Gwagware: Education reforms form the core of Katsina’s governance’ deliverables.

“Save for the laudable vision of our revered former President Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (rtd), Katsina State would never have been a reality. Perhaps our dear Katsina State would never have been able to fulfill its divine purpose and mission as a sub-federal entity. That is why we all as a people must roll out our drums to celebrate this historic milestone which was made possible by one of the architects of our contemporary Nigeria. We shall eternally remain indebted to Gen. Babangida for his singular wisdom of giving birth to our dear Katsina.” This was contained in Gov. Dikko Radda’s message as he celebrated Katsina at 36. Katsina was created by Gen. Babangida on the 23rd of September, 1987. Today Katsina towers above so many other States that were created long before the realisation of Katsina State: having been blessed with a retinue of leaders and elders that have been committed to the economic growth, as well the infrastructural development of the State.

Katsina was legendarily known as the Cradle of Learning, from way back in the days of Katsina Training College or Katsina Teacher’s College of 1921. This famous Katsina school has produced many famous sons of the North, including Sir. Ahmadu Bello, Premier of the North, Sir. A Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister of Nigeria, Alh. Isa Kaita, Sir. Usman Nagogo, Emir of Katsina, Alh. Musa Yar’adua, Minister of Lagos Affairs and so many more. Katsina housed the North’s oldest institution of higher learning. This was due to a shift in the policies of the colonial rule at the time, positioning for better training for African staff and personnel, while sticking to the idea of building an educational system along native lines. So Katsina Training School was earmarked as the pilot institution. Today, the most prestigious citadel of learning in the North is Ahmadu Bello University, ABU Zaria. Barewa College is another historically glorious school, but is today situated in Zaria, with both institutions in Kaduna State. So over time, the citadel of learning had lost its reputation and stature, on one hand due to good governance, which has seen to the creation and development of Katsina State, but geographically robbing it of certain institutions; and on the other hand, the deterioration of education in the North, Katsina including. This is even more so now, with the advent of terrorism in arewa which has taken education back by at least two decades, in a region categorised as educationally backward.

Today Katsina is blessed with a number 1 citizen who is well equipped to change all this and turn around the fortunes of the State in terms of security and education. Dr. Dikko has quite a number of qualities all roled into one, which have positioned him well for the daunting task ahead of him. He is an academician-cum-public servant who was once a classroom teacher through the developmental years of his career; so he knows where the problems bite the most. He has set the ball rolling with the classification of learning in Katsina State into two categories by creating two ministries: one is the new Ministry for Basic and Secondary Education, and the second is the Ministry for Higher and Vocational/ Technical Learning. The Ministry for Basic Education has already hit the ground running with the construction of 75 secondary schools across the 34 local governments in the state, with N2.7 billion naira released already. The Higher Education Ministry has also released N400 million naira as accrued academic allowances for the lecturers of the Umaru Musa Yar’adua University. It is also providing land for the permanent site of The Federal University of Health Sciences which is one of six approved by the Federal Government, designed to produce a cadre of qualified medical professionals to address the deficits in our healthcare delivery systems. The Federal Polytechnic Daura, also received a boost of 20 hectares of land for their demonstration farming.

Education is definitely receiving a season of revival as I have seen first hand, Dr. Dikko’s commitment to resolving the decay and stagnation that have eroded the quality of education in Katsina, which was once the centre of learning as far was the North was concerned. During his 100 days itinerary which I was opportuned to participate in, I witnessed the donation of N100 million naira to no less than 15 schools in the State. This is in collaboration with the World Bank/ AGILE (adolescent girls initiative for learning and empowerment). We visited each school where the school heads were on hand to receive the cheques on behalf of the schools. The most salient of all these is the employment of about 7,325 school teachers in the state from the S-power programmes and other SUBEB teacher initiatives in fulfillment of his campaign promises. Of course they were subjected to various aptitude tests and the Governor had also arranged a one week course to prepare them for the task ahead; such that the same mistake of employing unqualified and untrained teachers and expecting them to deliver quality education would not be repeated.

Dr. Dikko has scored other home runs in the Education sector not limited to various ways and means of ameliorating the sufferings of students facing the harsh realities of the no subsidy regime. Tuition fees of Katsina State students across the country are being paid, while those in the state are being provided buses for easy and cheaper transportation to their schools from their hostels and homes. Dr. Dikko Radda has so much empathy for the common man and the disadvantaged or less privileged indigenes of Katsina State. I have also witnessed first hand how he was physically invested in making sure palliatives get to the target groups that were meant to enjoy the cushions and succor that the palliatives provide. Dr. Dikko Radda is a result-driven administrator laced with the empathy that public servants are supposed to carry as weights on their shoulders; driving them tirelessly and endlessly towards achieving great results. Katsina has a reformer and Radda’s efforts and steps have caught my radar most convincingly. I am enthusiastic and hopeful that in the not too distant future, Katsina will once again become the Cradle it was famously known as.

Tahir is Talban Bauchi.

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