When Zamfara State was created 20 years ago, only a few analysts gave her any chance of survival or meaningful development. But through visionary leadership and good governance, the state has proved all doubters wrong by standing shoulder to shoulder with her peers across the federation with impressive development in education, infrastructure, information technology, agriculture and the health sector.
As Zamfara State gets set to roll out the drums in celebration of its 20th anniversary next week, it is fitting to briefly dwell on some of the laudable strides of the Governor, His Excellency, Hon. (Dr) Abdul Aziz Yari Abubakar.
In an era where most states are riddled with one problem or the other, Zamfara State has stood tall like a colossus under the leadership of his excellency, Governor Abdul'aziz Abubakar Yari who has transformed the state with sterling achievements since assuming office in 2011 and as the state turns 20, it won't take a genius to know that this state is on the path to greatness as what it has achieved so far is only a tip of the iceberg.
For an administration that inherited a lot of challenges ranging from; huge infrastructural deficit to high level of poverty and illiteracy and low economic viability, Governor Yari was not a man to whine and complain, instead, picking his tools and setting the state on the path of recovery. Today, Zamfara state stands tall among Northern states in the country.
In the first year of this administration, the government constructed and commissioned 300 blocks of classrooms across the 14 local governments in the state. As if that wasn't enough, a 7,000 fully equipped ICT teachers capacity training center was also constructed in Gusua, the state capital.
Still in the area of education, girl child education has also received a major boost recording highest enrollment in two years while the ICT component of secondary education in the state has got the eyes of the international community. Government Girls College, Talata Marafa, was recently equipped with state of the art facilities while provisions for Arabic school and continuing education for married women have also been put in place.
On the 29th of May, in commemorating Democracy Day, the Minister for Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola commissioned the 2.5 MVA 33KV/11 substation in Anka town in the state to boost electricity supply and aid commercial activities within the state.
Governor Yari Abubakar has also left his administration’s imprimatur in the agriculture, and health sectors. Once he had assumed the reins in 2011, the Governor left no one in doubt that water provision was going to be a key developmental challenge he was willing to tackle head on. Like most States in arid and rural Nigeria, potable drinking water was a key problem in Zamfara. Water borne diseases were rife and women and girls trekked for hours to scoop untreated and filthy water from ponds and streams.
Within a couple of months on the saddle under his belt, the Yari Abubakar administration had completed the N636m Kaura-Namoda water treatment plant. In one year, the administration had awarded a N6.7bn contract for the construction of a water treatment plant in Talata Mafara.
Development experts tie access to potable water to development and economic empowerment, especially in developing economies. It’s easy to see why 37 percent of the 884 million people around the world who lack access to safe drinking water, reside in Sub-Saharan Africa. Almost two in three people who require safe drinking water, survive on less than $2 a day. Persons without access to clean water are burdened with poverty and underdevelopment. Worse, their health and education suffers as a consequence!
A common sight as one traverses the 14 local councils of Zamfara today, are giant water supply reservoirs powered by solar energy. The water schemes from Kasuwar Daji, to Rini, to Maradu have positively affected the livelihoods of the locals and spurned something of an economic rebirth in Zamfara.
Of the six states created in 1996, Zamfara has made arguably the most progress in rural health care and girl child education. Before the Yari Abubakar administration, scant attention was paid to getting girls of school age out of the farms and markets and into schools. The school enrolment figures for the girl child in the North of Nigeria, is proportional to the low development indices in the region. The Governor has always recognized this nexus and sought to address the imbalance.
With meagre resources at his disposal, Governor Yari Abubakar has managed to embark on key developmental projects with positive impact on the people of Zamfara State. The investment in education, especially girl child education, has paid off with the highest enrolment figure in the last two years.
Provision has also been made for Arabic schools and continuing education for married women to ensure that all groups are represented in the education net of the administration. The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) component of education has also received a shot in the arm under Yari Abubakar. The Government Girls College in Talata Mafara was recently equipped with state of the art facilities. 300 blocks of classrooms across all 14 local governments in the State were wearing new looks in the Governor’s 1st year. A 7,000 capacity teacher training centre has been constructed in Gusau, the state capital. The structure is equipped with ICT facilities.
When Governor Yari Abubakar took his oath of office on May 29 2011, Zamfara State was confronted with huge infrastructural deficit, high level of poverty and illiteracy and low economic viability. Today, he has turned the situation around and Zamfara has developed into a key state in North West Nigeria.
There may have been missed opportunities, but there is little doubt on the streets of Gusau and elsewhere in the State, that under Abdul Aziz Yari Abubakar, Zamfara is headed somewhere.
Roll out the drums then, shall we, because 20 years after Sani Abacha granted the status of a State to the former Sokoto enclave, things are looking up again - as they should.