By Ibraheem Musa
In 1985, Mario Mathew Cuomo, three term governor of New York, uttered a famous quip which remains a maxim not just in the United States but elsewhere. The governor, in moments of candour, said that politicians campaign in poetry but govern in prose. Largely, this dictum rings true since he verbalized it about 38 years ago.
Indeed, campaign rallies are feisty, boisterous and carnival-like affairs, where sound bites and promises rouse the crowd, amidst praises and fanfare. Politicians, in those moments, promise heaven on earth, pledge a land of milk and honey, using saccharine-coated language. However, on assuming office, reality usually sets in as they stare at balance sheets, defaced with red ink, suggesting near empty treasuries. Thereafter, the scales fall from their eyes and some walk back their promises, while others impose some contexts.
Sadly, many politicians have eaten their word after victory but luckily, Senator Uba Sani, the Kaduna State governor, has so far kept his own. Last week, he commissioned a slew of projects, flagged off others and showcased his scorecard generally, ahead of his 100 days in office. Indeed, for Governor Uba Sani, keeping promises is not a mere flash in the pan and at this point, a brief flashback is necessary.
Kudan, as a local government, boasts of businessmen, retired civil servants and senior government officials as well as two gubernatorial candidates, including Isa Ashiru and Suleiman Hunkuyi, PDP and NNPP flagbearers respectively. However, the area council lacked a modern computer centre, where students can sit for JAMB examinations. Usually, they travelled to Zaria, about 27 kilometres away, for their Computer Based Tests and the cost, stress and inconvenience took a toll on parents. Somehow, they cried out to Uba Sani and the APC candidate, as he then was, came to their rescue. Right now, a befitting edifice, well furnished and equipped, stands at Hunkuyi, the headquarters of Kudan local government area.
Significantly, the Computer Based Test Centre, as events unfolded, was like a prologue to the main act in the education sector. The governor, on August 21, had reduced school fees in state-owned tertiary institutions. The review, according to him, is in response to public outcry across the state. Truly, students, parents and focal groups, had complained of exorbitant school fees during the last gubernatorial campaign. Point blank, the APC candidate, as Senator Uba Sani was, had promised a downward review. Expectedly, on assuming office, he set machinery in motion and 84 days later, the governor fulfilled this election promise. In fact, students of Kaduna State University(KASU), Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic and College of Education, Gidan Waya, including those of Shehu Idris College of Health Science and Technology, Makarfi , went wild with jubilation after the announcement.
Accordingly, KASU’s school fees has been slashed, in the downward review, from N150,000 to N105,000 per semester. Similarly, the fees of Nuhu Bamalli Polytechnic, a Zaria based institution, has been reduced from N100,000 to N50,000. In addition, College of Education, Gidan Waya, now charges N37,500 instead of N75,000 per semester. Likewise, students of Shehu Idris College of Health Sciences, across all courses, will enjoy new fees regime. Indeed, charges for Higher National Diploma courses, the governor revealed, have been reduced from N100,000 to N70,000, while National Diploma students will now pay N52, 000 instead of N75,000.
Similarly, four days after the fees review, the education sector got another boost , when the Kaduna State Scholarship and Loans Board, on August 25, released N205 million to various tertiary institutions across the country. The sum, according to the Executive Secretary, represents the tuition fees of students on scholarship. In fact, Bayero University Kano received N25 million, in fulfilment of an MoU, for the students’ tuition fees till their graduation. Likewise, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, got N27 million while KASU received N88.63 million. Besides, the scholarship board will enter other agreements, the Executive Secretary promised, ‘’with Kaduna Polytechnic, University of Jos, ATBU Bauchi, Kaduna State College of Nursing amongst others.’’
Figuratively, the health sector has gotten a new lease of life, as from August 30, when 290 Primary Healthcare Centres, across all the 255 wards, got state of the art medical equipment. The governor, without mincing words, emphasized his commitment to quality healthcare, expanding access to them and ensuring continuity. More so, he reiterated that quality healthcare, as defined by his administration, is a fundamental human right and not a luxury.
Indeed, the Nasir El Rufai administration, in eight years, has provided 255 PHCs but Governor Uba Sani has promised to increase the number. In fact, there will be an additional health centre in each ward, all equipped and staffed to standard, in the lifetime of his government. The goal, according to him, is to bring healthcare nearer home as no individual, throughout Kaduna state, would travel one kilometre to access a health facility. Remarkably, the promise has started bearing fruits, especially with the launching of five mobile diagnostic trucks, fitted with modern equipment, for integrated health services in remote areas. Similarly, the governor plans to recruit more doctors, has approved the 2014 Consolidated Medical Salary Scale for doctors and plans more incentives for health workers.
However, beyond the commissioning of projects, ground breaking for mass housing and flagging off of rural roads, as well as recruitment of 7,000 vigilantes to tackle insecurity, holding the town hall meeting with a cross section of Kaduna citizens was the most remarkable event. Above all, Governor Uba Sani’s commitment to seek the people’s buy-in and input in policy formulation and project implementation was the most significant. If sustained, this will secure his administration’s populist and people-centric image—a legacy that will endure beyond the 100 days celebrations.