Education is the bedrock of development and the most powerful tool to transform the world, it creates a ladder out of poverty and gives children an opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge to improve their lives in order to build a promising future for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, education in Yobe State is bisected with myriads of problem which includes; poor funding and thus include poor educational infrastructures, inadequate classrooms, lack of teaching aids, paucity of quality teachers and a poor/polluted learning environment.
On May 29, 2019, Governor of Yobe state and Chairman APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee, Hon. Mai Mala Buni, swung into action in his inaugural speech by declaring state of emergency in the education sector, these is as a result of low abysmal performance of Yobe students at primary and secondary levels by reversing the old trend before things could fall further apart. What follows next is the first ever Yobe Education Summit, a gathering that sought to breathe hope to a system that was wobbling towards desolation and despair.
Against the backdrop of these challenges and the possible way forward, Gov. Buni showed great desire and commitment to make the dream of potentials Yobe citizens, irrespective of religion or ethnic affiliation get their basic rights because under his tutelage and leadership, education has become the rights of every child of Yobe state. What follows is a summary of Buni’s achievements through the Yobe State Universal Basic Education Board (YB-SUBEB) and the Yobe State Scholarship Board under the leadership of Prof. Musa Alabe and Dr. Abubakar Bukar Kagu during the period under review as over N5bn was spent in the two boards as a complimentary effort of Buni’s declaration of state of emergency in the education sector.
In the last 20 months, Buni accorded construction of new classrooms, offices and stores one of his topmost priority. The YB-SUBEB constructed and renovated over 200 classroom blocks, 42 offices and stores as well as 75 units of staff quarters. Furthermore, over 14,317 classrooms furniture and 619 units of teachers’ furniture were procured and distributed to various schools across the state while 13 schools where fenced and provided with barb wires to enhance security as well as 17 boreholes drilled in various schools of the state.
Similarly, Gov. Buni constructed seven model schools of 30 classrooms each in Damaturu, Gaidam, Gashua, Nguru, Potiskum (2no) and Buni Yadi. In addition, constructions of seven Mega schools are currently ongoing.
Aware that no educational system can rise above the level of its teachers, teachers are re-oriented periodically through capacity building workshops, seminars and training courses to improve their performance and consequently enhance the quality of teaching and learning.
Furthermore, the administration of Gov, Buni has made a concerted effort as teachers salaries have been paid as and when due and they have also been enjoying the new minimum wage while hundreds of NCE teachers were employed to close the ever widening pupils/students gap.
As part of his administration effort to cushion the learning gap for sustainable Yobe, Gov. Buni sponsored over 233 Yobe indigenes to study various needed courses in the Nigerian emerging market in the Republic of India. The Buni scholars as rightly called will in the coming years become medical doctors, medical laboratory technicians, dentistry’s, pharmacists, radiologists, anesthesiologists, engineers etc. Similarly, Gov. Buni released the sum of N200 million for the payment of outstanding local scholarship for 2018/2019 he inherit while sponsored 69 undergraduate law students to study at various Nigeria Law School campuses across the country.
Despite the once in a century crisis, unleashed by a viral pandemic that hit world economy in 2020, a pandemic that spread like a forest fire, reaching every corner of the world, with uncertainties and panic paralyzed the Nigerian economic activities. Gov Buni having come under the mantra of localizing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) refused to be intimidated as a result of the new world. The Buni administration understand getting “back to normal” is simply not feasible because “normal” got us here and the pandemic presents both an enormous challenge and tremendous opportunities for reaching the 2030 agenda in Yobe State as the Buni administration revisit it 2020 budget and design a new area of development that truly balances economic, social and environmental progress as envisioned by the 2030 Agenda as Yobe State recorded historic budget performance for the year 2020 stands at 94.92 percent. Some of the achievement recorded in some key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target of the state’s economy includes;
In terms of housing, which is explicitly articulated in target 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals and investment in affordable housing will therefore have direct impact on at least 14 of the SDGs. The Buni administration is on course for the construction of 3600 housing units in each of the 17 local government of the state with over 60 percent completion rate and the rehabilitation, expansion and construction of 39 new doctors’ quarters. On the environment, the government understands the negative effect of the climate change; Gov Buni Goal-13 initiative has yielded a positive result to mitigate and adapt with the reality as operation protect the environment constituted, planting of 3 million seedlings to combert desertification in the 17 local government of the state, establishment of 100 hectares of Arabic gum plantation in each senatorial district and distribution of over 600.000 gum Arabic seedlings to farmers.
Furthermore, as part of his efforts for Goal-8: Decent Work and Economic Growth, Goal-9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure and Goal-11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, the Gov. Buni administration has resuscitated Yobe Investment Company, constructs modern market in the busiest Potiskum, Damaturu, Gashua, Buni Yadi and Nguru, and the creation of over 50,000 jobs annually through the revival of the following companies; Yobe Fertilizer Blending Company, Yobe Aluminum Company, Woven Sacks Company and the upgrading of the state of the art facilities of Yobe Microfinance Bank. In terms of infrastructural development, Gov, Buni administration has constructed various township roads across the state, including the construction of 40km Gujba-Mutai road.
In ensuring healthy lives and promote well-being for all in Yobe, Buni administration has construct a maternal and new-born child health care complex at the state teaching hospital in Damaturu, upgraded all of the health care centers in all wards of the 17 local government of the state, upgraded Machina and Yusufari healthcare centers to General Hospital, and the establishment of Yobe State Drugs and Hospital Consumables Management Agency (YODMA) the Contributory Healthcare Management Agency and subsequent enrolment of 183,403 beneficiaries, establishment of molecular lab for COVID-19 tests, acquiring ventilators for isolation centers, increase 100% monthly allowances for nurse students and construction of 200-bed storey building hostel at the Shehu Sule College of Nursing, among others.
Agriculture is one of the topmost priorities of Gov. Buni administration as the state government trained farmers on production, distributed a subsidized fertilizers and tractors on loan to farmers and partner with Nexim for sesame seed export.
Empowerment of women is a necessity for the development of a society and Gov. Buni generation equality schemes has so far trained over 100 women and girls on face mask production, economic empowerment for over 860 vulnerable women across the state, upgrading of women safe spaces in Damaturu and Kukareta, trained women and girls on financial literacy among many other initiatives.
While on Goal-1&2, the Buni administration has assisted orphanage schools, Almajiris, victims of natural and human disasters and PLWD groups. Also, the Buni Livelihood project has reached over 100,000 households across the state, among many initiatives through the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA)
Overall the office for the coordination of Yobe State Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) action plan has created various schemes, initiatives that touch all of the 17 Global Goals among this are the Buni Money Agent, Buni Automotive training, cash support to small business owners, among others.
As the popular Yobe slogan saying “Buni is working”. Surely, Gov Mai Mala Buni is indeed doing great with his innovative approaches.
Samaila writes from Damaturu, Yobe state.