Gwagware of Katsina: echoes of brilliance in governance.

By Tahir Ibrahim Tahir. Talban Bauchi.

Dikko Radda has been on my radar a couple of times, first in ‘Dikko Radda on my radar’, back in January, 2023; where I had highlighted that, “Katsina State has been ravaged by the worst of the banditry that has befallen the North West”. Back then, Dr. Dikko Radda, the APC’s gubernatorial candidate had in the past, suffered terrible experiences with bandits and kidnappers, where he unfortunately lost the life of a brother, and another, suffering a very gruesome ordeal with the bandits where the payment of a huge ransom had to be made, to rescue him from the men of the underworld. I had imagined that “Dr. Dikko Radda’s unique experience had moulded him to be stronger, and built in him a more formidable character with the resolve to prosecute the struggle that lies ahead of him, in the race for the number one seat of Katsina State”. In a second article, I underscored how his laurels were unmatched by the other aspirants, while his working experience dwarfed all of the other candidates’ careers batched together. In essence, I believed like many others that Katsina State needed Dikko once again. On assumption of office, he did not relent or disappoint, as he hit the ground running, immediately putting together a team of experts to review his strategic policy document. Those experts include Prof. Abubakar Siddique Mohammed, The DG of CEDDERT, (CEDDERT is the centre for Democratic Development Research and Training) at Zangon Shanu, ABU Zaria. In a third piece titled, ‘Radda and the echoes of a sound stewardship’, I was glad to bring to your notice that Dikko as earlier envisaged, was taking the security challenges in Katsina head on. For starters he created an internal security ministry after research visits to The National Institute for Security Studies in Abuja, and to the Defense Headquarters, where he parleyed with all the service chiefs. This gave birth to the Watch Bill, which will put together a 2500 youth strong Security Corps, as it awaits legislative approvals. He had vowed to take the war to the bandits, and not wait for them to attack communities before they are chased or tracked back to their hideouts. He has personally joined those military raids into the nooks and crannies of the State, which are known to habor dangerous bandits. He has so far spent over 7 billion naira on Security vehicles and equipments to support the security agencies and formations in the state, who have been handicapped as they grappled with battling a group of bandits with sophisticated weapons.

Another important sector is the Education sector, which is certainly getting the desired and deserved attention. The Ministry has been split into two, one for Basic and Secondary education, and the other for Higher & Technical and Vocational Training. 150 new Primary and Secondary Mega Schools are being built, with 75 in the first phase already receiving a boost of 2.7 billion naira. Another 1.5 billion has been disbursed to 15 Mega Secondary Schools for renovation and completion. 7000 qualified teachers will soon be absorbed into the State’s Teaching staff payroll after the due diligence on their qualifications and capacity, to avoid the voids in the past. Dikko was a classroom teacher so it is believed that he would definitely revolutionise this sector. Primary Health Care is also receiving a monumental boost of 361 fully equipped Primary Healthcare Centres across the State, with the determination to complete atleast 100 Centres in the next 4 years. 198 motorcycles have been distributed to immunization workers and focal ward persons in collaboration with UNICEF.

In Agriculture, which is Dikko’s core strength, The Agricultural Extension Schools at Kafinsoli and at Tambu in Daura are being revived and developed. Already the Songhai Food Production Centre located at Mairuwa, Faskari, is being brought up to speed, to shore up the State’s deficit in Agricultural output. Resolving the security threats in Katsina’s very vast arable land is the key to the boost and success of agricultural production, which Dr. Dikko is paying heavily to curb and contain.

Interestingly, just as the administration turned a hundred days in office, babana Aminu Ida invited me to Katsina to join his Excellency’s tour of all the listed projects, as the Governor embarked on a project supervision exercise, to monitor the progress and quality of the schools and roads under construction. I must seize this opportunity to ‘see finish’, I told myself, and to ascertain what all the ‘Dakin Kara’ was all about in Katsina. True to its sobriquet, everywhere we went, bundles of chicken were thrown into the windows of our moving vehicles. So please if there is anyone out there who has doubts over the Kara and able hospitality of Katsinawa, please do disregard those doubts as mere unwholesome rumors. The Kara in Katsina top notch, and beyond one’s imagination. The people around treated me so honorably and kindly. Anyway, not to digress too much, His Excellency left the government house at 9 am on the dot! The Chief of Staff had earlier called to alert me that Dikko is impeccable with time. We followed the Governor as he toured his projects, flagging off some, laying foundation stones for others, and supervising quite a number. We were away for the whole day, as we only made it back to the government house around 11 pm. It was a 14-hour long tour that virtually took us round all the local governments or project sites in the state. We did not catch our breath for a minute at any location we went to. Before we could step out of the bus that conveyed us along with other APC party stalwarts, we could spot Dikko through the vehicle’s windscreen, already out there standing on the foundation of the School he was scrutinising. There was a ready engineer on standby as Dikko navigated through with questions and queries to educate himself on what was being done and why. He scrutinised the quality of work and the positioning of the Schools as regards its proximity to access roads, other structures in the villages, and the closeness of the schools to the main highways that lead to the sites. We went to a lot of the schools that had received 100 million each, for upgrade and expansion. He didn’t forget to order his local ‘alale’ and ‘rogo’, his favorites during the campaigns. I hear he has been fond of the local moi-moi in cans since his childhood days.

We were at Koda/ Dambuna, Almakiyayi and Mahuta, and at several other rural areas where these schools were sited. We went to Chiranchi, Jikamshi, Danja, Funtua, Kankara, Malumfashi, and so on. I nodded away my fatigue as we went to so many other local goverment areas. At so many security flash points, we could barely see the military camps in the dark who signaled with handlights as they greeted the Governor’s entourage. I prayed deeply and quietly for our safety and for the blessing of these soldiers who are risking their lives for the peace of Katsina. Gwagware’s fitness is something else. As I prayed behind him, I noticed the way he lifted from the ground with his fingers as fulcrum, instantly pushing his tall and huge frame off the praying mat swiftly. I overhead that he has always fasted Mondays and Thursdays since his secondary School days: as days before this tour, His Excellency was at the stadium to share palliatives to vulnerable women and widows who are saddled with the responsibility of feeding their children, and guess what? He was fasting all through. Dikko was drenched in sweat, as was evident in the trending video where Dikko personally caught officials and security operatives looting the food items that was shared to the women. He was advised to call off the fast since he was facing a hectic day situation with the palliatives sharing debacle. He told his doctor that if he can fast till 3pm, he doesn’t see the logic of breaking his fast just 3 hours and a half left o its end. He continued to go after culprits himself and had the tyres of the vehicles of some of his officials punctured, if they were found to be carrying looted rice. And find did he, as officials who stole the food stuff to be distributed were caught ‘palliating’ themselves and not the poor widows. He asked the widows to sit on their bags of rice and other items as he hired freighting vehicles to convey the women to their various wards as they would have been left at the mercy of the ‘vultures’ around. Dikko left the stadium only after the women had been taken home. He jokingly remarked, “well I guess our next round of palliatives will have to cater for the security operatives as it looks like you guys are vulnerable too”! True, without the security of the palliatives, there wouldn’t be any meaningful ‘palliating’ at all.

Tahir Talba wrote from Katsina.

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