Monday 29 October 2012

How Katsina state is doing so much with so little

It is not magic; it is our ability to ensure judicious utilisation of scarce resources. Our budgets are usually based on 70 per cent capital expenditure and 30 per cent recurrent expenditure. This explains why we have been able to provide more infrastructure,’’ says Governor Ibrahim Shema.
By all accounts, Katsina state, carved out from old Kaduna state in 1987, has recorded great strides in terms of socio-economic and physical development.
Observers say that the state has undergone a remarkable transformation with good road networks, modern schools and hospitals, as well as steady water supply in urban and rural centres.
Most of the observers, however, believe that the state’s transformation reached a crescendo in the last five years of Gov. Ibrahim Shema’s administration.
They believe that the Shema-administration has succeeded in repositioning the state and its people for sustainable and pragmatic development.
Perceptive observers have been commending the state government for its vision, demonstrated specially in the establishment of a state-owned university - Umaru Musa Yar’adua University. 
Shema’s determination to boost the state’s infrastructure via the construction of a N12.5 billion 35km six-lane ring road in Katsina, the state capital, has also been widely commended by the citizens, who believe that the project will aptly place the state on a sound economic footing.
The people, perhaps, have justifiable reasons to shower encomiums on the governor, as many observers say that the state is fast becoming a model for other states in the North-west geopolitical zone of the country.
Available records indicate that the administration has so far constructed more than 832 kilometres of roads, in addition to over 1,000 feeder roads to open urban and rural communities to increased economic activities.
Rationalising the government’s huge investment in infrastructure development, Shema explains that the Katsina ring road project specifically aims at laying a solid foundation for the economic advancement of the state.
The governor, who reiterates his administration’s commitment to building a solid infrastructure in the state to facilitate the people’s economic empowerment, stresses that road constructions are part of the administration’s urbanisation programme.
He said recently: “So we look at the opportunities it would bring for job creation; we also look at its potential in facilitating Katsina city’s expansion. We don’t just construct roads without examining their usefulness.
“We are constructing a six-lane ring road in Katsina. Besides, we will provide electricity for the whole area. We will also provide boreholes along the way for water supply on both sides of the road.
“By now I am sure we have built 832 kilometres of roads across the state. This is in addition to over 1,000 kilometres of rural feeder roads that have been constructed.’’ Beyond that, Shema says that with the exception of Funtua, all the major roads in the seven original local government areas of the state have been dualized, in the context of the government’s urban renewal agenda.
Shedding more light on the ring road project, Mr. Mustapha Kankia, the Commissioner for Works, Housing and Transport, says that the project is being executed in 10 phases, the first seven phases having already been completed.
On the health sector, the governor says that his administration is assiduously working toward the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), particularly those relating to the reduction of child and maternal mortality, by 2015.
Shema says that several intervention programmes have been initiated by government to ensure the delivery of quality primary health care services to the people.
The health facilities which the state government constructed include the Turai Yar’adua Maternity and Children Hospital, 58 clinics and a 250-bed orthopaedic hospital, which is about 80-per-cent completed.
Other intervention programmes include the quarterly allocation of N100 million for the purchase of drugs to service the state’s Free Drugs Revolving Scheme and the continuous training of medical personnel.
Shema particularly underscores the government’s determination to eradicate polio and other child killer diseases in the state.
But here there is a problem, which the governor himself acknowledges. “There are challenges facing the vaccination, especially as it relates to polio. Recently, I authorised the release of more than N200 million to support the fight against polio.
“We are working very hard with international donor agencies, the Federal Government and our state Primary Health Care Development Agency to eliminate polio and other child killer diseases.
“We expend over N100 million per quarter to buy drugs and we still reduce about 25 per cent of the cost of the purchase to sell the drugs at subsidised rates to the people who need them.
“But essentially government has always paid very serious attention to the development and improvement of the health sector on a continuous basis,’’ he says.
Dr. Muhammd Qabasiyu, the Permanent Secretary in the sMinistry of Health, acknowledges the progress in the health sector.
He says that the administration has completed a 250-bed state-of-the-art orthopedic hospital in Katsina, noting that the hospital is the first of its kind in the entire northern region of the country.
Qabasiyu says that the administration has also established 58 health centres, while providing free health care services for pregnant women and children under the age of five.
Acknowledging these achievements, the Emir of Daura, Alhaji Umar Faruk Umar, insists that the state has never had it so good since its creation in 1987. 
The emir, who is the Deputy Chairman of Katsina State Traditional Council, particularly lauds the efforts of the Shema-administration for providing skills acquisition training for youths in the state.
Umar notes that the training has discouraged the beneficiaries from engaging in any form of anti-social activities.
He commends the administration for fulfilling its campaign promises in the last five years, noting that available records indicate that the governor has redeemed over 98 per cent of the promises he made when he assumed office in 2007.
Besides, the emir particularly commends Shema for ensuring the security of lives and property in the state.
Umar claims that the prevailing peace in the state has somewhat enabled the state government to execute people-oriented development programmes.
He pledges the sustained determination of traditional rulers to support the state government’s visionary programmes aimed at moving the state forward.
Analysts, nonetheless, commends the governor for his judicious utilisation of the state’s resources to foster the state’s development without recourse to internal or external borrowing.
Corroborating such views, Shema says that his administration has never borrowed money in the last five years to finance its projects.
“It is not magic; it is our ability to ensure judicious utilisation of scarce resources.
“Our budgets are usually based on 70 per cent capital expenditure and 30 per cent recurrent expenditure. This explains why we have been able to provide more infrastructure for our people,’’ he says.
On water supply, the state government has particularly achieved some shining achievements in the last five years, according to observers.
Alhaji Jamilu Danmusa, the Commissioner for Water Resources, corroborates such claims, saying that the government has so far completed 39 semi-urban water schemes.
He says that the schemes are in addition to 15 wind-powered boreholes constructed in each of the three senatorial districts of the state, adding that 1,600 motorised boreholes were also constructed across the state by the state government and the MDGs Office.
Danmusa expatiates that the state government is spending an average of N4.2 billion on water supply projects each year, noting that the government has achieved 60 per cent implementation of its budget on water supply this year.
All the same, observers urge the government to involve the private sector in all its development programmes.

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