If you engage Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State in a personal conversation, you will encounter personal and leadership depth. I have been lucky to witness his knowledge of Economics, Management, Public Governance, Politics and Human Development, among others. And to top it all, he is always busy building bridges of friendship, unity and investment in Kebbi State, steadfastly recovering the identity and character of indigenes who are mostly agrarian. While the agrarian aspect grabbed me initially, I also noted other areas.
Roads play very crucial roles in economic development and industrial growth and bring important social benefits. Undoubtedly, a sustainable good road network is a catalyst for sustainable economic development and is crucial in fighting poverty. Bagudu obviously understands this, and has engaged in total revolution of the road infrastructure, creating a concept that others states can emulate. At present, he is constructing 367 kilometres of road networks across the three senatorial districts of the state.
The 21 LGAs in the state have also witnessed road network construction and rehabilitation in the last three years, with each of them benefiting from at least two major arteries. This has effectively opened up the hinterlands for easy evacuation of agricultural commodities, with its ripple effect of expanding employment opportunities in the state. Already, the 30-kilometre road network in Augie LGA headquarters leading to Kebbi-Sokoto border has been completed. In Jega LGA, the road leading to Kyermi town has been completed with world class drainage, while the Kalgo 3.8 kilometre road has been completed.
In Aliero, Dakai, Bagudu and other major town, there has been a tremendous transformation which has drastically reduced influx of people to the state capital. According to the governor, if you provide good roads, quality and affordable health care system, even spread of social amenities, power, the living standard of the people will greatly improve and the rush to suffocate the capital city will not be there. The multiplier effect of this is that there will be enormous increase in farming, while self-run or private businesses will boom.
Bagudu pointed out that the National Council of Works which met recently in Birnin Kebbi has graciously directed the rehabilitation of the stretch spanning from the Nigerian border to Dolekaina in Niger Republic, adding that this corridor is critical given the ECOWAS treaty on trade facilitation. As we know Nigeria has a huge population with large market which is an advantage to our economy and neighbouring African Countries. When fully rehabilitated and the ECOWAS trade treaty implemented, smuggling will be a thing of the past.
It is a truism that the choices we make in power bear a correlation with the quality of life we live. Thus, to achieve sustainable energy and enhance the state’s industrial expansion programmes, there have been massive investments in the power sector. Part of this pace-setting initiative is on the tracking of the amount of energy consumed by every transformer in the state. This has helped in conserving energy especially areas that have low consumption level. This probably accounts for why multinational companies like Olam, Wacot, Dangote, and Dadingari have established functional rice processing and milling plants in Kebbi, making the state the largest producer of rice, onion and pepper in the country. And to boost this advantage to the economy of the state, agro processing industries are being encouraged to set up plants to curb wastage.
Bagudu also said the state has entered into partnership arrangement with an indigenous company to build a $300 million sugar processing plant along Augie-Zagi Road within the border region of Kebbi and Sokoto states. It is envisaged that when completed, it will provide at least 2,000 direct jobs and about 10,000 indirect jobs in the state. Also, to discourage rural-urban drift, the Anchor Borrowers Scheme which was launched in the state has become a stimulus scheme. Given that Aliero, Danwai, Geheru, Argungu and Augie form the agricultural production belt of the state, it has become propitious for the formation of co-operative societies at the ward level. Also, the state is discussing with financial institutions and other Federal Government intervention agencies to partner, to motivate farmers. Already, the state government has acquired harvesters, tractors, threshers and various farm implements for the co-operative societies. The governor has said that by 2019, rice sales from Kebbi will hit the N200 billion mark in a year.
I discovered, too, that Bagudu has overhauled the healthcare system in the state, ensuring that indigenes have access to comprehensive health facilities that are people-oriented. The needs of individuals and the communities have been adequately taken care of in this regard. One proactive approach employed by Gov. Bagudu is highlighted in his personal relationship with medical consultants all over Nigeria; a relationship that has provided succor to his healthcare delivery programme. These consultants have assisted the state in one way or the other. The state government also bought ambulances for emergency rescue while employing doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health workers with the belief that a healthy state has a growing and productive workforce. But perhaps most interesting to me is how the governor worked out an arrangement with the state branch of National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) in the 225 wards of the state, to take pregnant women about to deliver to the nearest health facility at no cost. This novel idea has drastically reduced child mortality rate in the state and wives are happier for it. How is Bagudu able to achieve these, given the meager allocation from the federation account? It’s obvious: Prudent management of resources and thinking out-of-the-box.
Nwamadi wrote in from Lagos.