Using one stone to kill two birds is no doubt a popular saying in Nigeria, Africa and the World over. The above adage appeared to have manifested in the just concluded governorship election in Nasarawa state, a political contest that saw the declaration of the state Governor, Umaru Tanko Al-Makura and candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, winner of the election by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for another term in office, writes correspondent Peter Ahemba.
Prior to the general elections, political parties and their candidates in the state, including Governor Al-Makura of the APC had adopted their campaign strategies with the view to emerging victorious at the poll.
For Governor Al-Makura, it became obvious that it was difficult for him to be dislodged from the Shendam road Government House, Lafia as targeted by the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Grand Alliance, which were major challengers of the Governor just as majority of the people believed that the Governor has performed creditably in terms of infrastructure and other forms of developments and were convinced to re-elect him so as to enable him provide more dividends of democracy to the people of the state.
The Sate Universal Basic Education Board, NSUBEB, under the leadership of Alhaji Abdulkarim Usman Mohammed has been able to transform the education sector especially at the primary and secondary levels through the construction/renovation of classrooms and provision of furniture to enhance a conducive atmosphere for both teaching and learning. Government no doubt won the heart of the people especially parents and guardians through The Ta’al Model Schools.
Observers are of the view that the achievements so far recorded by Governor Al-Makura’s administration in terms of the provision of social amenities especially in the areas of water supply, job creation, health, education and other sub-sectors of the state’s economy would not have been successfully carried out without the complementary roles of the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, and the State Universal Basic Education Board, NSUBEB, in the state. Though it is true that a good number of projects were neither executed through MDGs nor NSUBEB, analysts argued that the history of infrastructure development under the present administration cannot be complete without the mention of the two agencies.
For instance, projects executed through the MDGs spreading across communities in the state according to the governor is in fulfillment of his social contract with the people; and in return, the gesture is seeing to have contributed immensely to the overwhelming support accorded the governor during his second term bid as it is said that one good turn deserves another.
There is no gainsaying that the MDGs programme, which rests on five core values in the millennium declaration of September 2000 is aimed at eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empowerment of women and reduce child mortality including improve maternal health. Findings revealed that the MDGs programme could not make the desired impact even as funds were accessed during the previous administrations in the state from 2007-2011. The year 2011 however marked a turning point in the state development drive with respect to the MDGs Conditional Grant Scheme, CGS. The timely and consistent release of counterpart funds by the state government and above all, the appointment of a University don in the person of Dr. Salisu Mohammed Raj as the Senior Special Assistant/Focal Person to the state Governor on MDGs have been some of the outstanding strategies adopted by the APC administration to achieve success in this regard.
Nigerian Pilot recall that on assumption of office by Dr. Salisu Raj as the MDGs boss in the state in 2011, the MDGs had under the Conditional Grants Scheme in 2011 constructed 54 Primary Health Care, PHC, facilities across the state, constructed 45X60 Perimeter fence work at the 54 facilities and drilled 54 Solar powered boreholes at the facilities including supply of hospital equipment, consumables and Drug Revolving Fund support to 39 pilot PHC facilities across the 13 Local Government Areas of the state.
Speaking in an interview with newsmen recently, Dr. Raj also disclosed that under the 2011 CGS to Local Government, the MDGs office had in compliance with a directive by the state Governor, sited a good number of projects in the poor rural communities with more than 100 of such projects in the areas of health, water, sanitation and education spread across some selected Local Government Areas. He enumerated the benefitting communities to include; Uttu in Toto LGA, Zalli in Wamba as well as Langalanga and Neko in Nasarawa LGA being some of the most remote communities with critical terrain.
“On poverty alleviation and job creation, the MDGs is in the forefront. The Project Support Unit in 2011 trained and engaged 60 Volunteer Health Workers and Education Extension Workers from Obi, Akwanga and Toto LGAs,” he further revealed.
According to him, 40 Village Health Workers drawn from four LGAs of Awe, Nasarawa-Eggon, Kokona and Nasarawa were equally trained and engaged under the 2012 Conditional Grants Scheme to Local Government, pointing out that during the same period, 12 Agro-based Cooperative Societies were selected, screened, trained and given grants worth N6million (6,000,000.00) to support and improve their business activities and livelihood. The 2013 CGS has also enabled the construction of Water Scheme at Nasarawa-Eggon LGA and rehabilitation of Toto Water Works with ongoing work at the abandoned one-storey male hostel of the School of Nursing and Midwifery, among other projects.
Perhaps the construction of what observers described as quality projects by the MDGs in the state has necessitated the sustained payment of counterpart funds and the commendations attracted from individuals and organisations. For instance, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on MDGs, Alhaji Hassan Ado Doguwa had on a tour of MDGs projects in the state alongside other members of the committee affirmed that MDGs in the state was the best in terms of choice of rural communities for sitting of projects.
“Gentlemen of the press, I must confess to you that I have not seen where MDGs projects have been spread in the interior communities like the way it is being done in Nasarawa state. It is indeed commendable.”
The lawmaker further said, “In most states you will find that some politicians hijacks MDGs projects and insists that such projects must be sited in their communities without minding communities that are truly suppose to benefit from such projects but I am happy that the case in Nasarawa state is entirely different.”
Analysts concluded that the MDGs and NSUBEB projects sited in virtually all communities especially those in the interiors of the state have no doubt earned Governor Al-Makura the second mandate and if this is anything to go by, it then mean that the governor has not only fulfilled some of his campaign promises to the people by addressing critical development challenges through the two agencies among other means but also through the gesture secured a second term in office. This undoubtedly qualified that Al-Makura has used one stone to kill two birds.