Can INEC Still Be Trusted?

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APC Scorecard Series: #2

 

For almost a decade now, the northeast part of the country has been home to serial devastation – both human and material – caused by Boko Haram insurgency. Although the insurgency has been pushed to the margin due largely to the efforts of the Nigerian military, there is no denying the reality that the zone has seen so much misery, environmental degradation and massive plundering of its fortunes.

It is also an incontrovertible fact that the zone has the highest number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country due to the murderous activities of the Boko Haram insurgents. The existence of the IDPs is at the mercy of government’s interventionist programs and all that of non-state actors, both local and foreign, who have been trying the best they can to provide succor and relief to them.

Through the Presidential Initiative in the North East (PINE) whose control is domiciled in the presidency, North East Development Commission (NEDC) and other interventionist agencies, in partnership with state governments in the region, life is gradually returning to the battered and ravaged zone. Some of the IDPs who fled the zone in the peak of the insurgency are returning home in their numbers to start life all over again.

While the Federal Government is doing a lot to rehabilitate and reposition the zone to make it more habitable and livable, state governors in the zone, in particular, are also making efforts to complement the interventions of the FG and those of development organizations. In this regard, based on our findings, governors elected on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) have identified agricultural rejuvenation and massive infrastructural development as a way of resolving some of the developmental challenges confronting the zone.

As a deliberate policy to shift attention away from subsistence farming which is dependent on using non-mechanized farm implements, Adamawa State government recently acquired 140 tractors to boost agricultural mechanization. This is in addition to several commitments of Governor Jibrin Bindow to reactivating agriculture in the state which also include increasing size of farmland being cultivated to 1.15m from the current 232,000 hectares. The inference from this is that farmers now have access to more land for farming which is a positive catalyst for bringing about agricultural revolution in agriculture in the state.

In Borno State, during a recent press briefing, the State Finance Commissioner reported that Governor Kashim Shettima had spent over N40BN on farm mechanization in the last seven years in the state that was almost grounded by Boko Haram. The efforts of the state government have started generating positive results. In March this year, the Governor unveiled rice pyramid by WAL WANNE FARMERS just as the state government is collaborating with the World Bank to support FADAMA Project in the state.

Elsewhere in Yobe, the state government is partnering with a Malaysian company on irrigation. Taking into cognizance the centrality of water to crop production and animal husbandry, the new irrigation project of the government under the leadership of Governor Ibrahim Geidam is a laudable one. In order to curtail livestock rustling, a major crime in the northeast, the state government installed 5000 chips on livestock to monitor their movement so that rustlers won’t be able to hijack them.

In Bauchi State, over 1,840 youth and women benefitted from FADAMA III project in the state. In order to boost crop production, the state government established an agency saddled with the responsibility of doing soil analysis. The essence of the process is to assess which soil sample is good for the cultivation of a particular crop or the other.

In May this year, Bauchi State government launched OCP school. The rationale for the establishment of the school is to train 10,000 farmers on modern agricultural practices. To bolster farm mechanization, the state government also acquired 40 tractors which have been distributed to some upscale farmers. To prevent desert encroachment which is a major challenge in the state, the government in conjunction with SUBEB is embarking on an aggressive tree planting campaign. The campaign kicked off in July. As a way of diversifying their streams of income, over 4000 farmers benefitted from an entrepreneurship program organized by the state in the state. That’s a massive plus to the government.

Aside the new wave of agricultural revolution ongoing in the zone, rebuilding the northeast won’t be an easy task as most of the critical infrastructures that can spur inclusive growth and development were destroyed by Boko Haram terrorists. Nevertheless, even in the face of dwindling resources accruing to the states from the federation account, some of the governors are investing massively in rebuilding the destroyed infrastructures.

Nguru-Machin road, neglected for decades, is now being reconstructed courtesy of Yobe Government. The importance of this road to the people of the area cannot be overemphasized. Four local government areas that were hitherto cut off from electricity supply are now reconnected. As a result of the Governor’s plea to the FG on epileptic power supply in the state, President Muhammadu Buhari recently caused to be released a 330KVA transmission line to boost power distribution in the state. Resulting from the switch over from the hitherto small capacity 33KVA to the 330KVA, people in Damaturu and its environs are now enjoying steady supply of power. The state government, according to a document sited by the writer, is spending N2.6m monthly to maintain boreholes meant to service the water needs of the people.

In May this year, the Yobe Development Agency began the implementation of 116 micro projects spread across the state meant to restore life to the people who had been battered and plundered in the past by Boko Haram insurgents. Back in February, the same government spent N728M on the upgrade of health facilities in the state just as it approved in July the sum of N3.4B for sundry capital projects currently ongoing in the state. Some of the projects are now nearing completion.

In its bid to improve access to affordable housing for its citizenry, Bauchi State government has provided some hectares of land to the FG to embark on its federal housing estate project. The administration of Governor M. A. Abubakar has also made hand pumps in remote rural communities in order to lessen the burden of looking for safe and clean water to drink. Aside that, recently the state government, Siata Aviation and Ambro Afrique entered into a strategic partnership whose sole aim is to establish a flying academy and research institutes, among several other rural renewal projects of the APC-led administration in the state.

Certainly, Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno State is finishing well. And this is in spite of the odds stacked against his government occasioned by Boko Haram activities. For the past 7 years in Borno State, the government has spent N8b on post-insurgency healthcare projects. In July this year, the government released N1bn for road reconstruction in most of the rural communities ravaged by the insurgents just as the Governor flagged off N550m construction equipment for Kala-Balge highway.

Some of the new roads constructed in Borno State include the ones in Bulumkutu, Dala, Bolori and London Chiki communities laced with good drainage systems and powered by street lights. The road intervention is meant to ease off the economic stress the people of the communities are passing through. Courtesy of the urban renewal efforts of Governor Shettima, Maiduguri is now wearing a new look as the popular Dadola Road in the city centre has been expanded, reconstructed and dualized. New bridges around Ring Road have been constructed while Lagos Street has now been dualized with several brigades and street light beaming on the shining roads.

The Borno State government under the leadership of Governor Shettima has also built new schools in order to improve access to education for its citizenry. One of such schools is the Yaruwa Government College, Borno. It has twelve ultramodern classrooms with the capacity to accommodate one thousand two hundred pupils. There is also the New G.R.A Primary School Bororo Fulani Boys and Girls. The school is meant for the education of Fulani children to become more productive in future. New Mega School Ngomari-Airport has the capacity to accommodate one thousand pupils receiving lessons in a conducive environment.

In addition to the aforementioned newly built schools are Government College, Borno, which is equipped with modern school facilities poised to make education more attractive to indigenes of the state. There is also the Jareri Primary and Junior Secondary School with the capacity for one thousand two hundred pupils. The new ultramodern Primary and Junior Secondary Boarding School, Maiduguri can accommodate two thousand four hundred school age children. The core essence of the school is mainly to give hope to children whose parents are victims of Boko Haram terrorism. Bolori is also a beneficiary of one of several schools. The school, New Primary and Junior Secondary School, Bolori, has the capacity to accommodate two thousand four hundred school kids from over two local government areas in the state.

Before long, communities who hitherto had no access to safe and clean water will soon begin to smile as Governor Bindow is making substantial move to tackle water crisis in the state. Extending the frontiers of development, Adamawa State has also concluded plans to build an airport in Mubi, one of the major cities in the state.

It is needless emphasizing that a lot still needs to be done in the northeast region. That said, it is evident that APC governors, in partnership with the Federal Government, in spite of the limitations confronting them, are putting up pragmatic interventions to rebuild their states for the betterment of their people.

Babalola Williams, a social commentator, lives in Abuja.

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