By Emeka Nwankpa
This year’s prestigious Dr. Kenneth Kaunda Foundation African Consciousness Leadership Award expectedly to Mal. (Dr.) Isa Yuguda, the Bauchi State Governor as Africa’s Best State Governor in Education and Infrastructural Development has thrown the state into a strange frenzy.
On Saturday, November 9, 2013 when the governor was expected to be in Mandela Hall, Burger’s Hotel in Pretoria, South Africa to receive the award, he was playing host to Vice President Namadi Sambo who paid a two-day state visit to Bauchi state. Nonetheless, the award is an international approval of his efforts at raising the human capital index in his state.
Instead, his Special Adviser on Inter Governmental Affairs and National Assembly Liaison, Hon. Farouk Mustapha was in South Africa to receive the coveted award on his behalf.
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi got the Best Central Bank Governor while the Speaker, House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal got the Best Speaker Award respectively.
South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and Nigeria’s former Special Representative to the United Nations, Alhaji Yusuf Maitama Sule, the Danmasani Kano ,among others,were past awardees.
The awards were instituted by the Foundation named after Zambia’s first post-apartheid leader, Dr. Kenneth Kaunda who attended the capacity crowd event. The Foundation said that the awards are given to deserving personalities who distinguish themselves in worthy ventures. Such personalities are chosen by diligent assessors with proven integrity.
Gov. Isa Yuguda’s achievements in Bauchi State are phenomenal and his administration is a reference point in contemporary governance excellence.
Before venturing into politics, he had a successful career as a professional banker and administrator rising to be the Managing Director of the former Inland Bank (now FinBank) and NAL Merchant Bank. He came face to face with sordid details of several young men and women who could not even meet their most basic needs. He discovered that while some only needed a platform to realize their ambitions others became thugs as self-help. To him, their needs centered around developing the mind.
Soon as a minister, he thought it was an opportunity to affect the lives but he realized that he needed a people-driven platform back home. By now, agitations to draft him fully into the governorship race in 2007 had become very strong. When he heeded the call, the people made up largely of youth and women began to see the end of their years of misery. They massed into a formidable shield around him. A people’s army soon emerged. The incumbent’s candidate lost to Isa Yuguda who, with a sucker punch got his assistant to defeat the incumbent in a dramatic senate race.
Backgrounding Isa Yuguda’s governance success story is necessary to capture the essence of this award. It was clear to him that he had a popular goodwill that should not be squandered. This realisation has dogged all his actions since 2007 when he emerged as the fourth democratically elected governor of the state.
He also realized early enough that his take-off point was to fix the state’s human capital index which was very pathetic. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Report on Nigeria had classified Bauchi as the poorest State in the country. It only took the Yuguda Administration a year of immediate focused investment in priority areas to get the World Bank reverse itself 12months after to rate Bauchi as the most investment–friendly state in Nigeria. This is just one outcome of a man’s visionary, dogged and articulate leadership.
To be sure, the pre-Yuguda dispensation was scary and alarming. Infrastructure in all critical sectors especially education was comatose. The percentage of school-age children out of school was about 52 percent between the ages of 5 and 16 years. 89 percent of them were unable to read. The general high illiteracy level put at 60.5 percent (49.7 percent male and 71.5 percent female) was lamentable.
Many communities lacked schools and classrooms for pupils left to study under trees while dilapidated boarding facilities and inhabitable classrooms without desks dotted the state. Primary school pupils and secondary school students sat on logs of wood and stones and wrote on bare floor. Teachers’morale and motivation dropped. Unqualified teachers increased. Books and teaching aids became a luxury. General decay gripped the sector resulting in poor performance in examinations. The governor quickly declared a state of emergency in the education sector increasing its budget from paltry N2.6b it met in 2007 to N11.6b in 2008.
The governor turned to the thousands of youths and women, fondly called ‘Yan Sara Suka” who railroaded his election. The move was not compensatory but compelling to re-engineer and re-orientate them from political thuggery towards unlocking their potentials for productive ventures. Over 150, 000 have benefited so far costing over N10 billion.
He declared a free education policy in all public primary and secondary schools, gave free books and paid school certificate examination fees for students. He renovated several schools, built boreholes, increased feeding allowances by over 300 percent, reviewed scholarship for students in higher local and foreign institutions by over 100 percent at over N3b and built over 100 Sa’adu Zungur Model primary schools accommodating over 6,000 pupils thereby boosting primary and nomadic education in the State.
Vice President Namadi Sambo, while commissioning model Tsangaya Schools built for displaced Almajiri children to be integrated into formal education praised the governor and urged other states in the North to follow suit. Over 20,000 malams mentoring the children are now on the state’s payroll while 620 more schools are being built to complement the existing 220 that have 35,531 pupils.
Girl-child education is active in all 20 local councils of the state. Six secondary schools for married women were established in all six emirates of the state to increase the literacy level of the women.
The State Universal Basic Education Board (SUPEB) has constructed over 250 blocks of classrooms, 19,567 sets of pupils furniture, 70,000 desks, 132 hand pump – fitted boreholes, 2,769 teachers’ tables, 130 boreholes and 75 library blocks. Enrolment of primary school pupils rose to over 737, 259 and 137, 280 in junior secondary school respectively with total teaching staff strength now put at over 20,434.
The government sponsored 21 students for training as pilots and aircraft maintenance engineers in the United States of America at N160 million annually while 23 females and 15 males of Bauchi State origin were sent to Egypt to study medicine.
Emeka Nwankpa contributed this piece from Abuja.
Category: Bauchi State News