Katsinan Radda: Beyond 100 days and matters arising II

The economy is the second sector receiving priority attention, which interrelates and intertwines with security. Economic activities are primarily agricultural in rural communities, which revolve around the crops-livestock interface as a significant source of livelihood for the people. The rural economy provides food, feed, fodder, and industrial raw materials that give an income stream to the citizens.

Consequently, the prosperity of this economy is gladdened as the security situation is enhancing around primary production locations. Alongside the economy, palliatives were provided to the needy, the weak, the vulnerable, and others down the social ladder. Dr. Radda supervised the distribution and sharing of such palliatives with his presence in many sharing location centers for equity, justice, and fairness. What a marvelous lordship style.

Guaranteeing security is an assurance to boosting the economy of the local communities, especially Gazette markets spread across the state. These markets like Charanchi, Sabuwa, Dandume, Sheme, Kafur, and Kankara, among others, were seriously affected by insecurity. Trade volumes running into billions of naira were lost to farmers, merchants, and locals, as income streams and huge revenue base were lost for nearly a decade. What a pitiful situation.

From time immemorial, both Western and Islamic education were deep-rooted in the culture and tradition of the Katsinawa and Daurawa people. It was to the credit of Katsina Middle School that the founders of Northern Nigeria, including the first and only Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, had their early educational baptism in the school.

Radda, with a Ph.D. in his kitty, made a zealous move in the education sector; he enthusiastically enrolled the hitherto disengaged S-power volunteers through a strenuous competitive process that involved screening and computer-based examination for quality assurance. Yes, Dikko sieved the grains from chaps for effective performance in the education sector, thus employing 7,325 teachers of secondary schools. It was the biggest, single, and most deserving employment of personnel in the civil service since the state was created in 1987. What a marvelous feat that needs to be replicated by other states.

For effective management of the education sector and the desire to restore the glorious past, the Education Ministry was split into two independent ministries – the Ministry of Higher Education, Technical and Vocational, and the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. While primary and secondary education deal with a foundation level of education, higher education, technical vocational ministry deals with intermediate and high-level workforce training and development in the state.

In the same vein, Radda approved the release of ₦2,7537,603 billion to construct 75 junior and secondary schools across all 34 local government areas of Katsina state in response to demographic dynamics in the state. Radda paid over N640 million in scholarship allowance to over 47,000 Katsina state students studying in 126 higher institutions of learning within and outside Nigeria.

Similarly, the governor initiated a foreign scholarship for diligent students to study medicine, artificial intelligence, and bio-economy to bridge the workforce gap in the critical disciplines and impact the socio-economic fortunes of the state. He established three special model schools for talent-hunting and development in the three senatorial districts of the state.

To incentivise parents and motivate the final students of secondary schools across the state, Radda paid over N360 million for the registration of WAEC and NECO examinations. The governor approved over N260 million to procure instructional materials to aid teaching and learning in primary and post-primary schools across the state.

The health sector was included as Radda recorded some milestones. After his inauguration, he distributed 198 motorcycles to routine immunisation officers and ward focal persons. He announced his plan to establish 361 clinics to enhance quality healthcare service delivery in the state. Similarly, he laid the foundation of a 16-bed dialysis center, the first of its kind in Northern Nigeria, which will increase access and affordability for kidney patients. For the dialysis center, Radda earmarked N761 million, while another N599.9 million was approved for the upgrade of Faskari Comprehensive Health Center to a general hospital.

As an agricultural scientist, I have a soft spot and am sensitive to growth, development, and challenges 24/7. The agriculture sector in Katsina state has, over the years, shown greater potential to revolutionise the socioeconomic livelihoods of the people. There is a large expanse of undeveloped and underdeveloped land sparsely available for utilisation to produce crops under rainfed and irrigation. The land is blessed with plenty surface and underground waters for irrigated agriculture.

Studies show that most Katsina people are agrarian; less than 20% of irrigable land is cultivated and has a small agricultural productivity index. While these factors make agriculture a low-hanging fruit for Radda to pluck to obtain instant results, the sector requires careful, knowledge-driven planning and execution to make it a viable venture.

Thus, in the over 100 days of Radda, the governor came on board in the middle of the rainy season, consequently, only a little was done. However, the most outstanding agricultural issue is developing a 20-year irrigation master plan. In addition, there was a proposed bill before the state house of assembly to establish a State Irrigation Development Agency. It is hoped that attention will be given to this all-important sector. My article, “Sitting on a goldmine: Irrigation, a glorious future for Katsina state,” published in Blueprint of May 3, 2023, addressed a key component of agriculture.

During the period under review, Radda recorded a significant feat in the governance of local government areas by releasing their monthly federal subvention of N1.8 billion for capital projects. Evidently, one can notice the plethora of activities with respect to ongoing projects. Local government, as the third tier of government, is grassroots-based and thus closest to the people.

There are several other achievements, which time and space will not allow me to x-ray, but there are also a few pitfalls. The first was the dissolution of the service commissions whose members were yet to complete their tenure. Even at the federal level, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu dissolved university governing councils and commissions. This action violated the statutory laws which constituted such bodies.

Another pitfall was the unseen hands of the government in making the leadership of the state legislature, which weakens its power in oversight of the executive arm of government. The beauty of democracy is when all three arms of government – executive, judiciary, and legislature – constitutionally created as autonomous bodies, play their statutory roles of checks and balances without external interference, visible or invisible, covert or overt.

This brings the best dividends of democracy to the people, but not when one arm becomes a rubber stamp of the other. In Nigeria, the executive arm at both state and federal levels tries to woo the legislative arm by influencing the choice of “friendly” people to be the leaders of the legislative arm. That is why the executive leadership violates the constitution and disrespects laws without hearing a fearful word called “impeachment,” thereby short-changing the people.

In conclusion, no doubt, Radda has lofty ideas and plans to move Katsina state to Eldorado for the happiness and prosperity of the industrious and educated people of the state. Can he make it? As said earlier, he needs a visionary, dedicated, and hard-working team that shares his vision and aspirations and is ready to work to actualise his ideas and plans into tangible reality.

However, the assembly of such personalities takes a lot of work. It is because governance in Nigeria is inundated with yes-sir men and women who know the truth and what needs to be done to achieve the desired results but would instead look for the leader’s wishes and dance accordingly.

When the leader points at something and says, “This is white,” they will chorus, “It is the whitest thing ever.” Conversely, when he says, “It is black,” they will choir, “They have never seen the blackest thing in their lives.” This type of people are among the civil servants and politicians who work their ways to maintain their closeness with the leader. Radda must be wary of such personalities and keep a safe distance from them; otherwise, his dreams will remain pipe dreams.