It is an established fact that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) rode to power on the platform of numerous promises, promise that made Nigerians think and believe that once on the saddle, the party will, within the shortest possible time, change the fortunes of Nigeria and Nigerians for the better.
Indeed, this multiple campaign promises became the defining feature of the ruling APC. Following this pattern, one dominant feature of the campaign machineries that led to the eventual emergence of Governor Aminu Bello Masari as governor of Katsina state was the numerous promises anchored on the Restoration Agenda.
Masari rode on the crest of change with Restoration Agenda as his campaign slogan. Using the Restoration slogan, he pledged to restore the lost glory of Katsina state which according to him and indeed, his campaign handlers, had been battered by long years of PDP rule. Indeed, all throughout the campaigns, Masari said his mission was to restore the lost glory of the state and listed critical sectors of water supply, education, health, agriculture and security as his priority areas.
Specifically, Masari insisted that his mission was to return Katsina state to its glorious past, in those era where the state was reputed for being in the forefront in the area of education and agriculture. Basking in the euphoria of the emerging change, Masari said when elected, he would ensure his children and indeed those of other government officials would be sent to public schools just as his entire family and indeed those of government officials will patronise public health institutions.
As matter of fact, there is hardly any sector that never received deserved mention as far as campaign promises was concerned. Of course the restoration agenda, which is a product of the whirl wind that swept then ruling PDP off its feet received the popular support from the residents of Katsina state.
All through his campaigns, he had promised to accord topmost priority to critical sectors of health care delivery, education and agriculture among others, considering the fact that the trio form the fulcrum of every genuine development efforts. The Governor pledged to revamp health care delivery where he promised that his family and indeed, himself, will patronise public hospitals in the state just like any other average Katsina indigene and residents alike.
In the area of education, Masari said he would ensure massive recruitment of teachers and renovation of classrooms along with provision of teaching materials so as to make learning attractive and conducive. To encourage enrolment of primary school and subsequent retention, Governor Masari said his administration would introduce school feeding.
Other laudable pledges of Governor Masari which perhaps swung the pendulum to his side and earned him victory at the polls include his commitment to unchain local government councils and discontinue joint account, and, his pledge to ensure his children and indeed, those of all officials of his government attend public schools.
Masari had flayed local government joint account and specifically the previous government’s policy of executing uniform projects across the 34 local government areas of the state assuring that he would allow council areas to truly function as third tier of government that they indeed are as recognised by the constitution.
“We will only provide supervisory roles and ensure monies accruing to the council areas are utilised effectively for the good of all the people in the local government” Masari had enthused in one of his campaign outings. Plausible as his campaign promises may sound, one year down the line, Masari appears too far from fulfilling them.
Although he accorded topmost priority to the education by allocating the proverbial lion share to it in the 2016 budget, one year after and having said repeatedly that his priority is education, the Aminu Bello Masari led government is yet to engineer the needed change in the sector.
One of the well-known challenges of education in Katsina state is the dearth of teachers and indeed lack of teaching equipments. Obviously conscious of this, Masari pledged to recruit three thousand teachers as an interim measure. As a matter of fact, in his budget speech, the governor specifically hinted that copious provision has been made for the recruitment of teachers.
Lamentably however, one year into his four year tenure, the Masari led administration has not made good its promise to recruit teachers so as to kick start the process of restoring the much talked about lost glory of the education sector.
In the area of health where the state is facing what could best be described as serious dearth of health personnel, Masari said repeatedly that he would recruit health staff across all cadres.
But then, like the talk about recruiting teachers, the issue of staff in the health sector has been “all talk and no walk” as the government and indeed government officials kept saying the recruitment will soon commence without specifically defining how soon is the soon they are talking about.
Interestingly however, the Masari led government has commenced the process of upgrading, rehabilitating and remodelling three premier hospitals in the state –the general hospitals in Daura, Funtua and Katsina.
Like education, health and water supply, Masari said his administration would also accord deserved attention to agriculture which understandably, has been the mainstay of the economy of Katsina state.
As a matter of fact, over eighty percent of the close to seven million people tenanting Katsina state are farmers with the agricultural practice hovering between high subsistence farming and low commercial farming.
All through his campaigns, Masari said he would return agriculture to the front burner just as he pledged to revive the three moribund and utterly abandoned farm service centres, one each in Tambu, Kafin-soli and Daudawa villages of Daura, Kankia and Faskari local government areas of the state respectively.
But like his other promises, nothing tangible can be said about the revival of the farm service centres as a cursory look at the budget indicated that no provision was made for it in the 2016 budget.
However, the administration has some pluses to its advantage among which is the manner in which it successfully contain, or better still, bring to the barest minimum, the high incidence of cattle rustling.
Prior to the emergence of the current government, the menace of cattle rustling was at an alarming proportion, however, the state government undertook some measures which has drastically reduced the menace.
Interestingly, within the last one year, Masari earned a mark for himself when he began the process of offsetting the outstanding pension and gratuities of retired civil servants in the state. Masari said his administration inherited closed to eleven billion naira liability for pension and gratuity prompting him to secure N11 billion bail out fund to settle the debt.
Arguably, one of the major successes recorded by the Masari administration in Katsina state is the successful prosecution of the war on cattle rustling with the gains of the war being visible for all to see as life had fully returned to hitherto displaced communities.
Of course, among some of the strides recorded by Masari in the last one year is the successful convening of economic and investment summit aimed at attracting scores of investor s to the state.
As at the last count, the special adviser to Masari on foreign direct investment, Ibrahim Zakari Ibrahim said the over five hundred million dollar worth of investment had been attracted to the state through the summit which had President Muhammadu Buhari and major industry players in attendance.
Analysts asserts that if the gains of the summit are dutifully explored, the state would be on its way to becoming economically viable.
Beyond this, Masari has earned some fair marks in the area of school rehabilitation where a handful of primary schools have undergone rehabilitation.
Government officials hinted that concerted efforts are being made the area of capacity development for teacher just as plans have reached advanced stage to commence the recruitment of the much talk-about three thousand teachers.
As part of efforts to bolster the teacher strength, the Governor recently directed that local government staffs with teaching qualifications should be redeployed to primary schools.
While this is yet to take-off, it is generally believed that successful implementation of the policy will help in reducing the intolerably high teacher deficit in the state.
Interestingly, the administration earned some applause in the area of water supply when it awarded about two billion naira worth of contract for the upgrading of Ajiwa dam and water works so as to boost water supply to Katsina and environs.
It is on record that since its construction in the early seventies, the popular Ajiwa dam, which remained the major source of water supply to Katsina metropolis and environs never undergo rehabilitation. The Ajiwa dam was constructed in the early seventies but has not received upgrade since then owing to which there is a drastic drop in the volume of the water supply from the dam occasioned by obsolete equipment.
But respite appears to be at the corner as the government awarded contract for rehabilitation, pipeline, storage, treatment plant and access road to the dam as part of measures to improve water supply from the dam by strengthening the dam’s capacity to supply 50,000 cubic metre of water supply daily as opposed to the current 35,000.
(Culled from Leadership)