In these days of clannish foreboding and apprehension, in which revolution has become an odious and abhorrent expression, it may not be a treasonable eulogy to describe His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Governor of Sokoto State, as a revolutionary of exceptional amplitude. Since 2015 when he was elected governor, Tambuwal has been on a silent, but remarkable battle against poverty, injustice and underdevelopment in the state; transforming lives and the landscape of the seat of the Caliphate. These achievements are mainly unreported or underreported.
However, observers, political opponents and other stakeholders have been wondering how despite the lean resources of the state from federal allocations and the pervading harsh economic predicament in the country, the state has managed to successfully implement the millennium sustainable goals, thereby instituting development and progress.
This, of course, is the unmistakable testimonial of the diligence, hard work, dedication, foresight and assiduity of Governor Tambuwal who is proactively replicating the dynamism, enterprise and invectiveness he brought to bear on the House of Representatives while he served as the Speaker of the reverential 7th Assembly.
This testimonial, received a more excellent applause when early last year, his mandate for a second term was renewed by his people, to enable him consolidate on all major achievements and the solid foundation he laid during the first tenure for greater socio-economic development, particularly on the policies that have direct impact to the need and aspirations of his people.
Indeed, one would reason that for a state where the legislature is controlled by the opposition, there would be constant altercations and that governance would be a thug-of-war as is the experience in other states. But this is not so for Sokoto where all the stakeholders have chosen statesmanship and patriotism over and above partisan considerations.
This unbroken executive-legislative cord is seen by many as a major turning point in the history of governance in the state. In fact, the serenity and cooperation he is enjoying attest to Governor Tambuwal’s purpose-driven, all-inclusive leadership in which justice, equity and unity are the fundamental objectives of the government.
Given this atmosphere of concord, one of the most glaring achievements of the governor has been on education. Always mindful of the immutable words of late global icon, Nelson Mandela, to the effect that education is the most powerful weapon to change the world, Governor Tambuwal has invested lavishly on education.
It is recalled that in 2015 when he took over the reins of leadership in the state, educational statistics and culture in Sokoto ranked it as one of the poorest in the country, having fallen short of global benchmarks. He soon got down to work, having promised during electioneering that he would make education a priority.
A promise keeper, Tambuwal lived his words and declared an emergency on education. Aging, dilapidated schools were renovated while new model schools were built. New teachers were recruited and the old ones re-motivated and their conditions of service improved.
Today, the education sector in the state has been so revamped that it has become a model for other states. It is worthy to note that out of the N202.4 Billion budget for the 2020 fiscal year, education got 24 per cent of the entire budget with N47.8 billion, followed by Health with N21.9 billion representing 11 per cent and Agriculture with N12.4 billion representing 6.14 per cent.
While assenting the 2020 budget, the governor assured the people of Sokoto State of his commitment to policies and programmes that would have relevance to their needs and aspirations and that the policy thrust of the budget was to ensure sustainable economic development through substantial investment in critical sectors.
One of such is the setting aside of N4billion as grants – not loan – for 1,000 persons in each of the state’s 22 LGAs.
At N20,000 for each beneficiary to shore up their small scale businesses, men and women benefit in equal measure, at 500 persons each.
So far, 2,000 men and women have gotten the grant in Gudu and Isa LGAs.
Notedly, the Tambuwal Leadership Model is beginning to attract the attention of the very critical Nigerian media and social commentators. Just on the very first day of this year, 2020, Tambuwal was deservedly announced as the Silverbird Man of the Year. The media conglomerate said the Sokoto state governor was chosen for the award for his “efforts in infrastructure development and uplifting the education sector in Sokoto state”.
In deed, one sector in which Governor Tambuwal is focusing attention – devoid of the usual media blitz – is the rapid industrialisation of Sokoto state.
Desirous to change the civil service status of the state, he has over the last four years been engrossed in attracting several job-providing and wealth creation businesses to the state.
With many of this hitherto silent initiatives beginning to bear fruits, many visitors to the seat of the Caliphate are now left in awe, wondering how, with meagre federal allocations, he has been able to positively turn around the fortunes of the state.
One of such high profile visitors were the Nigerian Guild of Editors, who were in Sokoto for the 15th All Nigeria Editors Conference, between Wednesday, November 27 to Sunday, December 1, 2019.
On a facility tour of the state during the visitors, the Editors could not help but marvel at the ingenuity of Governor Tambuwal in opening up Sokoto for business, at a time when existing outfits in some other states were closing shop largely due to administrative indifference.
Among the several concerns operating optimally in the state, and engaging the local workforce, as well as swelling the state’s internally generated revenue, is the strategic partnership between the Cement Company of Northern Nigeria and the BUA Group.
Trading under the brand name, Sokoto Cement, work is currently at about 80 per cent completion of the company’s new three million metric tonnes per annum Kalambaina Cement Line 2 project.
With an existing 1.5 million MTPA Line 1 already in operation, and the 500,000 MTPA Sokoto Cement Plant, the boost to the local economy value chain can only be imagined.
Worthy of mention too is the two-pronged Dangote Group presence in Sokoto facilitated by Governor Tambuwal, who gave out land as incentive.
These consists of the 25 hectares Rice Outgrowers Scheme located around Goronyo, Nigeria’s second largest dam, and the Dangote Rice Mill sited in Runji village, Kware LGA.
While about 5,000 outgrowers of rice have already been engaged, the Mill on the other is designed to process 32 metric tonnes of rice per hour, and a combined capacity to process 250,000 metric tonnes per year.
Then, there is also the Phosphate Blending Plant, a partnership between the Sokoto State Government and OCP Group of Morocco.
Other related phosphate value chain products such as inorganic fertiliser companies, feed mills, phosphoric acid factory and many other ancilliary businesses are expected to spring up therefrom.
Other similar initiatives include the partnership with Pan African Entreprise, a British company, to establish a Tannery and Shoe factory in Sokoto; the Goronyo Sugar Factory, for which the first and second seed multiplication farms have been completed and machinery currently been awaited from India; and several local investors who continue to receive support from Governor Tambuwal.
Essentially the grand design, besides seeking to reflate the local economy, is to ultimately create more and more jobs, thereby creating wealth for both individuals, corporate concerns and the state.
Tambuwal’s magic touch has also had to bear on housing, energy and power (State IPP), roads, health, rural and community development, agriculture, water resources and mining.
At no time in the history of the state have doctors enjoyed recognition and a relationship that has brought out the professionalism in them than the Tambuwal administration. In fact, many of them have been engaged and sponsored for medical studies in foreign universities under the Higher Education Scheme Programme. This initiative has impacted on the Sokoto State Strategic Health Plan for which began in 2016.
Hundreds of civil servants have benefitted from home renovation through loans guaranteed by the government and expended through the Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria (FMBN). Also, over 2000 housing units have been completed and given out to the citizens.
Pensioners in the state have also enjoyed the best of times as their retirement benefits are paid promptly.
Available statistics indicate that a million jobs have been created by the administration in the last four years, especially in the civil service, agricultural sector, mining sector and the health sector.
Huge agriculture incentives including loans have been extended to farmers who have enjoyed thousands of tonnes of fertilizer bought at subsidized rates by the government and sold to them.
Apparently, this laudable track record of integrity, transparent and creative leadership, that is dedicated to the common good of the people, underscores the conferment of Platinum Award on Governor Tambuwal, as one who has “distinguished himself in public service and nation building”, by the African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, publishers of the Tribune, last month, as part of its 70th anniversary.
Many have proclaimed that these testimonials are further endorsement of the character, impeccable leadership credentials, experience and capacity of the amiable governor for a higher national assignment.
And if as it is widely believed that “the voice of the people is the voice of God”, then this political alchemist who turns 54 on Friday, January 10, sure has his destiny intertwined with that of the Nigerian nation.
Happy birthday, Mutawallen Sokoto and deputy chairman, Nigerian Governors Forum, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal.
. Hon. Ogene, a strategic media expert, was deputy chairman, Media and Public Affairs, House of Representatives, Abuja, 2011-2015.