Ganduje: Leading Kano To El Dorado
It is often said that actions speak louder than words. While some leaders prefer to talk, others tend to work silently and be noticed by what they do rather than what they preach. Yet there are those who will never trade off their integrity and patriotic zeal, hence they walk the talk.
In Kano State, the centre of commerce in Nigeria, one man is revered to have left his footprints on the crest of history due to his outstanding performance as governor. That man is the late Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, whom it is widely acknowledged to have brought genuine development to bear on the state. In the past two years however, Governor Abubakar Umar Ganduje has demonstrated that he has the capacity to replicate what Rimi did in Kano and within just two years on the saddle, it is clear that the people of Kano State did not make any mistake to have invested their votes in the man that can easily be described as “Baban Infrastructure” or ‘Mai aikin Gaskiyan” because of his obsession with developing quality and sustainable infrastructure and revolutionalising agriculture in the state.
Political analysts have agreed that Ganduje’s rise to fame in the art of governance is rooted in his solid leadership having started his political career as a local government chairman and raised through dint of handwork and sheer commitment to become the governor of one of the largest and most populous stated in the federation. Despite some obvious distractions within the state since he came on board, the governor has refused to be caught in the cobweb of opponents and political enemies whose main objective is to weaken him and make him amenable to their whims and caprices.
Although, his predecessor, Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, had also tried in his own right, Dr. Ganduje has in the past two years shown that he can do better and had since assumption of office on May 29, 2015 given priority attention to the infrastructural deficit in the state. In an attempt to open up more towns and villages, the administration of Ganduje has embarked on massive reconstruction of existing roads and construction of new ones. Unlike, some governors who do not look the way of projects abandoned by previous administrations, Ganduje is not giving up the completion of on-going projects that he inherited, constructing feeder roads, rehabilitating bridges and building new ones, renovating schools and colleges, hospitals, and generally creating the necessary environment for new investments and foreign capital. It is therefore not surprising that Kano has once again become the preferred destination for investment, tourism and conferences, seminars and workshops.
The administration of Ganduje has also invested heavily in regional and feeder roads to link commercial centres with rural communities and continuation of the construction of 5km dualised roads with streetlights and drainages in some of the 44 local governments so that farm produce would easily be transported to the urban population. It is gladdening to note that roads are interlocked into transportation networks that ease access and prevent congestion in the cities and urban peripheries.
Again, the government under Ganduje had continued to use the road networks to solve the erosion menace that had bedevilled the town for years by creating drainages and water collection and discharge points. Most heartwarming is the provision of and installation of street lights in urban, semi-urban and local government headquarters to reduce accident and brighten communities and reduce the risk of criminal activities.
Of course, not oblivious of the importance of education to both human and capital development, Ganduje, himself a Ph.D holder, has taken it as one of the cardinal objectives of his administration to raise the ante of educational development in state. Consequently, child enrolment rate has soared in the last two years due to the incentives being provided by the government. The state government has constructed 348 new classrooms including provision of 6,960 sets of equipment across the state, execution of rehabilitation of blocks of classrooms and distribution of instructional materials, provision of three-seater desks and chairs in the state’s public schools, by the Education Promotion Committee, and most recently, the introduction of the Kano Basic Education Week to be celebrated every year.
Through proper management of resources, the governor has been able to settle students’ tuition fees abroad as well as for students studying at home. It is on record that Kano indigenes were owing various overseas universities as at when Kwankwaso handed over the baton of leadership in the state to Ganduje.. He had undoubtedly seen the wisdom of appointing an erudite scholar and first female professor, in the person of Prof. Fatima Ibrahim Umar, to head the state scholarship board, knowing that she possesses the capacity to solve complex academic issues.
A very close ally of President Muhammadu Buhari, Ganduje is a strong believer in the fight against corruption not just because it is part of the All Progressives Congress (APC) manifesto but because he is a diligent administrator and an apostle of transparency and accountability. As such, Kano State anti-corruption agency is one of the few states anti-graft bodies that have in the past two years demonstrated a strong resolve and commitment to eradicating corruption in the system.
A trustworthy friend that could be relied on any day, Ganduje displayed this once again in the wake of the illness of President Muhamadu Buhari when there were various rumours that the President was incapacitated. A practical leader, Ganduje put a call to the president and people listened to Buhari speak and expressed his appreciation to the people for keeping faith with his administration in spite of his health challenges and long absence from the office and country. no other governor did this.
When he came in 2015, the state was saddled with a huge debts profile but this never weighed down on ‘the man of the people’ as Ganduje confronted his challenges almost on a case by case basis, paying good attention and according top priority to important spheres of human endeavour.
In order to address the issue of unemployment, Ganduje had in the past two years initiated many high profile empowerment schemes to assist women and youths to acquire the skills of vocational training which had gulped millions of naira.
Acting in consonance with President Buhari’s diversification policy, Governor Ganduje speedily took the bull by the horn and turned his attention to farming. Two years down the line, Kano has continued to celebrate bumper harvests in major staple foods like wheat and rice, making Kano exceptional in agricultural production. Last year, Kano cultivated 7,000 hectares of wheat which was the highest in over 20 years. This year, Kano has cultivated over 30,000 hectares which made wheat price to crash geometrically in the northern region. Due to the bumper harvest recorded this year, Governor Ganduje has stated that for the first time in the history, “Kano will have Wheat Pyramid emulating the famous groundnut pyramid back in the days.”
His investments in the agricultural sector so attracted the federal government that in the early 2016, for five days, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh relocated his office to Kano, touring the 44 Local Government Areas of the state, inspecting and visiting various agricultural projects in the ancient city.
As part of the visit, the minister launched the drilling of 1,000 boreholes across 24 local government areas of Kano State, as part of initiatives by the state government to encourage farmers to produce more wheat under its commercial agriculture programme.
Commissioning the boreholes at Alkamawa in Bunkure Local Government Area, Ogbeh said that with what he saw on the ground in terms of commitment of the farmers and the political will of the state government, the agricultural revolution has commenced from Kano State. The minister also commissioned Kano FADAMA tractorisation project and seed processing facility with capacity of producing 50 tons per day.
He commended Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje and his economic team as well as the farmers for their huge investment in the mass production of wheat and rice, including other major food items, declaring that Kano is well positioned to feed the nation in the nearest future.
Aware of the fact that health is wealth, Ganduje has in the past two years ensured that all hospitals in the state, in all the 44 local government areas has received considerable face-lift, with all the facilities equipped with the state of the art medical gadgets, installed to detect the predicament of a patient seeking serious and urgent medical attention.
The administration has continued with the construction works at abandoned Paediatric Hospital Zoo Road, Giginyu General Hospital, completion and commissioning of renovation of Dambatta General Hospital, upgrading of D/Tofa Cottage Hospital to General Hospital, renovation of Yadakunya Leprosy Hospital; renovation and construction at School of Health Technology, Bebeji, etc. The administration also established two permanent Artificial Insemination Centres at Kadawa and Dambatta, resuscitated the State Agricultural Supply Company (KASCO) to sufficiently meet farmers’ fertilizer demand and constructed 1000 tube wells across Fadama sites in order to boost the agricultural sector in the state.
Ganduje has also made the provision of potable water a major priority of his administration. Consequently, several infrastructural development projects have been executed, which include the installation of Raw Water and High lift Pumps at various water works; laying of 1000mm diameter D.I. Pipes from Tamburawa to Hadejia Road (23.1km), rehabilitation and construction of three tube wells each at Wudil Water Treatment Plant; on-going construction of 88 solar powered boreholes, two each within 44 local government areas, on-going rehabilitation of Bagauda Dam etc.
On environment, there are projects like fortification of embankment protection along Challawa Road, erosion control at Yaryasa Bridge along Tudun Wada Jos Road, construction of drainages at Giginyu quarters in Nassarawa Local Government Area, Tudun Wazirchi, Kabara and Chiranchi quarters, Link 67 Albarka, Dorayi Babba, behind Forestry in Gwale Local Government Area, Ja’en in Kumbotso local council, Construction of drainage with cover slabs and interlock at Sharadar Malam B in Municipal council etc. The administration has taken adequate steps to ensure that the state water board and the Rural Water Supply Agency(RUWASA), are funded to meet the yearnings and aspiration of the common people.
It is an incontestable fact that information and communication technology are indispensable in today’s world. Hence the Ganduje administration has keyed in and already rehabilitated its Data Bank to facilitate storage and retrieval of information/data about all Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) and local government areas in the state, supply and installation of digital broadcast equipment at Abubakar Rimi Television (ARTV), rehabilitation of buildings and offices at Kano State Radio Corporation, Gidan Bello Dandago.
This is just a tip of the iceberg about the revolution that has been loading in Kano since May 29, 2015. There is no doubt that Kano people are satisfied with his performance so far and would beg him to seek re-election come 2019, if he continues in this stead.
*Hon. Ugwu is Executive Director, Centre for Reform Education Initiative (CREI)