Wonders, they say, shall never end. The people of Sokoto State are currently witnessing the latest bout of wonders aimed at hoodwinking the very intelligent people of the state into being backing a wrong horse.
In a flagrant show of desperation, the Governor Wamakko political machine inundated the peaceful and resilient people of the state with lavish display of party colours and portraits in a rabid bid to saturate the political space ahead of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) primary for the governorship election.
The state has experienced steady decline in the last four years in areas critical to the growth and development. For instance, the report by the National Basic Education Commission, (UBEC) indicating Sokoto’s woeful performance in primary education; coming first from the bottom of the 36 states of the federation, is indicative of the ‘concern,’ which the government has been paying to the future of the state.
In a state that is one of the worst culprits of the Almajiri syndrome, not to talk of a backward educational trend, the state government should have used this opportunity. According to UBEC, Sokoto has 66 percent of children aged six to sixteen who have never been to any school. Should a government be as insensitive to educational issues as this and still sings empty songs of praise in education upliftment?
To date, the government has refused to access the UBE funds, which outstanding for the state stands at billions, according to a report.
Tied to this is the plight of those who, in any case, missed primary education and who, today, swell the ever-expanding teams of hooligans, also known as “Area Boys,” whose jobs had been that of terrorizing the public in frightening dimensions under the watchful eyes of the state authorities.
In the area of agriculture, one would have expected that the government would focus concertedly on this sector, as it is the mainstay of the state’s economy. Rather, the output of this sector has stagnated. The ease with which farmers get fertilizer to improve on their crop yield is gone. For inexplicable reasons, they encounter needless difficulty in obtaining this vital commodity because of the highly inefficient method of its distribution.
If there is anything that has been harvested with enthusiasm in Sokoto, it is abandoned projects. There are indeed projects conceived and even began but have remained abandoned; certainly not the fault of the contractors but largely because the government has not been able to meet its own contractual obligations. Had the contractors defaulted, the big stick would have, at least, been swung at them.
These contracts include, the banking neighborhood flyover, which has been languishing unfinished for close to four years now; the first phase of the state university; the independent power project, IPP; the Sokoto – Illela Road; Sokoto Modern Abattoir; the NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp; the state Orthopedic Hospital; and the College of Agriculture and Animal Science. The state has never experienced a string of abandoned or delayed projects in its history.
It is well over six months now that an agreement was signed between the state and the South-American Breeding Company, an Argentine firm, for the take-off of a modern cattle breeding programme. To date, the issue remains on the drawing board. Why initiate and arouse public interest in projects the government knows it cannot execute?
There are the actual electioneering issues, not how intense party colors and portraits are lavishly displayed in apparent desperate move to cover up inefficiency.
Perhaps equally as perplexing is the manpower and resources expended in “commissioning” projects in the local governments. The introduction of pomp and ceremony to the “commissioning” of ordinary day-to-day infrastructure for the people lucky to have them shows clearly the desperate urge by the Wamakko administration to claim “achievement,” which is not, actually not because it is the entitlement of the ordinary people.
More worrying is the way the youths in the rural areas where these projects are “commissioned” are subjected to injuries by way of throwing money at them, just as a poultry owner would throw grains at his broilers.
It is instructive to recall that the immediate past administration’s loss at the polls is attributable, in part, to its neglect of workers’ entitlements, not even incentives.
The housing programme is in shambles; not the 2,000 housing units being branded all over the place but 500 in three years! How incredible.
No single industry was resuscitated or moved from the drawing board by the Sokoto government. Consequently, the state continues to wallow in unemployment of the youths, as well as portraying its low economic base because wealth is not being created.
An area that has equally suffered unquantifiable setback is the health sector in spite of the high-sounding programmes initiated and said to be directed at tackling the healthcare challenges of our people. Our people have never been far from healthcare than we now experience. The hospitals remain consulting clinics.
Harande Umar Guiwa lives in Wamakko Local Government Sokoto State.