In the last few weeks, the governors of Kano and Katsina States have come forward with different poverty alleviation initiatives for their people. Unfortunately, those ideas have done nothing but portray the inanities of their leadership, writes Ibrahim Shuaibu

The quest to find a lasting and sustainable solution to the socio-economic problems facing Kano people especially among the small scale traders made the state government to convene an empowerment programme for the teeming tea sellers in the state, for their contribution to the development of the state. About 5,200 tea sellers were empowered by the government, ostensibly to boost their economic morale so that they can further stand on their feet without dependency on government.

In similar vein, the Katsina State government recently introduced an empowerment initiative, a goat empowerment scheme for secondary school girls in the state. The state government was of the view that though learning and rearing goats might not be easy for school girls, it considered the initiative a step towards becoming self-reliant despite the challenges they may face combining it with schooling.

The result of the Kano State empowerment initiative under the leadership of Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje was reckoned would help enhance the economic capacity of the local traders in the state that were in need of support for self-reliance, given the current state of the state economy.

Ganduje, during an elaborate ceremony for the distribution of the items, which was said to have cost about N280 million to the tea sellers, said the gesture was in furtherance of his administration’s commitment to ensuring increase in the masses economic well-being. He said the tea sellers were drawn from the 44 local government areas of the state, with each of the 5,200 beneficiaries given N40, 000 as a take-off capital.

“I welcome you all, the 5,200 tea sellers drawn from 44 local government areas of the state. I am very happy. I am happy, because you are all happy. Your happiness is my happiness. In particular, we are empowering 5,200 tea sellers. We are empowering them, because we want to increase their economic wellbeing. We are empowering you to improve the economy of Kano.
“We are empowering you to improve sanitation in your services; we are empowering you to improve nutritional value of your services; we are empowering you because of the multiplying effects of this kind of programme. You are aware that with the effort of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria is out of recession. This is why we have created this kind of youth empowerment to help sustain our relief from recession,” he stated.

Not unexpectedly, the initiative was received with applause and condemnation. The truth is that the Tea sellers in Kano were believed to have contributed to the political campaign in the state. Thus, they are seen as stakeholders in the state.
Pundits therefore hold the view that the distribution of empowerment to tea sellers would contribute immensely to the success of the Ganduje administration. But loyalists of former Governor Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso are said to see it as a decimation of quality administration in the state.

The governor has also promised to continue to empower women, recalling that his government has recently trained 200 women on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and provided them with computers, laptops and other communication accessories.
“We have also trained 50 women drawn from Fulani herdsmen on artificial insemination. We trained another 50 women on automobile. They were trained by Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) in Kaduna. We have also trained over 1,936 women on nursing, particularly to help pregnant women in the rural areas to deliver safely.”

Commissioner for Local Government and Community Development, Alhaji Murtala Sule Garo, said, “The various empowerment programmes that have been undertaken by the present administration have ensured the training of over 100,000 youths in various trades across Kano state.”
Although Katsina is an agrarian state, Governor Aminu Bello Masari administration has made efforts to improve the lot of his people through different empowerment initiatives, though some have been criticised.

Last year, the state government distributed 720 goats, said to be worth N104 million to women under its Women Empowerment Schem. About 240 women selected across the 34 local governments were given two female goats and one male goat. The animals were given to the beneficiaries under a loan scheme and the cost was expected to be repaid after a year, the government said.

This soon followed a similar empowerment initiative during which the government distributed goats to female secondary school students in the state. Government said it selected 20 secondary schools in each of the three senatorial zones for the take-off of the programme.
Launching the programme at the Government Girls Arabic Secondary School, Dutsinma, Katsina State commissioner for Education, Professor Halimatu Idris, said the programme was aimed at making the students self-reliant as well as develop their education. But observers have questioned how empowering students with goats instead of encouraging them to concentrate on their studies could contribute to the development of the state.

Politicians in the state have already begun to condemn the initiative as bereft of good thinking on the part of the state government.
Malam Adamu Kofar Sauri said the state government lacked focus of what the citizens of the state voted it into power for, adding that the government wasted its resources on a programme that could only bring setback to the education of the girl-child in the state.
The education commissioner emphasized that the goat empowerment programme was part of the Masari administration’s efforts toward improving the lives of the people and development of education in the state.

From all indications, what the two governments of Kano and Katsina appear to lack is the ability for good thinking that could throw up life-changing innovations. It could be correct that the tea business is as old as the state itself, it does not mean government cannot further modify it or take the people out of such primitive lifestyle if indeed the desire is to have their states catch up with the rest of the country.

Masari would have been better off if his initiative was meant to enhance the study of agriculture in the secondary schools in the state. However, that he sold the idea because he wanted to start teaching the students how to be self-reliant is to say the least disappointing, more so coming from a man who was once the nation’s number four citizen.
It appears these two governors love the idea of poverty as against the façade of helping to alleviate it. In what ways would such a tawdry thought-process enhance the economy of their states? It is cheap, pedestrian and exposes their lack of capacity to think out of the box. Importantly, it brings to the fore the tragedy of the nation’s leadership recruitment process, if at all, there is any.