gaidam road, with asphalt overlay and the Gaidam Maine Soroa road in Gaidam local government.

The team also visited the site of the 300 housing units, where the Commissioner for Housing, Alhaji Sidi Karasuwa took journalists round the houses designed for all categories of people in the state: civil servants,  private citizens and  corporate organizations, under the owner -occupier scheme.

The commissioner told journalists.
“ For civil servants, payment is spread between 10 - 15 years; for individuals, 2-3 years, while it is cash- and -carry for corporate bodies.

Some of the materials used for construction were locally sourced while we impress it on the contractors to employ our youth. Once they acquire the skill, we give the machines they used in moulding the blocks to them to empower them.“

The commissioner disclosed that in the 2010 budget, Gaidam has committed fund towards building more housing units and “this would continue to the end of his first term in office in 2011, when at least, 2,500 housing  units would have been provided, overall.“

To assist farmers, about  700 tractors have been procured.  Agriculture Commissioner, Alhaji Musa Dumburi,  disclosed that   implements with financial input from local councils have been  made available to local governments areas to assist farmers.

The state has also embarked on direct procurement of fertilizers and it is  making efforts  to resuscitate its fertilizer company, Gujba Fertilizer Company. `It is hoped that fertilizer produced will meet the state requirement for a couple of years, “Dumburi told the team

To address the unsavory situation of hunger which the people are subjected to after the farming season, the government initiated a Yobe state strategic grains reserve programme, to preserve grains for food security and cushion the effects of high food prices during time of scarcity.

“ The preserved grains will then be sold to the citizenry at critical periods, when there is food scarcity at highly subsidized rates. In 2007/2008, about 27,000 bags of assorted grains: millet, sorgum, maize and cow pea were procured and 30,000 bags of grains in the reserves to be distributed soon“

Dumburi allayed the fears of journalists and the NGF team that political affiliation would not be a factor in the distribution of the grains.

While efforts in the provision of social infrastructure, health and affordable housing remain commendable, education has not been given the desired impetus. In spite of the existing policy of free education up to the tertiary level, the facilities in some of the schools remain worrisome.

But the government appears to be addressing its mind to the rot inherited from the Senator Bukar Abba Ibrahim administration.

Gaidam  has  re-introduced  boarding primary schools in all the 17 local government areas. Example of such scheme is the Babangida  Model Primary School in Babangida city, a mixed boarding school with about 480 pupils enrolment to take off in September.

In similar vein, the government has entered into partnership with the Turkish government and established the Yobe/Turkish International College at Marmudo. The idea is to impart knowledge on the students using international standard. On ground are 10 Turkish nationals as teachers to assist their Nigerian counterpart. The curriculum, according to Yobe state Commissioner for Education, Mohammed Lamin, is a combination of  Nigeria and Turkey curriculum, but with emphasis on science.

“While it remains tuition-free, students from the 17 local council areas, must however sit for entrance examination while the best are picked for admission. We offer admission to the best students, irrespective of the social status of their parents, ` the commissioner told journalists.

Speaking with journalists after the inspection of projects, Gaidam commended the initiative of NGF  peer review team since it would ensure service delivery by those given the mandate to deliver democracy dividends to the people. He told the team, that the thrust of his 2010 budget was completion of ongoing projects, provision of greater job employment for the teeming youth in Yobe and sourcing for investment partners.

“We are embarking on massive physical projects based on our conviction that a solid infrastructural base would put a young state on favourable footing for industrial growth. Our main concern is to provide enabling investment climate for businesses to thrive; let the private sector take it up from there.“

That ingenuity has paid off as Asishana, Director General of the Nigerian Governors Forum told journalists that among the 36 states in the country, with favourable investment climate, Yobe is rated sixth..

`This was a report of a study conducted by World Bank.“