By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor
IT is one of the great contradictions of present day Nigeria. On the eastern flank of Northern Nigeria, merchants of death fight to enthrone a philosophy to crush education under the aegis of Boko Haram, that is Education is sin.
On the other flank in the North-West, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State has heralded a contrary philosophy that compels compulsory education for all children that has been termed Boko Dole, that is Education is by force.
Governor Tambuwal started his crusade against illiteracy with the declaration of a state of emergency on education and the constitution of a technical committee charged with reversing the neglect of education.
In the wake of the emergency, Governor Tambuwal did the unusual by allocating a princely N34.5 billion of the 2016 state budget, the first prepared under his watch, to education. That amount represented 29 per cent of the total budget of the year, 2016.
Free and compulsory education
That philosophy was maintained the following year when education again topped the sectoral allocations with N38.4 billion representing 27.3 per cent of the year’s budget.
Governor Tambuwal’s passion for the education of his people was underlined by the enactment of the Right to Education Law spearheaded by him which stipulates free and compulsory education for all children between the ages of six and 18 years.
Even more, the law makes it a criminal offence for parents not to send their wards to school.
Governor Tambuwal’s revolution in the sector was matched with the increase in education infrastructure.
It was in that light that the administration after one year of its lifespan removed the shame on the state when it established a N1.2 billion secondary school in Gudu Local Government Area. Until June 2016, Gudu Local Government Area had the ill-repute of being the only Local Government Area in the country without a secondary school.
One approach to improving the level of education in the state is the ongoing project to build 40 new model secondary schools across the state. The model schools are to serve as centres of excellence in the senatorial zones of the state.
Besides education infrastructure, the Tambuwal administration has also boosted quality with the focus on the training of education officers and teachers, a development that has seen hundreds of teachers being sent on local and international training workshops.
The efforts of the governor have understandably drawn the attention of international intervention agencies including UNESCO, UNICEF among others. It was no surprise that the governor in May, 2018 received the UNESCO 2018 Education Solutions Stakeholders Award which was in recognition of his contributions to the education sector.
While the strides by the governor in the education sector have been phenomenal, his efforts in other sectors have been no less. In health, agriculture, industrialisation and road constructions, the Tambuwal template has attracted attention from far and near. Among the initiatives that have won the governor and Sokoto State laurels in the health sector is the effort in strengthening the primary healthcare system in the state.
Given the impetus towards disease prevention under the PHC system, the Tambuwal administration has through a system of networking with federal, state and local governments, strengthened the disease surveillance and emergency response system in the state.
This has led to the noticeable decrease in the spread of common diseases and ailments such as gastro-enteritis, measles, CSM and malaria.
Governor Tambuwal’s focus on the health sector saw to it that Sokoto State under his watch became the best-performing state in the country in the National Logistic Supply Chain Integrated Programme in 2016. One of the innovations the governor introduced was the establishment of a Central Ambulance Service in the state as part of the Emergency Response Team, ERT.
Emergency response system
Besides, the Tambuwal administration has made remarkable efforts in boosting health infrastructure with the renovation and construction of PHC Centres across the country, renovation of the Central Medical Stores, sponsorship of the training of hundreds of serving and new health practitioners within and outside the country among many new health programmes.
The administration has also quietly adopted policies to boost rice farming in the state with the distribution of at least 981,000 kg of improved rice seedlings to farmers. That is besides the distribution of farm inputs such as fertilisers to farmers.
The imprints of the Aminu Waziri Tambuwal administration in Sokoto State have largely changed the psyche of the people and oriented them towards a future that was until not too long ago, seen as an Eldorado.
For his efforts in using projects and programmes of government to enhance the wellbeing of his people, the Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal wins the Governor of the Year Award, 2018.