As he rounds off the third year of his second term in office in three months’ time, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State could as well begin to roll out the drums ahead of the May 29, 2022 date in celebration of his laudable achievements in the seat of the Caliphate. Since he was sworn in on May 29, 2019 for the second term, the ebullient and ever smiling governor has left no one in doubt that he was committed to a broader policy direction for the next four years but also consolidating the gains recorded during his first tenure between 2015 and 2019.
Today, one of the poster boys of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, governors has made giant strides towards turning Sokoto to a remarkable state.
Tambuwal’s scorecard not just in three years but seven could be seen in all sectors, but more appropriately premised around three critical spheres: Education, Economy and Infrastructure. And instructively, the remarkable improvements in all sectors since he took over as Governor of Sokoto State in 2015 are testaments to his careful policy choices and diligent implementation.
When he mounted the saddle in 2015, Tambuwal saw deplorable education indices across the state. He saw that the decay in the educational sector had almost engulfed the state. Thus, he was determined to arrest the ugly situation.
Barely six months after he assumed office he declared a State of Emergency on Education sector in December 2015. Early in the following year, the Right to Education Bill 2016 was signed into law. The new law made education a justiciable right and made it illegal for children to be out of school by the actions of their parents.
For proper implementation of the new order, the fledgling administration embarked on massive school renovation and building of special schools. These were promptly handed over to the Local Government Councils to manage while the State provided fund.
Tambuwal’s transformation in the education sector since 2015 is legendary in Sokoto State. A bird’s eye view:
- Between 2016 and 2019, two Junior Secondary Schools were built in each of the 23 Local Government Areas in the state while four Junior Secondary Schools were built in the State Capital.
- Renovation of 1500 Primary Schools and 180 Junior Secondary Schoolsare currently ongoing and have reachedover 70% completion.
- The administration has consistently provided not below 26% of yearly budget for education. This is above UNESCO’s benchmark of between 15% and 20%for education.
- Over 600,000 children have been enrolled in school since 2016 with a consistent rise in the number of children getting back to school. Most importantly Tambuwal’s government has focused on getting more girls into school, improving the lives and chances of women within the state.
- Between 2016 and 2017, there was a 4.4% increase in the number of enrolment of girls into primary schools.
- The administration created an Agency for Girl Child Education which focuses on getting more girls into school by engaging with their parents and communities on the importance of educating the girl child. Following a combination of community enlightenment and cash backed incentives, there has been a massive increase in the number of enrolment of girls into schools across the state.
- The government achieved remarkable increase in enrolment of girls into school with the government constructing more girls only schools across the 23 local government areas.
- Government Science Senior Secondary School has been built in grand style across the three senatorial districts which would allow direct entry for girls who had finished from the junior secondary schools within the state.
- Barely a year after he took over, the number of girls enrolled at junior secondary schools within the state stood at 71,132 in 2016 compared to22,021in 2012.
- Enrolment into senior secondary had also increased from 22,755 in 2014 to 27,004 in 2017.
- Recognising that early marriage is a setback to girls’ school enrolment, in November 2021, 18 years after the passage of the Child Rights Act 2003, the Sokoto State Government joined the rest of Nigeria in domesticating the Child Rights Act. Tambuwal achieved this after nearly six years of painstaking engagement with stakeholders. This is considered a great feat in the most conservative part of Northern Nigeria, the seat of the Caliphate.
In the past six years, the Tambuwal Administration has frontally confronted the infrastructure deficit in his State. Before his emergence on the scene, Sokoto and Kebbi States had the lowest levels of access to potable water at 38 percent and 39 percent respectively. But Aminu Tambuwal is deftly tackling the problem.
In collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development, USAID, the administration has provided safe drinking water for over 30 formal and non-formal primary schools and learning centres in the state. About 700 towns and villages across the 23 local government areas now have potable water. This is in addition to the 1.5 million litre per day of water projects provided in all the headquarters of the 23 local government areas.
The health sector has received considerable attention as well. Last year, the government inaugurated, launched and completed the multi-billion NairaSokoto State Advanced Medical Diagnostic Centre in Farufaru. The diagnostics centre was set up to intervene in providing first-rate medical services in the state. It boasts of cutting-edge medical equipment and technologies to rival some of the best across the world.
The previous year, in late 2020, work commenced on the 1,060 bed space Sokoto State University Teaching Hospital project. Work is ongoing at a very fast pace. The sum of N10 billion has been set aside by the state government for the hospital. Instructively, the Teaching Hospital will be the largest in West Africa. It is linked to three 150-bed capacity new premier hospitals situated in each of the senatorial districts in the state, which are in Binji, Sabon Birni and Tambuwal, and would serve as an accessible referral for patients from the rural areas. Hitherto, the hospitals served the rural demographics at the mercy of primary health care centres or the distant urban hospitals.
Governor Tambuwal in partnership with the World Bank committed N8.8billion in 10 LGAs to address the perennial erosion, flood and other complex environmental challenges in the state which have affected existing infrastructure and livelihood of the people. The projects include rehabilitation of Lugu dam and Wurno irrigation scheme in Wurno LGA, control of river erosion along the bridge linking Sabon Birni and Niger Republic, construction of medium earth dam at Rafin Duma and Kadassaka area in Gada LGA, and construction of main collector drainage and gutter from Tudun Wada area to River Sokoto in Sokoto South LGA. All the projects have been completed.
Other notable projects include the construction of drainage gutter at Goronyo Dam and construction of earth dam and afforestation activities to mitigate erosion menace in Ungushi District of Kebbe LGA.
Similarly, other projects are at advanced stages of completion. Among these are construction of drainages, earth dams and land reclamation across multiple locations in Tambuwal LGA; construction of drainages, earth dam, afforestation activities to control erosion of Durbawa in Kware LGA; construction of earth dam, drainage and afforestation activities to check flood and erosion in Sifawa in Bodinga LGA as well as construction of drainage gutters to alleviate flood in Wamakko LGA.
To improve transportation in the state, many critical economic roads have been completed and these have enhanced economic and social activities in the state. Among these are Bachure – Falu, 5.6km’ Tambuwal township roads; Tashar Iillela road; Gidan Igwai road; Sokoto Metropolis roads; Ugwamrogo road; Maituta road; Jemeta township roads; dualization of Sultan Ibrahim Dasuki road; Runjin Sambo roads.
Others include Agaiye, FGC-NNPC – Mabera Salame; Guiwa low cost; Jaiz Bank; Ubandoma; Tsafe; Katsina; Keystone Bank; Gidado; Bodinga; Justice Ladan Tsamiya, Sani Dingyadi; Barth and State Library roads.
It is worthy to note that gradually, Governor Aminu Tambuwal is changing the economic landscape of Sokoto State. The 2018- 2019 survey by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, placed Sokoto State as the poorest in Nigeria with 87.7% of its population within the poverty basket. With a population of about 5.3 million persons, this means that 4.6 million of its population is poor. Although many people in Sokoto doubt the veracity of this NBS report, given the sample size of 22,110 households used for the survey from a population of over 200 million of the Nigerian populace, the PDP administration is doing a lot to turn things around.
The current administration has increased internally generated revenue, IGR, by 238% between 2015 and 2020. “This continuous growth has been very significant. This is a positive mark on the Tambuwal administration,” a government official noted.
Although Sokoto’s debt stock has grown significantly, it still remains the second lowest in the country. “This growth is justified by the significant increase in infrastructure development which the state government is currently undertaking. Having the second lowest debt profile in the country, qualifies the state to be able to take on more loans to allow for further development,” the official said.
Fiscal transparency, accountability and sustainability has been a cardinal focus of the Tambuwal Administration. In this respect, the World Bank granted Sokoto State Government $1.5million for its commitment to the implementation of the States’ Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability, SFTAS.
The state government clinched the grant after its astronomical score in the SFTAS ranking from 2/5 in 2019 to 14/15 in 2020, which puts it among the top three states in the country to achieve such.
Notably, Sokoto is one of the few states in Nigeria to have operationalized its Treasury Single Account, TSA, covering at least 60% of its finances
The Tambuwal Administration has taken the issue of Ease of Doing Business seriously. In the “States Ease of Doing Business Survey Results” by PEBEC in collaboration with KPMG Nigeria, Sokoto State scored 6.88. Between 2015 and 2018 the state has implemented reforms making it easier to enforce contracts. Within the period also, the state has fast-tracked commercial dispute resolution by introducing a frontloading procedure as part of its 2015 High Court rules
It is instructive to note that the Tambuwal administration despite paucity of funds, ensures that workers and pensioners, receive their salary and pensions as at when due.
Governor Tambuwal’s management of the Covid-19 crisis also marked him out as a leader to watch out for. Even with the meagre resources available to the state, he increased the hazard allowances of health workers in the state by 100 percent. Also, he recalled all the retired health workers in the state: medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, laboratory attendants, among others to help in the fight against the pandemic.
To take care of those recalled, Tambuwal directed the state Commissioner for health, Dr. Muhammed Ali Inname, to place all of them on their last salary before retirement.
To further contain the scourge, the state government launched a volunteer scheme against the spread of Covid-19. Sokoto remains the only state to do so. During the launching of the scheme at the International Conference Centre, Sokoto, Governor Tambuwal disclosed that the proposed allowances to be given to the volunteers would be doubled in appreciation of the workers’ solidarity and selfless service.
Such deft managerial acumen has ensured that Sokoto is one of the few states where health workers have never for once embarked on either warning or total strike, even for a day since the coming of Tambuwal.
It is therefore not surprising that Aminu Waziri Tambuwal’s outstanding strides in the development of Sokoto State have earned him accolades and awards from many quarters. Among these are the Tribune Platinum Torch Bearer, Silverbird Television Man of the Year, etc.