Kebbi: Gov. Idris on the trail of his campaign promises 

Benjamin Franklin posited that “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest”. This perhaps was what Governor Mohammed Nasir Idris of Kebbi state had in mind when, in drafting his campaign manifesto, he made education a critical pillar of his leadership intervention. 

This education must be total, and so must encapsulate all forms, from vocational or skills-based turnaround education to formal education, every aspect requires the right kind of attention. This will be in keeping with the admonition of Professor Isa Ali Pantami, the immediate-past minister of communication and digital economy, on the need to also invest in skills rather just degrees. 

But to do as Pantami suggests, there must be a befitting baseline education that will serve as a platform atop which other forms of education can be hoisted. This is the entire gamut of the agitation for compulsory basic education. Sadly, even this basic education, for which both nomenclature and practice suggest should be a right for everyone, has remained elusive. 

Interestingly, the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal on education; Goal 4, to which Nigeria is a signatory, does not only canvass free, inclusive, and equitable education, but also quality education while promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all. The goal further underscores the fact that: “Education liberates the intellect, unlocks the imagination and is fundamental for self-respect. 

“It is the key to prosperity and opens a world of opportunities, making it possible for each of us to contribute to a progressive, healthy society. Learning benefits every human being and should be available to all”. Perhaps, no one understands this better than Governor Idris, a professional teacher whose advocacy and agitation for quality education for all is a matter of public knowledge.

I believe it was in pursuit of this sacred mandate that His Excellency set out to demonstrate his passion for the development of education in Kebbi state. He began with an in-depth assessment tour of all post primary schools in the state. As a direct fallout of that tour, the governor promised to establish mega schools in all the three senatorial zones of the state, with a fourth to be situated in Birnin-Kebbi, the Kebbi state capital.

However, because education is much more than just building schools, the governor has committed to improving teachers’ welfare. As a celebrated unionist, his comrade journey has always been about improving teachers’ welfare, while providing them with the necessary instructional and infrastructural facilities to make teaching and learning conducive and the whole experience interesting.  

Everyone who has followed the life of Governor Idris knows that even if the man fails in everything else, he will never fail in education, which is his constituency. No wonder, teachers and other stakeholders in the education value chain of Kebbi state have been expressing optimism that things would soon begin to look up for the sector and this is not so hard to see really.

The case of Governor Idris is that of someone who now has the opportunity to do that which he has been recommending from a distance. To use a simple Hausanism, he has both the knife and the meat and the people of Kebbi reckon he will cut for them nice slices for the now and future of their children not just in education, but other sectors.

For instance, Governor Idris’ commitment to improving the civil service shone very brightly recently when he released N10 billion for the completion of the state secretariat. This is no mean commitment, considering the edifice has been in the works for only God knows how long but has been abandoned by past administrations for reasons best known to them.

Yet, there’s no gainsaying the fact that the place offers a conducive working environment necessary to enhance the morale and productivity of staff. Already, staff have been energised in anticipation of the momentous completion of that project that is sure to change the face of work of Kebbi state.

Another sector that has been receiving Governor Idris’ signature attention is agriculture. Idris is now on record as the first governor in this generation to distribute over 100,000 tonnes of assorted fertiliser free of charge to farmers. This is, for want of a better term, exemplary. At his budget presentation, the governor made a special case for agriculture when he averred that the budget aims “to enhance agricultural and mineral resource productivity through access to improved technologies, finance and services to increase income generation and provide food security as well as poverty reduction.

It makes sense. This is because Kebbi state has comparative advantage in the production of many farm produce and it’s only natural that agriculture be repositioned not just for subsistence purposes, but also for commercial cultivation. It gladdens the heart that the governor believes, like many of us do, that it is time for agriculture to take its pride of place as the mainstay of Kebbi’s economy.

With President Bola Tinubu making concerted efforts to encourage investment in agriculture, Kebbi farmers can benefit immensely from whatever funding facility the federal government may make available. This is perhaps why the governor is taking proactive measures to improve the credit ratings of Kebbi farmers in a bid to position them for whatever investment the government at the centre is putting together.

Kebbi is witnessing a renaissance of sorts. Roads are getting constructed all over the state, schools are receiving the most attention in a long while, where the civil service is getting a necessary boost. Agriculture is being rejigged as farmers smile to the bank. I dare say there’s no better time than now to hail from Kebbi state.

Na-Iro writes from Birnin-Kebbi, Kebbi state