Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of Kano State is one governor under the current dispensation who is coming up with ideas on how to render service to his people with a bias for job creation and rural empowerment.
But what marks the governor out is the approach he has adopted to tackle the challenges. It is recalled that on assumption of office, Kwankwaso inaugurated a special standing committee headed by Mr. Mohammed Jamu Yusuf with a mandate to develop local entrepreneurship through skills acquisition.
Critical areas that were targeted include processing hides and skin, to finished leather materials like shoes, hand bags and other related products. Understanding that Kano has a huge agro-based potential, capacity building programmes were designed for the processing and preservation of fresh fruits such as tomato, pepper and ginger. Along this direction, specialised institutes were established for fisheries, poultry and herds and the efforts are already yielding dividends. For instance, the institute for herds has produced several graduates, each of whom was given two cows and a plough.
For the womenfolk, aside the much publicized government sponsored weddings for widows and divorcees, micro credit supports have equally been given to women to help them develop businesses and so far 44,000 beneficiaries have received the grants of N10,000 each. Apparently in this same spirit, Kwankwaso recently doled out another N50,000 each to 200 unemployed health and sanitation graduates from the State’s School of Hygiene.
The money is to enable the healthcare workers hire and furnish shops in their respective local government areas after which government will supply each of them with assorted drugs worth N100,000 for resale.
The government is also going to procure official licences for the beneficiaries. A total of 2,400 auxiliary healthcare graduates are expected to benefit from the scheme before the end of the year. The first batch of beneficiaries of the scheme had undergone three weeks of training under the Institute of Entrepreneurship Studies. Like other Kwankwaso initiatives, this programme is geared towards empowerment, wealth creation and local entrepreneurship.
Critics of the scheme, however, argue that using healthcare delivery programme as a means of poverty alleviation may be counter-productive, especially as it involves dealing with human lives. They equally argue that the three weeks training given to these healthcare dispensers is not sufficient to equip them with the kind of expertise required for the enormous responsibility being foisted upon them.
These critics further express the fear that the healthcare dispensers could abuse their positions and go beyond their brief by turning themselves into omnibus rural hospitals or become replacements for orthodox doctors.
While we share some of these concerns, we are nonetheless of the view that the benefits to be derived from the scheme far outweigh these fears because the initiative will help improve healthcare delivery, especially in the rural areas. But we agree that a great measure of public enlightenment campaigns is needed to assuage all the perceived fears. We therefore urge the Kano state government to put in place mechanisms and guidelines on the exact nature of healthcare delivery expected of these dispensers.
Furthermore, we will advise the Kano government to guard against possible abuse by setting up a supervisory agency whose duties should include enforcement of some minimum standards. The government must also ensure sustainability of the scheme through regular supply of genuine drugs to the dispensers. This will help to stem the possibility of some dubious minded dispensers stocking up their shops and dispensaries with cheap, fake and expired drugs in order to maximise profit.
With all these arrangements in place, we have no doubt regarding the success of the programme in the areas of job creation, poverty alleviation and making affordable healthcare delivery available to the rural populace. This is why, despite the reservation in some quarters, we firmly support the Kano State Healthcare Dispensers Programme and commendGovernor Kwankwaso for his initiatives.