Jigawa: Gov. Namadi’s 100 days of hope

The people of Jigawa, like 28 other states that swore in new governors on May 29, this year, would have hoped their leaders turn out better. In a nation where leaders set out to do one thing but end up doing another, no one will blame Nigerians for keeping their eyes peeled. Although, the first three or so months of a four-year journey may be considered not enough for an in-depth inquest, Nigerians, nonetheless, take a very serious visage of the first 100 days in office. After all, the Hausa saying that ‘a Friday that will turn out good begins to show itself on Thursday’ has never failed to serve as the basis for serious caution or high expectations. 

As a very passionate indigene of Jigawa state, I must confess that I also reined in my enthusiasm, and who will blame me? However, having lived through Governor Umar Namadi’s first three months, I can confidently say, without fear of contradiction, that if the man continues as he has started, the people of Jigawa will end up having the best governorship deal of all states in Nigeria. To Nigerians very far away from Dutse, the state capital, this bold assertion may come off as preposterous, but I won’t care. I have seen enough to convince me that, for the first time in a long while, the leadership of Jigawa state is in the hands of a capable and passionate pilot who knows exactly where Jigawa desires to be taken to.

Although I have set out to trace the governor’s steps since his swearing in, let me warn that the beacons I will be touching on are by no means exhaustive. As a puritanist, my focus, perhaps, may be different from that of others who may prefer quick-fix. Therefore, any attempt to engage with this piece using the typical Nigerian “sharp-sharp” medicine approach will derail from its intent.

My interest in Jigawa’s journey under Governor Umaru Namadi’s stewardship got piqued when he started entering into partnerships with strategic knowledge-based agencies for the building of, and upscaling of the capacity of Jigawa people with in-demand skills. I followed his engagement with the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) very keenly and I am impressed with his frank take on the importance of such agencies towards changing the fortunes of a people. 

Speaking during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with ITF, Governor Namadi posited that “the security challenges, disturbances, and other social vices (bedevilling the nation) are products of poverty and unemployment. He maintained that, with emphasis on skill acquisition and empowerment, the narrative can be changed for good. I can’t agree less. Indeed, this move was in keeping faith with one of his 12-point agenda which aims at upskilling youths to become self-sufficient. This initiative has seen to the training and equipping of over 5000 youths all in this first 100 days. Amazing! Imagine how many more will be upskilled in four years! 

Another engagement I found really timely was with Medecine Sans Frontiers (MSF) otherwise known as doctors without borders. In the meeting with MSF, Mallam Namadi reiterated the state government’s commitment to its 15-years long partnership with the International NGO which has culminated in the construction of a world class  clinic in Jahun local government area, positively impacting the provision of quality medical services, while playing the role of an internationally acclaimed medical training institution.

Then he hosted the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) on a thank you visit with respect to a piece of land that the state government had allocated to it. In that meeting, the zonal manager informed the governor that the land will be used for the construction of a Halal standard laboratory, the first in the country.

Without making it too obvious, the common denominator for all these engagements is knowledge. This fuses seamlessly with the governor’s commitment to building a knowledge-based economy, anchored on innovation and leveraged on Information and Communication Technology (ICT). 

Of Governor Namadi’s 12-point agenda, pursuing a knowledge-based economy makes the most sense, considering the state’s very young population. In this endeavour, the commitment of the state government to reviving the Maigatari Export Processing zone is also a milestone. An agreement with the Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority was recently reached. The plan is to turn the MEP zone to a potent economic weapon for IGR generation and youth empowerment.

There’s excitement in the agriculture sector. Besides constituting a 20-man committee to check incessant farmers/ herders clashes that have been hampering full productivity, farmers have started enjoying a 40% cut in the prices of fertiliser. This is in addition to the construction of 100 kilometres long embarkment to combat floods that have been eating deep into both residence and farmlands.

Then comes education, where I know that efforts are well underway to recruit many teachers to tackle the deficit in the sector. The governor has also committed to reviewing the Tsangaya education system, to reintegrate it into the formal system in order to make the system productive. This is in addition to the recent upgrading of the state’s College of Health, among several initiatives like the resuscitation of seven skills acquisition centers spread all over the state.

For those who want the sharp-sharp turnaround, over 1000 women and youths have been empowered with a minimum of N50,000 each to undertake businesses on which they have been well trained. Over ₦5 billion has also been expended towards cushioning the adverse effects of fuel subsidy removal even as the pension and gratuity of pensioners have been offset in the sum of ₦2 billion.

A careful review of Governor Namadi’s focus so far will reveal a systematic focus on the six sectors of education, agriculture, healthcare, employment, revenue generation and welfare. This covers the governor’s 12-point all-encompassing plan across major sectors that directly impact the lives and economy of the people of Jigawa state. They include agriculture, education, health, employment, information and communication technology, and environmental issues.

According to the governor, this comprehensive plan lays out his vision for sustainable economic growth, modern, efficient, and profitable agriculture, youth empowerment, employment and productivity, qualitative education, accessible and affordable healthcare, a comprehensive social security, as well as enhanced security system. It is perhaps a testament to this commitment that the governor appointed six technical advisers to man the critical sectors of health, education, agriculture, environment, power and renewable energy, information and communication technology (ICT), and the digital economy.

It’s no surprise then that the governor has set himself and the people of Jigawa the bold vision of minting at least 150 new millionaires before his four-year first term ends. While people may look at the quick fixes and empowerments as the path to this audacious endeavour, I believe the real path to that milestone is true knowledge. These first 100 days have shown just how the Governor Namadi is mainstreaming a knowledge-based economy, leveraging on modern tools that offer possibilities never before imagined. These 100 days have given us a peep into the future of Jigawa and it’s beautiful to behold…