The victory of Governor Abubakar Sani Bello in the governorship election of Niger State in 2015 did not come as a surprise. The people of Niger State were yearning for change. They were tired of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in power in the state. Bello was to them a breath of fresh air.
However, long before then, Bello had acted like Nostradamus, the man who saw tomorrow, by quitting his appointment as commissioner in Governor Muazu Babangida Aliyu’s administration. He had discovered much earlier that the administration of Aliyu and indeed the PDP was leading the people astray. Bello took a flight from the PDP. He saw the collapse of PDP in Niger State long before the rest of the state did.
And what a mess the PDP left behind. This much the governor admitted after taking cursory look on the state of infrastructure that was bequeathed to his administration by the Aliyu administration. In an interactive session with journalists recently, the governor said the PDP administration failed to build on the infrastructure it met but indulged in wasteful spending. He said infrastructure in all the sectors were in a state of rot, adding that the PDP administration turned a blind eye and instead embarked on bogus projects which cost were inflated even as some of the projects were abandoned midway.
Despite the enormous challenges, once he was sworn in as governor he hit the ground running with unequalled zeal to make a difference in the life of Nigerlites. He was determined to confront the challenges and leave Niger State better than he met it. His confrontation of the mess left by the past administration has yielded result in just a few years of his leadership of the Power State.
To ensure availability and accessibility of water in the state, more than N4 billion has been expended in order to resuscitate the Minna, Bida, Kontagora and Suleja water works. This marks a landmark achievement in the Bello administration.
In the area of agriculture, he signed memorandum of understanding with both local and international investors including; PJS Agro Farms to irrigate about 7,500 hectares of land at Swashi for rice cultivation; Umza Farms International with 10,000 hectares for rice production; Dangote Group with 50,000 hectares proposed for rice and sugarcane production. Others are Coza Investments with 9,000 hectares acquired for rice and poultry production; Anadariya Nig. Ltd with 5,000 hectares at two locations in New Bussa among others. The government is also giving due attention to the development of Shea tree sector with the engagement of a consultant to develop the sector and capture the value chain.
The Bello administration in collaboration with Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Anchor Borrowers Scheme has supported thousands of farmers. It has also encouraged dry season farming and is reviving 17 irrigation schemes across the three senatorial zones in the state.
There is ongoing rehabilitation of irrigation infrastructure with a 72-hectare irrigation field. Because of the administration’s focus on rice production, Niger has been adjudged the number one rice producing state in Nigeria.
The state government is also partnering with a Chinese consortium to develop production clusters intended to engage local farmers in both seasonal and dry season irrigation activities.
Similarly, oil giant, Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL), has entered into partnership with the Niger State government for the training of graduates of agriculture for the purpose of improving rice cultivation and production in the 25 local government areas of the state.
Apart from reducing the massive unemployment facing graduates in the state, the partnership would also enhance the performance of the agricultural sector in the state to meet the food and employment needs of the people of the state and the country as a whole.
And as part of measures to check farmers, herdsmen clashes, the Niger State government has revived and expanded the 30,000 hectares Bobi Grazing Reserve at Oro in Mariga local council of the state. Bello noted that the decision was consistent with the Federal Government’s proposed solution to the incessant bloody clashes between farmers and herdsmen in some states and the concomitant loss of lives, livestock, farmland and other property.
In education sector, the Bello administration has made tremendous change in the state. In his Whole School Development Approach, the governor has facilitated the complete overhaul of nine secondary schools across the three senatorial districts of the state. Another set of nine secondary schools to undergo total overhaul have been included in the 2018 budget. Bello also founded the Niger State Professional Teacher Development Institute where students are drawn from the 274 wards across the state and given the best of education and taught to be professional teachers from their senior secondary school to higher institution for free.
In the effort to ensure availability of qualitative healthcare for the people, the Bello-led administration has provided fully functional health facilities in each of the 274 political wards of the state. This also included complete overhaul of the general hospitals in Minna, Suleja, Bida and Kantagora; in addition to upgrading IBB Specialist Hospital to provide tertiary healthcare services. The administration also renovated Bida Nursing College after more than 40 years of total neglect.
The administration in recognition of infrastructure as critical factor of development, embarked on the construction and rehabilitation of township roads in all the major towns of the state, some of which are federal roads. The state government through the Rural Access Mobility Project (RAMP) in collaboration with the World Bank and others has also rehabilitated more than 200 rural roads.
Aware that any meaningful development devoid of the inclusion of the youth and women is one bound to fail, critical decisions were taken towards the empowerment of youths and women groups who make up the bulk of the population by the Bello administration. As a result, over 3,000 youths have been trained on various youth empowerment programmes including in the areas of ICT, Green House Agricultural Technology, Youth-Skills Acquisition
Programme (CYSAP), Rice Milling, Poultry Production and the training of 250 artisans in different areas of skills acquisition.
In the area of security, Bello has procured over 100 vehicles for security formations across the state and also for local vigilantees who help the security agencies in protecting Nigerlites. Many Nigerlites believe that the governor has taken the state where it has never been.
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