Eromosele Abiodun writes on efforts by Governor Atiku Bagudu to transform Kebbi State
Until recently, not many Nigerians knew much about Kebbi, a state in north-western Nigeria with its capital at Birnin Kebbi. The state was created out of a part of Sokoto State in 1991. Kebbi State is bordered by Sokoto State, Niger State, Zamfara State, Dosso Region in the Republic of Niger and the nation of Benin. It has a total area of 36,800 km².
Since assuming office in 2015, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu has transformed Kebbi State from being a purely civil servant state and made it more industrialised. Kebbi State has become one of the major producers of rice in Nigeria. The current participation of more than 70,000 farmers in the Anchor Borrowers Rice and wheat farming is heading towards making Kebbi a new destination and hub for agro based commodities of the Country.
As a matter of fact, Kebbi State has become synonymous with rice production. In 2017, the state earned about N150 billion from the sale of its locally cultivated rice. But rice is hardly the only product grown in the state, whose economy is agrarian. In 2018, the state began the cultivation of 47,000 hectares of cassava as raw material for the production of ethanol biofuel.
“We have partnered Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and we have started ethanol programme in Danko/Wasagu Local Government Area and other local government areas will soon join,” the state Governor, Atiku Bagudu, said during his second term inauguration on May 29.
Governor Bagudu’s short term plan to accelerate Kebbi’s development is to create a society with income, thus, the focus on agriculture, which has the capacity to employ large numbers of people.
His government has supported a bee honey farm (which is primed to export Kebbi’s honey to the world) and is at the forefront of improving livestock productivity by providing cattle rearers with required infrastructure such as water and improved veterinary education.
“We want Kebbi honey to be sold around the world. We have two major rivers: River Niger, over 300 kilometres in Kebbi alone; River Rima, from Sokoto down to Argungu, another 300 kilometres; so we should be selling fish. You should go to a restaurant in Japan or New York and order fish from Yauri; that’s my dream. I believe it would happen one day. With taxes from these economic activities, the Governor hopes to be able to provide adequate public infrastructure.
“Maybe by next year, we should have at least a million people registered in farming, livestock, fisheries. I know who they are, their biometrics, their history; then we will request them to contribute to society, so that we can be able to fund the creation of social goods, primary healthcare, primary education and security, “he said.
These social goods are imperative if Kebbi is to improve on its development indicators. For example, according to the 2016/2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by the federal government, the rate of new-born deaths per 1,000 births is 55 in the state. This is significantly higher than the national average of 37 deaths per 1,000 births. Also, the state has one of the highest numbers of out-of-school children in the country.
The Bagudu administration has responded by working with local and international partners to build primary healthcare centres in virtually all the wards in the state, recruited 2,000 new teachers, and spent N900 million to support Almajiri education in an attempt to pull in more children into the formal learning system. But these efforts are not enough.
“The World Bank recommends that, to run a good primary education system, you need $700 per pupil. If I use up my entire revenue and close down every other thing, I’ll just be about $190 per pupil,” Bagudu said.
Meanwhile, across all sectors of the state the governor has made significant impact with the security, education, agriculture and others standing out.
Ensuring Adequate Security
Kebbi state is sharing borders with Republic of Niger and Benin on the Western side of the state. The length of Nigerian/ Niger border is about 190km, which started from Dole Kaina, Dandi Local Government to Bachaka in Arewa Local Government. While the Nigeria / Benin international border has a length of 100km starting from Segbana a border Village near Tsamiya in Bagudo Lacal Government to Dole Kaina in Dandi Local Government.
“As result of land dispute between villages of Madakalli (Benin Republic) and Tunga Kongi of Bagudo Local Government, Kebbi State, the state government has relocated the people of T/Kongi to a farming settlement near Lolo District to bring a lasting peace in the region,” said an official of the state who do not want his name in print.
He added: “Also, 109 house hold were relocated to the new settlement, the state government has allocated the sum of N80 million to the State Boundary Committee, which is a standing committee established by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria of which the Deputy Governor serves as a chairman.
“Under this Committee 100 houses of two bed rooms units were constructed and allocated to the victims in addition to a mosque. These communities of Mahuta, Wasare, T/Isa and T/Bagire were also affected by the re-definition of Nigeria/ Benin international boundary. During the exercise a total of 348 households were relocated to a farming settlement around Illo /Bargu forest reserve,” he said.
Kebbi State, he added, has constructed 102 houses of two bedrooms and distributed to some of the affected villagers as phase one.
“The state also provided one solar powered borehole, two dug wells and a five kilo metre access road provided to the affected communities to facilitated easy movement of their farm products to the near Markets. Kebbi State Government facilitated and sponsored the joint bilateral meetings between Nigeria/Niger and Nigeria/Benin which is ongoing process. Kebbi State Surveyor General Office serves as the Secretariat of Bilateral and State Boundary Committees, “he added.
As part of its effort to make the state number one in agriculture, the state government purchased 225 trucks of assorted fertilizers and distributed to the state farmers at government approved prices since the inception of this administration. Also, implementation of agricultural transformation agenda (ATA) is in progress and for the smooth take off of the project, the state paid N94 million counterpart funds.
At the inception of his administration, Bagudu introduced commercial agriculture loans for the benefit of Kebbi Sate farmers earmarked N5 billion as loan to farmers.
The governor had constituted a committee on agricultural revival in the state to enhance agricultural production and approved N3.5 billion for the purchase of rice and wheat from the state farmers.
Kebbi State had also signed a MOU with Lagos state government for the establishment of special purpose vehicle (SPV) for the development of commodities (rice, wheat, and groundnut oil, onion, maize, sorghum and livestock) value chains.
The government ensured that youths are engaged in farming activities, through provision of agricultural loans to boost agricultural in the state, established IFAD country programme on climate change adaptation and agric business support programmed in the state where the counterpart funding of N40.55 million was paid by the state government.
Other achievement in agriculture include: eradication of Queliar bird’s state wide, purchase of 100 tractors, 80 thrashers, 30 reapers and power tillers to enhance agricultural development in the state; purchase of wheat milling machine from federal government; purchase 100 unit of motorcycle for extension workers as intervention on anchor borrowers programme. And 1.5 Million metric ton of fertilizers are purchased by state government for distribution to Kebbi state farmers.
Others are: purchase of 30,000 metric ton of fertilizer, 5,000 farmers engaged for the production of soya beans at Danko Wasagu Local Government; in Fadama 10,000 farmers were engaged for the production Sorghum rice and soya beans, 450, 000 jobs created by anchor barrowers, 40,000 thousand multi millonaries were raised.
Similarly, in its effort to boost agriculture in the state, the state government engaged wheat farmers for the production of wheat, signed MOU with IITA Ibadan to boost agriculture production and strengthen the extension delivery.
The governor has also done very well in the area of health and social development. Recently, the state performed a successful and uncomplicated cereal section for post repaired clients in VVF in the State.
It is important to state that the state’s VVF centre is one out of three that constantly offer routine repair services in the country.
Also, the community mobilisation and stakeholder advocacy in the state has educated significant number of women and families on VVF cases.
The state has introduced a cooperative society for repaired clients for self-reliance and proper clients for self-reliance and proper management of equipment given to discharged patients by state government.
The state has also commenced the training of child protection officers to support people with special needs, procure of psychiatric and non-psychiatric drugs, supply of mattress, renovation of administrative block, pit latrine at the Jega psychiatric centre.
To develop sports in the state, the government has constructed a mini stadium at Zuguru, revived Kebbi United Football Club and school sports and provide vocational and technical skills for youths.
Similarly, clubs from the state were sponsored to participate in the National Sports Festival, National League games, National Division II and National Division III play off.
The state football Association was sponsored to participate in the Under 17 Football Tournament in Kano as well as the state chapter of the Nigerian referees to fitness test and the promotion examination in Abuja and Kaduna.
Education for All
In its drive to provide quality education, the state embarked on the construction of 640 blocks of classrooms for primary and junior secondary schools in the state, renovate 740 blocks of classrooms for Primary & Junior Secondary Schools and procured of 34,120 sets of furniture for primary, junior secondary schools.
Others are: drilling of boreholes, upgrading of schools to model level, supply of 480 computer sets, laboratory science materials for schools, provision of Fist Aid facilities to schools, procurement of books and journals and upgrading of Education Management Information System (EMIS) Centres.
Islamic education is not left out. Annually, the government sponsors both the State and National Qur’an Recitation competitions. In the 2018 state competition, two brand new Toyota cars were donated to the male and female winners of the competition including motor circles, Chinese beds and various prizes.
The government has also constructed blocks of three classrooms at Emir Haruna Rashid Arabic College Birnin Kebbi, renovated the Uthman bn Affan Islamiyya School Argungu, payment of Arabic Examination (NBAIS) and sponsored delegates to attend the conference of Arabic and Islamic Studies Teachers annually.
The governor has also ensured that accreditation fees for course being offered by School of Health Technology Jega, School of Nursing and Midwifery Birnin Kebbi are paid.
He has constructed and furnished 500 capacity female hostel at the permanent site AACOE Argungu, complete 500 capacity male hostel, furnished and construction boundary wall fence, gate and gate house to female hostel at permanent site AACOE Argungu.
Bagudu is also investing in Kebbi’s technology future. The government has signed an agreement with educational non-profit Profuturo, to improve the currency of knowledge in the state’s classrooms.
“Our approach is organic,” he said. “We have to start by teaching so we are not just software purchasers. Profuturo have begun to deliver tablets that will be used in primary schools. And these are not just tablets for educational content. We are going to teach students in primary school robotics, gaming, so that they can have early exposure and we can take off from there. We are not as advanced as other states, so we have to start with an alternative approach.”