Development is basically an act or process of growing or causing something to grow, become larger or more advanced; the act or process of creating something over a period of time or the state of being created or made more advanced.
Hence, we have economic, social, educational, agricultural and sports developments and down to personality, where we have mental, physical and work culture developments.
A Government is an institution beyond personal or group business. It is a dynamic and gigantic activity aimed at addressing the needs of a vast, heterogeneous population with divergent, uncommon demands and even wide range of peculiarities. What one thinks is an aberration is at the same time what some others yearn for. Amidst all these, the Government has the duty to protect the interest of each and all.
Hence, the Zamfara State Government under the current leadership of His Excellency, Dr Bello Mohammed (Matawallen Maradun) came up with a new blueprint of modern development, and in its first ever fiscal document a holistic approach to addressing the gamut of demands where all aspects of socio-economic demands can be tackled with the limited resources available to the government.
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The current budget incorporates many aspects of our social life, most of which were neglected in the past. Pertinently, it addresses the demands in Agriculture where the state government resuscitated the fertilizer blending plant and plans to make it available to all farmers for a bumper harvest. The government will also address the problems of cotton production, commercial crops farming and the resuscitation of ginners and textile industries.
Apart from unprecedented allocation of 19% of the total budget to Education, the budget addresses the problems of acute dearth of teachers in school, poor and inadequate classrooms and school working materials. Already, the Government is spending about N8. 5 billion on the rehabilitation of schools and building of classrooms across the state.
The same budget addresses the deteriorating health sector in the state. The Governor has earlier supplied 17 brand new ambulances to hospitals in state and has incorporated in the budget, the construction of hospitals in each of the 14 Local Government Areas and a clinic in all the 147 wards in the state. This is the first ever initiative of its kind, pioneered by Governor Matawalle, not only in Zamfara State, but in the entire region.
Human empowerment has not seen more of support in the past as in the present budget of Governor Bello Mohammed. Already, 50,000 youth and women benefit from these programmes, which are being carefully managed by the newly established Social Investment Programme Agency in the state.
Roads construction and rehabilitation is another priority of the administration this year. Already, survey has been concluded for road expansions to accommodate dual carriages on major roads in the city, the opening up of hitherto, inaccessible areas and the construction of rural roads to open up the economy for rural dwellers across the state.
It is therefore very unfair and indeed mischievous to single out some aspects of the budgetary provisions for castigation. Yes, the budget also included the construction of a new Government House, an Airport, a three-star hotel and an Olympic size stadium. It is not a surprise, however, that shortsighted armchair critics with short and narrow percept of development do not see the advantages in these initiatives.
Zamfara state needs a new Government House for several reasons. No state government in Nigeria has a worse Government House than Zamfara. Due to its lack of presentability, it can neither host the governor nor his deputy, not to talk of hosting any visiting governor(s), Ministers or the President because it simply does not have the accommodation facility to do so. This is why no governors’ meeting or any other important meeting can ever be slated for the state. However, the proposed Government House will have adequate offices and residential accommodations for the governor and his deputy, as well as enough chalets for visiting governors, ministers and even the President.
The Hotel is another point of contention. No society can take the path of development without exploiting its tourism and hospitality industry. It is a shame that even Gusau, the state capital, cannot boast of befitting accommodation for important visitors who may want to come for businesses or industrial exploitations. The three-star Hotel will address the embarrassing state of poor hospitality value imposed on the state over a long period of time.
Armchair critics have also criticised the intention of the state Government to build an Airport in the state. Let us ask a simple question. Is there a state in Nigeria today that has no airport of its own? How is developmental status of such a state compared to those with an Airport? Need I say that Airports, especially cargo, facilitate development in transport, tourism and commerce? It also facilitates the appreciation of land and property in the state. Hence, for those who view it as luxury, they must be enlightened that air transport is not a luxury today but a necessary tool to development in modern times.
The latest to get the uninformed bashing is the decision of the government to build an Olympic-size stadium in the state. It is sad to realise that some unaccomplished pundits do not see any vision beyond their physical noses. Sports facilities, especially football in Nigeria, are no longer for recreation alone. They are a vibrant economic activity. Many European countries’ economies will go down today if their Premier leagues are stopped. We cannot afford to neglect this booming industry, especially in Nigeria where its league is by the day, getting mass admiration and support from football lovers. Building a standard stadium will not only allow our youth to discover their talents in football for national and international escapades, but will also attract international focus on Zamfara to its glory and image as well as economic boost which sports is attested to bring worldwide. If not for anything, the mere fact that the government now has the leverage and luxury to think this far attests to the total peace not attained in the state.
Mr Bappa is a Special Adviser on Public Enlightenment, Media and Communication to Zamfara State governor.