Scorecard of Northwestern Governors (7)
Bello Matawalle carries on the legacy
The administration of Hon. (Dr.) Bello Mohammed Matawalle has in the first instance been able to maintain and steadfastly sustain all the perceived good things carried out by the immediate past administration of Alhaji AbdulAziz Yari Abubakar and has succeeded in improving upon them in most cases.
A noteworthy example is the restoration of relative peace and security of lives and properties which eluded the state for about eight years. It was a feat achieved within three months of his assumption of duty. There are, admittedly, minor security problems here and there which are obviously associated with political vendetta and mudslinging retarding the progress achieved in this regard.
It can confidently be asserted that the governor has, in the first year of his administration, demonstrated his ability to drastically reduce official corruption and undeterred embezzlement of public funds with impunity. He was also able to recover and save millions of naira siphoned by public officials by adopting prudent management strategy of public funds through sound fiscal policy.
The saved funds have enabled his government to swiftly construct additional classrooms and renovate others in both primary and secondary schools across the state to provide conducive atmosphere for teaching and learning.
Such initiative has similarly afforded his government the ample chance to comfortably sponsor 200 qualified students to different courses in various institutions of higher learning abroad. This is in addition to taking care of those studying locally and nationally.
Through a strategic resolve, Matawalle has, within the first year embarked on construction and rehabilitation of economically viable roads in some local government areas of the state. He has also achieved tremendous success in constructing and rehabilitating some vital access roads in Gusau, the State Capital, giving it a befitting facelift.
Inhabitants of Gusau town who have for a couple of years been terrorised day and night by violent political thugs and jobless drug addicts have been rid of the problem by the government of Bello Matawalle within the first year. The able leader has through tactical approach integrated the over 8,500 youths into a state-wide programme (ZASIEP) introduced to economically assist and empower them to be useful members of their communities.
The number of youths currently benefiting from the programme is astonishing remarkable.
Evidently, Zamfara states healthcare delivery service had unfortunately reached a position of near collapse due to neglect.
Happily, Governor Bello Matawalle has within the first year of his administration reconstructed/renovated the dilapidated structures of some general hospitals in the affected local government areas across the state. He similarly employed medical doctors to work in them in addition to providing required ambulances including other operational equipments.
The information management and dissemination sector has also witnessed unprecedented positive transformation in Zamfara State through reconstruction of existing structures and procurement of ultra-modern digital equipments for both AM, FM and TV stations by Governor Bello Matawalle. The equipments will soon be installed following the completion of the building structures by the government.
One of the most pleasing action taken by the Executive Governor is the re-engagement into the state civil service of 1,040 employed indigenes who were frustrated and abandoned by the previous administration of AbdulAziz Yari. The action was generally applauded by people in the state. Governor Bello Matawalle has further demonstrated his sympathy for the unemployed graduates when he approved the employment of additional teachers to ease the shortage problem.
In recognition of their weak natural traits coupled with the apparent need to assist them develop their potentials, the government of Bello Matawalle introduced and successfully sustain a monthly financial support of N20,000.00 for 1,800 eligible women across the state. The gesture has significantly lifted a large number of the beneficiaries out of abject poverty.
The agricultural sector in Zamfara State has within the first year of this administration witnessed remarkable changes when governor Bello Matawalle resuscitated the unproductive Zamfara State Fertilizer Blending Company. The company which has been abandoned for over a decade now produces assorted fertilizer products for the government thereby saving a lot of money.
The government has similarly re-activated the abandoned famous and highly lucrative agricultural programme, ZACAREP by giving it the required support and encouragement it deserves to boost agricultural production and enterprise.
Boosting the morale of civil servants to ensure effective productivity and efficient performance of assigned responsibilities is an important strategy which must be adopted by responsible governments. To this end, Governor Bello Mohammed Matawalle has ensured continuous payment of entitled benefits to retired civil servants who had hitherto experienced serious hardship due to none payment.
The governor has in the same vein paid the annual leave grant to civil servants after seven years of its eclipse. Public servants have also been given soft loan of rice at a subsidized rate to be paid instalmentally.
Governor Bello Matawalles giant stride of forming committees to reform the civil service structure and ultimately sanitize its operation scope which has hitherto been grossly abused must be highlighted. The governor has to this effect restored the payment of motivational allowances to judicial and other essential services staff as an example.
The expenditure incurred by the administration of Bello Matawalle to establish RUGA settlements primarily intended to minimise the incessant Fulani/farmers communal dispute and armed conflict is a commendable step in the right direction. Obviously, the security and socio-economic benefits to be derived from the project cannot be over emphasized.
On a final note, to candidly enumerate all the achievements recorded by the administration of governor Bello Matawalle within the first year of his tenure will be a hard task. A part from the physically solid projects, the policies and programmes he has mapped out are evidently taking shape and will soon be fruitful. The current economic predicament and challenges brought about by COVID19 Pandemic has to a large extent pose serious difficulties and disrupt the set agenda.
Considering that sustainable development cannot be achieved amid insecurity, Governor Matawalle moved to address the lingering insecurity challenge, which had cast Zamfara negatively in the global spotlight.
The Governor met with President Muhammad Buhari and Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. He also met with the Service Chiefs; the Hon. Minister of Defence; traditional rulers, community and religious leaders; leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN); Civilian Joint Tax Force (CJTF) and other notable stakeholders. His subsequent negotiations facilitated the release of over 800 captives, including several expatriates, by bandits.
To consolidate the new found peace, the Government spearheaded the disarmament of bandits, resulting in the handover of a cache of sophisticated arms and ammunition to the State Government.
Furthermore, over 200 surveillance vehicles, equipped with hi-tech security gadgets, were procured for distribution, to boost the capacity and morale of security forces. Thats in addition to deployment of drone technology. Today, Zamfara is peaceful, with over 25,000 persons hitherto displaced returned to their homes, and hundreds held captive reunited with their families.
No society advances above the educational level of its citizens. Hence, in its 2020 Budget, the Government allotted 19% to Education, the highest provision in the states history. From this, N7 billion was earmarked for renovation of science schools and training of science teachers. The provision also covers renovation of five secondary schools, with all public primary schools earmarked for remodeling.
Furthermore, the Governor approved the promotion of 6,709 primary school teachers who had 5 to 7 years backlog of promotions, and their salary arrears cleared in September 2019. In addition, 556 teachers neglected by the previous administration, were reinstated, and over 200 students granted educational scholarships to study abroad. To complement Governments efforts, the First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Bello Matawalle, placed 41 orphans on academic scholarships.
Moreover, Governor Matawalle awarded contracts for the construction of 613 primary school classrooms, while equipping them with 14,810 desks and chairs; 962 desks for staff and modern ICT centres. N4.5 billion was earmarked for the execution of these projects.
Governor Matawalle further visited TETFund, where he secured One Billion Naira Intervention Fund for Abdu Gusau Polytechnic, Talata Mafara and the enlistment of Zamfara State University by NUC.
Health, they say, is wealth. The leadership of Governor Matawalle accorded priority attention to revitalizing the once moribund health sector. 17 ambulances were immediately procured and distributed to General Hospitals across Zamfara.
Following the outbreak of COVID-19, Zamfara State Government promptly constructed and equipped the Damba Infectious Disease Center; purchased hundreds of tricycle ambulances for distribution to health centres and procured ventilators, patient monitors and COVID-19 Zero-Contact Booths Testing equipment. Hence, Zamfara successfully discharge all its cases of COVID-19.
Contracts were also awarded for completion of Shinkafi Orthopaedic Hospital and construction of 147 Primary Health Centres in the respective Local Government Wards, along with procurement of beds for all the facilities. The construction of Kagara Hospital has since been completed.
To boost life expectancy in Zamfara, Governor Matawalle kick-started the establishment of ultramodern Women and Children Hospitals across the 14 Local Governments of Zamfara, at a free cost for pregnant mothers and children under five.
Urbanization and Critical Infrastructure
Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State, now wears a new look. Governor Matawalle has executed several impactful projects, including:
Completion of Canteen Daji Area road rehabilitation;
Completion of Kwanar Inno Doya, Sabon Gari Road via Sarkin Tasha Mosque, Sardauna Bread linking up to Late Ladan Mada House;
Completion of road from Old Motor Park near Auwal Bread, beside the railway, linking up to CIS, up to the Government House Road, opposite Jifatu Supermarket;
Completion of a suburban close along Kantin Sauki line, via the house of Liman Dan Alhaji Sambo, linking up to the Emirs Palace Mosque;
Kanwuri Gusau; Tudun Wada; Sabuwar Hanya; completion of road down to Tsamiya Masaka, linking up to Koramar Boko House, also linking up to Sunny Fast Food.
Furthermore, Governor Matawalle synthesised a Rural Transformation Scheme modelled after the Directorate of Foods, Roads and Rural Infrastructures of 1986. Several projects are in progress in many rural areas of Danmarke, Kadaddaba, Ruwan Doruwa, Kanoma, Gwaram and Yardanya, among others.
In pursuit of a robust rural re-modelling programme, Matawalle identified a plethora of gains in the Rural Grazing Areas program, as a masterstroke to end frequent clashes between herders and crop farmers, while opening massive vistas of investment and employment.
The project will boast of integrated settlements; properly equipped Schools; a veterinary clinic; an earth dam; cattle cottages; grazing yard; abattoir; mosques; cemeteries; overhead tanks; irrigation system; milk collection centre; assorted animal feed processors; traditional community/social arena etc., that make for a good life, sustainable development and catalytic wealth creation. Today, the pilot project in Maradun is at 80% completion. The project will be replicated across the three senatorial districts of Zamfara State.
Industrialization and Foreign Direct Investments
Governor Matawalle maintains an eagle eye for investment opportunities. Upon creating a viable environment for investments by enhancing security, practicing an open-door approach and provision of robust infrastructure; many countries, NGOs and Development Partners now offer to contribute in developing entrepreneurial skills for youth empowerment.
Governor Matawalle is also showcasing Zamfaras Investment potentials on the global horizon; from the 2019 UN General Assembly in the United States, to the Russia-Africa Economic Summit; and China from 23rd to 24th December 2019, to promote Zamfara States potentials in mining, agriculture and industrialization.
In Beijing, China, the Governor wooed investors for a win-win partnership in solid minerals development, stressing that 50% of the 34 commercial minerals listed in Nigerian are found in Zamfara; including gold, zinc, columbite, silver, gypsum, limestone, copper, tantalite and barite. The governor promised added incentives for prospective investors.
Back home, Governor Matawalle laid the foundation for a N9 billion 3-Star Hotel under a Public Private Partnership agreement. This will create more employment opportunities; as several national and international programmes and other VIP occasions could be hosted in the state.
To spur industrialization, the state government signed a MoU with the African Export-Import Bank in October, 2019. Also, Matawalle secured a USD1b investment input to facilitate trade and industry; through revival of cotton production, animal husbandry, beef processing and exploring opportunities in minerals and water resources.
Indeed, a new Zamfara State is being built. With the successes recorded so far, we can boldly say that Zamfara is lighting the pathway in the journey of people-driven leadership, geared towards engendering a greater Nigeria.
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