by Abubakar Musa
One of my long-term established virtues has been school and hospital visitations, every now and then. Recently I happened to visit some schools within Kaduna State and what I saw were unimaginable. One of the scenarios was more perplexing than worrying – children (boys and girls), in their hundreds, sat mediating what they were being taught. While the chant – “good morning sir” – mantra droned in the hot air like the sound of bees, none of the pupils seemed worried (or so it seemed). Cheerfully, they kept starring at me like the unexpected ghost that visits their home in a culpable dream. Being in the midst of that experience, for me, however, there was only one thought going through my mind: do we really have any sitting government in Kaduna State?
Every administration has an identity. You will not be wrong to call it an identifiable benchmark. For Kano and Kwankwaso, for instance, it is transparency in managing public funds and infrastructural investment. For Akwa Ibom and Akpabio, it is infrastructural investment, same with Dankwanbo of Gombe State and Chime of Enugu State. Fashola and Lagos, on the other hand are, economically and IGR, world apart. None of the above-mentioned governors is a saint, perfect or without deficits. In fact, that is the nature of existence. We all are bound to make mistakes. The smart ones adapt and evolve; the idiot ones keep repeating them until they burn out before their time. Sadly, Kaduna state governor, Ramalan Yero, whose only identifiable benchmark is flashy billboards and catchy posters, is not smart enough to adapt and evolve from his previous mistakes. A competition he, Yero, is trying hard enough to outperform his Niger state counterpart, Babangida Aliyu.
Yero’s emergence was a divine/tragic process, a situation he has abused so far to the highest order. The disconnect between his leadership and the masses is something every Kaduna state citizen can laid bare to. In their endless attempt to interpret the manifold nuances of bad leadership into a string of mindless metrics, like their superiors at the center, those at the corridor of power in Kaduna state always offer the inexcusable catchphrase that they did not created the problems. Yes, they did not, sincerely. However, no responsible government anywhere in the world focuses on problems creators instead of addressing them, especially with regard to governance. Except, of course, one that lacks any base of identity and instinctive power to address issues using conceptualize models of leadership. To start with, Yero’s government is one of the most dishonest governments you can find around, and continues to surprise many with its brinkmanship attitude and apparently evil agenda. This is why! There are presently two swindles going on in the state, both under education, aside the many baleful and treacherous others. Early this year, the state’s commissioner of education, Ibrahim Ali, stated that the government has earmarked 3.5 billion – to be used for new schools, rehabilitation of existing ones, and supply of facilities across board. Today, ten months down the year, there is nothing evidently to show where those billions have been spent. Earlier this year, a survey by an educationist and advocate of grassroots education, Zainab Sandah, shows that 90% of the primary schools within Rigasa community under Igabi LG (one of the three Local governments within Kaduna metropolis) are efficiently poor by all standards. In one of the schools, according to the survey, there are 2500 students with only 20 teachers and 6 classrooms, with student-to-classroom ratio at 400:1 and student-to-teacher ratio at 125:1. Nevertheless, as one seeking better education for all, she went extra mile trying to secure improved standards for those schools, well, you need to know the hell she actually went through after many bureucratic dummies and countless unfulfilled promises. Rigasa community is just a model sample, but all the schools within the state represent same picture and the state government is not interested in doing anything, at least practically. Pathetic if you ask me.
Still under education, Kaduna state University currently has two sets of 300L pre clinical students awaiting admittance into the clinical. Before the coming on board of this administration, committed efforts were shown and work rate was high in an effort to upgrade the Barau Dikko Specialist Hospital to a University Teaching Hospital by the late Patrick Yakowa’s government. When the current administration came on, like many projects within the state, the hospital upgrade project hit a rock and, at best, became slow paced. Prior to that, there were options issued by the NUC for accreditation of the MBBS program at the University: the hospital to be upgraded fast or the students to be absorbed into other schools’ teaching hospitals for their clinical studies. Late Yakowa’s government chose the first option, which, logically, is the best thing to do. Yero has now opted for the second option, albeit in a more advance fraud strategy. The first set of students will be sent to the University of Kampala, Uganda. Yes, you heard me well, Kampala, Uganda. Truthfully, that is one of the most illogical decisions I have ever come across. However, I was not surprised. Not for once! It was a deliberate and calculated attempt to siphon public funds against the 2015 general elections. One would have thought that half of that money be channeled into completing the hospital upgrade project. Alas, the government has another option – benefitting from the ill-conceived thought at the detriment of collective all. Another issue is the postgraduate scholarship scheme the state is currently wheeling. It is on record that the sate set aside over 800 million naira for that purpose, and then went ahead to sold forms at the rate of 2000 naira/candidate. Thousands of candidates applied and only a very few will be selected, certainly. There was nothing wrong with that, some may argue. Yes, there was nothing wrong, actually, except the process. When you multiply the amount paid by all the hopeful applicants by their numbers, it is likely for one to come up with a figure close to one-third of what was set aside for the project. And, sincerely, even if not enough to sponsor the very little (probably less than 500) that will eventually get the nod, only little addition will be needed. One worrying trend is that those that will be selected are either part of this government or related to someone within or connected to the government. The irony is that the poor masses will be sponsoring the elites with their hard labored resources while the over 800 million or at least part of it will be looted, like many before it.
With the happenings across the state, it will be safe to say we do not have a state, what we have is more of a lawless land with no hope for a better future. Pirates and corrupt lords, with virtually no economy other than assumptive market, run Kaduna state and the word failure can be depicted from the current situation. The economic policy of the state is unacceptably incoherent.
Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.