Most Governors in Nigeria marked their one year in office on May 29. In this interview with Correspondent AUSTIN AJAYI, the Secretary to the Government of Adamawa state. Engr. Ahmed Bashir bears his mind on the 1st year in office of Governor Ahmadu Umaru Finiti, COVID 19 pandemic and other issues. Excerpts
The PDP led government in Adamawa State was one year in office on May 29, coming on board when Adamawa people needed a lot of change. How has the government fared so far and how have you being able to meet these needs?
We came into office when Adamawa state was gasping for breath, the social economy needed attention, security was a big challenge, education and healthcare system were at low levels, all these needed to be rejuvenated, most importantly was the social economy challenge but our number priority was security. We have to secure the state so that other development will follow, with the cooperation of the security agencies.
To tackled the security challenges, drastic measure had to be taken, we came in when the state was taking over draft of N2.5b to pay salaries, there were loans repayment so what we did first was to renegotiate with the banks on the mode of payment, these the banks graciously granted us.
We were able to save monies that should have been used to pay the over drafts, the repayment of loan was also saved even the delay of the governor to form his state executive council was an effort to save money, by the time the governor named his commissioners, we already had enough money to pay the salaries of the political office holders for the next one tear.
You will agree with me that our security have improved greatly, though we still have pockets of security challenges to deal with like the miscreants called Shila boys, when we felt that the level of security has improved to allow social and infrastructural development, we took on education.
If you want to emancipate the people, give them education, so the administration of Umaru Fintiri invested heavily in education by taking the burdens off school fees, books and feeding those in boarding schools from their parents. We now have students enrolled into public schools, in fact some parents are withdrawing their children from private schools and enrol them in public schools because our public schools now offer best in terms of quality and materials.
The state government is paying salaries as at when due including the salaries of teachers and have also employ qualify teachers, we have set in motion machinery to renovate one school and upgrade it to modern school in every local government area of the state.
Talking about projects, you will agree with me that in the last one year, not much of physical infrastructure has been put in place, what could be the cause of this
I just told you how we were able to manage the economy to save money for salaries and even pay our commissioner; It is the same method we are adopting in financing projects, like rehabilitation of roads both rural and urban. We have completed roads started by the last
administration in Yola North and South, Mubi town, Ganye, Jada, Song, Guyuk Maihai and a few others, the contractors were paid also from the savings we made, we have also paid part money for the construction of Bachure road in Yola North, the project is ongoing.
The money which we would have been paying for the over draft and loans as interest and repayment was a big relief and these monies is what we are using to finance most of the infrastructural projects we are undertaking now. Not only that, we have also improved on our
Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
In the healthcare sector, we have developed a robust plan to improve on our secondary healthcare facilities in the Mubi, Numan, Fufore, Ganye, Song to make them a Specialist Hospitals in the state. Work is ongoing now to make them a referral centres while our primary healthcare services are good but is also being improve on, like I said, these projects are being done on the list of priories.
The Agric sector is one area the government is looking into to improve its internally generated revenue and also create jobs for our young graduates. We have already developed a robust plan that will encourage the young people to embrace agriculture to re galvanize our economy, it will take very soon.
You are the chairman of Adamawa state COVID19 committee How have you been able to manage the pandemic as against what is happening in most northern states?
Thank you for the commendation, I must say it is a privilege to head the committee, I am not a medical personnel, the pandemic is new so a lot of consultations were made on how to prevent and control the virus from entering the state before the index case and when we eventually had one, how do we prevent the spread and most importantly contact tracing.
We were able to achieve good control of the spread through mass enlightenment, through the traditional rulers and even the individuals in the local communities on how to prevent it, that basically was all but we also took time to ensure we are prepare for the pandemic,
Adamawa state was the first state in Northern Nigeria to have an isolation centre, we have recorded 26 cases, 19 of which have been discharged.
The committee has received palliatives from Federal government, cooperate organizations and individuals, the permanent centre is near completion at the specialist hospital, we have enough beds and all the accessories including ventilator, we also give the patients best attentions.
We have good control on the interstate travels which is one of the major ways this virus enters states and we hope to maintain this low records in the state.