By MUHAMMAD GARBA
When I read a piece pen down by the sacked chairman of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Umar Haruna Doguwa titled:’’ Kano: Empty Leadership, huge liability,’’ I realized that the man, out of desperation, is carelessly ridiculing himself unnecessarily and exposing his candor and witlessness through misrepresentation of facts in the media. Nobody is envying the embattled former party chieftain from aiming for any office, but definitely not through blackmail and spreading of lies. One cannot overlook the deliberate distortion of facts on the state of affairs in Kano but to put out a response, because it could also help in dissuading desperate politicians like Doguwa using every opportunity to ensure that the people are deceived, just to achieve a selfish interest.
For those who are closer to Kwankwaso know that he always impose his whims on all and exploit them for his personal benefits against collective interest. Even as pioneer APC chairman, you never run the affairs of the party independently talk less of bragging to have organize and coordinate an election. You were just but a rubber stamp, while your master dictate how things were organized and executed.
While I absolutely agree with you that Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje did promise to continue with the legacies of the immediate-past administration of Senator Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso, when he assumed the mantle of leadership on May 29, 2015, the governor has kept to his promise in all spheres of governance This, he did, by fine-tuning most of the policies and, as well, bringing into bear, innovations that have today crowned Kano as a reference point of good governance in Nigeria and beyond.
As I read the article, I wonder how on earth Doguwa did not mention the huge liabilities Ganduje inherited from the Kwankwaso administration which were discovered by the Transition Committee. Since you were part of the government, you ought to have mention how Kwankwaso, who served his last tenure in office between 2011 and 2015, also introduced unworkable policies and programmes as well as execution of projects without financial backing, which allegedly used them to siphon public funds or to make the state ungovernable for the incoming governor.
At the expiration of his tenure, Kwankwaso left a liability of N313 billion for the incoming government. With these debts hanging on his neck, Ganduje also assumed office when there was recession, which resulted in reduced federal allocation, dwindling level of Internally Generated Revenue and the slim nature of the state’s treasury which, however, had not deterred him from deploying his wealth of experience to effectively administer the state.
Some of these projects include Murala Muhammad Way Bridge, the longest in the country named after the Kano Business mogul, Alhaji Aminu Alhassan Dantata, which was inherited at 15 per cent state of execution which has now been completed, commissioned and put to use; the state Independent Power Project at Tiga and Challawa Dams which was inherited at 35 per cent and now at 95 per cent stage of execution; dualisation of Yahaya Gusau Road left at 10per cent and construction of underpass which was left at 15 percent stages of completion. In fact, the contract sum of the project has to be revised because of absence of transparency in the project.
Other projects either uncompleted or abandoned but completed by the Ganduje administration include dualisation of ‘Yantaya Kofar Dawanau and rehabilitation of Ahmadiyya Road awarded in 2013; construction of Dorawa Raod; construction of Rijiyar Gwangwan Road; Rehabilitation of Yusuf Road.
Ganduje also inherited 665 projects valued at N72 billion from Senator Ibrahim Shekarau’s administration out of which N40 billion was paid leaving an outstanding payment of course N33.2 billion. Two of such projects include the construction of Giginyu Specialist Hospital (now Muhammadu Buhari Specialist Hospital) and Paediatric Hospital Zoo Road (now Khalifa Sheikh Isyaka Rabi’u Paediatric Hospital). The two hospitals which contracts were awarded in 2007, were abandoned at 35 per cent completion stage respectively. The Ganduje administration completed the construction, furnishing and equipping of the facilities. In fact, the two hospitals are one of the best in the country in terms of standard and state-of-art equipment.
Part of the promise made by Governor Ganduje in his inaugural address, which Doguwa failed to complete is that of the initiation of more people oriented policies and programs for the overall development of Kano state. The noble and modest achievements of the Ganduje administration have, indeed, dismantled the length and breadth of the so-called Kwankwassiyya Movement which has since gone into oblivion. This is so because the article itself depicted the emptiness of the Kwankwassiyya and its foot soldiers, since they have no genuine criticism against the APC administration in Kano, having been intimidated by the uncommon achievements of the present ruling party in the state.
These projects include construction of an underpass at Sharada/Panshekara Junction completed and commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari; construction of underpasses along Katsina Road by Muhammadu Buhari Way; nearly completed underpass and flyover along Zaria Road by Dangi Roundabout; ongoing construction of Cancer Centre at Muhammdu Buhari Specialist Hospital; rehabilitation and ashphalt overlay of Burum Burum-Saya Saya-Kibiya-Rano- Bunkure-Karfi Road; Tiga-Rurum-Rano and Rano-Sumaila Roads; construction/dualisation of Court Road (now Rochas Okorocha Road); Abdullahi Bayero Road; dualisation of Maiduguri Road (Opp Mobile Police Qtrs)-CBN Qtrs-Zaria Road; construction of asphaltic concrete surfacing from Gidan Maza-S/Gandu-Western Bypass-Kumbotso town and dualised Panshekara-Madobi Junction-Panshekara town Road among others.
I am also gladdened that Umar Haruna Doguwa, has offered me a window to also refresh the memory of discernable good people of Kano and Nigerians on how the Kwankwaso administration killed the education sector in Kano. Kwankwaso abandoned the basic education and that was why Ganduje inherited a dilapidated infrastructure in the sector, with the quality of basic education degenerating, leading to unacceptably low academic performance. In virtually all public educational institutions, primary secondary or tertiary, classes were overcrowded. Basic amenities are either lacking or obsolete.
And just as he was about to leave office, Kwankwaso made a mere declaration for ‘free’ education in the state, deviously with the sole intent to leave the encumbrance on the incoming administration of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje. If Doguwa cares to find out, as at May 29, 2015, there were only 25,000 habitable classrooms out of the 30,000 available, whereas the total requirement in our 3,000 public primary schools is 45, 000 classrooms. Similarly, there were only 18, 000 toilets as against the total requirement of 35, 000, while 3-seater pupils’ desks were only 198, 832 as against the need of 914, 000. In addition to all these, instructional materials were inadequate while staff morale was at its lowest ebb and as a matter of fact, about 50 per cent of the teachers.
This same thing applies to tertiary institutions in the state that included the two state owned universities. The Ganduje administration inherited only the Senate building at the permanent site of North West University now Yusuf Maitama Sule University with no academic activities. The university now operates two campuses. This is continuity. Many infrastructure projects were also executed at Kano state University of Science and Technology, Wudil by the present administration, while hundreds of courses were accredited with the National Universities Commission (NUC), National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) as well as the National Commission for Colleges of Education (NCCE). With this development, Sa’adatu Rimi College of Education has already commenced the award of degree.
Funny enough, Doguwa also brought up the issue of the ill-conceived foreign scholarship scheme on which the present administration was left with a huge liability amounting to N8 billion. While as part of his continuity agenda, Ganduje has settled over N5 billion of the liability and still working towards offsetting it, facts are available on how the scheme was used to allegedly swindle the good people of Kano and Kano state government.
Far reaching measures have also to been introduced to reverse the ugly trend by accessing the Universal basic Education Commission (UBEC’s) counterpart funding of about N2 billion which enabled the rehabilitation of classroom blocks, building of libraries, sinking of boreholes, provision of over 15,000 pupils’ furniture, instructional materials, etc. Governor Ganduje also came up with idea of the Education Promotion Committee (EPC) both at the state level and in all the 44 local government areas which has been able to rehabilitate thousands of blocks of classrooms, provision of seats and as well as various instructional materials.
And with the introduction of Free Basic and Secondary Education in the state, which Doguwa overlooked deliberately brushed aside, payment of school fees has been abolished in all the primary and secondary schools. The Ganduje administration has commenced direct funding of primary and secondary schools numbering 1,180 with a total students population of 834, 366 at a total cost of about N200 million per month or N2.4 billion per annum. Furthermore, N357 million has been budgeted to take care of free-feeding for pupils in primary four to six classes in all primary schools across the state.
Similarly, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ganduje’s government had provided school uniforms to 779, 522 newly enrolled pupils (boys and girls) at the total cost of N381 million which distribution and other instructional materials was flagged off at Mariri Special Primary School in Kumbotso Local Government Area last year.
The state government has also sponsored the funding component of the Free and Compulsory Basic and Secondary Education in the state which was launched at the Sani Abacha Stadium Indoor Sports Hall. During that event, Ganduje distributed cash to over 110,000 schools across the state designed to enable them build capacity and human resource development. He also distributed 790 Digital Classroom All Inclusive Empowerment Solution and tablets to 728 teachers, 39 master teachers, nine senior secondly school officers and 14 principal officers. The programme was aimed at capacity building towards free and compulsory education on School Development Plan (SDP) and ICT appreciation for directors and zonal education directors.
With turn of events, which led to the formal abolishing of the traditional Almajiri system of education in the state, the Ganduje administration is completing arrangements to enroll all 1, 800 repatriated indigenous almajirai to Kano from other states of the northern region into conventional educational system. Kano, which is the only state that has in place, a functional Qur’anic and Islamiyya Schools Management Board had earlier, established 12 integrated Tsangaya Model Schools across the state, 10 of which are boarding.
Each of the facility has dormitory, hostels, cafeteria, toilets and staff quarters among others, while 8, 000 volunteer teachers have been engaged to teach in the various public and Quranic schools across the state in a bid to reduce teaching deficiency in the sector.
Indeed, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje’s launching of free, compulsory basic and secondary education policy has made serious impact with the reduction of the data of out-of-school children in Kano from 1,306,106 to 410,873, from 2015 to 2019. (Refer to the National Education Data Survey (NEDS) Report of 2015 which shows that, Kano had (then) the highest number of out-of-school children with 1,306,106.) The terrifying report then prompted Governor Ganduje to take the issue with all seriousness, with measures aimed at addressing the situation squarely.
However, with the free, compulsory basic and secondary education policy, as contained in the report submitted to the Governor Ganduje by the sub-committee on out-of-school children survey 2019, it was noted that as a result of various intervention programmes the serious drop becomes inevitable.
The survey by the sub-committee was conducted across all the 44 local government areas in the state on house-to-house basis, using village/ward heads under the district heads of each local government area with a view to generating a comprehensive and reliable data that will enable government to effectively implement the laudable free education policy According to the report, from the total number of 410,873 out-of-school children in the state, 275,917 are boys, that represents 67% and 134,956 are girls, representing 33%.
Unlike the Kwankwasiyya and their foot soldiers who play politics with everything, the Ganduje’s administration believes that with the right education, the issue of insecurity and unemployment would become things of the past. Education is a right to every citizen. This explains why in Kano today, there is a law that whoever fails to send his children to school is committing an offence.
Muhammad Garba is the Commissioner for Information, Kano State